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Friday, September 29, 2023


Yao to represent Rockets, West

The 58th NBA All-Star Game is in Phoenix this year, with Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Cavaliers forward LeBron James anchoring the Eastern Conference and Western Conference squads.

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming will be the lone representative of the Rockets, making his 7th All-Star appearance for the Western Conference.

Yao has started every All-Star game in his career, and totaled more than 2 million fan votes to once again assure him a spot in Phoenix. Yao is averaging 20 points and 9.5 rebounds per game this season.

The host team Phoenix Suns will send forward Amare Stoudemire (4th appearance) as a starter and center Shaquille O’Neal (15th appearance) as a reserve. O’Neal’s 15 trips to the All-Star game ranks second all-time behind Hall of Fame center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had 19 appearances.

The West starters alongside Yao and Stoudemire include Bryant (11th appearance), Spur forward Tim Duncan (11th appearance) and Hornet point guard Chris Paul (2nd appearance).

‘ Starting for the East are James (5th appearance), Pistons guard Allen Iverson (10th appearance), Heat guard Dwayne Wade (5th appearance), Magic center Dwight Howard (3rd appearance) and Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (12th appearance).

Joining O’Neal on the West bench are Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups (4th appearance), Lakers forward Pau Gasol (2nd appearance), Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (8th appearance), Spurs point guard Tony Parker (3rd appearance), Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy (2nd appearance) and Hornets forward David West (2nd appearance).

Eastern Conference reserves include three first-time selections: Nets guard Devin Harris, Pacers forward Danny Granger and Magic point guard Jameer Nelson. Raptors forward Chris Bosh (4th appearance), Hawks guard Joe Johnson (3rd appearance), Magic forward Rashard Lewis (2nd appearance) and Celtics guard Paul Pierce (7th appearance) will also head to Phoenix.

Nelson will not play for the East, after suffering a torn labrum on Feb. 2, and has been replaced by Celtics guard Ray Allen (9th appearance). The addition of Allen gives the Celtics and Magic three All-Stars to lead all teams represented in the game.

For the second straight week, James and Bryant will be the NBA’s marquee matchup. Bryant and the Lakers handed the Cavaliers their first home loss of the season Sunday. James was held to 16 points in a 101-91 loss, while Bryant scored 19 points.

All-Star snubs include Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, Timberwolves center Al Jefferson, Jazz point guard Deron Williams, Cavaliers guard Mo Williams, Nets guard Vince Carter and Suns point guard Steve Nash. Nash had 21 assists in a win at Detroit on Sunday.

The Sophomore-Rookie Challenge, a game that displays top first and second-year players in the NBA, will feature Bulls point guard and 2008 No. 1 draft pick Derrick Rose and Thunder forward and 2007 No. 2 pick Kevin Durant. The sophomore squad has won six games in a row, all by double figures.

Defending two-time 3-point shootout champion Raptors guard Jason Kapono will try to win his 3rd consecutive competition on Saturday. Kapono, who is shooting 41 percent from 3-point range this season, will go up against Lewis, Granger, Hawks guard Mike Bibby, Heat guard Daequan Cook and Spurs guard Roger Mason.’

The biggest show of All-Star weekend is the Slam Dunk Contest. Defending champion Howard will face former champ and Knicks guard Nate Robinson, Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay and Blazers rookie Rudy Fernandez. Howard will play Superman as he did in last year’s contest, while fan vote Fernandez is the dark horse.

Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown will lead the East into battle, and Lakers head coach Phil Jackson will head the Western Conference.

The festivities will begin with coverage of the Rookie-Sophomore game at 8 p.m. Friday. The dunk contest and three-point competition will be held on Saturday, beginning at 7 p.m. The All-Star game will be on Sunday at 7 p.m. All of these events will be broadcasted on TNT. Predictions: The sophomores (Rookie-Sophomore Challenge), Kapono (3-point competition), Robinson (dunk contest) and the Western Conference will win this weekend’s events. Wade will win the All-Star game’s Most Valuable Player Award.

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