DENVER, Feb. 20 -- By the end of the first half, it was a foregone conclusion that Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas was not going to make good on his prediction that he would win the most valuable player award in the 54th NBA All-Star Game.
Arenas had missed his first four shots and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett laughed at him as he went into the locker room with as many points as his jersey number -- zero. So much for being bold.
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"I was just being me," Arenas said after the East beat the West, 125-115, on Sunday night at Pepsi Center. Arenas finished with seven points in 15 minutes in his all-star debut.
Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson went home with his second all-star game MVP trophy after scoring 15 points while grabbing 10 assists and five steals. His first MVP award came in 2001 in Washington -- the last time the Eastern Conference prevailed.
Iverson also helped calm down Arenas, who admitted that he was "nervous" on Sunday night.
"Your first time getting out there, your legs are still jibbly, you don't know what to expect," Arenas said. "But it was fun, I had a great time."
So did seventh-year forward Antawn Jamison, who scored five points in 13 minutes in his all-star debut. Arenas and Jamison gave Washington two all-stars for the first time since 1987 -- when Jeff Malone and Moses Malone represented the Bullets -- and they were on the floor together briefly in the third quarter. Jamison was done scoring by then, and he had already won a wager with his brother-in-law, Vince Carter of the New Jersey Nets. Carter bet Jamison before the game that his first shot would be an air ball -- but Jamison missed a running jumper.
"I lost," Carter said, laughing. "He took my advice and started in close. That was smart."
Jamison knocked down a three-pointer in the second quarter, then followed with a layup to tie the game at 45.
"If I can say one thing that I would do differently -- it would be nothing. A first-time all-star, it was a great feeling. I'm happy," said Jamison, who felt he should have made at least two all-star teams as a member of the Golden State Warriors. "I really enjoyed myself."
For the first time since 1981, no player scored at least 20 points in a game. Seattle's Ray Allen had a game-high 17 points to lead the West, and the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant had 16 points. Tim Duncan had 15 points and nine rebounds.
The game was billed as a coming out party for the latest league savior, the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James. The 20-year-old, second-year guard scored 13 points and excited the crowd with a breakaway slam dunk in the third quarter.
Carter provided the highlight of the night when he copied his cousin Tracy McGrady's signature all-star dunk, lobbing the ball off the glass to himself, then whirling and hammering a one-handed jam. McGrady, the Houston Rockets' guard, made a similar move during all-star games in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. On Sunday night, he lobbed the ball off the glass to himself in the fourth quarter but adjusted the finish with a finger roll.
Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal had 15 points and Miami's Dwyane Wade had 14 points for the East, which was bolstered in the offseason when the Heat acquired center Shaquille O'Neal from the Lakers. O'Neal finished with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
Arenas claimed that O'Neal bet him $10,000 that he wouldn't take off his warmup shirt during pregame introductions. When Arenas was announced, he waved it over his head as he looked to the crowd, then he shimmied before racing to his spot on the floor.
"I didn't think he was going to do it," Wade said. "He's got to be remembered, he said."
After the game, Arenas shouted, "He owes me $10,000!" Then, Arenas said O'Neal told him he had his fingers crossed. After the game, Arenas tossed a pair of red patent-leather shoes into the stands, but he abandoned his tradition of throwing his jersey. This time, Arenas held it for his father, Gilbert Sr.
"He's my number one fan," Arenas said. "It's for him."