PAUL AND GRIFFIN AMONG LEADERS IN FIRST BALLOT RETURNS

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Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were among the top Western Conference vote-getters in the first returns of 2013 NBA All-Star Balloting released Thursday afternoon. With 353,603 votes Paul was second behind Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (639,419) in the backcourt for the West, while Griffin (307,855) was third among frontcourt players.

Thunder forward Kevin Durant (605,965) and Lakers center Dwight Howard (434,168) were ahead of Griffin. All three players would be starters under the newly configured ballot, which separates players between backcourt and frontcourt as opposed to guard, forward and center like years past.

The Eastern Conference was headed by the leading vote-getter in Heat forward LeBron James (641,348), followed by Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and Celtics center Kevin Garnett in the front court. Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo led the East’s backcourt.  

The 62nd NBA All-Star Game will be played at Toyota Center in Houston on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013.

Paul has been named to the Western Conference All-Star team five times previously, including 2009-10 when he did not play do to a knee injury.  He was voted a starter four times, three while a member of the Hornets and one in his only season with the Clippers. Paul scored eight points in last season’s game with 12 assists. He’s averaged 12.0 points and 11.75 assists in four career games.

Griffin was selected as a reserve in 2010-11, his rookie campaign, and made the team as a starter last year, scoring 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting with eight rebounds. In his two All-Star appearances Griffin is averaging 15.0 points per game, 6.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

The 2012 game in Orlando marked the first time in franchise history two Clippers players were voted in as starters in the same season.

Here are the ballot results from the first return (Dec. 13, 2012):

2013 NBA ALL-STAR BALLOTING PRESENTED BY SPRINT EASTERN CONFERENCE

Frontcourt: LeBron James (Mia) 641,348; Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 573,112; Kevin Garnett (Bos) 218,246; Chris Bosh (Mia) 210,724; Tyson Chandler (NYK) 151,744; Paul Pierce (Bos) 114,735; Joakim Noah (Chi) 73,366; Josh Smith (Atl) 69,344; Andrew Bynum (Phi) 68,596; Amar’e Stoudemire (NYK) 64,266; Shane Battier (Mia) 59,419; Anderson Varejao (Cle) 57,336; Luol Deng (Chi) 48,450; Brook Lopez (BKN) 47,940; Jeff Green (Bos) 36,080.

Backcourt: Dwyane Wade (Mia) 430,925; Rajon Rondo (Bos) 382,613; Deron Williams (BKN) 211,426; Kyrie Irving (Cle) 155,989; Ray Allen (Mia) 130,016; Monta Ellis (Mil) 47,650; Raymond Felton (NYK) 37,974; Jason Terry (Bos) 36,147; Brandon Jennings (Mil) 35,610; Jrue Holiday (Phi) 35,193.

2013 NBA ALL-STAR BALLOTING PRESENTED BY SPRINT WESTERN CONFERENCE

Frontcourt: Kevin Durant (OKC) 605,965; Dwight Howard (LAL) 434,168; Blake Griffin (LAC) 307,855; Tim Duncan (SA) 189,577; Pau Gasol (LAL) 139,868; Kevin Love (Min) 112,922; Omer Asik (Hou) 88,178; Rudy Gay (Mem) 85,279; Serge Ibaka (OKC) 68,285; LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 66,290; Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 63,056; Marc Gasol (Mem) 61,716; Zach Randolph (Mem) 59,916; Metta World Peace (LAL) 59,167; Anthony Davis (NO) 53,779.

Backcourt: Kobe Bryant (LAL) 639,419; Chris Paul (LAC) 353,603; Jeremy Lin (Hou) 298,319; James Harden (Hou) 196,108; Russell Westbrook (OKC) 143,437; Steve Nash (LAL) 118,073; Tony Parker (SA) 69,983; Ricky Rubio (Min) 54,744; Manu Ginobili (SA) 47,800; O.J. Mayo (Dal) 36,495.