February 13, 2009

NBA all-stars square off Sunday

Dwight Howard and the Eastern Conference team go against Kobe Bryant and the Western Conference in the NBA All-Star Game Sunday in Phoenix.

Howard, of the Orlando Magic, became the first player ever to get more than 3 million votes in fan balloting, ending up with 3,150,181. Bryant, of the Los Angeles Lakers, had the most votes among the Western Conference stars, totaling 2,805,397.

The all-star contest -- 58th for the league -- begins at 9 p.m. at the US Airways Center.

The East leads the all-star series, 35-22.

Howard is joined on the East's starting team by Boston's Kevin Garnett, playing in his 12th all-star contest; Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat, LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Allen Iverson of the Detroit Pistons.

The West will start Bryant, the San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan, Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets, Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets and Amare Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns.

The East won last year 134-128 with James scoring 27 points and earning game MVP honors.

James (28.5 points per game) and Wade (28.3) are the league's top scorers this season.

Bryant, the reigning league MVP, will be making his 11th all-star appearance.

The head coaches are Cleveland's Mike Brown of the East and the Lakers' Phil Jackson of the West.