New Orleans, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - The NBA's best and brightest head to the
Big Easy on Sunday night to play in the 63rd All-Star Game at Smoothie King
LeBron James of the Miami Heat was the leading vote-getter as he starts his
10th All-Star Game.
"It's great being here, man, and it's nice to see all your fellow guys around
the league, both East and West," said James. "I'm honored to be here once
again and excited to be part of this."
He is joined in the East's starting lineup by Heat teammate Dwyane Wade (10th
appearance), Cleveland's Kyrie Irving (2nd), Indiana's Paul George (2nd) and
New York's Carmelo Anthony (7th).
The leading vote-getter out West was Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, who
finished second to James in overall voting and will be in his fifth All-Star
Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors is going to make his All-Star debut
as he earned the most votes in the West backcourt.
Kobe Bryant was voted into the other starting spot, despite playing just six
games this season. His knee injury precluded him from participating and
commissioner Adam Silver named New Orleans Pelicans' Anthony Davis to replace
him on the roster.
Head coach Scott Brooks of OKC selected Bryant's replacement in the starting
lineup and that man will be Brook's former player, James Harden of the Houston
LA Clipper Blake Griffin (4th appearance) and Minnesota's Kevin Love (3rd)
round out the starting five.
Pacers skipper Frank Vogel will coach the Eastern Conference team.
The reserves, as always, were selected by the conference coaches and offered
little in terms of controversy.
Much like the fan vote, coaches were tasked with selecting two backcourt
players, three frontcourt players and two wild-cards.
The visitors from the East will have newbies in Washington's John Wall,
Toronto's DeMar DeRozan and Atlanta's Paul Millsap. Miami's Chris Bosh will
make his ninth appearance and fellow veterans Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets
(7th), Indiana's Roy Hibbert (2nd) and Chicago's Joakim Noah (2nd) complete
the second unit.
The Western reserves are a more veteran-laden group. Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki
(12th), Clipper Chris Paul (7th), San Antonio's Tony Parker (6th) and Dwight
Howard (8th) of the Houston Rockets. Portland has two representatives in
LaMarcus Aldridge (3rd) and Damian Lillard (1st).
Davis will make his All-Star debut in just his second season.
"I stayed in the gym last summer trying to get better, and I'm doing the same
thing this summer. And I have a lot to work on," said Davis. "And to be
selected in the All-Star Game and the numbers that I'm putting up is amazing,
but I know that I have a lot to do."
The West is on a three-game winning streak.
Last year, Paul earned MVP honors with 20 points, 15 assists and four steals
as the West prevailed, 143-138 in Houston. Durant became the first player in
history to score 30-plus points in three straight All-Star games.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this matchup, (other than both teams in
sleeved uniforms), is with the new voting regulations, the East doesn't have a
traditional big man in the starting lineup.
James has a wide array of post moves and he may be forced to jump center. He,
Anthony and George might have a hard time matching up with the much bigger
frontline of Durant, Griffin and Love.
"I guess it would probably help more, but I'm okay with the way it's done,"
coach Vogel said of fans no longer voting for a center.
The West has taken four of the last five meetings and five of the last seven.
The Sports Network