by Lang Whitaker | @langwhitaker

LOS ANGELES — After a weekend of meetings and events and, oh yeah, some basketball, it’s finally time for the 2011 NBA All-Star Game. The SLAM crew is live, high above courtside here at the Staples Center, ready for All-Star 2011.

Had a late night last night, as All-Star Saturday nights tend to be. Ben and I ended up at the adidas Originals party at The Standard hotel, where the lineup was pretty stellar. The opening acts included Far East Movement, Miguel, DJ Khaled, and finally Chris Brown, who also brought Busta Rhymes up on stage for a song. The headliner was Snoop Dogg, and Snoop had Warren G. and The Game with him on stage all night. He also brought out DMC, and together Snoop and DMC ran through a collection of Run DMC’s greatest hits, which was tremendous. Snoop didn’t even come on stage until near 2:00 AM, so…well, this morning was a slow one.

BUT! We’re here now and ready to get this game stizzarted. Sorry, Snoop overload last night. I’ll be back with more as we tick closer to tip-off in a few…

• OK, a pregame video narrated by Cuba Gooding started this off, and now we’ve got another video narrated by Cube, sounds like.  Arena is dark…and here’s Lenny Kravitz!

• OK, I know “Are You Gonna Go My Way” is old, but it’s a dope song. And I think he has the same lead guitarist he had a decade ago…or at least the new guy borrowed the old guy’s afro wig.

• Eastern Conference reserves are announced and the guys are all pretty straight-faced here. No dancing, no choreography, no Jabbawockeez.

• Starters come out one-by-one and each do a little dance move…except for Derrick Rose, who seems locked in, and D-Wade.

• Second song from Lenny Kravitz is…I dunno, never heard this one before. Has sort of a classic rock/retro feel to it, though. Very Kravitz.

• Here come the Western Conference All-Stars. Pop looks like he wants to knock over Kravitz’s drum kit and smash an amp. Gasol gets a huge cheer from the home crowd, louder than Blake gets. No dancing from the Western Conference guys.

• Flags from the countries of all the All-Star participants are brought in. Melanie Fiona sings the Canadian anthem. Josh Groban handles the US anthem. Nice work by both. Now, can we get started?

• Blake Griffin welcomes the crowd to LA, and then Pau Gasol welcomes everyone in Spanish, and then Kobe says, “Enjoy the show.”

• Dwight Howard doles out talcum powder to all the East starters, and they simultaneously perform the powder toss in front of the scorer’s table. That was either a tribute to MJ, KG, or Bron.

• Amar’e scores 4 points in the first 50 seconds. He’s on pace for 186 points. Pretty sure that would be an All-Star record.

• BTW, let’s take a second to say Rest In Peace to Troy “Escalade” Jackson — reports are he passed last night. Cool guy and a streetball fixture.

• West leads 8-6 with 8:14 to go in the first. Apparently someone spilled a drink along the sideline, so there’s a delay to clean that up. Durant comes back and rips DWade and throws down with two hands.

• Kobe’s got 9 points early and already drawn one MVP chant from the crowd. West has a 21-10 lead. Stevie Wonder is shown on the scoreboard and he receives a polite cheer. Jay-Z and Beyonce are shown next, and they receive similarly polite applause. These folks in L.A. are used to the celebs, I guess. There are a lot of Lakers fans here, as evidenced by the loud boos every time Paul Pierce PA man Lawrence Tanner mentions Paul Pierce.

• With 4:21 to go in the first, the East has a Celtics-plus-Bosh lineup in now. West is up 23-13. Curious to see if the East can make a push here.

• As the first quarter winds down, Blake gets his first flush on an oop from D-Will. West leads 37-27.  Not much flow to this game, as is usually the case in All-Star Games.

• Westbrook gets a powerful tomahawk on the break. West lead down to 7, 45-37. Quick celeb watch:  Neyo, Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, Dr. J, John Legend.

• Westbrook crosses someone in the corner, then turns and has a few words for the East bench. Seconds later, Rose crosses Anthony and leaves him in the dust. West lead 49-43. No need to really talk about strategy or anything. Whichever team scores the most, wins.

• Bill Russell is introduced the crowd and it is announced that he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier this week. First standing O of the night in the Stapler.

• Darryl Dawkins is shown on the scoreboard, and sitting just behind him, Nicki Minaj photobombs him.

• Kobe with the double-pump reverse, followed immediately by a steal and a Durant dunk on a sweet oop from CP3. West pushes the lead back to 70-58.

• They should play the fourth quarter with a KIA parked in the lane.

• Halftime! And tonight that means Rihannatime! Kobe has 21 and 6, as the West leads 76-64. Bosh leads the East with a dozen.

• Rihanna runs through a couple of her hit songs, the Yeezy rises up from under the stage as though he’s one of the All-Star starters and joins in on “All Of The Lights.” Dude’s manic on stage, lots of fun to watch.

• Rihanna and Ye > Black Eyed Peas and Slash

• Fewest minutes played in the first half were KG (3:59), Joe Johnson (4:51) and Tim Duncan (5:23). Rondo and CP3 have 5 assists apiece. Kobe leads everyone with 6 boards. And there’s no plus/minus on the box score. Maybe the guy who tracks plus/minus got a vacation this weekend.

• East cuts it to 5, 81-76, and Kobe drives and draws a foul, then bangs in both free throws. East comes back and hits Dwight in the post, and Kobe gives a foul to send him to the line. Kobe knows this is an exhibition, right?

• Whoa! Kobe just boomed on Bron with two hands! And gave him the pat on the butt on the way back up court. I’m guessing instead of going out last night Kobe hit the gym and got up 1,000 jumpers.

• Kobe follows that by draining a three and giving the fist-pump. KB’s got 30, and the West lead is ten.

• Funniest part of the dunk from Kobe was that Durant was running the right side of the floor and looking like he wasn’t sure if Kobe was going to pass or not. As Kobe kept getting closer to the basket I was thinking, OK, he’s going to pass this sooner or later, and it looked like Bron was sort of thinking the same thing. When Kobe jumped, I thought to myself, OK, he’s going to pass, going to pass…WHOA! And Durant had the best view in the house.

• Kobe just scored again, giving him 34 and 9 and pushing the West lead to 100-86. Doc Rivers actually burned a timeout to try and stop the momentum. Wondering if Kobe is going for 50 tonight?

• The most consistently loud the crowd is comes whenever Paul Pierce is mentioned, as he is immediately booed.

• So after three, the West has a commanding 117-100 lead. Guess the big question now is whether Kobe will break the all-time All-Star scoring record, which, surprisingly, is just 42 points (Wilt in 1962). Sure, Kobe should probably get a rest, but records are records.

• As the fourth starts, a chant of “WE WANT BLAKE.” Pop shows he has a heart and sends Blake to the scorer’s table.

• D-Rose goes to the line and hits one free throw to make it a 118-105 game. The West misses on a long outlet pass for a turnover, and Amar’e cuts it to an 11 points game. Maybe they’re just making it close so Pop has an excuse to put Kobe back in.

• Fresh lineup for the East right now: Rondo/Rose/Bron/Dwight/Amar’e. Like something you’d use in 2K11.

• Oh, should mention that I ended up hanging out for a while earlier today with Dennis Dixon, backup QB with the Pittsburgh Steelers, formerly with the Oregon Ducks. Really cool dude, and a big hoops fan.

• 7:44 to go and Kobe returns. The East cuts it to 129-118, then Bron misses a three that would have made it a single-digit game.

• Kobe makes a free throw, misses the second as the ball bounces right back to him, and he drains the 15-footer to get to 37 points.

• Bron hits Bosh for a score, giving Bron 25, 12 and 9, and making it 134-127 with 4:34 left. Could the East come back and win this?

• The East shows a double on Kobe, and the West works the ball around finds CP3 for a 3. Next play down, Bron gets an assist and ticks over the triple-double mark: 25-12-10.

• Amar’e scores to make it 137-133, and then the East gets a rebound and Bron draws a shooting foul.Durant answers to keep the lead at 4 with 2 minutes left. Durant then drains a three (on a dish from Kobe, who is willingly giving it up as the defense focuses on him) to make it 142-135. 1:44 to go.

• Out of a timeout, Amar’e nails a three to cut it to 142-138. Not sure that was the play Doc drew up.

• Kobe misses a jumper from the wing and Pau tips in the miss. Players on both benches all standing up, as Bosh misses a three that could have cut it to one.

• 20 seconds left, Bron gives a foul and sends CP3 to the line with the West up 144-140. Makes the first, and the second. Doc Rivers calls a TO to draw up a 6 point play.

• Bron misses a three, but Ray Allen gets the rebound and hits a three while falling out of bounds in the corner. Three point game. East fouls Durant with 5.2 left.

• Pop sends in Kevin Love for Kobe, giving the crowd a chance to cheer for him. They don’t cheer because it’s all celebrities in the arena.

• And that’s it. The West wins, 148-143, in a game that was actually a lot closer than it looked like it was going to be. Kobe finishes with 37 and 14. Bron went for the triple-dip, but the East couldn’t keep up with the West.

Thanks for hanging with us tonight. We gotta bounce to make the red-eye back to NYC. Trade deadline coming up this week…stick with us on SLAMonline…