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Thursday, January 27, 2011
Starters picked: Will Dirk get reserve nod?

By Jeff Caplan

DALLAS -- The NBA announced the 2011 All-Star Game starters as voted by the fans Thursday night. There were no surprises as Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony finished one and two, respectively, and will be the starting forwards for the Western Conference.

Next Thursday, seven reserves will be selected by the coaches of each conference to round out the 12-man rosters. The most hotly contested position is forward in the West with Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Zach Randolph, David West, Lamar Odom and Rudy Gay all with solid cases to be selected as an All-Star.

Nowitzki would figure to be a shoe-in as he seeks his 10th consecutive All-Star appearance. He was an MVP candidate before his injury on Dec. 27, averaging 24.1 points on 54.5-percent shooting and 7.4 rebounds.

Duncan, who has played in 12 consecutive All-Star games and started 11 in a row, also figures to be a selection with the Spurs rolling at 39-7. He could be selected by commissioner David Stern to replace Yao Ming, who was voted in by fans as the starting center.

Stern could also select Gasol with the game being played at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Either selection would at least open one more spot for a deserving player.

The Mavs are hopeful that Stern will simply promote Andrew Bynum, the second-place finisher at center, and then use the backup center position to select Tyson Chandler, who has had a tremendous impact on the Mavs but was not included on the All-Star ballot.