Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (924,898) remains the leading vote-getter among Western Conference frontcourt players in the second round of NBA All-Star balloting that were released Thursday.
Teammate Russell Westbrook (232,074) remains fifth in West backcourt balloting and trails former OKC teammate James Harden (283,691) now with the Houston Rockets.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (977,444) remains the leading overall vote-getter, followed closely by Miami Heat forward LeBron James (970,314). New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (891,759) is second to James in East voting.
Currently joining Bryant and Durant in the West starting lineup are Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul (542,564), Lakers center Dwight Howard (616,150) and Clippers power forward and former Oklahoma standout Blake Griffin (489,795).
Joining James and Anthony in the East lineup are Heat guard Dwyane Wade (645,875), Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (574,272) and Celtics center Kevin Garnett (328,716).
The 62nd NBA All-Star Game is at the Toyota Center in Houston on Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. and will be televised on TNT. Balloting concludes Jan. 14 and starters will be announced Jan. 17 during a special one-hour pregame show on TNT at 6 p.m.
The ballot lists 120 players — 60 each from the Eastern and Western conferences — with 36 frontcourt and 24 guards from each conference. Voters select three frontcourt and two guards from each conference.
THABO vs. MAYO
Dallas shooting guard O.J. Mayo is the team's leading scorer this season at 19.3 points per game, but he was held to four points and 1-for-7 shooting in the Thunder's 111-105 victory over the Mavericks on Thursday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Defended primarily by Thabo Sefolosha, Mayo didn't score his first points until the 4:04 mark of the third quarter.
“Play physical, not give him anything when he gets an open look,” Sefolosha said of guarding Mayo, who entered the game ranked second in the NBA in 3-point shooting at 48.6 percent. “Just relying on my teammates and try to make it tough on him.”
OKC teammate Nick Collison said Sefolosha's perimeter pressure is what makes him such an effective defender.
“I think what he does really well is he makes the catches difficult,” Collison explained. “Those guys are catching past the 3-point line and they're being pressured so they're not catching it in rhythm, so every time they're having to create against a really good defender.”
Having played all but two games without 2007 NBA Most Valuable Player Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs now own a 12-17 record, but they led the majority of Thursday's game against a team battling for the league's best record in the 22-6 Thunder.
Asked why the Mavs were so competitive, Thunder sixth man Kevin Martin said: “We just match up well. The NBA's all about matchups. Their point guard (Darren Collison) came out on fire the whole night. I felt like he was playing with a chip on his shoulder. They just played well.”
Perhaps Collison chip came from playing against Westbrook, his former UCLA teammate.
Collison finished with 32 points, shot 13 for 22 from the field and went 4 for 4 from 3-point range, which included a game-tying heave off one foot at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime.
“They've got talented players,” Nick Collison said. “It wasn't our best game tonight. We're going to look at the film and see we could be a lot better. They've got good player, they've got veteran players and they know how to play.”
*Right-handed Mavs shooting guard Vince Carter was 1 for 6 from the field and 1 for 3 from 3-point range in the first half. At halftime, he swished three straight 3s — left-handed.
*In front of the Dallas bench, Martin and Mavs owner Mark Cuban had a brief and animated conversation during intermission.
Coincidentally, Martin becomes a free agent on July 1. Martin smiled and said his conversation involved Cuban “still thinking he can beat me” in a shooting challenge from a few years back.
On Christmas Day, the Miami Heat made 19 of 19 free throws. On Thursday, the Mavericks made their first 13 attempts from the line before Mayo missed two straight after being fouled on a 3-point attempt with 33.2 seconds left in overtime. … The Thunder has struggled on Thursday night this season, going 2-2 on TNT so far this season. … Durant received his NBA Player of the Month award in a pre-game ceremony. … Former OU football coach Barry Switzer was in attendance. … The Mavs outscored the Thunder 20-17 in fast-break points. The teams tied 42-42 in points in the paint and 15-15 in second-chance points.
Carlisle on the firing of Brooklyn Nets coach Avery Johnson: “He's a special guy. He'll enjoy the peaceful time off, and then he'll be back when he wants to be back. He's a high-level coach.”
BY JOHN ROHDE