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Giannis, LeBron keep All-Star balloting lead

JIM POORTEN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo continue to lead the voting for next month’s All-Star Game in Indianapolis.

NEW YORK (AFP) — Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and Los Angeles Lakers playmaker LeBron James remained the top vote-getters in updated fan balloting returns for next month’s National Basketball Association All-Star Game revealed on Thursday.

Starters for the 73rd edition of the annual showdown of elite talent — set for 18 February at Indianapolis — will be determined by a formula that includes 50 percent fan voting and 25 percent each from NBA players and a media panel.

Greek star big man Antetokounmpo led the Eastern Conference and NBA overall with 3,475,698 while James set the Western Conference pace and was second overall on 3,096,031.

Voting will conclude on 20 January with NBA All-Star Game starters to be revealed on 25 January.

Joining Antetokounmpo in the East frontcourt starting positions were reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid of Philadelphia with 2,975,987 votes and Boston’s Jayson Tatum on 2,939,663.

Setting the pace for East guards is Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton on 2,192,810 with Atlanta’s Trae Young moving into second place on 1,449,485 ahead of Milwaukee’s third-place Damian Lillard on 1,414,122.

In the West frontcourt, four-time NBA MVP James is joined by two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic of reigning NBA champion Denver on 2,777,068 with Phoenix’s Kevin Durant a close-behind third on 2,773,809. Anthony Davis of the Lakers is a distant fourth on 1,487,434.

Among West guards, Luka Doncic of Dallas leads with 2,508,618 votes while Golden State’s Stephen Curry is second on 2,126,037.

The roster selection format has changed for this year’s All-Star Game with the lineups returning to an Eastern Conference versus Western Conference format.

For the past six seasons, the top vote-getter from each conference would serve as a captain and select his roster from a draft of the other players named as starters.

That format saw James serve as a captain six times, winning five in a row until losing last year to a team captained by Antetokounmpo. James collected earlier wins over clubs captained by Curry, Durant and Antetokounmpo.

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