From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- From Kobe Bryant to Chris Paul, Blake Griffin to Andrew Bynum, the NBA All-Star game is shaping up as an L.A. story. Two Lakers and two Clippers were voted as starters Thursday for the game, the first time in 15 years that two pairs of teammates have been voted to start for one conference. "It's pretty cool," Griffin said. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant prevented a clean Los Angeles sweep of the Western Conference starting lineup by earning a forward spot for the Feb. 26 game in Orlando. Dwight Howard of the host Magic -- unless he's traded first -- was the overall leading vote-getter with 1.6 million. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are going together again from Miami, while MVP Derrick Rose of Chicago and New York's Carmelo Anthony round out the East starters. The Clippers and Lakers are developing a spirited rivalry this season, but they'll have to get along for a night to give the West a second straight win in the NBA's midseason event. Bryant and Paul will be in the same backcourt two months after the NBA, as owners of the Hornets, killed a trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers. Instead, he was dealt shortly after to the Clippers, and he has teamed with Griffin to make them one of the league's most exciting and improved teams, leading the Pacific Division over their Staples Center co-tenants. "It's an honor and a privilege to be voted as an All-Star starter," Paul said. "I want to thank the fans for their support. It's even more special to be starting with one of my teammates." Griffin and Bynum are first-time starters, while Bryant earned his record-tying 14th consecutive nod. Griffin said he's not planning on defending his title in the dunk contest, which he won by dunking over a car last year in Los Angeles. "It's not really my thing. I said that last year," he said. Griffin was a reserve selection last year, when he also played in the rookie game. "Last year it was hectic," he said. "I'll try to tone it down and try to get a break." It's the first time since 1997, when Houston had Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, and Seattle sent Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, that two pairs of teammates have been voted to start for one conference. Bryant joins Shaquille O'Neal, Jerry West and Karl Malone -- all one-time Lakers -- with his 14th straight starting nod. He earned his fourth All-Star MVP award last year, equaling Bob Pettit's NBA record. Bynum grabbed the starting center spot that for years went to Yao Ming, who retired last summer. Griffin was chosen as a reserve forward last year, when he became the first rookie All-Star since Yao in 2003. Starters were chosen by fan balloting, and none of the races was close. The reserves will be chosen by voting of the head coaches from each conference and will be announced next Thursday. Bryant led all West players with nearly 1.6 million votes. Rose collected 1.5 million to finish third among all players, a year after becoming Chicago's first starter since Michael Jordan. "I remember not being in the All-Star game, just wanting to be in the game. It's something you should take to heart, that I take to heart," Rose said before the Bulls' game against the Knicks. "Just want to accomplish something special while I'm in the league, and one of the accomplishments is being on the All-Star team." Howard will make his fifth consecutive start, and his status will provide much of the intrigue surrounding the event. He has told the Magic he wants to be traded and they have given his agent permission to talk to select teams, putting the franchise in a difficult position of deciding whether it should deal its superstar before hosting the weekend.
CSN Chicago will be carrying live coverage of the IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships beginning on Saturday with Class 1A and 2A. Each telecast will be streamed live on CSNChicago.com and IHSA.tv, and will be made available via the NBC Sports app on tablets and smart phones.
CSN will also air highlights packages throughout the weekend, and live stream every postgame press conference.
[LIVE STREAM: Watch the IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships on CSN]
For a full list of carriers and more information about CSN's live streaming service, viewers are urged to visit the following link: http://www.csnchicago.com/live-faq .
Here's what the schedule looks like this weekend:
Friday, Feb. 24:
Class 1A Semifinal No. 1: Annawan 51, Harvest Christian Academy 42
Class 1A Semifinal No. 2: Mendon Unity 42, Calhoun 34
Class 2A Semifinal No. 1: Byron 53, Central [Coop] (Camp Point) 37
Class 2A Semifinal No. 2: Central Catholic (Bloomington) 45, St. Edward (Elgin) 42
Saturday, Feb. 25:
11 a.m. – Class 1A: Harvest Christian Academy vs. Calhoun
12:45 p.m. – Class 1A: Annawan vs. Mendon Unity
5:30 p.m. – Class 2A: Central [Coop] (Camp Point) vs. St. Edward (Elgin)
7:15 p.m. – Class 2A: Byron vs. Central Catholic (Bloomington)
The post-deadline era has begun for the Bulls, with the directives clear on developing their young players and seeing what can be done in the last third of the season.
And while their youth sparked them early, it was the headliners who stepped up late in their 128-121 overtime win over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night at the United Center, as the team was clearly adjusting to life without Taj Gibson, who was traded Thursday.
Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade each had sluggish starts, to say the least. Each looked like he was going through an island-like malaise through the better part of three quarters before waking up.
Butler finally ignored the snooze button at the most opportune time, nearly winning the game in regulation with a tying triple, then a fadeaway 15-footer over Eric Bledsoe to cap off a late comeback that saw the Bulls rebound from an eight-point deficit with a few minutes left in the fourth.
"That's what great players do," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "They step up when you need them the most. Jimmy obviously had a tough night shooting the ball (early). ... What he's been doing all year, taking over the game in the fourth, and tonight was no different."
Then Wade, in one of his few post-halftime mistakes, controversially fouled Suns sharpshooter Devin Booker on a triple with 1.5 seconds left, but Booker missed the last of the three free throws to send the game into overtime.
"I think it was good defense," said Butler before giving a nod to his controversial whistle that went his way a week ago. "We don't wanna go back too far, but a foul's a foul."
Wade and Butler continued the assault into the extra session, with Wade rising for a late flush over Suns center Alex Len and raising his arms in celebration — having put together a 23-point performance after a scoreless first half.
"That dunk he had was unbelievable," Hoiberg said. "I should give him another week off."
In the early stages, Butler wasn't as futile as Wade, but he wasn't much better, scoring just eight before the fourth but being more aggressive and assertive with his moments and jump shots, finishing with 22 to go along with nine assists and four steals.
"Just keep shooting the ball and eventually it'll go in," Butler said. "And they did. Coaches put the ball in my hands, I kept taking the same shots, making the same plays. Then they went in."
The Suns led most of the way, mostly due to their team-wide speed and athleticism, getting out on the break the way they did in the first meeting two weeks ago. Booker scored 27, while Bledsoe, TJ Warren and Marquese Chriss each scored 17. Bledsoe added 10 assists and seven rebounds in 40 minutes.
They dominated the fast-break department at a 27-16 clip, and the Bulls actually countered with 3-point shooting, hitting 12 triples and shooting 46 percent from 3.
Nikola Mirotic was 4-for-7 from deep on the way to a 20-point night, while Denzel Valentine put together his best showing as a pro with 15 points, all coming on five made 3s.
Three straight triples from Valentine pulled the Bulls to within one late in the third quarter. The shots were decisive and confident — perhaps as he knew he wouldn't be removed for anyone at the first mistake.
"I like it, take the shots when you're open. Sometimes when you're not open, still shoot it and we know to get back," Butler said.
There were plenty of mishaps and things to complain about as the Bulls hit a new wave, but at least it started with some positive vibes after a day of uncertainty and confusion.