HOUSTON Chris Paul knew exactly what to do with the unlimited talent around him in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game: find the open man and enjoy the show.
Paul became the first Los Angeles Clipper to be named the game's MVP, scoring 20 points and handing out 15 assists in the West's 143-138 win over the East.
He became the third player to have at least 20 points and 15 assists in the midseason showcase, joining Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas.
"In games like this, it's so up-tempo and fast-paced," Paul said. "A guy like me, that's a facilitator, I enjoy (it)."
Paul already had the best per-game assist average in All-Star history, 12.4 in four appearances. He had nine assists and plenty of fancy dribbling in the first half
Paul finished with three turnovers, none in the second half, and had nine points in the final quarter.
Early in the third quarter, Paul tried to hook up with high-flying Clippers teammate Blake Griffin for one of their trademark alley-oops. They mistimed it, though, and Griffin had to come down before going up for a more conventional dunk.
But with so many stars to choose from, Paul could spread it around. He flicked a pass to Dwight Howard for a dunk and found Tim Duncan cutting down the lane for another one in the third quarter. Paul also pitched a few assists to Kevin Durant, who finished with 30 points.
"This game is slightly different than a regular-season game," Paul said. "You have to pick your poison. You tag Blake at the rim for a dunk, you're leaving KD wide open for the three."
Paul also had his shooting touch, making 7 of 10, including 4 of 5 three-point attempts.
"Most of the time, I was open," Paul said. "I was wide open for the first two threes that I hit. The other ones, the shot clock was running down, so I almost was forced to shoot a couple of times."
Paul also made a game-high four steals.
"He played a hell of a game," Durant said. "It was a pleasure playing with him."
Bosh's rough night Chris Bosh shot two airballs in the first quarter and was booed, tossed up another in the second and had Tony Parker dribble the ball through his legs on defense.
Bosh was even pulled down the stretch by his own coach, Miami's Erik Spoelstra, after Kobe Bryant blew by him for a layup.
Garnett's short night Kevin Garnett said before coming to Houston he thought his 15th All-Star selection would be his last, and he turned it over to the young guys early. He played only six minutes of the first half before calling it a night.