SEATTLE (AP) — Maya Moore provided the example, reigning league MVP Nneka Ogwumike gladly followed along, and Sue Bird received attention and recognition she deserved.
Those veterans on the West roster knew exactly how to turn the first WNBA All-Star Game in Seattle into a showcase.
"I thought it was a great game, a great pace. You don't want anybody to get hurt, but you also want to play with a certain intensity to show off your athleticism and I thought we were able to do that," Moore said.
Moore scored 23 points, Ogwumike added 22 points and the West outlasted the East 130-121 in the WNBA All-Star Game on Saturday, where most of the focus was on Seattle's 10-time All-Star playing in front of her home crowd.
The veteran West squad with 55 total All-Star Game selections on its roster, pulled away after a close first half. Moore made 9 of 17 shots, including five 3-pointers, while Ogwumike made 11 of 15 attempts off the bench. Bird had a hand in many of those baskets, finishing with a game-record 11 assists and eight points.
Moore was named the game's MVP for the second consecutive All-Star Game.
No matter what Moore, Ogwumike or impressive East standout Jonquel Jones did in the game, it was secondary to Bird. She was the focus of the entire weekend welcoming the All-Star Game to her adopted hometown for the first time. It was her record-tying 10th All-Star appearance for No. 10, although it was her hope not to have all the attention specifically on her.
Easier said than done. Bird received the loudest ovations as she was introduced , drowning out those that went to Taurasi, Seattle teammate Breanna Stewart and others.
"I know when she always talks about Seattle she always gloats and she always gets a smile on her face. So it was nice to see that love back to her and you can tell it's a mutual love," Taurasi said.
Bird seemed more interested in involving others than trying to take control of the game. Bird regularly bypassing her own shot to provide layup chances for Moore, Ogwumike, Candace Parker and others. Bird should have had one more assists after she dropped a no-look pass to Stewart, who proceeded to blow the wide open layup. Bird looked on in stunned amazement while Stewart sheepishly looked just as surprised.
The competitiveness started to emerge late as the East tried to rally from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit, but Bird's wide open 3-pointer with 4:05 left to push the West's lead back to 11. She threw her hands in the air after the make, following an underwhelming performance in the 3-point contest.
"I've got no complaints," Bird said. "Except the 3-point contest. I can complain about that. I was terrible."