Fans send Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett to bench in latest All-Star balloting

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Apparently Boston sports fans have been so focused on what Tom Brady is going to do to the Jets secondary they forgot to vote for the NBA All-Star Game starters.

How else do you explain the latest release of NBA All-Star voting which drops two Celtics from the starting lineup? Chicago’s Derrick Rose has leapfrogged Rajon Rondo for the second starting guard spot in the East. At the same time, the Knicks Amar’e Stoudemire has passed the injured Kevin Garnett for the second starting forward spot.

The leads are not large — Rose is just 54,264 votes ahead of Rondo, while Stoudemire leads Garnett by a healthier 93,847 (that may be hard to make up). If the voting doesn’t change, the Celtics would have no starters in the All-Star Game. Which seems wrong.

The rest of the positions remain the same from the last round of released votes. In the East, Miami’s Dwyane Wade would start with Rose at guard; LeBron James would start at forward with Stoudemire, and Orlando center Dwight Howard remains the highest vote getter in the East overall and would start as well.

For the West, Kobe Bryant is still the guy who has gotten more votes than anyone in either conference (1,757,216) and would start with Chris Paul in the backcourt. The West forwards remain Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony.

If Anthony and his 945,720 votes were traded to the New Jersey Nets or New York Knicks (or any team in the East) before the game his votes would travel with him. And that vote total would have him fourth among Eastern forwards, still well behind James, Stoudemire and Garnet. Meanwhile, Pau Gasol is third in the Western Conference forward balloting and likely would move up to start.

The other question is center for the West — word that Yao Ming is out for the season has apparently not reached China, where voters keep punching his ticket to Los Angeles for the game. He is hundreds of thousands of votes ahead of second place Andrew Bynum of the Lakers.

When (not if, when) Yao is selected, the Western Conference coach (come on down, Gregg Popovich) gets to select who will start at center. He could choose Bynum, or he could slide a forward playing a lot of center for his team — Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan — over to the slot to alleviate the log jam at Western Conference forward. Popovich is not bound by the ballot fans have when he makes his choices.

Voting is still open and will remain open for 10 more days. The fan voting selects the five All-Star game starters. The coaches then select the seven reserve players. NBA Commissioner David Stern then adds a 13th player to the roster.

NBA All-Star Weekend will take place Feb. 18-20 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Robin Lopez helpfully stopped to tie Jae Crowder’s shoe (VIDEO)

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Why did Robin Lopez tie Jae Crowder‘s shoe during Sunday’s Game 4 between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls? We may never know. Perhaps he was just helping the Celtics forward after he tossed him to the ground? Or maybe he’s just doing weird Robin Lopez things?

In any case, Lopez helpfully stopped to tie Crowder’s shoe after it came off during a battle down low early in the third quarter at United Center.

Here’s how it went down.

Via Twitter:

I still have no idea.

Noticeably frustrated, Russell Westbrook gets prickly with reporter after loss to Rockets (VIDEO)

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The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets played an ugly game down the stretch on Sunday. The Rockets employed a hack-a-Andre Roberson strategy, while the Thunder played sloppy and often poorly with Russell Westbrook out of the game.

The latter was the subject in question when Oklahoman reporter Berry Tramel spoke with Westbrook and Steven Adams at a postgame press conference following the Game 4 loss, 113-109.

Tramel’s question — whether the Rockets got a boost when Westbrook was off the floor — was directed at Adams, but the Thunder MVP candidate couldn’t let it go.

Snapping at Tramel, Westbrook told him not to split them up.

Via Twitter:

Tramel’s question is legitimate, and one of the overarching themes of this series thus far. Westbrook’s response is pretty far off the mark, but it did tell the story of how he’s feeling going away from Chesapeake Arena down 3-1.

Game 5 is on Tuesday in Houston.

Kevin Love throws full court pass to LeBron James for sweet and-1 bucket (VIDEO)

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Kevin Love and LeBron James were locked in an epic battle with the Indiana Pacers during the first half of Sunday’s Game 4 playoff matchup. Part of that matchup included yet another long, full court pass between the Cleveland Cavaliers duo.

Love, as you might guess, was the passer and LeBron was again the receiver.

The play came in the final minute of the second quarter, with Love nabbing a rebound from the right block and LeBron jetting down the floor.

Love’s pass was perfectly placed, and Paul George just didn’t have the strength to keep him from getting the and-1.

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.

Nene’s 28 lead Rockets past Thunder for 3-1 series lead

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Nene scored 28 points on perfect shooting from the field, and the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109 on Sunday to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Nene made all 12 of his shots and had 10 rebounds. He helped the Rockets overcome an off night by James Harden, who finished with 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting.

Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each scored 18 points for the Rockets. Trevor Ariza had 14.

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Houston.

Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook had a triple-double by halftime and finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. The Thunder said Westbrook joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to claim three consecutive playoff triple-doubles.

Steven Adams scored 18 points and Victor Oladipo added 15 for the Thunder.

Westbrook had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at the break. He grabbed the 10th rebound in the final second of the second quarter, and the Thunder led 58-54 at intermission. Meanwhile, Harden made just 2 of 9 shots and scored just six points in the first half.

The Thunder opened the second half with a 10-2 run, but Houston closed to 77-73 at the end of the third quarter.

Adams made the first of two free throws with 21.7 seconds remaining to cut Oklahoma City’s deficit to four. He rebounded his missed second free throw and found Westbrook for a 3-pointer that cut Houston’s lead to one point. But the Thunder lost track of Nene on the other end, and he converted a three-point play. Gordon’s two free throws with 6.2 seconds made it a four-point game.

TIP-INS

Rockets: G Patrick Beverley was fined $25,000 by the NBA for confronting a fan after Game 3. The league announced the fine about two hours before Game 4 tipped off.

Thunder: Westbrook had just one turnover in the first half. … Adams went 6 for 6 from the field in the first half. … Westbrook missed all six of his shots in the third quarter.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.