Nash passes McGrady in All-Star voting; Iverson to start


The NBA averted an embarrassing situation Thursday when starters for
the All-Star Game were released and the Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash passed
the Houston Rockets’ Tracy McGrady in fan voting for one of the guard
spots in the Western Conference.

McGrady has played in just six games after returning from knee surgery and hasn’t played since Dec. 23, when the Rockets granted him a leave of absence. McGrady had 2,475 more votes than Nash in the last tally Jan. 7.

Unresolved is whether Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson will take his starting spot for the Eastern Conference after playing in just 16 games because of an arthritic knee.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James passed Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant for most votes (2,549,693) to become the first with at least 2.5 million three times.

The East’s starting lineup: James, Iverson, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett. Joining Nash and Bryant in the West: Suns forward Amare Stoudemire (although voted in as a center), Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony and San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan.

The All-Star Game is Feb. 14 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and if Dallas fans want to see Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki play, it will be up to the West coaches. Duncan passed him in the final two weeks.

Coaches vote for seven reserves on each team (two guards, two forwards, one center, two regardless of position) from their conference. Reserves will be announced next Thursday. To be considered: Los Angeles Clippers center Chris Kaman and Golden State Warriors guard Monta Ellis, having good seasons but playing for losing teams.
The coaches have plenty of forwards from which to choose in the Western Conference: Nowitzki, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Memphis’ Zach Randolph, Houston’s Carl Landry and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol.

Same with forwards in the East: Washington’s Antawn Jamison, Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace, Toronto’s Chris Bosh, Boston’s Paul Pierce and New York Knicks’ Al Harrington.

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