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Usual suspects lead early All-Star balloting

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Results from the first few weeks of All-Star balloting are in and… well, it’s exactly what you’d expect. Pretty boring stuff, really. Lots of Heat, Celtics, Lakers and Chinese voters.

For the Eastern Conference, LeBron James would start at forward in the East with Kevin Garnett (Amar’e Stoudemire is third among East forwards), the guards would be Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo (Derrick Rose is third), and the center is Dwight Howard (Shaq is second but well back).

Kobe Bryant has gotten more votes than anyone else with 722,682. He would start at guard for the West with Chris Paul (Manu Ginobili is third ahead of Steve Nash, which shows you guys have been watching the games, bless you). Pau Gasol and Kevin Durant would be the starting forwards (Carmelo Anthony and Dirk Nowitzki trail them in the deepest position in the balloting, good luck cracking that group Blake Griffin) and Yao Ming would be your starting center, just ahead of Andrew Bynum.

Yao and Bynum have played seven games between them. We would take back what we said about you watching games, but really your other choices don’t impress. Brendan Haywood is third, which proves that medical marijuana prescriptions and voting go hand in hand for some people. Then comes the two guys who have earned consideration so far, Marc Gasol and Emeka Okafor. Vote for one of them. I suppose Yao and Bynum will be healthy by February, but come on, vote for the guys doing it on the court so far.

Voting remains open on line or at NBA arenas. The All-Star Game itself is Feb. 20 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Hassan Whiteside ejected for elbowing Boban Marjanovic in face (video)

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Hassan Whiteside defends himself when questions about his maturity early in his career with the Kings arise:

“That was a long time ago,” Whiteside said. “If they want to think about things that happened four, five years ago, that’s up to them.

“I don’t think it’s something that should follow me, but I really don’t know right now. That was years ago. Things didn’t work out in Sacramento. I worked my way to get back here. I could’ve easily gave up and went back home and just chilled. But I put in the work, and I feel like I’m a hard worker or I wouldn’t be here.”

But then he does something like this.

Gordon Hayward beats buzzer, Mavericks (video)

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 18:  Gordon Hayward #20 of the Utah Jazz during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Rodney Hood got the Jazz to overtime.

Gordon Hayward took it from there.

This extends Utah’s win streak to eight games and snaps a 10-game losing streak in Dallas. The last time the Jazz won in Dallas? Mavericks guard Deron Williams started – for Utah.*

*Those Jazz brought Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews off the bench. Dang

Rodney Hood sends Jazz-Mavericks to OT (video)

during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 18, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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Up three points and the final seconds winding down, the Mavericks had a great chance to intentionally foul Trey Lyles (a 62% free-throw shooter) with his back to the basket.

Instead, they allowed Rodney Hood to hit this shot and get the Jazz to overtime.

Avery Bradley fouls Khris Middleton, who makes game-winning free throw (video)

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The Bucks led the Celtics led the Bucks by 19 in the fourth quarter and four in the final minute.

But Boston completed its comeback when Jerryd Bayless committed a boneheaded foul on Kelly Olynyk with a second left, shoving Olynyk in the back on the inbound. Olynyk sunk both free throws to tie the game.

Then, Khris Middleton got Bayless off the hook.

Middleton drew a foul on Avery Bradley, who was trying to contest the game-winning shot. The Milwaukee wing made one free throw then intentionally the second, and Jae Crowder couldn’t replicate this.