LeBron, Curry, Kobe voted All-Star Game starters — but Kobe doesn’t want to play

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You voted for them, so here they are — your 2014 NBA All-Star Game starters:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Backcourt: Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Frontcourt: LeBron James (Miami Heat), Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Backcourt: Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Frontcourt: Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves), Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)

When the votes were last released Love was more than 26,000 votes behind ofDwight Howard and 18,000 back of Griffin, but somehow Howard just dropped off the map.

To that, I say well done fans — it’s not that Howard has been bad, but Love has been better. Love deserved this starting nod. More than that, the removal of Howard could free up a frontcourt reserve spot (voted on by the coaches and announced next week) for DeMarcus Cousins and/or Anthony Davis (as well as LaMarcus Aldridge), both of whom have been more deserving based on their play the first half of the season. Although most likely the coaches will pick Howard.

Kobe’s play the first half of the season didn’t earn him a spot —  he’s been in six games between his Achilles and knee injuries — and while the fans voted him in reaction was he didn’t want to go.

Kobe had asked fans to vote for younger players such as Damian Lillard. Curry, with  1,047,281 votes, got more than Kobe (988,884).

If Kobe is healthy enough to play for the Lakers prior to the All-Star Game he would have to get a special waiver from the NBA to skip the All-Star game, and that’s not likely. Not impossible, but this is a showcase event for the league and they want to give the fans what they want. And they want Kobe. That said, if he is out it could free up a spot for someone such as Goran Dragic or Mike Conley, who have played very well the first half of the season and deserve recognition  (Damian Lillard is a lock to be chosen by the coaches as a reserve, along with Chris Paul).

Fan votes determine the All-Star Game starters LeBron was the top vote getter with 1,416,419 votes, followed closely by Durant with 1,396,294 votes.

We got four first time starters this year.  Curry went from the guy snubbed last year to a starter, getting more votes than Chris Paul and vault into a starter’s spot. Love’s late charge makes him a first time starter. Out east, Paul George and Kyrie Irving will get the start.

Errors? There were a couple in my book. We discussed Kobe, he would not have had my vote. I would argue you could start John Wall over Irving, or LaMarcus Aldridge over Griffin, but at least all the guys who got the fan votes are playing well there. 

Now the voting switches to the coaches (or, more accurately, whomever the coaches delegate the task to) to pick the reserves. Those will be announced.

The All-Star Game is Sunday Feb. 16 in New Orleans — be ready for lots of Pierre the Pelican in your grill. The Friday before is the Rising Stars challenge, then on Saturday comes the Dunk Contest, Skills Contest and the rest of that fun.

Lakers fans give Dwyane Wade standing ovation, check out L.A. tribute video

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Lakers fans take a lot of abuse from other fan bases, some of it well deserved, but the core fans know the game.

And they know how much Dwyane Wade has meant to it.

Which is why they gave him a standing ovation when he checked into the game Monday night in Los Angeles.

The Lakers also put together a tribute video that played in the arena.

Classy move, Lakers. Well done.

Pacers’ Myles Turner shuts down Bradley Beal at the rim (VIDEO)

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Myles Turner owned the paint in the first half — the Pacers’ center had five blocked shots in the first 24 minutes.

The big shut down was on Bradley Beal, this is how a big man recovers and goes after it.

Then later there was this play leading to a bucket on the other end.

Turner has had a strong defensive season in the paint so far for the Pacers, a big step for him. He’s sixth among centers in ESPN’s defensive real plus/minus stat (which has its flaws but is a good snapshot).

Washington learned that the hard way.

 

Report: Houston kicking tires on J.R. Smith trade with Cavaliers

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The Houston Rockets desperately need help on the wing (among other things, but wing is the personnel focus). The Rockets would also like to have less salary on the books next season, giving them some flexibility and lowering the tax bill.

J.R. Smith fits both of those bills, so Houston and GM Daryl Morey are at least taking a look at a potential trade, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times.

While there is some logic to this, we are a long way from it being a reality. Smith does not exactly have a positive trade value, at least as a player right now.

Smith was part of the rotation that helped the LeBron-led Cavaliers reach the NBA Finals last season, but he will be best remembered for the Game 1 blunder in the Finals that deflated the Cavs. Without the playmaking of LeBron, Smith struggled to start this season, shooting 34 percent for the Cavaliers in limited minutes, before going on hiatus from the team. That said, in a better situation where he was asked to play a small and specific role, maybe he could still help.

Smith is guaranteed $18.59 million this season but only $3.87 million of his $15.68 million salary for next season is guaranteed.

Houston seems a logical fit. Money wise, a Brandon Knight for Smith trade works, but the Rockets will have to throw in picks or other sweeteners to get the Cavaliers interested. Cleveland also likely will be patient, hoping that as the deadline gets closer there is a little bidding war for Smith.

Still, the Rockets are active on the trade market (as always), and they need wings, so this is worth keeping an eye on.

Lakers’ Rajon Rondo has fluid drained from hand slowing his recovery from surgery

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Rajon Rondo has been out more than three weeks following surgery to repair the third metacarpal bone in his shooting hand (his right hand), and while there has been no official timeline he was expected back in the next week or two. He’s been out on the court before recent Lakers’ games getting in some work.

But he has now hit a bit of a setback, Lakers’ coach Luke Walton said on Wednesday. Here is what Walton said, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“There’s a little bit of swelling,” Walton said at Lakers shootaround on Monday in advance of his team’s game against the Miami Heat. “We’re going to shut him down for a few days then get back out after it again.”

It’s not clear when Rondo will return. He was averaging 8.5 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds a game before the injury.

The Lakers have gone 8-4 since Rondo went to the bench with his fractured hand. Without the veteran point guard, LeBron James has had the ball in his hands more as a playmaker (to Magic Johnson’s frustration at times), paired with Lonzo Ball (who has started to show some real chemistry with LeBron). The Lakers offense hasn’t been particularly good in these past dozen games, bottom 10 in the league, but they have balanced that with a top 7 defense. The Lakers are getting wins thanks to that defense and enough LeBron shot creation to get it done.

The Lakers are going to have to keep getting it done and now without Brandon Ingram, too, who is expected to miss a few more games with a sprained ankle.