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Kobe Bryant named a starter on the NBA All-Star team

January 27, 2011 |  4:42 pm

In his 13th All-Star selection, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant will start for the Western Conference team Feb. 20 at Staples Center after compiling around 2.4 million votes. It will be his 12th All-Star appearance, after he missed last year's game because of a sprained left ankle.

"He's deserving," TNT analyst Kenny Smith said of Bryant, averaging 24.9 points a game on 46% shooting in 33 minutes this season. "You win a championship two years. You're the car that really gets everybody going. You're the premier person and you should be voted first."

It'll be interesting to see how many minutes Bryant plays in the game, considering he's constantly aware of monitoring his health. Bryant sat out of Thursday's practice after the team had the day off Wednesday.

"I'll refrain from saying something really...," Bryant said after practice Thursday at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo.

New Orleans guard Chris Paul, Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant and Denver's Carmelo Anthony will join Bryant as the West starters. As far as who will start at center, that's a bit dicey. With Houston center Yao Ming being the leading vote-getter among Western Conference centers (928,928) despite having season-ending surgery on a stress fracture on his left ankle, NBA Commissioner David Stern will choose the starting position.

The chances for Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who ranked second in votes (660,576), aren't necessarily high considering he missed the first 24 games this season while recovering from off-season surgery on his right knee, a point Bynum himself believed will lead to a missed appearance.

Though Stern will select the replacement next Thursday after the reserves are announced, it's up to San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich to decide who will start.

The Eastern Conference starters are Miami's Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, Chicago's Derrick Rose, New York's Amare Stoudemire and Orlando's Dwight Howard.

As for the reserves, coaches vote for a center, two forwards, two guards and two other players at any position in each conference, making it possible Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom could crack a spot. But they're competing with a crowded forward position, including Minnesota's Kevin Love, San Antonio's Tim Duncan, the Clippers' Blake Griffin and Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki.

--Mark Medina

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