LeBron James passes Kevin Durant for most All-Star votes, Alex Caruso cracks leaderboard

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The NBA is proceeding toward holding an All-Star game as planned. All the complaints aren’t changing that.

Likewise, fan All-Star starter voting is continuing with minimal changes. The latest voting results look quite similar to the initial returns:

Eastern Conference

Guards

1. Bradley Beal (WAS) 2,528,719

2. Kyrie Irving (BRK) 2,104,130

3. James Harden (BRK) 1,829,504

4. Jaylen Brown (BOS) 1,062,888

5. Zach LaVine (CHI) 936,309

6. Trae Young (ATL) 737,126

7. Collin Sexton (CLE) 365,942

8. Derrick Rose (NYK) 342,177

9. Russell Westbrook (WAS) 339,498

10. Fred VanVleet (TOR) 255,161

Frontcourt

1. Kevin Durant (BRK) 4,234,433

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 3,282,478

3. Joel Embiid (PHI) 3,022,105

4. Jayson Tatum (BOS) 1,680,780

5. Jimmy Butler (MIA) 662,691

6. Bam Adebayo (MIA) 578,133

7. Domantas Sabonis (IND) 397,711

8. Julius Randle (NYK) 387,114

9. Gordon Hayward (CHA) 352,667

10. Jerami Grant (DET) 282,605

Western Conference

Guards

1. Stephen Curry (GSW) 4,033,050

2. Luka Doncic (DAL) 2,484,552

3. Damian Lillard (POR) 2,095,157

4. Donovan Mitchell (UTA) 479,241

5. Ja Morant (MEM) 437,632

6. Devin Booker (PHO) 391,116

7. Chris Paul(PHO) 278,128

8. Klay Thompson (GSW) 225,169

9. CJ McCollum (POR) 218,160

10. Alex Caruso (LAL) 214,997

Frontcourt

1. LeBron James (LAL) 4,369,533

2. Nikola Jokic (DEN) 3,006,981

3. Kawhi Leonard (LAC) 2,462,621

4. Anthony Davis (LAL) 2,329,371

5. Paul George (LAC) 1,024,233

6. Zion Williamson (NOP) 842,439

7. Andrew Wiggins (GSW) 552,661

8. Christian Wood (HOU) 525,018

9. Brandon Ingram (NOP) 433,041

10. Carmelo Anthony (POR) 346,812

LeBron James passed Kevin Durant for most fan votes. That distinction won’t change much. Both will be selected as All-Star starters. But there’s a stature that comes with being the overall vote leader, as LeBron has been the previous four years.

As for the starter races:

  • Eastern Conference guards: Kyrie Irving gained a little separation from James Harden in the most interesting race that actually matters. The Nets guards are in a tight competition to start next to Bradley Beal, who not only leads the fan vote but should also rate favorable with media and players.
  • Eastern Conference frontcourt: Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid continue to look like locks to start. They’ll probably finish 1-2-3 in media and player voting, too.
  • Western Conference guards: Stephen Curry still holds a large advantage in fan voting, which puts him in the driver’s seat to start. Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard are battling for the other spot. Doncic’s moderate lead in fan voting gives him the edge.
  • Western Conference frontcourt: LeBron is an absolutely lock to start, and Nikola Jokic isn’t far behind. Anthony Davis remains in striking distance of Kawhi Leonard for the third starting spot. Davis probably must pass Leonard to have a chance of starting. Leonard – having a better season – will likely win the media vote and probably the player vote, too.

Not much changed in the rankings within each position. Donovan Mitchell (fifth to fourth), Klay Thompson (10th to eighth) and Alex Caruso (unlisted to 10th) moved up and Ja Morant (fourth to fifth), C.J. McCollum (eighth to ninth) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (ninth to unlisted) moved down among Western Conference guards. In the East, Fred VanVleet surpassed Ben Simmons for 10th place at guard.

It can be fun to track the full vote standings. But none of those players are starting the All-Star game, regardless. It’s just window dressing.

Really, the entire fan vote is less consequential than it used to be. The fan vote now counts for just 50% of the starting formula, with media and player votes each accounting for 25%. Coaches still pick the All-Star reserves. The NBA doesn’t want Caruso’s surge to actually lead anywhere.

So, while there’s outsized attention on the fan vote, it’s just a small component of who actually plays in the All-Star game.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.

Watch Lakers fan drain half-court shot to win $75,000

Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers
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It might have been the loudest the crypto.com Arena was all night.

Between the third and fourth quarters, Lakers fan Jamie Murry of Downey won $75,000 draining a half-court shot — and he got to celebrate with Anthony Davis.

Murry’s celebration is the best part — with Anthony Davis coming out to celebrate with him (and seeming a little shocked by the hug).

One other big shot fell at this game, but Lakers’ fans didn’t like it as much — Pacers’ rookie Andrew Nembhard drained a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired.