Bryant scores 15th straight All-Star start

NEW YORK — Kobe Bryant was voted to his NBA-record 15th consecutive All-Star start, leading four Los Angeles players into next month’s game.

Lakers teammate Dwight Howard and the Clippers’ Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will join Bryant in the Western Conference lineup for the Feb. 17 game in Houston. Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, the MVP of last year’s game, rounds out the starting five.

Kevin Garnett held off Chris Bosh in fan balloting, giving the East two Boston Celtics and two Miami Heat players: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will represent the defending champions and receive passes from Rajon Rondo. New York’s Carmelo Anthony is the other starter.

Bryant finished with 1,591,437 votes, edging James by about 7,800 to finish as the leading vote-getter and break a tie with Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West and Karl Malone for the most consecutive starting nods.

Reserves will be announced next Thursday.

Off the court

UNION REVIEW CRITIQUES HUNTER: NBA players should consider whether they want to keep Billy Hunter as executive director of the players’ association after a series of wrongdoings, according to a review of the union released Thursday.

The report found no evidence of illegal use of union funds but revealed that Hunter withheld knowledge that his contract was never properly approved, used poor judgment with his hiring practices and spent improperly on travel and gifts.

The eight-month review by the firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP urged players to consider Hunter’s position when they meet next month at the All-Star break.

“Based on the findings of this report, the NBPA should consider whether Mr. Hunter should remain as the Union’s Executive Director and whether new and more effective controls should be enacted to govern the NBPA, its Foundation and its Executive Director, whoever that may be,” the report said.

Hunter said in a statement that he looks forward to continuing his work with the NBPA and welcomed a discussion about his contract.

Because Hunter’s $3 million per year contract, signed in 2010 and to run through either 2015 or 2017, was never properly approved, the report finds that players are under no obligation to keep him.

“Regarding my contract — my third in a long tenure of the organization — it was ratified by the NBPA Executive Committee and signed by president Derek Fisher,” Hunter said. “I believe the contract and extensions are valid.”


STERN OK WITH ON-COURT AUDIO: NBA commissioner David Stern said he has no problem with teams aiming microphones at their own players during games. If anything, he wants more mikes on the court.

Talking ahead of the New York Knicks’ game in London against Detroit, Stern shrugged off a report that MSG chairman James Dolan used listening devices at Madison Square Garden to record everything said to and by Carmelo Anthony.

With the league and media recording most things, Stern said adding more microphones can only be a good thing.

“Anything that is said on the court is really subject to being picked up,” he said. “For my money, I’d like to see the audio track of our games be a little bit more robust anyway. ... If anything, there are going to be more mikes around the game rather than fewer.”

The Newark Star-Ledger reported Monday that Dolan had two MSG Network audio technicians record Anthony’s interactions following his suspension after exchanging words with Boston forward Kevin Garnett. Stern pointed out that the Knicks have not confirmed the report, but that no league rules were broken.

Thursday’s games

Knicks 102, Pistons 87: In London, Carmelo Anthony returned to his Olympic gold medal past and scored 26 points to lead New York past Detroit.

Anthony scored 18 in the first half as the Knicks jumped to a 16-2 lead. Amare Stoudemire added 17 points for the Knicks, and J.R. Smith scored 16. Will Bynum led the Pistons with 22.

The Pistons were the home team at the O2 Arena in London, the site of the Olympic gold-medal game during last year’s London Games.

Bucks 98, Suns 94: In Phoenix, Mike Dunleavy hit a 3-pointer with 57.4 seconds left to cap a 10-0 run, and Milwaukee pulled away to snap a 24-game losing streak in Phoenix.

Monta Ellis scored 24 points, and Larry Sanders added 19, while Dunleavy and Brandon Jennings had 16 apiece for the Bucks, who had not won in the Valley since Feb. 21, 1987, at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Shannon Brown scored 20 points for the Suns, who have lost four straight at home for the first time since 2004.

Clippers 90, Timberwolves 77: In Minneapolis, Jamal Crawford scored 22 points, Blake Griffin added 20 and Los Angeles hardly broke a sweat in cruising past Minnesota.

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