HOUSTON (Reuters) - For a point guard like Chris Paul, the NBA All-Star game is made to order.
Everywhere he looks is someone who can put the ball in the basket. If he searches underneath, there is Blake Griffin. Out on the wing is Kevin Durant.
And if Durant is taking a breather, Paul is gazing at Kobe Bryant.
“You just want to play fast,” Paul said after carving up the East with 20 points and 15 assists to win the Most Valuable Player Award in the annual All-Star game on Sunday.
”I like to throw the lob. I like to see guys hit threes. When we’re out on the court with all that fire power, why wouldn’t you want to make passes?
“You’ve got KD (Durant) filling one of the lanes, you’ve got Blake, Kobe on the wing. There’s nothing like it.”
Paul led the Western Conference to a 143-138 victory, hitting seven-of-10 shots from the floor to complement his pass-first game that had the East playing catch-up all night.
LeBron James, the high-scoring Miami forward who bagged 19 points in a losing effort, called Paul’s performance “unbelievable”.
“He’s one of the best players we have in this league,” offered James. “The number one point guard. It doesn’t surprise me what he did.”
Dwyane Wade echoed James’s sentiments on Paul, the diminutive Los Angeles Clippers guard whose per-game average of 9.6 assists ranks second in the NBA this season.
”He controlled the All‑Star Game,“ Wade said of Paul. ”He slowed it up and he controlled it coming down the stretch. Look at the Clippers. He missed a lot of time and they started to struggle a little bit.
“But when he’s on the floor, they’re obviously one of the best teams in the NBA. With guys like LeBron and KD, who fill up the stat sheets, he gets overlooked. But not to us players.”
Durant scored 30 points for the West, hitting 13-of-24 shots, but was quick to say Paul deserved the MVP award.
“He had great passes, making steals, made big buckets,” said the Oklahoma City forward and leading scorer in the NBA.
“He played a hell of a game and congratulations to him. It was a pleasure playing with him.”
Editing by John O'Brien