HOUSTON — He nearly did it again.
Kevin Durant came up just a bit short of earning a second consecutive All-Star Game MVP despite scoring a game-high 30 points in the West's 143-138 over the East on Sunday night inside the Toyota Center.
Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul won the MVP, his first of his career, after scoring 20 points with 15 assists.
Had Durant finished the job, it would have been the first time in NBA history that a player has won back-to-back MVP honors outright. Bob Pettit, after winning the honor in 1958, shared the award a year later with Elgin Baylor.
“He deserved it,” Durant said of Paul winning the award. “He had great passes, (was) making steals (and) made big buckets. He played a helluva game and congratulations to him. It was a pleasure playing with him.”
Durant did everything he could to take home the hardware for the second straight season. He made 13 of 24 shots, including three of eight 3-pointers, while adding six rebounds, two steals and one assist. He pumped in seven points in the first period, 12 in the second, five in the third frame and six in the fourth quarter.
It marked the first time in NBA All-Star Game history that a player has scored at least 30 points in three consecutive games. Durant scored 36 points in last year's MVP-winning performance in Orlando and dumped in 34 points in 2011 in Los Angeles.
Durant bumped his All-Star game scoring average to 28.8 points, the highest in the game's history. Durant now sits 3.7 points per game ahead of second-placed LeBron James, who scored 19 for the East on Sunday.
With 115 total points in his four All-Star Game appearances, Durant also has scored the most points of any player in NBA history through his first four appearances.
“I'm shooting a lot of shots, 24 shots up in 31 minutes,” Durant said in an attempt to downplay his continued scoring dominance. “I'm just out there having fun … I played a lot of street basketball. I played a lot of celebrity games. This is my type of ballgame, up and down.”
On this night, Durant was reunited with an old running mate.
James Harden, the former Thunder sixth man, scored 15 points with six rebounds and three assists in a reserve role as a first-time All-Star. Harden, who was traded to Houston in late October, made six of 13 shots and also went 3-for-8 from the 3-point line.
Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook finished with 14 points off the bench for the West, and when Westbrook, Harden and Durant started the second quarter together it was the first time the trio shared the court as teammates since the blockbuster trade that broke up last year's Western Conference champion and made Harden the Rockets' franchise player.
“Playing with him made me miss him a little bit,” Durant said of Harden. “I'm happy he was an All-Star, especially in the city he plays in. It was a lot of fun. I didn't want it to be over.”