Chris Paul wins MVP of 2013 NBA All-Star game

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HOUSTON — Chris Paul took home the MVP trophy from the 2013 All-Star game, as he led the West to a 143-138 win in the NBA’s midseason exhibition, and did so in a contest that was close and competitive down the stretch.

The award often times goes to the player who scores the most points on the winning team, but that wasn’t the case in this one.

Kevin Durant finished with a game-high 30 points for the West, while Paul had a more comprehensive stat line of 20 points on 7-10 shooting, to go along with 15 assists and four steals. But the way he closed the game late ultimately made the difference.

“It’s something that definitely coming into the game I wasn’t trying to achieve, or thinking that it might even be possible,” Paul said of winning the MVP award afterward. “I told KD early in the first quarter, I said, ‘man, if they score anything, you run.  I’ll get you the ball, you score, I want to be the one to give it to you.’ In games like this it’s so up‑tempo and fast-paced, for a guy like me that’s a facilitator, I enjoy it.”

Strangely enough, it was Paul’s scoring rather than his assists that helped seal this victory. He led the West with nine fourth quarter points, and knocked down two three-pointers during a 10-2 run that put his team up 11 with under two minutes to play.

“Most of the time I was open,” Paul said of his offensive output. “I was wide open for the first two threes that I hit.  The and‑one I got on [Kyrie Irving], Brook Lopez, he kept backing up, so I couldn’t throw a lob to [Blake Griffin].  The other ones the shot clock was running down, so I was almost forced to shoot a couple of times.”

Paul’s impressive performance earned him some high praise from his teammates, as well as from one of his competitors.

“I love Chris, man. He’s intense,” Kobe Bryant said afterward. “He’s a heck of a competitor and I enjoyed spending time with him this weekend even though they served us up pretty good before we got down here. He’s just a great competitor.”

Durant, who had a legitimate shot of taking home the All-Star MVP for the second straight year, was equally complimentary.

“He deserved it,” Durant said. “He had great passes, making steals, made big buckets. He played a hell of a game and congratulations to him. It was a pleasure playing with him.”

Paul seemed humbled by winning the award, and was maybe a little impressed by the way he was able to play against a collection of the league’s best players, even in an exhibition like this. He said winning the award was “pretty special,” and that phrase can also be used to describe the words LeBron James had for Paul’s MVP performance.

“He was unbelievable,” James said. “He’s one of the best players we have in this league. The number one point guard we have in this league and it doesn’t surprise me what he did on the floor tonight.”

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go head-to-head, literally (video)

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This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.

The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.

Harrison Barnes banks in game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.

Emphasis on “almost.”

The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)