No Bulls among starters for Feb. 14 NBA All-Star game


Jan 21

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Jimmy Butler will be an Eastern Conference All Star for the second straight year.

He’ll just have to wait one more week to learn for certain.

The NBA Thursday on the TNT pregame show announced the final fan voting to select the All-Star game starters. Butler finished fourth among Eastern Conference guards as Toronto’s Kyle Lowry made a huge late move to pass Kyrie Irving and pull well ahead of Butler for the second guard spot along with Miami’s Dwyane Wade.

Butler had trailed Lowry by about 11,000 votes in the previous results. Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving was second. But with the game in Toronto Feb. 14, there apparently was a strong local turnout and Lowry ended up about 80,000 votes ahead of Butler with Irving falling to third.

The conference coaches select the seven reserve players with their voting results announced on TNT next Thursday. Irving, who missed much of the season recovering from injury, now likely won’t make the team.

It’s also questionable now for Bulls center Pau Gasol, who missed out starting in one of the closest votes in fan voting history.

Gasol was fifth in the previous returns in the front court voting. He trailed the Knicks Carmelo Anthony by about 75,000 votes for the third and final starting spot with LeBron James and Paul George safely in the first two places. Detroit’s Andre Drummond was fourth. But in the final tabulations in the voting through Monday night, Gasol moved into fourth, just a mere 360 votes behind Anthony as both had more than 565,000 votes. Drummond fell to fifth.

But the East front court position is more competitive.

Gasol has a good chance to be selected by the coaches considering he is eighth in the NBA in double/doubles, seventh in rebounds and fifth in blocks.

The leading candidates to be selected by the East coaches are the Raptors DeMar DeRozan, Drummond, Butler and Washington’s John Wall. Then there will be debate among Miami’s Chris Bosh, Atlanta’s Al Horford and Paul Millsap, Boston’s Isaiah Thomas and perhaps the Cavs’ Irving and Kevin Love.

The Eastern Conference starters are James, George. Lowry, Wade and Anthony.

The Western Conference starters are Kobe Bryant in his 18th and supposedly final All-Star game with the most votes, the Warriors’ Stephen Curry, the Thunder’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and the Spurs Kawhi Leonard.

The one surprise was that Leonard, trailing Golden State’s Draymond Green throughout the voting for the third frontcourt spot and by about 12,000 votes in the last tally, surged to third to take the final spot as Green fell to fifth and about 55,000 votes behind despite Golden State’s great record and Green’s pivotal role. The curiosity was that Dallas’ Zaza Pachulia almost grabbed the final West starting spot, moving from eighth to fourth and about 14,000 votes behind Leonard. Pachulia trailed by about 200,000 votes in the returns released last week. There may be some investigation there, though Pachulia has virtually no chance of being selected by the coaches.

Green will certainly make it as the obvious Western Conference omission along with Butler from the East. The West coaches likely will select among players like Chris Paul, Klay Thompson, Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins, James Harden, Damian Lillard and Anthony Davis. There will be sentiment for someone from the Spurs given their record, so one from Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili could be selected. With Dallas having a good season, perhaps Dirk Nowitzki will make it. There’s new Spur LaMarcus Aldridge along with Rajon Rondo and Dwight Howard.

The coaches tend to favor players from successful teams, or at least with winning records. So it will be interesting to see if both Davis and Cousins are selected as both their teams have been well below .500 all season. And while the Rockets have faltered this season, it would be difficult to ignore Harden’s second in the league scoring average. And should a rookie doing well with a surprise team like the Knicks Kristaps Porzingis, be selected? The coaches have a week to decide and even though it shouldn’t matter, the games in the next week will be decisive since they’ll start watching more closely.

Maybe I’ll vote again next week, but here’s my selections for the reserves:

Eastern Conference:

Jimmy Butler
Pau Gasol
John Wall
DeMar DeRozan
Paul Millsap
Andre Drummond
Reggie Jackson

Western Conference

Draymond Green
Chris Paul
James Harden
Klay Thompson
Anthony Davis
LaMarcus Aldridge
Dirk Nowitzki

What do you think? Leave a comment below: