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Carmelo Anthony
Carmelo Anthony is averaging 23.6 points and eight rebounds a game for Denver.
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Fans see through the smoke, vote Melo a starter in West

By Art Garcia,

Posted Jan 28 2011 1:41PM

It's to the point where Carmelo Anthony is hearing boos inside the Pepsi Center in Denver. Many of the Nuggets faithful are fed up with the Melo-Drama, and it's not hard to see why. They're not sure where Anthony is staying or going. He might not know either.

Several prominent players around the league have come to his defense, including Eastern Conference All-Star starter Dwyane Wade. But while some fans may be tired of Anthony, clearly, most aren't.

  G | Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers
Five-time champ forced to crack the whip more this season, while sacrificing his own game some. Still the game's best closer.
  G | Chris Paul, New Orleans Hornets
Fought through all the uncertainty in New Orleans to quarterback the Hornets back into playoff contention.
  F | Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
Youngest scoring champ last year in position to do it again. OKC has also made a nice jump in the standings.
  F | Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
Denver's leading scorer is still doing his job, despite his name being bandied about in trade rumors almost daily.
  C | Yao Ming, Houston Rockets
Unfortunately, he's lost another season. Fans still love Yao, but it's unclear if they'll ever see him play again.

'Melo is headed to his fourth All-Star Game, third as a starter, after Thursday night's announcement of both the Western and Eastern Conference teams. The NBA's 60th All-Star Game is being broadcast Feb. 20 from Staples Center in Los Angeles on TNT and ESPN Radio.

"It feels good especially at the time with everything going on," Anthony said of his support. "I've been able to stay focused and it feels good that the fans recognize that. I appreciate it."

Fans filled out the rest of the West starting five with defending scoring champ Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City joining Anthony at the other forward spot. The backcourt is perennial fan favorite Kobe Bryant (Lakers) and Chris Paul (New Orleans), with Yao Ming (Houston) at center. Yao is injured and won't play, leaving commissioner David Stern to pick a replacement.

Bryant has been voted a starter 13 times now, though he didn't play before last year's All-star record crowd at Cowboys Stadium due to an injury. Paul's All-Star résumé has grown to four selections, with two starts. The Hornets' quarterback is third in the league in assists and first in steals.

"This is an unbelievable feeling for me as a player," Paul said. "What makes it even more special is that it is due to the fans, who I am extremely grateful towards. I am honored to be representing the Hornets and the city of New Orleans."

Durant made his All-Star breakthrough last season before one-upping himself this time around by leading all West forwards in voting after being a coaches' selection in Dallas. The franchise cornerstone is also leading all NBA players in scoring, averaging 28.1 points a game.

He punctuated his All-Star ticket Wednesday night in Minneapolis, ripping through the Timberwolves for a career-high tying 47 points and adding a personal-best 18 rebounds. (Minnesota's Kevin Love didn't hurt his campaign for a spot as a reserve with 31 and 21.)

This was the eighth starting election for Yao, who won't play for the second time. Candidates to fill his spot include Lakers big man Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan of league-leading San Antonio and Denver's Nene. The choice is at Stern's discretion. The commissioner doesn't have to pick a center.

Art Garcia has covered the NBA since 1999. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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