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East edges West in All-Star game, 125-124 (OT)

As you no doubt witnessed, the East hung on to beat the West in today’s All-Star game, 125-124. As the story I co-wrote isn’t up yet on, here is the AP piece.


Records fell:

For the first time in All-Star history, the game went to overtime.

Shoni Schimmel broke the scoring record, set just last year by Candace Parker, with 29 points.

It was the highest combined team scoring in All-Star game history. Records were also set for team shooting, team assists and team rebounds. In all, 11 records were broken in the game.

And though Schimmel the rookie was the MVP, it was veteran Tamika Catchings who made the driving layup – and then the defensive stop four seconds later – to seal the win for the East. Catchings was at her ninth All-Star game, tying the mark set by Tina Thompson.

“If I had to tie someone, it’s great that it’s Tina Thompson, because she’s amazing,” Catchings told me after the game.

With over 14,000 screaming fans in attendance, it was the second largest All-Star crowd in history.

Skylar Diggins had a stellar game, with 27 points. Maya Moore added 24 points for the West, Brittney Griner 17, including a dunk, and Candice Dupree had 12.

For the East it was Tina Charles with 19, Katie Douglas with 15, and Catchings and Angel McCoughtry with 14 and 13, respectively.

What an thrilling, fun game. It definitely exceeded my expectations. There was a lot of excitement in the arena, from the fans to the players to even the media.

WNBA blog.

The mood this year was more competitive than last, with players really hustling for the ball. Players took turns putting in gluts of points at a time.

The crowd was fantastic from tipoff, “ooo”ing and “aaah”ing at every turn.

There were several funny game moments. McCoughtry, when she made a couple shots, would run down the side of the court and hand slap fans.

Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike would make it a point to stand next to each other when someone was shooting a free throw. In one instance, Nneka extended her arm absent-mindedly to smooth Chiney’s hair. The ball went up into the air and then the sisters were suddenly pushing and shoving each other. I posted a picture of the moment on my twitter: Chiney said post-game that this was the first time she and her sister had got to play together and have fun. She also said Nneka was the first to start talking trash after it was announced they were both All-Stars.

Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike discuss playing in their first game together.

There was a lot of joyful screaming after the game. The buzzer sounded and media members flooded the court, along with others. It was pure pandemonium, and as I like to do in such occasions, I stood there and watched. Some of the things I saw:

Lisa Leslie sporting a Schimmel #23 headband. She also went over to give the young buck a hug.

ESPN’s Holly Rowe walked past me yelling at a co-worker to “stop her!”, meaning the 6-foot-8 big kid Brittney Griner, who was running off the court. Rowe just wanted an interview.

Then walking in front of me the other way suddenly was Candace Parker with her extremely tall daughter in hand. She walked over to East coach, and former Sparks coach Michael Cooper, and they had a hug.

I went to both locker rooms. It was funny because though Diana Taurasi only scored four points in the game, most all of the media was crowded around her. So I just walked up to Skylar Diggins and started asking questions. She was truly appreciative to be there, and seemed humbled by it all. She really worked hard in the off-season to improve all aspects of her game, from outside shooting to ballhandling right and left to conditioning. I respect that.

I don’t know if fans truly grasp just what a silly person Maya Moore is. I appreciate her for that.

Tamika Catchings talked to me about her changing perspective as a veteran, and about how she’d like to impart her legacy as being one of hard work and having the fire to play hard. I think that’s in the bag.

Chiney and Schimmel shared a press conference for the East, and were very complimentary of one another. Chiney stressed that most of the players have played together for a long time, and said she and Schimmel go way back, to a big smile from Schimmel.

As I stood in the back, Schimmel’s family started flooding in, surrounding me. The WNBA had let them come in for the conference. Seventeen members in all, of four generations, with most wearing Schimmel 23 headbands. I will have a story on this later.

I hope next year’s All-Star game is somewhere in the middle of the country, so I can go again. What a blast.

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