Miami Heat v Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard leads everyone in first All-Star ballot returns

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You didn’t love Dwight Howard as much as Derrick Rose and LeBron James when it came time to award the MVP last year (I know you didn’t get to vote on that, neither did I, but sentiment on this site ran heavy to Rose among commenters).

But you love him now.

Howard, the Magic’s center, is the leading vote getter in the East and overall in the first All-Star ballot returns released by the NBA Thursday. The game is scheduled for Feb. 26 in Orlando. (And you wonder why Orlando isn’t going to seriously consider trades for Howard until after that game.)

James leads all forwards and is second in the East, followed closely for second overall by Rose.

Out West, Kobe Bryant is the overall vote leader followed closely by Kevin Durant. But look who is the current leading vote getter to be the West’s starting center?

By the way — if you are thinking of voting for JaVale McGee at center in the East, you should vote for Al Horford instead. And same with Jose Calderon, the Toronto guard who has outplayed Deron Williams so far this season. Just a suggestion.

Here are the first round of results (top 5 at each position). There are 19 days of voting left.

Eastern Conference

Forwards: LeBron James (Miami) 640,789; Carmelo Anthony (New York) 496,351; Amar’e Stoudemire (New York) 178,797; Kevin Garnett (Boston) 173,161; Chris Bosh (Miami) 140,601.

Guards: Derrick Rose (Chicago) 640,476; Dwyane Wade (Miami) 637,912; Rajon Rondo (Boston) 253,969; Ray Allen (Boston) 174,934; Deron Williams (New Jersey) 89,128.

Centers: Dwight Howard (Orlando) 754,737; Joakim Noah (Chicago) 75,038; Tyson Chandler (New York) 61,774; Joel Anthony (Miami) 41,832; JaVale McGee (Washington) 24,713.

Western Conference

Forwards: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City) 633,538; Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers) 394,264; Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas) 231,832; Pau Gasol (L.A. Lakers) 185,428; Kevin Love (Minnesota) 143,814.

Guards: Kobe Bryant (L.A. Lakers) 690,613; Chris Paul (L.A. Clippers) 540,173; Ricky Rubio (Minnesota) 133,520; Steve Nash (Phoenix) 118,922; Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma city) 107,197.

Centers: Andrew Bynum (L.A. Lakers) 496,597; DeAndre Jordan (L.A. Clippers) 134,961; Marc Gasol (Memphis) 102,116; Nenê (Denver) 94,167; Marcin Gortat (Phoenix) 62,631.

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.