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Kobe & Shaq team up as West beats East, 146-119

PHOENIX - Shaquille O'Neal danced and Kobe Bryant dazzled. And just like old times, they won.

Bryant led all scorers with 27 points and O'Neal partied his way back onto the All-Star stage with 17 points in only 11 minutes last night as the Western Conference stars beat the Eastern Conference, 146-119.

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 for a few buckets to help blow it open in the third quarter.

They did it in the ways that made them so different - Bryant with his cold-as-ice stare and focus, O'Neal as the oversized clown who made fans and foes alike laugh. "It felt like flashbacks," O'Neal said during an interview on TNT. "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 that commissioner David Stern handed to them.

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

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. Paul Pierce and Dwyane Wade each scored 18.

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," said O'Neal, who later jazzed up a comedy skit in which players sang love songs for a fake Valentine's Day CD with an energetic rendition of Billy Ocean's "Caribbean Queen."

The West missed nine of its first 11 shots and trailed 20-10 when West coach Phil Jackson called timeout and inserted O'Neal with 5:44 remaining in the first quarter. The West scored the next 11 points with Shaq and Kobe on the floor, part of a 19-0 run that made it 27-20. O'Neal, enjoying a resurgence this season after an injury-plagued 2007-08, had three baskets and set up another during the run. With the trade deadline this week, he showed he still has plenty of game left if another team wants him.

O'Neal returned midway through the third quarter with the West already ahead by double digits. Bryant set him up for a layup, then made one himself for a 97-85 lead.

O'Neal scored the next eight West points, including one dunk on an assist by Bryant. Another came when he ran a give-and-go with Hornets guard Chris Paul, with O'Neal feeding the 6-foot Paul in the post and swooping in from the perimeter for a dunk.

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

New York Sports