NEW YORK - The Associated Press
Andrew Bynum is among the two Los Angeles Lakers players that will start in the NBA Western All-Star team. REUTERS Photo
From Kobe Bryant to Chris Paul, Blake Griffin to Andrew Bynum, the NBA All-Star game is shaping up as an L.A. story.
Two Lakers and two Clippers were voted as starters for the game, the first time in 15 years that two pairs of teammates have been voted to start for one conference.
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant prevented a clean Los Angeles sweep of the Western Conference starting lineup by earning a forward spot for the Feb. 26 game in Orlando.
Dwight Howard of the host Orlando Magic - unless he’s traded first - was the overall leading vote-getter with 1.6 million. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are going together again from Miami, while MVP Derrick Rose of Chicago and New York’s Carmelo Anthony round out the East starters.
The Clippers and Lakers are developing a spirited rivalry this season, but they’ll have to get along for a night to give the West a win in the NBA’s midseason event.
Bryant and Paul will be in the same backcourt two months after the NBA, as owners of the New Orleans Hornets, vetoed a trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers. Instead, he was dealt shortly after to the Clippers, and he has teamed with Griffin to make them one of the league’s most improved teams, leading the Pacific Division over their Staples Center co-tenants.
Griffin and Bynum are first-time starters, while Bryant earned his record-tying 14th consecutive nod.
It’s the first time since 1997, when Houston had Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, and Seattle sent Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, that two pairs of teammates have been voted to start for one conference.
Bryant joins former Lakers Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West and Karl Malone with his 14th straight starting nod. He earned his fourth All-Star MVP award last year, equaling Bob Pettit’s NBA record.
Bynum grabbed the starting center spot that for years went to Yao Ming. Griffin was chosen as a reserve forward last year.
Starters were chosen by fan balloting, and none of the races were close. The reserves will be chosen by voting of the head coaches from each conference and will be announced next week.