Bryant made a request to coach Gregg Popovich with about six minutes left and the West clinging to a 123-120 lead.
"He was talking during the timeout saying he wanted to take [James] one-on-one, and he did a pretty good job," West all-star Tony Parker said.
Chris Paul got Most Valuable Player honors after scoring 20 points and dishing out a game-high 15 assists. But once the buzzer sounded, the talk of the game wasn't CP3, Kevin Durant, or Carmelo Anthony. Rather, it was Kobe vs. LeBron.
James finished with 19 points, but only one point was scored once Bryant took over the defensive duties. He blocked two shots, stole a ball, and let James know all about it on the court.
"Just taking the challenge and settling in a little bit when the game gets close," Bryant said. "It's fun. I enjoy it."
Bryant surprised the sellout crowd by blocking James' 19-foot jumper with 2:39 left. Durant followed with a fast-break dunk five seconds later to give the West a 136-126 lead. The West appeared to have victory in hand, but the relentless Bryant wanted more. Bryant stole the ball from James with 53.9 seconds left which led to a Griffin dunk. And for good measure, Bryant blocked another James shot with 41 seconds left.
Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose participated in five-on-five drills Monday, the latest step in his recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after practice that Rose "did what everyone else did."
Rose has been sidelined since he was hurt in last season's playoff-opening win over the 76ers. The top-seeded Bulls wound up losing that series.
Rose caused a stir last week when he said he was prepared to miss the whole season rather than return too soon.
- Inquirer wire services