LOS ANGELES — Four minutes into his first NBA All-Star Game, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook delivered his first signature sequence under Los Angeles' sparkling spotlight.
With 7 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter, Westbrook isolated Miami star Dwyane Wade on the left wing. Westbrook crossed over, rocking Wade back. And when the Heat guard recovered, Westbrook shook him again. Then he swished a smooth 18-footer over the seven-time All-Star.
The crowd went crazy.
Westbrook had officially arrived as a star.
He joined teammate Kevin Durant, who exploded onto the scene at last year's gala in Dallas and only enlarged his rep with a 34-point explosion in the West's 148-143 win over the East.
Against the game's best and brightest, Durant and Westbrook fit right in. There was no doubt they belonged, both doing what they do best.
Westbrook stuffed the stat sheet. His 12 points, five rebounds and two assists came in just 14 minutes. His soared for dunks and skied for rebounds. He wowed the star-studded crowd with the same athleticism Oklahoma City experiences 41 nights a year.
As for Durant, all he did was nearly steal the show from hometown hero Kobe Bryant. While Bryant was forcing his way to a game-high 37 points and game MVP honors, Durant had to get in where he fit in. Still, Durant shined. He scored 14 of his 34 in the fourth quarter. When the East pulled within two on a pair of LeBron James foul shots, Durant scored seven of the West's final 11 points in the final 2:19.
In Bryant's final two minutes, he fired an errant bullet pass that nearly took out radiant halftime performer Rihanna and misfired on mid-range jumper on back-to-back trips.
Afterward, Bryant claimed he wasn't seeking MVP honors and the headlines in what certainly will be his final All-Star Game in L.A.
“I've been there,” Bryant said. “I had my time. It's not about that for me at this point in my career…It's very important for the game to continue to have young stars emerge.”
Durant and Westbrook proved they're ready to answer the call and showed the game is in good shape.
“For (Russell) to come out and play the way he played, I felt proud,” Durant said. “Hopefully this is the first of many more…I'm sure you'll see Russell in the starting lineup in this All-Star game in a few years.”
Westbrook was all smiles afterward.
“It was a great feeling,” Westbrook said. “It was fun to be back at home in front of my family. I had a good time.”