NBA News and Notes: Kobe voted into 2016 All-Star Game, Kerr returns to Warriors sideline

January 22, 2016

The fans have selected Kobe Bryant as a starter for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto, his 18th selection (2nd-most all-time) and record-setting 18th consecutive time as an All-Star. Bryant was the leading vote-getter for the fourth time in his career (also 2003, 2011, and 2013), and was named a starter for the 16th time, the most in NBA All-Star Game history.

A four-time All-Star MVP in 2002, 2007, 2009, and 2011 (tied with Bob Pettit for most all-time), Bryant holds All-Star Game records for most points scored (280), most field goals made (115), and most steals (37, tied with Michael Jordan). In his very first All-Star Weekend in 1997, Bryant became the youngest slam dunk champion at 18 years old.

Bryant, 37, has been a shadow of his former elite self this season, dealing with injuries and Father Time while the Lakers stumble through another losing season.  Despite his mediocre performance this year, Bryant has received overwhelming support from the league's fans, as the former MVP and five-time NBA Champion has become a sentimental favorite in city after city.

Bryant led all players with 1,891,614 votes to finish ahead of the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (1,604,325), who earned his third straight starting nod.

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook and the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard were voted starters for the first time.  This is the first All-Star berth for Leonard, who joins Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players in NBA history to be named an All-Star, Finals MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the Year.  Joining Bryant, Curry, Westbrook, and Leonard in the Western Conference starting lineup is Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, an All-Star for the seventh time.

The Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry, who trailed the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving by 32,285 votes for second place among Eastern Conference guards in the previous balloting update, surged to a starting spot for the second consecutive season.  Lowry (646,441) finished second among East guards behind the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade (941,466), who was picked to be an All-Star for the 12th time in 13 seasons.

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James led the East with 1,089,206 votes to secure his 12th All-Star nod in 13 seasons.  James, whose 278 All-Star points are two behind Bryant’s record of 280, is joined in the East frontcourt by the Indiana Pacers’ Paul George (711,595) and the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony (567,348).  Anthony edged the Chicago Bulls’ Pau Gasol by 360 votes to earn his ninth trip to the All-Star Game.  George, also chosen to start in 2014, clinched his third All-Star selection.

The 65th NBA All-Star Game will tip off on Sunday, Feb. 14 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the first All-Star Game to be held outside of the U.S.  The game will be seen by fans in more than 200 countries and territories and will be heard in more than 40 languages.  TNT will televise the All-Star Game in the U.S. for the 14th consecutive year, marking Turner Sports’ 31st year of NBA All-Star coverage.

With his 18th All-Star berth, Bryant moved one behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most all time.  Bryant was followed in the West frontcourt voting by Durant (980,787) and Leonard (782,339).  Durant owns the highest scoring average in All-Star Game history at 26.0 points.  In the last balloting update, Leonard trailed the Warriors’ Draymond Green by 12,321 votes for the third starting spot in the West frontcourt.

Curry, who leads the NBA in scoring (29.9 ppg) and three-pointers made (196), is set to become the first Warrior to start three All-Star Games in a row since Rick Barry from 1974-76.  The other starting guard in the West is Westbrook, now a five-time All-Star.  Westbrook was named the 2015 All-Star Game MVP after scoring 41 points -- one shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s record set in 1962 -- in the West’s 163-158 win in New York.

The NBA’s 30 head coaches will select the reserves for the 2016 All-Star Game.  They must vote for seven players within their conference: two guards, three frontcourt players and two additional players at either position.  Coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their own team.

All-Star Game reserves will be revealed live on TNT on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. ET, before the network’s doubleheader featuring the Raptors hosting the Knicks at 8 p.m. and the Bulls visiting the Lakers at 10:30 p.m.  If a player is unable to participate in the All-Star Game after the coaches choose the reserves, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will select the replacement.

The starting lineups for the NBA All-Star Game and the final returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2016 are below:

Western Conference                                Eastern Conference
Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers                       Carmelo Anthony, New York
Stephen Curry, Golden State                   Paul George, Indiana
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City                LeBron James, Cleveland
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio                 Kyle Lowry, Toronto
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City        Dwyane Wade, Miami


Eastern Conference

1             LeBron James (Cle) 1,089,206
2             Paul George (Ind) 711,595
3             Carmelo Anthony (NY) 567,348
4             Pau Gasol (Chi) 566,988
5             Andre Drummond (Det) 515,296
6             Kristaps Porzingis (NY) 473,579
7             Chris Bosh (Mia) 351,420
8             Kevin Love (Cle) 332,685
9             Hassan Whiteside (Mia) 301,362
10           Giannis Antetokounmpo (Mil) 84,617
11           Jonas Valanciunas (Tor) 73,079
12           Joakim Noah (Chi) 48,509
13           DeMarre Carroll (Tor) 46,044
14           Marcin Gortat (Was) 43,496
15           Paul Millsap (Atl) 41,654

1             Dwyane Wade (Mia) 941,466
2             Kyle Lowry (Tor) 646,441
3             Kyrie Irving (Cle) 580,651
4             Jimmy Butler (Chi) 564,637
5             DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 444,868
6             John Wall (Was) 368,686
7             Derrick Rose (Chi) 302,389
8             Jeremy Lin (Cha) 195,920
9             Isaiah Thomas (Bos) 153,642
10           Reggie Jackson (Det) 76,688

Western Conference

1             Kobe Bryant (LAL) 1,891,614
2             Kevin Durant (OKC) 980,787
3             Kawhi Leonard (SA) 782,339
4             Zaza Pachulia (Dal) 768,112
5             Draymond Green (GS) 726,616
6             Blake Griffin (LAC) 651,860
7             Enes Kanter (OKC) 534,499
8             Tim Duncan (SA) 431,087
9             Anthony Davis (NO) 400,688
10           DeMarcus Cousins (Sac) 364,270
11           DeAndre Jordan (LAC) 269,427
12           LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 268,003
13           Dwight Howard (Hou) 219,761
14           Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 173,317
15           Harrison Barnes (GS) 155,289

1             Stephen Curry (GS) 1,604,325
2             Russell Westbrook (OKC) 772,009
3             Chris Paul (LAC) 624,334
4             Klay Thompson (GS) 555,513
5             James Harden (Hou) 430,777
6             Manu Ginobili (SA) 226,289
7             Rajon Rondo (Sac) 200,518
8             Tony Parker (SA) 195,472
9             Andre Iguodala (GS) 181,142
10           Damian Lillard (Por) 158,360

Bucks Getting Back on Track

Milwaukee is beginning to play more like the team that won 41 games last season and extended the Bulls to six games in the first round of the playoffs. The Bucks (19-25) have won three straight games, defeating Charlotte and Miami on the road and Atlanta at home.

One key has been the play of Khris Middleton, who has rebounded from a slow start this season to average 23.1 points on 51.5 percent shooting over his last 16 games. The 6-7 swingman, who signed a new contract with the Bucks over the summer, averaged 14.3 points on 39.9 percent shooting in his first 18 games. Milwaukee is also getting strong play from forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 20.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.8 blocks over his last five games.

Coach Steve Kerr Returns to Warriors' Bench

Golden State Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr is returning from his leave of absence and will be on the bench to coach the Warriors tonight in their game against the Indiana Pacers at Oracle Arena, the team announced.

Kerr originally took a leave of absence on October 1, 2015, to focus on rehabilitation and recovery from a pair of offseason back surgeries.  After leading the Warriors to a franchise-record 67 regular-season victories in 2015-16 and the team’s first NBA Championship in 40 years, Kerr underwent surgery on his back to repair a ruptured disc in late July and a follow-up surgery in early September.

Luke Walton, the team’s lead assistant coach, served as interim head coach in Kerr’s absence and helped guide the Warriors to a 39-4 record, which equals the second-best record through 43 games in NBA history (trailing only the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls at 40-3).  Walton was named NBA Coach of the Month in November as the Warriors began the season with 24-consecutive victories, the most wins ever to start a season in professional team sports.

By the Numbers
  • With 27 points, 17 rebounds and six blocked shots against the Mavericks, Timberwolves rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns (20 years, 66 days) became the youngest player with a 25-15-5 game since blocks became an official statistic in the 1973-74 season.
  • Also via Elias: Rockets guard James Harden finished with 33 points, 17 rebounds and 14 assists in Wednesday's loss to Detroit. He is the first player to reach those totals since Wilt Chamberlain had 53 points, 32 rebounds and 14 assists for the 76ers against the Lakers on March 18, 1968.
  • Houston center Dwight Howard’s streak of point-rebound double-doubles ended at 10 after he left Wednesday’s game with a sprained ankle. In those 10 games, Howard averaged 20.6 points (on 65.5 percent shooting) and 14.7 rebounds.
  • 76ers rookie center Jahlil Okafor is averaging 18.3 points on 60.4 percent shooting in 28.0 minutes in his last 10 games.
  • Memphis (24-19) is a season‐high five games above .500 after going 5‐1 on its season‐high six‐game homestand.
  • Nuggets center Nikola Jokic leads rookies in field goal percentage (54.2) and ranks fifth in rebounding (5.4 ppg) and sixth in scoring (8.7 ppt).
  • Jan. 22, 2006 (10 years ago): Lakers guard Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a 122-104 victory against the Raptors in Los Angeles, the second-highest total in NBA history behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game in 1962.

Words of Wisdom

  • Bill Russell, 11-time NBA champion: “If you ask any NBA player, executive, or coach about their path to success, on and off the court, you’ll quickly see the same pattern emerge. None of us made it on our own. The truth is, that in all walks of life, mentors transform lives. Whether it’s the middle school math teacher who drove you home from school every day; the uncle who busted your chops when your grades started to slip; the older student who kept you under a watchful eye; or the basketball coach who believed in you -- none of us would be where we are today without the support of our mentors.”
  • Khris Middleton, Bucks swingman: “[Offseason training with Miami guard Dwyane Wade] has been a huge impact so far. Just talking to him, and him letting me know how he approaches the game and what he's thinking in certain situations, it's helping me out tremendously. … He just said he wants to pass down knowledge that other guys have passed down to him. He just wants to keep that trend going. I have nothing but respect for that.”
  •  Rob Mahoney, “The very fact that the Gasols made it to the NBA, much less thrived in it, is a triumph over probability. Both won the genetic lottery, making them mobile, coordinated seven-footers. What the Gasols share, however, goes well beyond blood; Pau and Marc are two elite athletes who dedicated themselves to a sport without ever letting their lives be consumed by it. Their basketball prosperity, along with their brotherhood, is distinguished by their perspective.”
  • CJ McCollum, Trail Blazers guard: “I understood that defenses give up the midrange, the uncontested midrange is something the NBA favors,” McCollum said. “And I took advantage of that this summer by getting up a lot of reps from those situations and those positions—if I can get to this spot, I know I can get a good shot each night, no matter how the defense plays me.”

By Staff of and news services

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