- Arash Markazi, ESPN Staff Writer
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LOS ANGELES -- The NBA All-Star Game was held in Los Angeles last year, but it could have a distinctly greater Los Angeles feel this year in Orlando.
The NBA released the first returns of the NBA All-Star balloting Thursday and four of the five starters for the Western Conference are from Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant led all players in the West with 690,613 votes (only Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard with 754,737 votes had more overall) and would start in the backcourt alongside Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, who had more than four times the number of votes as the next West guard.
Bryant and Paul, of course, were supposed to form the backcourt of the Lakers this season before Paul's trade to the Lakers was nixed by the NBA and he was later dealt to the Clippers.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who is averaging 17.1 points and 13.9 rebounds this season, appears to be a lock to make and start his first All-Star Game, garnering 496,597 votes. The closest center in the West is Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who is leading the league with 3.38 blocks per game and has 134,961 votes.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin garnered 394,264 votes and looks like he will start 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 633,538 votes and would be the lone non-Los Angeles starter if voting ended today.
Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
5hChris Broussard and Brian Windhorst