Latest All-Star voting returns in, Charles Barkley will not be happy

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Apparently, you folks have no concern whatsoever for Charles Barkley’s feelings.

The day after Barkley said Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett have not played well enough to be part of the All-Star starters, they are both in. Howard solidly, he’s a lock, and Garnett has stretched out his lead over Chris Bosh.

Basically, nothing has really changed since last time we reported the results, including Kobe Bryant remaining the top overall vote getter. Fans get to vote in the starting five in each conference for the All-Star Game is Feb. 17 in Houston. These lineups look pretty locked in and they are:

East: Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett.

West: Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard.

There are only two races that really could change and neither looks likely. As noted above Bosh is within striking distance of Garnett at just under 28,000 votes behind (that’s a lot to make up but not impossible). In the West, Jeremy Lin remains about 46,000 votes back of Chris Paul for the second starting spot in the backcourt. With just more than a week left of voting any change in the starters is unlikely. There has been some movement farther down on the lists, but the focus is starting to turn to who the coaches will bring in and what players will come down with sudden ailments that will keep them out of the game.

Voting is open online or at games through Jan. 14, with the fan votes choosing the starters and the rest of the team filled in by votes from team coaches. Here is where the voting stands as of now:

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

Frontcourt:
1. LeBron James (Mia) 1,151,304
2. Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 1,054,099
3. Kevin Garnett (Bos) 390,751
4. Chris Bosh (Mia) 362,973
5. Tyson Chandler (NYK) 315,752
6. Paul Pierce (Bos) 205,096
7. Joakim Noah (Chi) 158,743
8. Josh Smith (Atl) 131,508
9. Anderson Varejao (Cle) 116,166
10. Shane Battier (NYK) 107,190

Backcourt:
1. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 765,077
2. Rajon Rondo (Bos) 675,822
3. Deron Williams (BKN) 350,618
4. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 308,878
5. Ray Allen (Mia) 232,441
6. Monta Ellis (Mil) 84,609
7. Raymond Felton (NYK) 77,123
8. Jrue Holiday (Phi) 66,514
9. Jason Terry (Bos) 62,189
10. Brandon Jennings (Mil) 56,826

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Frontcourt:
1. Kevin Durant (OKC) 1,088,797
2. Dwight Howard (LAL) 716,671
3. Blake Griffin (LAC) 593,024
4. Tim Duncan (SA) 352,534
5. Pau Gasol (LAL) 239,440
6. Kevin Love (Min) 221,291
7. Omer Asik (Hou) 160,935
8. Rudy Gay (Mem) 140,864
9. Serge Ibaka (OKC) 134,172
10. Marc Gasol (Mem) 114,465

Backcourt:
1. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,177,456
2. Chris Paul (LAC) 651,893
3. Jeremy Lin (Hou) 605,624
4. James Harden (Hou) 337,585
5. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 268,558
6. Steve Nash (LAL) 202,274
7. Tony Parker (SA) 128,966
8. Ricky Rubio (Min) 112,352
9. Stephen Curry (GS) 97,761
10. Manu Ginobili (SA) 84,564

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.