LeBron James is the early vote-getter for the NBA All-Star Game, edging Kevin Durant.
The Miami Heat star has 609,336 votes, while the Oklahoma City’s Durant trails by about 2,000 votes in the first returns announced by the league on Thursday.
The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (501,215) and the Clippers’ Chris Paul (393,313) pace the Western Conference backcourt players. The Heat’s Dwyane Wade (396,279) is the East’s top vote-getter in the backcourt, followed by the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving (365,712).
SURGERY FOR O’NEAL — Golden State Warriors backup center Jermaine O’Neal is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist today. The team said a timetable for O’Neal’s return will be announced following the procedure, which threatens to end his season — and possibly his career. O’Neal is in his 18th NBA season and has had previous surgeries on both knees and his left wrist.
INJURY SHELVES BLAKE — Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Blake will be out at least six weeks with a torn ligament in his right elbow. Blake was hurt Nov. 26 in a game at Washington, but kept playing with the injury. The Lakers’ team doctors diagnosed the tear in an examination Wednesday. Blake said he won’t have surgery, but will attempt to return this season with platelet-rich plasma injections.
IGUODALA EAGER TO PLAY — Andre Iguodala had a target date in mind to return from a right hamstring injury. The Golden State Warriors had a different one.
Iguodala said Thursday that the sides are “in the same chapter. Not on the same page.” He says he hopes to come back “really soon” but will leave the decision up to team trainers.
Iguodala is expected to miss his 11th game when the Warriors host the Houston Rockets tonight. He says he’s shooting the ball well and jumping high, but he hasn’t tried to change directions or stop and start again — the true tests of whether he can come back.
KNICKS LOSE FELTON — The New York Knicks say guard Raymond Felton is expected to miss two to three weeks with a strained left hamstring. Felton has been bothered by the hamstring for much of the season. He had an MRI Thursday to confirm the injury.