NEW YORK – Paul George, who has led the Indiana Pacers to the best record in the NBA, was voted as one of four first-time starters for the Feb. 16 All-Star game in New Orleans.
Stephen Curry, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were also voted as first-time starters.
Kobe Bryant was elected by fans to his 16th All-Star game, second-most in NBA history, but this one is shaping up as a kids’ game.
It means a lot because that means the fans are really watching us as a team, George said. For us to have the No. 1 record in the league, and playing at a high level, I think the fans are starting to follow us as a whole and I think that’s the biggest thing with me being a starter.
Curry, perhaps the biggest snub last season, will join Bryant in the Western Conference backcourt. Love passed Dwight Howard in the final days of voting and will start in the frontcourt along with Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and the Clippers’ Blake Griffin.
LeBron James was the leading vote-getter with 1.4 million votes and Miami teammate Dwyane Wade was also voted in Thursday. George and New York’s Carmelo Anthony are the other East forwards, and Irving will start at guard.
Bryant has been limited to just six games this season because of injuries and will be out until at least early next month, but remains one of the league’s most popular players with fans. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, with 19, was selected to more All-Star games.
The reserves will be announced next Thursday.
HEAT 109, LAKERS 102: In Miami, Chris Bosh scored 31 points, LeBron James added 27 points and 13 rebounds and Miami never trailed in the victory.
Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole each finished with 11 points to help the Heat beat the Lakers for the eighth time in their last nine meetings. Ray Allen added 10, and Miami shot 58 percent and outrebounded the Lakers 48-35.
Jodie Meeks and Pau Gasol each scored 22 points for the Lakers, who lost for the 14th time in 17 games. Nick Young added 19 points for Los Angeles, which nearly came all the way back from a 16-point second-half deficit.