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But the highlight all along was going to be the stadium, and it didn't disappoint.
Players came out to the court -- which appeared much smaller than 94 feet from the highest levels of the venue -- more than an hour before the game to check out the scene and the challenges it could create. Having hundreds of feet behind the baskets had some All-Stars wondering if their depth perception could be thrown off while shooting.
Not to worry. Everyone was sharp early, with even Dwight Howard making a 3-pointer, before staring at his palm and drawing a laugh from Orlando assistant Patrick Ewing.
"It was unbelievable. Usually in All-Star games, not everybody is going out to shoot and warm up, but if you looked an hour before the game, I think both teams, all players were almost out there shooting, because it's so different in a huge dome with the background," Nowitzki said. "And I thought for actually the size of this arena, both teams were shooting pretty well."
There's probably never been a better time to be on the bench. The seats were leather theater seats with arm rests and drink holders. James seemed to particularly enjoy his, reclining his back and putting his feet up on the court above him while resting to start the second quarter.
Naturally, there was a football element. Cowboys cheerleaders were lined up as the players came onto the court for pregame warmups, and former Dallas receiver Terrell Owens was in the crowd.
James and Wade have talked about playing together when both become free agents this summer, and what a partnership it would be.
Each had 10 points in the third quarter and had a hand in all the scoring in a 10-3 East burst that turned a nine-point lead into a 90-74 lead with 8:21 remaining in the period. The East lead was nine after three, but Chauncey Billups knotted it at 137 with a jumper with 1:05 to play.
There was no scoring until Wade forced a turnover and was fouled with 12.7 seconds left. Booed loudly -- possibly by many of the same fans who remember him leading Miami back from a 2-0 deficit in 2006, he sank both free throws for a two-point lead.
Nowitzki was fouled five seconds later by Howard, and he delighted the home crowd by knocking down both, but Bosh quickly untied it again.
Howard scored 17 points for the East, which is back on top after losing two of the last three.
Billups had 17 points, Kevin Durant scored 15 in his All-Star debut and Deron Williams, who played his high school ball near Dallas, finished with 14. Durant and Williams were two of the nine first-time All-Stars.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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