3 Hawks, Durant and Westbrook are NBA All-Star reserves
NEW YORK (AP) Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague were picked Thursday as reserves for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, giving the sizzling Atlanta Hawks three selections.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook made the West team despite early season injuries for the Oklahoma City stars. The Miami Heat also had two reserves in Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
But Portland surprisingly only had one in LaMarcus Aldridge. Point guard Damian Lillard was not among the seven reserves.
Atlanta has won 17 in a row and has a 38-8 record, second-best in the NBA. The Hawks were hoping for four spots, but Kyle Korver was not chosen by East coaches.
”Our whole starting five deserves to be there,” Teague said before the results were announced. ”We have a good ballclub. We’re all playing at a really high level right now. And we’re playing as a team. That’s all you can really ask for.”
Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, last year’s All-Star game MVP, and first-timer Jimmy Butler of Chicago were the other players announced to the East roster.
The rest of the West reserves for the Feb. 15 game at Madison Square Garden in New York are James Harden (Houston), Klay Thompson (Golden State), Tim Duncan (San Antonio) and Chris Paul (Clippers).
Head coaches in each conference had to vote for two guards, three frontcourt players and two players regardless of position. They couldn’t vote for players on their own teams.
The starters were voted by fans and announced last Thursday. LeBron James (Cleveland), Pau Gasol (Chicago), Carmelo Anthony (New York), John Wall (Washington) and Kyle Lowry (Toronto) will start for the East. Stephen Curry (Golden State), Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Blake Griffin (Clippers) and Marc Gasol (Memphis) were voted in from the West.
Bryant is out for the rest of the season after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder and his replacement on the roster will be chosen by Commissioner Adam Silver. West coach Steve Kerr of the Warriors will decide who takes Bryant’s spot in the lineup.
With their backcourt of Curry and Thompson, the Warriors have two All-Stars for the first time since Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway in 1993.
Atlanta’s Mike Budenholzer will lead the East. He will get to coach three of his players, the first trio of Hawks All-Stars since John Drew, Eddie Johnson and Dan Roundfield in 1980.
”We love for our players to have success and for our players to be appreciated,” Budenholzer said. ”Yeah, there’s a sense of pride. They work really hard. They do a lot of things we appreciate. If other people are appreciating them, that’s a good thing.”
Korver, shooting 53 percent from 3-point range, still might have a chance if Wade isn’t able to play in his 11th consecutive All-Star selection. The Heat star is battling a strained right hamstring.
The powerful West has many more snubs, including Lillard, whose Trail Blazers are tied for third in the conference and who is averaging 21.8 points.
Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins wasn’t picked despite averaging 23.8 points and 12.3 rebounds as perhaps the best big man in the league this season, and neither Memphis nor Dallas had a reserve selected despite their strong play and worthy candidates.
Marc Gasol said he thought both Mike Conley and Zach Randolph should have been chosen.
”We’re the second-best team in the West. I feel like us being there, both (should be there) because they are a huge part of what we do,” Gasol said. ”All-Stars should be about winning and telling guys that’s how you play. You play well on a winning team, you’re supposed to be there.”
Duncan did make it for a 15th time, joining Shaquille O’Neal and Kevin Garnett with the third-most selections behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19) and Bryant (17).
Durant will get the chance to improve his 30.6 points per game average in the All-Star game, best all-time. West coaches went with the league’s reigning MVP even though he has missed 25 of the Thunder’s 46 games and the team is only 23-23, currently out of playoff position.
”I love Kevin Durant, but he hasn’t played enough games,” TNT’s Charles Barkley said. ”This isn’t a lifetime achievement award. Lillard is having a terrific year.”
AP Sports Writer Paul Newberry in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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