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Cavs, Warriors stars lead first fan returns of ASG voting

em>NBA press release /em> NEW YORK -- LeBron James and Kyrie Irving of the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers are the top two vote-getters overall, while Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors lead all Western Conference players in the first fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2017 presented by Verizon. The first week of fan voting for the 66th NBA All-Star Game, which will take place on Sunday, Feb. 19 (Feb. 20, PHL time) at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, produced close races in both conferences and generated 138% more votes cast (11,174,153) than during the same time period last year (4,693,433). James, a 12-time All-Star, received 595,288 votes to earn the top spot among all players. Joining James at the top of the Eastern Conference frontcourt are the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (500,663) and Cleveland’s Kevin Love (250,347), with rookie Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers (221,984) next on the list. Irving (543,030) and 12-time All-Star Dwyane Wade of the Chicago Bulls (278,052) lead the East guards, followed by the Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan (253,340). Durant, who owns the highest scoring average in All-Star Game history (25.6 ppg), paces all West players with 541,209 votes. He is followed in the West frontcourt by Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia (439,675) and the San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard (341,240), who edges the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis (318,144).  Curry (523,597) narrowly tops a tight race among West guards, with the Houston Rockets’ James Harden (519,446) edging two-time reigning All-Star Game MVP Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder (501,652) for second place. For the first time ever, NBA players and basketball media will join fans in selecting the starters for the NBA All-Star Game. Fans will account for 50 percent of the vote, while all current players and a media panel will account for 25 percent each.  Player and media voting will begin next week, with each participant completing one full ballot featuring two guards and three frontcourt players from both conferences.  After all votes are tallied, players will be ranked in each conference by position (guard and frontcourt) within each of the three voting groups – fan votes, player votes and media votes.  Each player’s score will be calculated by averaging his weighted rank from the fan votes, the player votes and the media votes.  The five players (two guards and three frontcourt players) with the best score in each conference will be named NBA All-Star Game starters. Fan voting will serve as the tiebreaker for players in a position group with the same score. See below for the first fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting 2017 presented by Verizon. strong>NBA ALL-STAR VOTING 2017 PRESENTED BY VERIZON /strong> em> strong>Eastern Conference Frontcourt /strong> /em> 1. LeBron James (CLE) 595,288 br /> 2. Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) 500,663 br /> 3. Kevin Love (CLE) 250,347 br /> 4. Joel Embiid (PHI) 221,984 br /> 5. Carmelo Anthony (NY) 189,817 br /> 6. Jimmy Butler (CHI) 189,066 br /> 7. Kristaps Porzingis (NY) 184,166 br /> 8. Paul George (IND) 138,332 br /> 9. Hassan Whiteside (MIA) 72,628 br /> 10. Jabari Parker (MIL) 64,141 em> strong>Eastern Conference Guards /strong> /em> 1. Kyrie Irving (CLE) 543,030 br /> 2. Dwyane Wade (CHI) 278,052 br /> 3. DeMar DeRozan (TOR) 253,340 br /> 4. Isaiah Thomas (BOS) 193,297 br /> 5. Derrick Rose (NY) 129,924 br /> 6. Kyle Lowry (TOR) 128,940 br /> 7. John Wall (WAS) 87,360 br /> 8. Jeremy Lin (BKN) 59,562 br /> 9. Kemba Walker (CHA) 52,122 br /> 10. Avery Bradley (BOS) 32,822 em> strong>Western Conference Frontcourt /strong> /em> 1. Kevin Durant (GS) 541,209 br /> 2. Zaza Pachulia (GS) 439,675 br /> 3. Kawhi Leonard (SA) 341,240 br /> 4. Anthony Davis (NO) 318,144 br /> 5. Draymond Green (GS) 236,315 br /> 6. DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) 202,317 br /> 7. Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) 125,278 br /> 8. LaMarcus Aldridge (SA) 101,724 br /> 9. Blake Griffin (LAC) 100,524 br /> 10. Marc Gasol (MEM) 97,370 em> strong>Western Conference Guards /strong> /em> 1. Stephen Curry (GS) 523,597 br /> 2. James Harden (HOU) 519,446 br /> 3. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 501,652 br /> 4. Klay Thompson (GS) 293,054 br /> 5. Chris Paul (LAC) 173,830 br /> 6. Damian Lillard (POR) 117,857 br /> 7. Eric Gordon (HOU) 76,609 br /> 8. Manu Ginobili (SA) 65,832 br /> 9. Andre Iguodala (GS) 64,247 br /> 10. Zach LaVine (MIN) 53,642 * * * strong>How Fans Can Vote /strong> NBA fans may submit one full ballot each day through NBA.com, the NBA App (available on Android and iOS), Twitter, Facebook and Google Search, as well as via Sina Weibo and Tencent Microblogs in China. All current NBA players are available for selection.  em> strong>NBA.com voting page at NBA.com/vote: /strong> /em> Fill out one full ballot per day (once every 24 hours) on NBA.com/vote from a desktop or mobile browser. Fans can select up to two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference when choosing starters.   br />   br /> em> strong>NBA App: /strong> /em>Access the ballot and vote through the app, which is available on Android and iOS. Fans can fill out one full ballot per day and select up to two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference when choosing starters. br />   br /> em> strong>Twitter: /strong> /em>Tweet, retweet or reply with an NBA player’s first and last name or Twitter handle, along with the hashtag 'NBAVOTE.  Each tweet may include only one player’s name or handle. Fans may vote for 10 unique players each day throughout the NBA All-Star voting period.  br />   br /> em> strong>Facebook: /strong> /em>Post the player’s first and last name along with the hashtag 'NBAVOTE on your personal Facebook account, or comment on another’s Facebook post.   Each post may include only one player’s name. Fans may post votes for 10 unique players per day throughout the voting period. br />   br /> em> strong>Google Search: /strong> /em> Search “NBA Vote All-Star” or “NBA Vote Team Name” (ex: NBA Vote Celtics) and use respective voting cards to select teams and then players.  Fans may submit votes for 10 unique players per day throughout the voting period. The next fan voting update will be shared on Thursday, Jan. 12 (Jan. 13, PHL time).  Voting for fans, players and media will conclude on Monday, Jan. 16 at 11:59 p.m. ET (Jan. 17, 12:59 a.m., PHL time). Starters will be announced live on TNT on Thursday, Jan. 19 (Jan. 20, PHL time) during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by Autotrader.com, featuring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith. The special will air prior to TNT’s doubleheader showcasing the Washington Wizards at the New York Knicks and the Minnesota Timberwolves at the LA Clippers. The Eastern Conference and Western Conference All-Star reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, will be announced the following week on Thursday, Jan. 26 (Jan. 27, PHL time).  .....»»

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CLEVELAND (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs will be without starters Tony Parker and Pau Gasol when they face the Cavaliers on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time). Parker was expected to play after being scratched Thursday (Friday, PHL time) with a sore left foot. However, the team said Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) he is still experiencing pain and won't play. The 34-year-old is averaging 11.5 points per game, his lowest since his rookie season in 2001. Gasol is out indefinitely after breaking his left hand during warmups Thursday night. He underwent surgery Friday (Saturday, PHL time). While the team hasn't put a timetable on his return, Gasol is likely to miss at least one month. He's averaging 11.7 points and 7.9 rebounds. David Lee is expected to start in Gasol's spot. The Cavs are hoping to have Kevin Love in the lineup after he missed Thursday's (Friday, PHL time) game with back spasms. He took part in the team's shootaround Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) but is listed as questionable. .....»»

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Cavs' Irving shares inspirational message to motivate kids

em>By Tom Withers, Associated Press /em> CLEVELAND (AP) — Kyrie Irving spent a day dedicated to transition and big speeches by delivering a message from the heart. Cleveland's All-Star point guard, whose own life has undergone major changes over the past year or so because of fatherhood, an Olympic gold medal and NBA championship, spoke to hundreds of school kids on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) about following their dreams. To kick off a program promoting physical fitness, Irving shared some wisdom and experiences he hopes will help motivate kids to reach their potential. He urged them to listen to their parents, follow their own path and reminded them that life's journey never ends. 'I'm still figuring it out,' he said. 'I'm still you.' Teaming with Kids Foot Locker, Irving visited one of the city's Boys & Girls Clubs to launch a six-week fitness challenge which promotes a healthy lifestyle and encourages kids to excel outside and inside the classroom. Not far removed from their age group, the 24-year-old Irving easily connected with the kids, who wore 'Go Big' T-shirts and could barely contain their excitement when the Cavaliers' star was introduced and walked to the middle of the basketball court. 'Listen to your parents,' Irving told them, but not in a preachy way, rather the way an older brother would tell his siblings. 'Make sure you cherish the friendships you have and family is first — always.' Before the event, Irving, who was named an All-Star starter for the Eastern Conference on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), spent a few minutes with the Associated Press discussing the motivation to support his community and aspirations beyond basketball. Irving understands both his place and platform and wants to maximize it. And as the nation looked toward Washington, D.C., Irving simply wanted to make a positive impact on some kinds in Cleveland. 'I want to be a generational leader and I am that already,' he told AP. 'I have to accept that and to do that you have to acquire as much knowledge and still grow every single day, make sure I'm living the truth and share that with the rest of the world. It's not necessarily opening up to the media or anyone else, but it's about opening up to the kids that matter — that are going to be changing our world in a few years. 'I'm OK with this, man. As long as I can shape a kid's day or shape a kid's life in any way possible, and help them realize their potential is endless, you are limitless. You can be your own decider in your life. Whatever else is going on, you have to take control of it.' Irving was raised almost exclusively by his father, Drederick, after his mother, Elizabeth, died when he was four. The elder Irving didn't have to push his child, who was driven from an early age. It's that independence, the strength to be unafraid and willingness to fail but learn, that's at the heart of Irving's message. 'I want them to think bigger,' he said. 'It's a lost simpler for me now as I've gotten older. There were things that I thought were going to stop me and limit me, but those things aren't necessarily real, they're false and created by whatever it is that tells us what we can't do, the outside influences. Never listen to that, man. I've always figured it out one day at a time. 'As long as you can see through it, and find your own truth, you'll be fine. I try to give kids the truth. I still am that kid that was growing up in Boys & Girls Clubs in New York and New Jersey, going to different neighborhoods. I'm that same kid. I've never changed and being able to acquire the knowledge that I have from other people helps me — and hopefully resonates with the kids.' .....»»

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em>By Tom Withers, Associated Press /em> CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season. Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms. Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games. Already thin on their front line with Love out, the Cavs lost forward Tristan Thompson in the second quarter with a dislocated left index finger. However, Thompson returned after halftime. And Cleveland's offense was in a much better rhythm from the start after a trip that wasn't always pleasing to the eye. While trying to integrate newly acquired Kyle Korver into their rotation on the road, the Cavs got into some bad habits as they forced passes to one of the league's best shooters. A couple of practices seem to have helped as Korver made a pair of three-pointers in the second quarter of his home debut to help Cleveland open a 21-point lead. The Suns made a brief run in the third and got within 12 before Shumpert hit a pair of three’s and Jones hit one from long range. strong>TIP-INS /strong> em> strong>Suns: /strong> /em> Chandler has at least 15 rebounds in six straight games, matching the club record set by Jim Fox in 1969. Phoenix coach Earl Watson has known Korver for years. When he joined the Jazz in 2010, Watson leased Korver's condominium in Utah. 'We go back. I sent him a lot of money every month,' Watson said with a smile. 'I'm glad I don't do that anymore.' On a serious note, Watson said Korver is a perfect addition for Cleveland, especially while J.R. Smith recovers from thumb surgery. 'He's a deadly knock-down shooter. He knows how to win,' Watson said. 'They're looking more long term instead of immediate. You get into the playoffs and you need a big three to stretch the floor. He's obviously the best shooter on their team. It's an impressive move.' em> strong>Cavaliers: /strong> /em>James, who missed his 46th career triple-double by one rebound, will be making his 13th consecutive All-Star Game appearance next month. He said the honor never gets old. 'Just means I've been doing something right in this league,' he said. 'Means I'm consistent and taking pride in my individual ability to go out and produce for the team every night, and whatever team I've been on in my career. It's always great to see my name up there with the best guys in the league, so it's a pretty cool thing.' Smith has had the hard cast removed from his right hand. He's expected back in late March. Jones made his first start since April 2, 2015. strong>UP NEXT /strong> em> strong>Suns: /strong> /em> At the New York Knicks on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). Phoenix won the first meeting this season in overtime. em> strong>Cavaliers: /strong> /em>Host the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) in a matchup between two of the NBA's best teams. .....»»

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