Around the Rim: Drum roll please!



The All-Star men in the middle

1. And your starters for the 2008 All-Star extravaganza are…
Without even knowing the lineups, the All-Star game is always one of the best nights of the year. Luckily, the fans did a bang-up job of selecting the conferences’ starting fives. For the East, it’s going to be Jason Kidd and Dwyane Wade as the guards, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett, the top overall vote getter, receive the nod at the three and four spot while Dwight Howard will start at center. On the other side of the floor, Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson will serve as the starting backcourt with Carmelo Anthony, Tim Duncan and Yao Ming holding things down in the frontcourt. We gotta give the fans some credit for this one because a late surge in voting for the Answer kept Tracy McGrady – missed 12 of previous 17 games – from grabbing a starting guard spot. However, the votes for A.I. also relegate Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Deron Williams to the bench for the opening minutes of the game.

2. Spurs narrowly avoid embarrassment

The Spurs grabbed another much-needed victory on Thursday, but we don’t think there was any celebrating in the locker room after the game. San Antonio barely eked out a 90-89 victory over the ultra pathetic Heat, resorting to a last second defensive stand against Dwyane Wade to preserve the W. But any way you cut it, Miami now has 15 consecutive losses in the record book. Tim Duncan continues to play outta his gourd, scoring 30 points, grabbing 11 boards and dishing out a nickel’s worth of dimes. Even with Duncan going crazy, Manu Ginobili continues to steal the show for S.A. Ginobili stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, but more importantly hit the go-ahead bucket with 36.5 seconds left. D-Wade went off for 27 points with nine assists as Shaquille O’Neal was looking dapper from the bench in a custom tailored suit.

3. Missed it by that much
In a game that featured two teams riding losing streaks, somebody had to win. The lucky recipients were the Warriors who bounced back from a horrible loss to Minnesota to beat New Jersey 121-119. Okay, so technically it wasn’t a losing “streak” for Golden State, but one loss to the Timberwolves should count for around three losses to average teams. Either way, the Warriors are back on track after Monta Ellis put up a career-high 39 points and Baron Davis recorded the eighth triple-double of his career with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Richard Jefferson scored 34 in the loss, Vince Carter finished with 29 and Josh Boone had a man-sized double-double of 21 points and 17 boards. But in the end it was the Nets seventh consecutive loss and their eighth in nine games.

Thursday’s Player of the Day: Baron Davis vs. New Jersey 46 min, 25 pts (FG: 10-22, 3FG: 3-8, FT: 2-2), 12 reb, 10 ast, 5 stl

Friday’s Game to Watch: Orlando (27-17) @ Detroit (30-13)
Boston clearly has the title of top team in the Eastern Conference locked up for the time being, but Detroit and Orlando are slugging it out for the right to be No. 2. The Magic can’t make up 3 ½ games with a single win over the Bad Boys tonight, but they can boost their confidence through the roof by beating Detroit two times in just one week. On Monday, the Magic ended a five-game regular season losing streak to the Pistons with a 102-100 win in the Magic Kingdom. Detroit ended its three-game slide on Wednesday, beating the 76ers, but still hasn’t broken out of the funk that cost the team six losses in the last 10 games.

Buzzer Beater: Sorry Miami Heat fans, but Shaquille O’Neal isn’t going to be doing you guys any favors for at least another couple of years. While most people think Shaq should probably be considering hanging up his size 23s, Wilt Chamberneezy insisted that he plans on riding out his contract with the Heat, even if it mean’s enduring a 220-game losing streak.

I’m the son of an army drill sergeant and when we enlist, we go out full-term. So I got two years left on my term and then, after that, I’ll be looking to do other things,” O’Neal said on the show.

“I’m not the type to say every game, ‘my leg is hurt, my leg is hurt.’ I just tried to do it the old-school way for so long, just play on … rather than try to get healthy,” he added. “I’m not even playing at 50 percent right now. I just got to focus on getting that leg back strong.”

When asked if he could get back into form this season, O’Neal said: “We’re going to be trying to do it. I just have to get through it.

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