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West 148, East 143: The 2011 All-Star Game Was Not Bad, Not Bad At All

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I have to say, that game was respectably fun. It wasn't that dunk-heavy, really, not to the extent we're used to seeing in the ASG, and the East spent a good portion of the night throwing terrible outlet passes. But by the standards of All-Star contests, which we know ahead of time are not going to be played with textbook precision, this one wasn't bad. There was a strong individual performance from Kobe Bryant, who captured MVP honors with 37 points, 14 boards, three assists and three steals. There was a nice LeBron James-led comeback by the East to make the final six minutes close. And I actually found the Rihanna-Kanye halftime set to be damn entertaining. Am I crazy for thinking that? I know Rihanna missed a few notes, but we mustn't nitpick after the dual travesties that were the Super Bowl halftime show and today's Lenny Kravitz pregame lip-sync-athon.

The West's 148 to 143 victory caps off what by all accounts, Kravitz notwithstanding, has been a very successful weekend for the league and its L.A. hosts. It won't be long before the All-Star Game returns to Staples. The rejuvenation of downtown L.A., including the construction of the L.A. Live and Marriott/Ritz-Carlton complexes that served as home base for ASW activities this year, make Los Angeles pretty much the ideal location for this event. All-Star Weekend is the yearly occasion when the league fully embraces its connections to the worlds of celebrity and pop culture. No city provides a more fitting backdrop.

Although I've heard a lot of people bagging on the crowd at Staples today for not making much noise, I'm not really sure what everyone expected. All-Star crowds are always weak. It's the nature of the thing and ties directly to the action on the court. How fired up are people supposed to be when the players themselves are barely enthused? When the players care, the crowd cares. That's what happened in the last few minutes tonight, when the on-court intensity finally moved the needle.

With that, my coverage of All-Star Weekend comes to a close. Thanks for reading along, and thanks to the league and SBN for hooking a brother up. It's been a blast.

Tomorrow, we refocus on our Lakers. Twenty-five games remain in their regular season, starting with a not terribly easy back-to-back. The Atlanta Hawks visit on Tuesday, then the champs have a late-night schlep to face Portland on Wednesday. In the meantime, Matt Barnes will start practicing again. I don't need to tell you that his return can't come soon enough.

‘Night, all. We'll talk again soon.

Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.