NBA All-Star reserves announced

Thursday evening the official reserves (bench players) for the 2008 NBA All-Star team were announced. Fans picked the starters, but NBA coaches picked these reserves. Here are the 14 players (seven East, seven West) selected to come off the bench in the 2008 All-Star game.

East: Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Joe Johnson, Caron Butler, Paul Pierce, Antawn Jamison, Chris Bosh

West: Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, David West, Dirk Nowitzki, Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudemire analysis coming over the next hour or two. Watch our front page. And of course we’ll add reactions from newspapers around the country to our NBA rumors page late tonight and Friday morning.

The host New Orleans Hornets are one of four teams which can claim two All-Star reserves as the NBA today announced the list of 14 players that have been selected by the coaches as reserves for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game. The Detroit Pistons, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards also have two All-Star reserves in the 57th NBA All-Star Game which will be played on Sunday, Feb. 17 at New Orleans Arena.

First-time All-Star selections Chris Paul and David West of New Orleans are joined by fellow first-time selection Brandon Roy of the Portland Trail Blazers as Western Conference reserves, along with Carlos Boozer of the Utah Jazz, Steve Nash and Amaré Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns, and the Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki.

The East reserves feature the Detroit Pistons’ Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton, Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison of the Washington Wizards, Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce.

The 14 players selected — seven each from the Eastern and Western Conferences — were chosen by the 30 NBA head coaches, who were asked to vote for seven players in their respective conferences — two guards, two forwards, one center and two players regardless of position. They were not permitted to vote for players from their own team.

Previously selected as starters for the East through the 2008 NBA All-Star Balloting Program were Boston’s Kevin Garnett, Cleveland’s LeBron James, Orlando’s Dwight Howard, New Jersey’s Jason Kidd and Miami’s Dwyane Wade. Denver’s Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson, Houston’s Yao Ming, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and San Antonio’s Tim Duncan will start for the West.

The selections of Nash (Canada) and Nowitzki (Germany) along with voted-starters Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Yao (China), gives the 2008 NBA All-Star Game four international players.

Should any player be unable to participate in the All-Star Game due to injury, NBA Commissioner David Stern will select the replacement.

Boston head coach Doc Rivers and his coaching staff will be on the sidelines for the Eastern Conference All-Stars, as the Celtics previously clinched the best winning percentage through games of Feb. 3 among eligible Eastern Conference teams for All-Star coaching honors. The Western Conference coaching scenario has yet to be determined, with the staffs of the Dallas Mavericks (31-13, .705) and New Orleans Hornets (32-13, .711) still in contention. The coaching staff of either Dallas or New Orleans, depending on which owns the best winning percentage through games of Feb. 3, will lead the Western Conference All-Stars.

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Wizards coach Eddie Jordan discusses the team

Wizards head coach Eddie Jordan at practice today:

On tomorrow’s game: “I am looking forward to tomorrow’s game to see how disciplined we will be in the first five or six minutes. We need to have a good tempo, manage the game properly, and try to get good looks. We can make adjustments after that.”

On the Utah Jazz: “We have one of the best executing teams in the league coming in. They are very physical and are one of the best coached teams in the league. They are one of the best teams in the West. They may not have the glamour like some of the others, but they get the job done. They are very good.”

On Dominic McGuire: “He is beginning to do what he does best. He isn’t getting out of the realm of his strengths. He comes off the bench and gives us good energy. He is going to get offensive rebounds, run the floor, get deflections and tip-ins, and defend well. He is a good sized athlete that we like to have on this team. Every good team in the league has this sort of guy. He can probably cover three or four positions.”

On Caron Butler: “We are going to see him in shootaround tomorrow. We’ll go about an hour, run the offense and get into a four or five minute segment of live action. We’ll see how he reacts after that.”

On Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison possibly being named All-Stars tonight: “I hope. I don’t know. I would think Caron (Butler) is a shoe-in and Antawn (Jamison) has a very good chance. Anything can happen though. I am hoping they both make it.”

On the team: “It is a combination of both good front office and good coaching. We are picking and developing the players well. Ernie (Grunfeld) has done an excellent job of acquiring guys such as Antawn (Jamison), Gilbert (Arenas) and Caron (Butler). I think our coaching staff has done a good job putting them in situations where they can be highly successful and develop them at the same time. It is a combination of the entire organization doing a good job. That is what this league is all about.”

Canada coach says Steve Nash hasn’t ruled out summer play reports: Canada coach Leo Rautins revealed on Thursday that NBA superstar Steve Nash has not ruled out playing for the national team this summer. The Phoenix Suns all-star led Canada at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 but last played for his country at the FIBA Americas Championship in 2003. Rautins, after learning that Canada had been drawn with Korea and Slovenia in Group C for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, said Nash, a two-time NBA MVP, could still play. “You are always hoping he (Nash) will play but I’m preparing as if he’s not,” Rautins said to FIBA.Com.

Bobcats to sign Earl Boykins

The Charlotte Observer reports: The Charlotte Bobcats have come to terms with a free-agent point guard Earl Boykins and an announcement of his signing is expected later today, the Observer has learned. Boykins, who played for Denver and Milwaukee last season, is somewhat undersized at 5-foot-5 but has been a dynamic scorer.

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LeBron minor ankle sprain, game-time decision for tonight

Cavaliers forward LeBron James experienced a right ankle sprain with 23.3 seconds remaining in the second quarter in last night’s Cavaliers game in Portland versus the Trail Blazers. He returned to start the second half and played the remainder of the game.  He traveled with the team to Seattle following the game, was re-evaluated this morning and is currently listed as a game-time decision for tonight’s Cavaliers-SuperSonics game.

Al Thornton flashes of stardom reports: If pressed to summarize Al Thornton’s rookie season the word to use would probably be inconsistent. But if you were to describe his performance on Wednesday, terms like magnificent, amazing and phenomenal would come to mind. The rookie out of Florida State put together his best night of the season as he notched a career-best 33 points to power the Clippers past the Hawks. With L.A. clinging on to a three-point lead and 14.9 seconds left on the clock, Thornton rejected a driving layup by fellow first-year player Acie Law to seal the deal.

Biedrins is a difference-maker reports: Andris Biedrins may not have had the best numbers on Wednesday, but he certainly made a big difference off the bench in a big win for the Warriors. Biedrins poured in 14 points on a scorching 6-of-7 night from the field to power the Warriors past the Hornets, ending their nine-game winning streak. The defeat snapped two additional streaks for the Hornets. They were previously 20-0 when scoring at least 100 points and 15-0 when Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler had double-doubles in the same game.

Can’t stop the King: LeBron rises when it counts against the Blazers reports: They knew what was coming, but weren’t even close to stopping it. With the Cavs down by one and 4.9 ticks left, Cleveland sent its inbounds pass to LeBron James, who demonstrated why he is truly the king of the clutch. James blasted past the defending Brandon Roy, seeped through LaMarcus Aldridge and went around the extended arms of Travis Outlaw to drain a game-winning last-second layup to give the Cavs a thrilling road triumph over the Blazers. It was the finishing touch to a 17-point fourth quarter for the King, who brought the Cavs back from an 11-point final-period deficit. “We stepped up too late,” Roy said of Portland’s defense on LeBron’s final drive. “Once he got to into the paint we didn’t want to foul him so a couple of guys shied away. We’ve got to force him into a jump shot in that situation.” Cleveland has now won five straight games on the road, its longest streak since April 1998.

Tony Parker left ankle update

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that Tony Parker underwent an MRI on his left ankle on Wednesday in San Antonio. The results showed that Parker is suffering from chronic inflammation and confirmed there is no structural damage in his ankle.

Parker received anti-inflammatory shots today which are designed to decrease the swelling in his ankle joint.

No timeline has been set for his return. Parker will not travel with the Spurs on the team’s six-game Eastern road trip which starts on Tuesday in Indiana.