NEW ORLEANS (AP) -LeBron James and Dwight Howard each scored 12 points, and the Eastern Conference led the West 74-65 at halftime of the All-Star game Sunday night.
Richard Hamilton had nine points for the East, which was trying to bounce back from an embarrassing 153-132 loss last year in Las Vegas. At least it didn't have to worry about the best player from that game.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant played only the first 3 minutes and headed to the bench, likely for good, to rest his right pinkie, which has a torn ligament. He quickly had his hand wrapped in ice and threw on a sweatsuit, ensuring that he won't be a repeat MVP winner.
First-time All-Star Brandon Roy of Portland scored 11 points for the West. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire added 10 apiece before the players headed to the locker room while a jazz performance took over the court.
y service projects at 10 sites throughout the city. All-Star weekend was expected to bring an estimated $90 million to the city, still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The night was a celebration of New Orleans, from its music to its charming architecture. Hornets All-Stars Chris Paul and David West went on the court before the game to thank fans for supporting the city.
``New Orleans is definitely back to being a city that the world knows and loves and I'm proud that we got to host this event,'' Paul told the crowd.
New Orleans natives Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. coordinated the night's musical program, which featured a brass band performing while the players were introduced. The starters entered from under a balcony reminiscent of a French Quarter home, some dancing along to the rocking jazz tunes.
The East raced to an 18-7 lead on the second of Toronto forward Chris Bosh's two straight dunks about 5 minutes in. Hamilton, one of three Detroit players in the game, made a jumper with 3.1 seconds left in the first quarter to give the East a 34-28 advantage.
James, Howard and Jason Kidd teamed on the highlight play of the first half, a Kidd-to-James-to-Howard lob, which Howard slammed in. Howard, who won the slam dunk title Saturday, and James later took turns setting each other up for slams, extending the East's lead to 59-50 and bringing roars from the New Orleans Arena crowd.
Bosh, starting because leading vote-getter Kevin Garnett of Boston is injured, scored eight points.

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