deng_all_star_2013Chris Paul stood tall at the All Star Game in Houston sparking the Western Conference to a 143-135 victory over the East.

The Los Angeles Clippers guard had 20 points and 15 rebounds in a contest which his team subtly controlled, eschewing any of the drama that lit up last year’s clash in Orlando.

He was consistent and his stellar colleagues responded. It was his kind of night as the West came out on top for the third year in a row. On Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday, it was a fitting tribute.

“For me, in games like this, it’s up tempo, it’s fast paced,” Paul said. “You just want to play fast. I like to throw the lob. I like to see guys hit threes.

“When we’re out on the court with all that firepower, why wouldn’t you want to make passes? You’ve got KD filling one of the lanes, you’ve got Blake, Kobe on the wing. There’s nothing like it.”

Even as LeBron James ignited a rally from the East, Kobe Bryant stepped up and others took his lead with the Lakers guard producing a spectacular block on his Miami rival. “I’m known for my defence,” he smiled. “I can defend.”

But it wasn’t enough. Kevin Durant scored 30 points for an unprecedented third successive All Star while Blake Griffin added 19.

“I’m shooting a lot of shots, 24 shots in 31 minutes,” Durant admitted. “I’m just out there having fun. I think this is my seventh (appearance). I played a lot of street basketball. I played a lot of celebrity games. This is my type of ballgame, up and down.”

Carmelo Anthony paced the East with 26 points and 12 rebounds and they never had enough traction after falling 7-0 behind at the start.

The shoes on show were making more noise. But they slowly woke up with Dwyane Wade the most effective of Miami’s three starters, notching 21 points.

The West were 69-65 ahead at half-time. But although the East kept pushing, they came up short as Paul shone.

“He was unbelievable,” said James, who scored 19. “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.”

Great Britain international Luol Deng, in his second appearance in the game, had 10 points in 17 minutes, guiding his Bulls team-mate Joakim Noah through his first time.

“It was cool,” he said. “It’s not my type of game but it’s fun. I played D like once. That was a good feeling not having to play D. But it was fun. Jo played his game, how he played.

“He’s got to know the guys a little bit … he wanted to win. We all wanted to win.”

In-Game Twitter here.

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