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Thursday, January 19, 2012
Lakers, Clippers grab All-Star votes

By Arash Markazi
ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- It's looking more and more like the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers will have a commanding presence over next month's NBA All-Star Game.

The NBA released the second returns of the NBA All-Star balloting Thursday and four of the five starters for the Western Conference are from Los Angeles.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant continues to lead all players in the West with 1,110,379 votes and would start in the backcourt alongside Clippers guard Chris Paul, who has nearly four times the number of votes as the next West guard.

Only Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard has more votes overall than Bryant with 1,161,797.

Bryant and Paul, of course, were supposed to form the Lakers' backcourt this season before Paul's trade to the Lakers was nixed by the NBA. He was later dealt to the Clippers.

Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who is averaging 16.5 points and 13.9 rebounds this season, appears to be a lock to make and start his first All-Star Game, garnering 777,365 votes. The closest center in the West is the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan, who is leading the league with 3.08 blocks per game and has 214,883 votes.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin had 619,913 votes and appears to be on his way to starting his first All-Star Game after making his All-Star debut in Los Angeles last year. He would start alongside Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, who has 973,152 votes and would be the lone non-L.A. starter if voting ended today.

The closest forwards to Durant and Griffin were Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki with 354,434 votes and Lakers forward Pau Gasol with 327,596 votes.

The Clippers have had only four All-Stars since 1987: Griffin (2011), Chris Kaman (2010), Elton Brand (2002, 2006) and Danny Manning (1993, 1994). They have never had two in the same year and have not had an All-Star starter since World B. Free in 1980.

The starters for the Eastern Conference would be Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, Heat forward LeBron James, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Howard.

Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.