Joakim Noah's stat line wasn't impressive, but his defensive impact on the East's 163-155 victory over the West was on full display.
The NBA All-Star Game is generally an offensive exhibition from the league’s brightest stars. But inevitably, after three quarters of freewheeling scoring, the competitive nature of both the East and West squads come out and the world’s greatest pickup game turns into a competitive basketball affair.
That’s what happened on Sunday night in New Orleans as the Eastern Conference squad snapped a three-year losing streak to the Western Conference, 163-155. It was a record-breaking game as the East -- led by Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving who took home the MVP -- snapped a three-year losing streak to the West, and Joakim Noah played a big part in the win.
His stat line said eight points, five rebounds and five assists, but Noah’s impact on the defensive side of the ball late in the game proved why he deserves to be an All-Star.
"The game's got to get defensive if you want to win. But overall, it's an unbelievable honor, especially to play down the stretch," Noah said. Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel gave the Chicago Bulls center the late-game nod over his own All-Star big man, Roy Hibbert, to help bring home the win.
"I like that stuff. I want to be out there on the court and it feels great. Everybody's just happy, just making plays, just watching that guys wanted to win. In the beginning I was thinking nobody cares, but towards the end it got competitive."
Noah showed great chemistry with some of the leagues best, including LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Irving. But more than anything, he was happy for the opportunity to play meaningful minutes in a close game and come away with the win.
"I was happy to be there down the stretch. It's hard to show what you can do in limited minutes, but I had a great time and to be able to play like that in an All-Star game in front of all your friends, I know my family's watching," he said. "It's a good feeling."