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Tag:Chris Paul
Posted on: January 27, 2011 3:03 pm
Edited on: January 27, 2011 3:04 pm
 

Fans to vote on Skills Competition participants

Fans to vote on Skills Contest participants. Derek Fisher one of the candidates. We're not sure why.
Posted by Matt Moore

Did you know that this year, you, yes, you get to choose the participants of the most random, boring competition in the All-Star Saturday Night festivities?

Taco-Bell is giving fans a vote on which players they want to see in the Skills Competition. Chris Paul is the "spokesman" and therefore automatically in, but the rest will be chosen by vote. The list of candidates includes:  and...
  • Derek Fisher?

Let's take a look at the candidates, and what we think their odds are. 

Derrick Rose (-150):  He's got youth, speed, experience as a former winner, and oh, yeah, he did this. Rose is a massive favorite in our opinion, considering he's arguably the best point guard in the league, and the best point athlete of this bunch. He's got the competitive streak to want to win, and the skills involved are specifically suited to his game. Hence the previous pwnage. Being a huge star this league in a major market, he'll have no problems securing selection.

Chris Paul (-140): Nearly the favorite Rose is. Paul's a more accurate passer, more precise with this movements, nearly as fast, and the best overall point guard in this competition. The only reason he's behind Paul at all is injury questions and Paul being in the competition for the fourth time.  

Tony Parker (+150): Parker's a sexy dark horse pick here.  Solid in all areas of competition, healthier than he's been in years, a former Finals MVP, and he's a Spur. Toppling more flashy competition is what they do. His odds of getting voted in aren't as strong, considering the flash and shine of the other candidates, but he might make it off international recognition and veteran respect. 

Russell Westbrook (+250): Westbrook isn't the pure passer a lot of these players are but his handle and speed could be enough to put on a show. When in the zone he's as precise as any player in the league, and he's got a killer instinct rarely found in this league.  He could also go for the dunk approach Derrick Rose did when he won the event, only Westbrook can leap from the free throw line to cut down on time. Even playing in OKC, likely to be selected based off of star power and name recognition alongside Kevin Durant

Tyreke Evans (+450): The dribbling and passing could give him issues, and that's before the three-point shot. Reke's chances aren't great here as he excels based on athleticism. He's simply not the pure skill competitor that some of the other players are. Playing in Sacramento who's having a terrible year and having been forgotten about in a slump following a historic rookie season, Reke's chances at election aren't great. Small market, disappointing season, and bad team. Not a great combo for election, but he's still more likely to make it than some.

Stephen Curry (+200): Curry's a nice, sleek moneymaker to take here. He's an underdog based on name recognition and not being a top level point guard, but in terms of skill, he's got it to win this thing. A terrific passer with excellent control, fast and light to get through the cones, and range for miles, Curry could wind up shocking everyone with this thing, as long as he can make it in. With five of the eight expected to make it, he's got good odds. This is smart money.

John Wall (+500): Wall has been injury-prone this season, has been turnover prone, is a rookie on the big stage for the first time, and isn't a great shooter. BIG GIGANTIC RED FLAGS. Wall could get in based off of popularity, market, and name recognition. But his odds of stepping up and beating the rest of the competition are low. 

Baron Davis (+600): Injury prone? Check. Older? Yup. Inconsistent? Uh-huh. Not a great point? Surely. Biggest star on his team? Third, if we're being generous. Davis is very unlikely to make the vote, and should he somehow get in through the Clipper faithful, it's not likely he'll walk away with the trophy with so many faster guards he's up against. 

Derek Fisher (+7,858): No. Not at all. Not in any situation. Not a great passer. Aged like a German cheese. Not awesome on the dribble, either. I mean, there's no way this guy gets voted in, right? That would be like voting in Andrew Bynum to the All-Star game when he missed 3/4 of the season so far...oh. Never underestimate the power of the Lakers to get in to these things, but Fisher will not win, unless there's some sort of horrific banana peel accident. 


Posted on: January 27, 2011 1:30 am
 

Game Changer: Where the Spurs silenced the Jazz

Posted by Royce Young

THE BIG ONE: SAN ANTONIO KICKS UTAH WHILE ITS DOWN

That big red button is getting bigger by the night. I'm not typically one to punch a panic button in January, but boy, things are not going well in Utah right now.

But pull your finger away for now. Yes, the Jazz dropped a sixth straight. And yes, they trailed by as many as 19. But Utah showed some mettle at home, fighting back behind 39 points from Deron Williams and had the game within reach with under a minute yet.

Something about this game just said that the Jazz are going to figure things out. The Spurs are the league's best team and they aren't easy to beat anywhere. So the fact that the Jazz almost beat them means something. I think.

Though I'm sure Jerry Sloan doesn't want to hear anything remotely close to a moral victory.

On the other side, the Spurs moved to 39-7, which is just terrific. I loved the way they won this game. The execution late was just flawless. The way Manu Ginobili just makes winning play after winning play is astounding.

People want to say San Antonio is boring, but if beautiful basketball is boring, then sign me up for another borefest. Because watching the Spurs in the halfcourt move the ball, reverse it, set a pindown screen and find an open shooter is just basketball poetry. I could watch it all day.

KEVIN VS. KEVIN AND WE ALL WIN

You were probably too busy watching Jimmer Fredette, but holy cow I hope you at least caught a little of the Thunder and Timberwolves.

There were 19 total lead changes and eight in the final three minutes of regulation. The game went to overtime where Oklahoma City eventually edged Minnesota 118-117 because of a silky Kevin Durant jumper with 28 seconds left and a big free throw miss from Corey Brewer with six seconds left.

(Watch Durant's step-back jumper in the highlights though. It's just stupid good. Like how could anyone ever dream of stopping that?)

Don't get me wrong, the game was fun and terrific and all of that, but the two Kevins are really what stole the show. Kevin Durant tied his career-high with 47 points, 36 of which came after halftime. He also added a career-high 18 rebounds to go with it.

Kevin Love dropped another 30-20 game, this time going for 31 points and 21 rebounds, giving him 32 straight double-doubles and three 30-20 games on the season (nobody else even has one). Love had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation but his 12-foot jump hook just rimmed out.

That's the Thunder's eighth straight win over the Timberwolves, but this isn't one that just goes in the books and we forget about. It was really a great game that featured two incredible performances from two of the league's very, very best.


GO-GO-GADGET LINES

Kevin Durant dropped one of the season's best lines with 47 points on 15-28 shooting while grabbing a career-high 18 rebounds.

Kevin Love had another huge night scoring 31 points and grabbing 21 rebounds in a loss to OKC.

Dwight Howard had an otherwise nice games scoring 19 points and pulling in 16 rebounds. If it weren't for Kevin Love, Howard's line would've looked a bit better.

Deron Williams set a new season-high with 39 points and he also dished out nine assists.

Chris Paul had 18 points and 17 assists in the Hornets 10th straight win.

NOLA KEEPS IT MOVING

How freaking impressive are the Hornets right now? They won their 10th straight and while someone finally topped 100 points against them, it was the pace happy Warriors that did it and it came in garbage time.

During the 10-game streak, only two teams other than the Warriors have topped 100 and those games went into overtime. Against Golden State, New Orleans clamped down from the beginning, but also used some crisp, decisive offense to get off to a nice start, build a cushion and play with a lead the entire night.

All five Hornet starters notched double-figures with Chris Paul scoring 18 points and dishing out 17 assists. David West did his normal David West thing dropping 22 points on only 12 shots. And Trevor Ariza chipped in 19 on 7-11 shooting.

When the Hornets are scoring the ball, they're just about as good as anyone out there. Their defense is almost always there every night, but they find themselves in stretches trying to find baskets. Granted, it helped to be playing the Warriors, but when NOLA is scoring the ball and moving it like they did Wednesday (32 assists on 46 field goals), they match up with anybody.

Nobody was saying that a couple weeks ago when everyone was dying to write this team off. But here they come again. And look out.

JIMMER GETTING PROPS

Kevin Durant, just an hour removed from dropping 47 points on the Timberwolves tweeted last night about the game of the night, BYU's big win over undefeated San Diego State in which Cougar sensation Jimmer Fredette dropped 43 points.


A classic Durant move, giving props to someone else instead of playing up his own big night. It's why we love him.

PARTING THOUGHT

The 76ers quietly won again, moving to 20-25 on the season. But the way they won was the impressive part. The team scored 107 points, which is good. But the starters only put in 49 points. That means the Sixer bench poured in 58 points! Marresse Speights had 23, Lou Williams 15, Thaddeus Young 10 and Evan Turner 10.

The Sixers are figuring things out a bit lately and if that sort of depth is for real, they may be a lock for the playoffs in the East.
Posted on: January 25, 2011 4:50 am
 

Game Changer 1.25.11:

Detroit takes a perimeter attack, CP3 overwhelms with help, and Ruy Gay saves the day, all in today's Game Changer. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.  

THE BIG ONE: Detroit wings it to victory



You know? If the Pistons can get past their coach screwing with their rotations, their chemistry, and their play, and somehow manage to rely on the talent they have on this roster? This team ain't bad.  Austin Daye was the real hero here, and the youngster is proving that he's a big part of the Pistions' future. 20 points on 5-9 shooting, including 4-4 from the arc and 7 rebounds for Daye. Tayshaun Prince started at small forward, and added 20 points of his own, along with 6 assists, and Tracy McGrady had 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. That's right. The Pistons got 60 points from three small forwards in this game. Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Quentin Richardson combined for 15 points. When you lose a position battle by 45? Dwight Howard's 7 offensive boards aren't going to help much.

The Magic had five players out of their nine-man rotation with at least two turnovers, while the Pistons had just two out of their ten-man. Throw in some hot shooting from outside and the Pistons brought the Heat. Big win for the Pistons who continue to have one of the oddest seasons in memory. And guess what?

At 17-28, they're a game and a half back of the playoffs. Weird. 

THE N'ORLEANS HOMEFRONT: Victory through swarm



Trevor Ariza got busy. Ariza swarmed Kevin Durant down the stretch and it was one terrible shot after another, only this time he wasn't hitting any miracles. The Hornets threw multiple waves of pressure to keep the ball out of Russell Westbrook's hand after he had torched the Hornets time after time in this game, and in the end, it was David West's off-balance pivot jumper that won it for New Orleans. 

The Hornets at once seemed completely out-manned in this one and certifiably in control. Basically, whenever David West, Emeka Okafor, or Chris Paul got involved, they looked like the better squad, and when anyone else got involved it was not so much the case. Marcus Thornton was nice, if you think 10 points on 12 shots is nice, but in reality, none of the Hornets outside the Big 3 mattered much. What was relevant was a long stretch in the second and third quarter when Scott Brooks gave Eric Maynor the reins and watched as Chris Paul sliced him into roast beef. Maynor was simply not in a position to defend the MVP candidate, and it showed. 

A key play down the stretch saw Chris Paul steal the inbounds with the game tied, then come crashing down to the floor holding his ankle. Paul would walk it off, though. David West continues his reliable play and you have to think he and Okafor will determine how far this team goes in the playoffs. Okafor was at times brilliant, and at times extremely vulnerable as the Thunder crashed the glass time after time.  The Thunder held an 8% advantage in percentage of available offensive boards collected. 

Jeff Green had 19 points and wreaked havoc on the Hornets but had no shots in the final 3:16. 


GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:



Kevin Love: 24 points, 17 rebounds, 7 assists

Runner-Up:  Tyreke Evans: 26 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists

HERO OF THE DAY: RG doin' work








Posted on: January 18, 2011 12:02 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2011 12:06 pm
 

LeBron to Melo: 'You better team up with Stoud'

Posted by Royce Young

Carmelo Anthony spoke to Sports Illustrated recently for a piece that's set to be in this week's issue. And guess what Carmelo was asked about. Not his favorite winter accessory items, which is a shame because I really want to know.

Anthony said he talks to Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. But Melo isn't letting their ways of doing things influence him, most specifically LeBron. Melo said, "I would never go about it the way LeBron did it. If he could do it all over again, he wouldn't do it that way-he would do it a totally different way, I can guarantee you that."

The most interesting part to me though, is what LeBron reportedly said to Carmelo at his wedding. A lot was made about Chris Paul's toast where he talked about coming to New York to form a big three with Melo and Amar'e Stoudemire, but there was another interesting thing said.
What has gone unreported is that the scene was set by James, who on his way into the wedding was jeered by New Yorkers for shunning the Knicks two nights earlier during the live telecast of The Decision. 'If you want any chance against us in Miami,' he joked to Anthony, 'you'd better team up with Stoud in New York.'"
That was most definitely a joke from LeBron, but I'm sure it's stuck in Carmelo's mind. Anthony has talked a lot about how he wants to win a title and is going to go where he feels he has that chance. Denver has been a good team the past five years and by all appearances, will continue to be good. But Carmelo doesn't feel like the Nuggets have the weapons to get over the edge. He probably feels like he needs another star next to him. Like Amar'e. So maybe that joke has hung with Melo during this.

Which makes you of course wonder about what New Jersey has to offer. There's no star there waiting to play alongside Carmelo. Just Brook Lopez. So when people say Melo would have to be sold on the Nets' plan, it kind of starts making more and more sense.

Melo reiterated the goals he has for himself again, saying that his main ambition is to win a championship. But interestingly, he has a few other things on his mind. The article says that Melo wants to "presumably improve his Q rating," move closer to home (he was born in Brooklyn and raised in Baltimore) and last but obviously not least, he wants to cash in big time. He was asked if it's important for him to sign the three-year $65 million extension before a potential July lockout and Anthony said, "That's my goal."

This man has a lot of goals.

Melo said he fully believes that he'll be traded by the Feb. 24 trade deadline. It looked like things were tilting for a deal to be done this week, but again, we might be watching the talk Heat up only to fizzle out. But Feb. 24 is just a little over a month away. Hang in there.
Posted on: January 4, 2011 8:05 am
Edited on: January 4, 2011 8:08 am
 

Shootaround 1.4.11: Confident Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins pretty much guarantees a Boston Celtics title, Michael Jordan visits David Letterman almost 20 years ago, Kevin Love sets some more rebounding records, Allen Iverson has his paper straight and Delonte West will remain on the shelf for longer than he had hoped. Posted by Ben Golliver.  shootaround
  • Celtics center Kendrick Perkins tells Yahoo! Sports that Boston would have beaten the Los Angeles Lakers in last year's NBA Finals had he not injured his knee. He also says no one can touch the Celtics in a series this year. “In seven games I don’t think we can be beat by any team,” he said. “Too deep. Too much experience. Too many hard-working guys. Too many guys that have a chip on their shoulder.”
  • Washington Wizards forward Andray Blatche, who was involved in a nightclub fight with teammate JaVale McGee in December that led to some talk of him being traded, admitted to the Washington Post that the rumors are affecting his play. "That bothers me some," Blatche said. "But that's the name of the game. I just gotta keep trucking along with it."
  • Boston Celtics guard Delonte West was super ambitious in his hope to return to the court quickly after injuring his wrist earlier this season, but Celtics President Danny Ainge says West's return isn't expected until near the All-Star break in February, according to ESPNBoston.com.
  • Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus with an interesting note: "History suggests that the best teams should have already separated themselves from the pack. Over the six seasons since the NBA realigned for the 2004-05 campaign, 83.3 percent of the teams that led their division as of New Year's Day have gone on to win at least a share of the division title. Via Basketball-Reference.com, all six eventual division champions were on top on Jan. 1, 2010." 
Posted on: December 31, 2010 3:13 pm
 

The top 10 of 2010

Posted by Royce Young



Seems like every year around this time, people all start wondering, "Was this the best sports year ever?" The clip shows start rolling every bit of stock footage they have, put a catchy song to it, wipe of the hands and boom, 2010 is wrapped.

Other than the two clear-cut top NBA storylines that have already been covered (LeBron's decision and Los Angeles winning the title in seven games), what else was big from The Association in 2010? What else captivated, caught attention or was just downright excellent?

Well, I'm glad I asked. Here are the top 10 (for 2010, get it?) NBA stories from the past calendar year, excluding, um, the top two stories.

10. LeBron's elbow


Nothing really took over the 24 hour news cycle like a good Brett Favre story quite like LeBron's elbow. What was wrong with it? Can he actually play? Will he have to shoot everything left-handed?

But the elbow story was so much bigger than just an injury situation in the Cavaliers series against Boston. It really was the downfall of LeBron in Cleveland. He played one of the most confounding playoff games ever in Game 5, constantly deferring to teammates and really just stopping short of sitting down at mid-court and waiting for the game to end.

His Game 6 effort was better, but still, the image of LeBron tossing his No. 23 jersey to the floor after the final buzzer is something that's burned into the memory of Cleveland. It was the beginning of the end for LeBron in his home state. He left without the title he promised and quite frankly laid an egg in his last games there.

Maybe it was because of the elbow, maybe not. The elbow was the trunk of the story, but the branches stretched far and wide.

9. The NBA Hornets

I get the feeling this story didn't get played up near as big as it actually is. What we're basically seeing in New Orleans is the death of a franchise. Like right in front of us.

The league has stepped in and is trying all forms of CPR it can think  of, but with the attendance issues coupled with still bad situation in New Orleans, time is probably limited for the Hornets.

A league being forced to purchase one of its own teams isn't unprecedented, but it's surely not something you see every day. People like Phil Jackson have raised the question of how the league handles a situation like Chris Paul if it has greater interest in the Hornets and really, it's something for everyone to ponder.

8. Two tall people go down... again

It shouldn't really come as a surprise, but Yao Ming and Greg Oden are out for the season. Again. But it's more than that this time as both are facing career crossroads.

Yao has probably seen his last game as a member of the Houston Rockets with the team shopping his $17 million expiring contract and Oden will become a restricted free agent next summer, so who knows what happens from here for him.

The two big men aren't connected in any way, but the fact that two of the league's most promising seven-footers have been lost for yet another season is something that's nothing less than a shame. In a league running thin on true centers and post players that can affect the game on both ends, two have been shelved for the remainder of the season. But for them, it's a lot more about what comes next than just losing the 2010-11 season.

7.  Finga Gunz

The actual incident occurred in 2009, but the fallout and result of Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittendon's locker room showdown stretched into 2010.

David Stern suspended Arenas for the remainder of the season on Jan. 6, shortly after a game against the 76ers in which Arenas flashed his now infamous "Finga Gunz" during pregame introductions.

Arenas said his teammates asked him to do it, tweeting, "I know everybody seen the pre game pics..my teammate thought to break the tention we should do that..but this is gettn way to much." Immediately sensing how this was probably about to be something, he tweeted, "I wanna say sorry if I pissed any body off by us havin fun...I'm sorry for anything u need to blame for for right now."

Well it was something. Arenas would go on to apologize a month later for his actions in a Washington Post editorial and would get sentenced to two years' probation and 30 days in a halfway house another month later.

Of course "Finga Gunz" was basically the beginning of the end for Arenas tenure in Washington with him being traded to Orlando in early December.

6. The shadow of lockout


Just as we all start having a bunch of fun with this NBA season talking about how ratings are up 30 percent, how more people are attending games, talking about how much talent is in the league, we get another story about how the owners and players couldn't be farther apart on a new collective bargaining agreement.

It's pretty much a certainty at this point that there will be a lockout next summer. Will that produce a complete work stoppage and therefore a loss of games? Let's hope not.

The NBA is really enjoying one of its most popular times in a long time, drawing in younger audiences and totally supplanting baseball as the No. 2 sport in America. The league has recovered from the darker days earlier in the decade to come out with new stars, new energy and a game that's growing worldwide. A lockout wouldn't necessarily destroy that, but it's something that's cast a shadow over everything in 2010. And it will absolutely carry over through 2011.

5.The Summer of Durant

First came the scoring title, which made him the youngest ever to win it. Then came second in the MVP voting. Then came a playoff berth. Then came a fantastic six-game series between his Thunder and the eventual champion Lakers.

And all of that was really before Kevin Durant actually got everyone's attention.

It started with a simple tweet about his contract extension in Oklahoma City. It ended with him holding up a gold medal and MVP trophy for Team USA in Turkey, the first World Championship title for the United States since 1994.

In a summer where televised decisions, big contracts, PR and distractions ruled, Durant ended up owning our hearts during the summer of 2010 just by being himself. He was always humble, never fake, always said the right thing and played really, really good basketball in Turkey.

4. Blake Griffin, basketball destroyer


We had to wait an extra year to get our NBA introduction to Blake Griffin, but I think it was well worth it. Maybe my memory fails me here, but I don't think any rookie the past 20 years -- LeBron included -- captured the attention of people quite like Griffin.

We're talking about Los Angeles Clipper games being must-watch TV. We're talking about sellouts at Staples not for the purple and gold, but for the other tenant. We're talking about nightly highlights and the constant anticipation to see the Ultimate Blake Highlight that keeps us glued to the TV when he's playing and refreshing Twitter waiting to see a slew of "OH MY HEAVENS BLAKE GRIFFIN!!!!" tweets.

On top of that, it's just the way Griffin plays . It's controlled recklessness. He plays like every possession might be his last. He jumps with everything he's got for every rebound. He dives for everything. He falls hard, but gets up. The words "animal," "beast" and "monster" have been used to describe him. But I don't think those even fit.

Here's the thing though: He's actually quite good outside of the flashy dunks. He's averaging 21-12 and has a well-polished post game and has given Clipper fans a reason to hope.

3. The NBA does Dallas

This wasn't any old All-Star Game. It was 24 of the biggest basketball stars on the planet and 100,000 of their closest friends.

The NBA took its talents to Dallas, where indeed everything was bigger. The game was played in Jerry Jones death star, with a tiny basketball court placed in the middle of the monstrosity. The game itself was OK, but the glitz and glamor of the game was something else. It was the biggest crowd ever to see a basketball game and more than that, a basketball event for the ages.

To see LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant all standing on the hardwood while a giant scoreboard hung overhead and 100,000 people look on flashing cameras was unlike anything the NBA's ever seen.

2. The sagas of Carmelo and CP3

At some point, Carmelo Anthony will be traded. I'm convinced. But until then, we'll all just continue on reading every rumor, digesting every report and speculating on every trade scenario after trade scenario.

Whether it's the Nets, the Knicks or someone completely different, Carmelo is going somewhere. We've waited months to get that answer and after getting kind of a close a few times, we still just wait. But it's the daily story in the NBA with constant rumors and reports circulating everywhere about it.

But before Melo came Chris Paul. Reportedly Paul was unhappy with the direction of the franchise and wanted out. Badly. Days went by and it just seemed like the Hornet star was going to demand his way out of New Orleans. But it never happened. Doesn't mean it's over by any means, but those winds have calmed for the time being.

So we wait on that big news to break. Right now all the attention is on the Nuggets and Anthony but all it takes is one source to pop up and say, "CP3 still wants out." And then we start all over.

1. Free agency

The story in the NBA over the past year has been stars on the move trying to position themselves for a better run on a better team. Or to find some brighter lights of a bigger market.

Sure there's some overlap between this and "The Decision" but the Summer of 2010 is something people were counting down to for years. Big names were available, at the right price. Amar'e Stoudemire. Chris Bosh. LeBron. Dwyane Wade. Carlos Boozer. Joe Johnson. Steve Blake. Just kidding.

Player movement was the story. It became seemingly all about LeBron because of what happened in his little TV show, but before that, it was about all the players that were out there. Dwyane Wade went to Chicago and spoke with the Bulls. The Rockets went hard after Bosh. Joe Johnson signed a stupid $120 million deal. Stoudemire wanted New York all along.

When looking back on 2010, the Lakers winning a second straight title will be remembered. Then LeBron. But if you can rewind to what you were thinking around June 20th, it was about all the available players. It became about LeBron because he made it that way. But when those 10 superstars were up for grabs at one point, and for that short time, it had everyone's attention.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 1:20 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:54 pm
 

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard top NBA All-Star vote

The latest round of votes for the NBA All-Star game have been announced, and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Orlando Magic centerkobe-dwight Dwight Howard lead the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively. Posted by Ben Golliver

The NBA All-Star game fan voting process is one of the world's most elaborate popularity contests, and some familiar names top the latest round of this year's results, released today by the NBA.   Western Conference
In the Western Conference, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant leads the way, and he is the top overall vote-getter, clocking in at more than 1.1 million. The other current starters for the West include Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, New Orleans Hornets guard Chris Paul, Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony and Houston Rockets center Yao Ming. Yao, of course, has played just five games so far this season due to injuries, and recently suffered a season-ending stress fracture in his ankle. Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who has also missed extensive time due to injuries this year, is in second place behind Yao. Yes, this makes no sense. Did the fans get it right?  Bryant and Durant are locks. You can quibble between Paul or Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams, but Paul is a solid choice. MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzi is the biggest snub here, as he should certainly be in above Anthony. As for the center position, the ballot for that position is a mess and the West should probably just play four-on-five.
Eastern Conference

In the Eastern Conference, there's no question about which center is most deserving (and popular). Indeed, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard leads the East in overall votes, at just under one million. He's joined by Miami Heat forward LeBron James, Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Boston Celtics guard Rajon RondoDid the fans get it right? 

Howard, James and Wade are all locks. There's a strong argument that Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose should be in ahead of Rondo, but I like Rondo here as well. As for Garnett, he probably deserves to get bumped so that New York Knicks power forward and MVP candidate Amar'e Stoudemire fills out the starting five. That's not as bad an oversight as Anthony over Nowitzki, but a little team diversity in the starting lineup never hurt anyone. Here's the full list of votes for the starters courtesy of an NBA press release.
Bryant, The Finals MVP last season, is the overall leader with 1,153,694 votes.In  the Western Conference, Bryant, a three-time All-Star MVP, who garnered the  honor  in 2002, 2007 and 2009, is followed at guard by the New Orleans Hornets’  Chris  Paul  (585,690).  Kevin  Durant,  a  member of last year’s All-NBA First Team, paces forwards in the West (735,521), with the Nuggets’ Carmelo  Anthony  (602,516) second. The Houston Rockets’ Yao Ming (637,527) is  the  leading  vote-getter  among  Western  Conference centers, with the Lakers’ Andrew Bynum (376,283) placing second.
Howard,  the  leading  vote-getter  in  the Eastern Conference with 988,572 votes, paces centers in the East, followed by the Boston Celtics’ Shaquille O’Neal  (410,663).  James,  a two-time All-Star MVP (2006, 2008), leads all Eastern  Conference  forwards  with 969,459 votes, followed by the Celtics’ Kevin  Garnett  (712,555), MVP of the 2003 All-Star Game. The Heat’s Dwyane Wade  paces  all  guards  with  938,402  votes; the Celtics’ Rajon Rondo is second among guards in the East (777,310).
The 2011 NBA All-Star game will be played on February 20 in Los Angeles, California.
Posted on: December 28, 2010 12:49 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:52 pm
 

The Game Changer: Blazers finally win in SLC

The Portland Trail Blazers finally won in Salt Lake City, Jason Kidd was one rebound shy of a triple double, Gilbert Arenas hit an incredible buzzer beater, Serge Ibaka had a block-of-the-year candidate, and much more. Posted by Ben Golliver

Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer. 

THE BIG ONE: BLAZERS STEAL ONE IN UTAH

Not since Dec. 2007, when an upstart team led by superstar-in-the-making Brandon Roy was in the midst of a 13-game winning streak, have the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Utah Jazz at Energy Solutions Arena. On Tuesday, in Roy's continued absence due to knee pain, no less, the Blazers secured their best victory of the season, 96-91.  The Blazers admit ESA is one of their least favorite places to play, but plenty of teams have struggled in Salt Lake. Over the last two seasons, the Jazz were a combined 66-16 at home, losing just eight games at home during both the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons. Portland's win was Utah's sixth home loss in just 17 home games so far this season, and while the Jazz currently lead the way in a packed Northwest Division race, they'll have to reassert their dominance at home should they want to maintain on their path to a division title. Monday's loss to Portland wasn't heartbreaking, although it did spoil a splendid night from Deron Williams, who finished with 31 points and seemingly couldn't miss. Down the stretch, the Jazz struggled with turnovers and an extra-aggressive Portland defense, which hasn't often been seen this season, made a number of late block shots and deflections. For the Blazers, LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 26 point, seven rebounds and two blocks, and he continues on a torrid streak in Roy's absence. His game is expanding due to increased touches and, while there have been fits and starts, Aldridge has started to show a new resolve late in games to attack the paint and get buckets. A sweeping hook in the fourth quarter on Monday night had him pounding his chest, and left Blazers fans that have watched him for years enjoying the moment in pleasant surprise.   This was Portland's best win of the season, the first time they have beaten a team that now has 20 or more wins. That it came on the road in a tough environment only makes it that much sweeter. 

GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:

Andray Blatche: 17 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks in 37 minutes in a Washington Wizards road loss to the Houston Rockets. It was Blatche's first game back from a suspension for fighting with teammate JaVale McGee. Jason Kidd: 10 points, nine rebounds, 10 assists, and four steals in 36 minutes in a Dallas Mavericks road win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Chris Paul: 22 points, six rebounds, 13 assists, and five steals in 41 minutes in a New Orleans Hornets road loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Deron Williams: 31 points, six assists, three rebounds, one steal in 38 minutes in a Utah Jazz home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

DON'T MISS:

OLD FRIENDS:

Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams and former teammate Wesley Matthews, who signed a mega-contract with the Portland Trail Blazers last summer, catch up during Monday night's game in Salt Lake City. It was Matthews' first regular season return trip to Salt Lake City since signing with Utah's division rival and he was met with a standing ovation. williams-matthews

WHIMSY:

Gilbert Arenas hit an unreal 3/4 court buzzer beater off the scoreboard. You must watch it.

GET THAT OUT OF HERE:

Oklahoma City Thunder big man Serge Ibaka rejects Dallas Mavericks big man Tyson Chandler in stone cold fashion. Cue the tape, via 20sadecebirmahluk on YouTube.

FINAL THOUGHT:

Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson were named by Sports Illustrated as this year's best three-man booth. Mama, there goes that man to the podium with his acceptance speech.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com