Kobe Bryant is the leading vote-getter for his final NBA All-Star Game, and Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry made late moves to join him in the starting lineup.
Leonard will start in his first All-Star Game and Lowry will start on his home court in Toronto after both made up ground in the final days of voting on Thursday.
Nobody was catching Bryant, who had 1.9 million votes and was selected an All-Star for the 18th time.
Lowry surged past Miami’s Dwyane Wade last year and this time his late charge put him alongside Wade to give the Raptors a starter in the first All-Star Game held outside the U.S.
“It is an honour to be voted as a starter for the All-Star Game, especially for one in my home arena,” Lowry said in a statement. “I am thankful to all the great Raptors fans across Canada and throughout the NBA.”
James led East players with 1.1 million votes and is an All-Star for the 12th time in 13 seasons.
MVP Stephen Curry of Golden State was next with 1.6 million and they will be joined in the Western Conference lineup by Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and Leonard, the San Antonio star who was more than 12,000 votes behind Golden State’s Draymond Green for the last frontcourt spot after the most recent returns.
Cleveland’s LeBron James and Indiana’s Paul George will start in the East frontcourt with New York’s Carmelo Anthony, who held off Chicago’s Pau Gasol by 360 votes.
Wade starts at guard with Lowry, who overcame a 32,000-vote deficit to Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving after the last update.
The reserves will be voted by the head coaches in each conference and be announced next Thursday.
Bryant, who is retiring after the season, will finish one behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most All-Star selections. He is a four-time All-Star Game MVP and the career leader with 280 points in the game – though James is just two points behind.
He was atop the voting from the start, but Leonard had to come from behind and finish 14,000 votes ahead of Dallas centre Zaza Pachulia for the final West frontcourt spot. Leonard joins Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to be selected an All-Star, NBA Finals MVP and NBA Defensive Player of the Year.Report Typo/Error