Basketball: Westbrook's star shines brightest with 41-point effort in NBA All-Star Game

NEW YORK - Russell Westbrook scored 41 points, one shy of the All-Star record, as the Western Conference All-Stars beat their Eastern Conference counterparts 163-158 in the annual NBA All-Star Game on Sunday night.

The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard had a record 27 points by half-time and closed out the scoring with two free throws, falling one point shy of Wilt Chamberlain's 42 points in the 1962 game. He was voted the game's Most Valuable Player, reported ESPN.com.

The NBA's return to New York showed off everything about the Big Apple, and by the time Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" played after the game, it was clear Westbrook was king of the hill.

"It's amazing. It's a blessing to be here in New York City," Westbrook said during the MVP ceremony.

James Harden added 29 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the West, which built a 20-point lead in the first half and then pulled away after it was tied at 148-all with a little more than four minutes remaining.

LeBron James finished with 30 points, but could not lead the East to the victory in his favourite NBA arena.

Right from the start, the players were sharing the stage. Christina Aguilera appeared from behind a giant big apple, and belted out some New York-inspired numbers to start the show, joined on stage by the Rockettes.

Entertainment's elite were all over the arena, with players hobnobbing with Jay-Z and Floyd Mayweather near their courtside seats at half-time. But the biggest roar came for former US president Bill Clinton, who had a big night of his own at Madison Square Garden when he was nominated here during the 1992 Democratic National Convention.

It was New York's first time hosting the weekend since 1998 and a rare journey to the north for the NBA, which has preferred to stage the festivities in the warmth of the South and West.

Pau Gasol won the jump ball against little brother Marc to begin the first All-Star game featuring two sibling starters. The West shot out to a 20-point lead, but the East chipped away and cut it to 83-82 before pop star Ariana Grande's half-time performance.

Carmelo Anthony struggled to 14 points on 6-of-20 shooting for the East in what may have been his final game of the season. The Knicks star has been battling a sore knee for much of the season and may opt for surgery with the team owning the NBA's worst record.

But even the Knicks' misery could not dampen the spirts for this basketball-rich city. Players on the floor were surrounded by some of New York's hoops royalty, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving. There was even time to celebrate the Knicks: former club greats Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Phil Jackson, Earl Monroe and Bernard King were honoured during a break in the action.