The Mercury News Weekend
Embiid, Morant, Brown lead NBA All-Star reserve class
Philadelphia's Joel Embiid, Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Portland's Damian Lillard had to have known they were going to the All-Star Game. Players averaging more than 30 points per game typically don't have to worry about not hearing their name called.
Other players — like Miami's Bam Adebayo, Indiana's Tyrese Haliburton and Utah's Lauri Markkanen — had reason for concern.
NBA coaches made them very happy. And probably made a few other guys very unhappy.
The reserves for the Feb. 19 All-Star Game in Salt Lake City were announced Thursday. From the Eastern Conference, it was Embiid, Adebayo, Haliburton, Boston's Jaylen Brown, Chicago's DeMar DeRozan, Milwaukee's Jrue Holiday and New York's Julius Randle.
From the Western Conference, the picks were Gilgeous-Alexander, Lillard, Memphis teammates Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., Markkanen, Sacramento's Domantas Sabonis and the Los Angeles Clippers' Paul George.
Some candidates probably were tougher for coaches to pass on — that list including Phoenix's Devin Booker, the Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis, Atlanta's Trae Young, all of them averaging around 27 points per game this season. Philadelphia's James Harden, averaging 11 assists per game, also was left out; unless he's picked as an injury replacement, his streak of 10 consecutive All-Star appearances is over. Same goes for Denver's Aaron Gordon.
The reserves are selected by the 30 NBA head coaches, who each cast ballots for seven players from their own conference.
The 14 players who were announced Thursday join this pool of starters: team captains LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Cleveland's Donovan Mitchell, Boston's Jayson Tatum, Golden State's Stephen Curry, Dallas' Luka Doncic, Denver's Nikola Jokic and New Orleans' Zion Williamson.
James and Antetokounmpo will draft their teams live, shortly before the All-Star Game in a new twist this season.
LAKERS 112, PACERS 111 >> LeBron James had 26 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists and pulled within 63 points of becoming the NBA's career scoring champ as Los Angeles rallied to win in Indianapolis. James gave Los Angeles its first lead on a 3-pointer with 2:35 left in the game, and Anthony Davis' 11-footer with 35.1 seconds left was the decisive basket. Davis finished with 31 points and 14 rebounds.
CAVALIERS 128, GRIZZLIES 113 >> Darius Garland scored 32 points shortly after being left off the All-Star team and carried host Cleveland following Donovan Mitchell's ejection in the third quarter.
KNICKS 106, HEAT 104 >> RJ Barrett rebounded from a late-game benching with 30 points, Isaiah Hartenstein made big plays on both ends of the floor in the final minute and New York won at home. Julius Randle added 23 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists for the Knicks.