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Shaq, Kobe power West at All-Stars

KOBE Bryant led all scorers with 27 points and Shaquille O'Neal made his way back onto the All-Star stage with 17 in just 11 minutes as the Western Conference beat the East 146-119 in Phoenix on Sunday night.

Back on the same team for the first time in nearly five years, the three-time champions shared the game MVP award. They helped the West get untracked after an awful start, then teamed up for a few buckets that helped blow it open in the third quarter.

It was their first time on the floor as teammates since the 2004 National Basketball Association finals. O'Neal was traded to Miami that summer, breaking apart a duo that produced three straight titles but was perhaps better known for its frequent feuding that made the breakup inevitable.

"It felt like flashbacks," O'Neal said during a TV interview. "It felt like '99 to '02."

Bryant and O'Neal shared a slight hug after being announced as MVPs, then playfully fought over the trophy which commissioner David Stern handed to them.

O'Neal missed the All-Star game last year after 14 straight selections, and he brought back his unmatched entertaining abilities. Players were introduced on a stage behind the Jabbawockeez, a hip-hop dance group. O'Neal, the last reserve to come out, was wearing one of their masks and boogied along with them before taking his spot on the court. "That was freestyle," O'Neal said.

Amare Stoudemire scored 19 for the West, which bounced back from its loss last year in New Orleans. LeBron James led the East with 20 points and paid tribute to the 36-year-old O'Neal, who may have played his last All-Star game.

"Whenever he decides to unlace his shoes, man. He brings showmanship, sportsmanship, all that laughter, he really brings everything to the game of basketball. Shaq is one of those guys you'll always look back on and wish he was still around."

Paul Pierce and Dwyane Wade each scored 18 for the East.

Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Pau Gasol and Tony Parker all had 14 points each for the West.

The weekend festivities were a welcome distraction for Phoenix basketball fans, whose disappointing Suns were apparently in the process of dismantling their team while the fun was going on around them.

Phoenix coach Terry Porter will be fired and replaced by assistant Alvin Gentry, a person familiar with the decision said.

The changes may not stop there. Stoudemire, who started for the West, is the biggest name involved in trade rumors ahead of this week's deadline.


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