Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dirk an All-Star, Josh snubbed

BOSTON – One made it and one has to wait … again. All-Star reserves were announced Thursday and Dirk Nowitzki is headed to the mid-season classic. Josh Howard didn’t make the cut in voting by Western Conference coaches.

“Same people every year,” Howard said. “I don’t know what to do or say. I guess I have to average 40 points.”

Nowitzki went into Thursday night’s matchup against Eastern Conference-leading Boston leading the Mavericks in scoring and rebounding. It’s the seventh consecutive selection for the reigning MVP, extending his franchise record.

“Is it seven or six? Wow,” Nowitzki said. “It’s always an honor to be nominated and represent a great organization. It’s been great, but I’m more disappointed than anything about Josh not being there. He’s had an unbelievable year. He deserves to be there as much as I do.

“He’s been probably our most consistent player throughout the whole year, so it’s disappointing, but in the West it’s so tough to get in there. There will always be players that deserve to go that don’t go.”

Howard was an All-Star last season, albeit as an injury replacement selected by NBA commissioner David Stern. Howard is averaging 20.9 points and 7.5 rebounds – both career highs. The other forwards chosen by the West coaches were: Carlos Boozer (Utah) and David West (New Orleans).

“That’s a shame,” coach Avery Johnson said of the Howard snub. “It’s very disappointing. That’s the greatest thing to be recognized by the coaches. We just didn’t have enough coaches voting for him. Very disappointing. We’re happy for Dirk, but right now we think we’re at a stage where we have two guys that should be automatic All-Stars.”

Though he was left off the team, Howard said he was happy for West and Hornets point guard Chris Paul. Howard and Paul are both from Winston-Salem and went to Wake Forest.

Though Nowitzki has never been voted into the All-Star starting lineup by fans, he did start last season in Las Vegas. West coach Mike D’Antoni picked Nowitzki to replace injured center Yao Ming.

Johnson said the All-Star selection process is flawed and should be improved. One idea floated out is to increase the roster size from the current 12. Johnson also wonders if fan voting can be tweaked.

“They should definitely have a say, but not as much,” Johnson said.

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