Posted Jan 28 2010 9:07AM
Nate McMillan didn't agonize over it. But it wasn't exactly easy, either. Sifting though the choices to come up with seven Western Conference All-Star reserves isn't a chore for the frivolous.
"It's really a tough process," the Trail Blazers coach said after turning his list into the league office earlier this week. "With so many guys playing well and so many teams playing well, it makes it difficult. I really look at what a player is doing, as well and how successful his team has been."
The benches for the West and East will be announced Thursday night on TNT. Fan voting is usually good for a dustup or two each year when it comes to the starters. Though the coaches take plenty into account when filling out their ballots, they're equally vulnerable when it comes to second guessing.
"No matter how many players you're asked to pick, there are always one or two more that could be there," Hornets coach Jeff Bower said. "I think it's a difficult thing to have a cutoff point."
McMillan referenced the turnarounds taking place with the Clippers, Thunder and Grizzlies, leading to viable candidates from each team. Then he brought up the old standbys, such as the Spurs, Suns, Lakers and Mavericks, who each have players worthy of an extra trip to Dallas next month.
"There are a number of guys who feel cheated out of an All-Star because there are so many good guys out there," McMillan said.
He didn't put together the reserve list alone. McMillan made it a collaborative effort with his coaching staff, weighing different criteria before narrowing the list to seven. Paring down the guards -- Brandon Roy is among the favorites -- proved especially tough.
Just take the point guards. Chris Paul (Hornets) and Deron Williams (Jazz) head the list of possibilities.
"They both are playing well," McMillan said. "They both are All-Stars in this league, even though Deron hasn't made it. He's played like an All-Star for a long time. You don't make it to the Olympic team if you're not a great player.
"There are a lot of guys. Look at what Dallas and Denver are doing. Jason Kidd has to be doing something. Chauncey Billups has to be doing something. And we're not even talking about Tony Parker and other guys who have been there."
There's no question where Bower stands on Paul. (Coaches, remember, aren't allowed to vote for their players.)
"He's an All-Star," Bower said. "I think he's the best point guard in the game. That's my own opinion and is an outstanding representative for the NBA. Sure hope he's on the team and talking part in game both for himself and the city of New Orleans."
Roy has made the last two All-Star teams via the coaching vote. He definitely respects the process.
"No matter which way it goes, I respect it no matter what happens because [the coaches] are in a tough position," said Roy, currently out with a hamstring injury. "It's not fair for me to say if I get left out that one of those guys should be left out.
"I respect their decisions no matter what because it's such a talented conference, especially when you look at the guards, and the bigs are good, too. It's really hard to pick. I respect the coaches no matter what because they're put in a tough situation and it's so loaded."
Roy isn't one of those who'd like to see the players have a say in the selection of the reserves.
"No, I'm cool," he said. "I'd rather leave it to the coaches."
In an effort to get back on the court sooner, Brandon Roy flew to Seattle last week for a cutting-edge procedure on his strained right hamstring that didn't involve a cut. He received an injection of platelet-rich plasma into his strained right hamstring.
The procedure is popular with NFL players and track and field athletes, though others, such as Tiger Woods, have had it done. It involved taking blood from Roy, placing it in a centrifuge for 15 minutes, which separated red blood cells from platelets to form a gel. That gel was injected back into the hamstring to aid the healing process.
Roy's hamstring flared up last Wednesday in Philadelphia, so he decided to head straight to Seattle to meet with the Seahawks' team doctor. Blazers owner Paul Allen also owns the NFL team and the Seahawks' doctor was the University of Washington's team doctor when Roy was in school.
There is some medical debate on the benefits of the procedure, but Roy felt comfortable after learning more about it. While it's supposed to speed the recovery process, he knows he can't push the timetable.
"We're trying to be patient with it," Roy said, "but I the same time I have to be honest with how I'm feeling. We've got to make sure it's right."
The earliest Roy could return is a two-game road trip Friday and Saturday at Houston and Dallas, though that might be pushing it. The Blazers are part of a jumbled playoff picture in the West.
"I want to help this team," Roy said. "We're in a tight race."
Halfway through a season-long eight-game road trip that included a White House visit, the Lakers have to be ready to come home. It's not easy being on the road, especially when home is Southern California.
The defending champs hold a comfortable, though not overwhelming, 3 1/2-game lead atop the Western Conference standings. That lead was built by a season-opening run that saw the Lakers play 17 of their first 21 games at Staples Center.
They emerged from that stretch a healthy 18-3. Many said before the season that such a start gave a team that didn't need any extra help an advantage.
"One could look at it that way, I guess, or you can take the other tact that it gave them the opportunity to also not take advantage of that," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "If they had lost a lot of those home games, then they'd pay the price doubly later on when they go on the road.
"They get credit for looking at their schedule and taking advantage of the fact that they were home a lot and won all those games to help build confidence and build the lead. And they could have gone the other way and it worked against them, so they get credit for making it work for them."
"We don't do blowouts. We don't believe in them."
-- Hornets guard Chris Paul
1. When it comes to the league's favorite films, GMs are much bigger on Amar'e Stoudemire right now than Avatar.
2. J.R. Smith couldn't commit to a name change. Think Earl will stick to a pledge to adjust his attitude and focus?
3. Streaks: Mavs 10-0 in one-point games since 2007. Knicks 0-1 in 50-point games since Sunday.
4. Word is T-Mac pulled a calf muscle trying to step back onto the trading block.
5. Greg Oden ... I'm not gonna touch that. I mean, I'm not going near there. Never mind.
CP: There's cheese on this chicken sandwich. I'm allergic to cheese.
PLRA: You didn't say no cheese.
CP: I didn't think I had to say no cheese. It's a chicken sandwich.
PLRA: (Picks up menu) It says right here it comes with cheese. Wouldn't you expect cheese on a hamburger?
CP: No, I would expect cheese on a cheeseburger. A hamburger shouldn't have cheese. Neither should a chicken sandwich. I've been dealing with this my whole life.
PLRA: Do you want to order something else?
CP: Do you have chicken strips?
CP: Can you make sure I get them without cheese?
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