All-Star votes continue to be tallied, and, no shocker, Kobe Bryant leads the Western Conference.
Pau Gasol, however, lags far behind the top West forwards.
He was sixth at last glance, trailing Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki and Ron Artest, but comfortably ahead of Bruce Bowen and Shane Battier.
“It’s tough to get voted in,” Gasol said. “You need to get all the fans to make a constant effort to send that vote in.”
Gasol had almost 500,000 votes when the league announced updated results Thursday. Duncan had more than 1.1 million votes and Stoudemire had almost 750,000.
Gasol, who was an All-Star with Memphis in 2006, is averaging 17.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists, numbers that will probably translate to All-Star status as a reserve. Starters for the game will be announced Jan. 22, and backups will be selected a week later by all the coaches.
“If you get in by the coaching votes, that also has a great value because they know what’s really going on out there,” Gasol said.
Just the same, he acknowledged voting for himself.
“Once or twice, just to give me a couple extra votes,” he said, smiling.
The All-Star game is Feb. 15 in Phoenix.
If the Lakers continue to win, their coaching staff will be on the West sideline for the All-Star game, not that Phil Jackson is counting down the days until that happens.
“Hate it,” he said.
“All that stuff you have to do,” he said. “If it was just a game and you went to the game, that wouldn’t be so bad. . . . I really don’t want to talk about it. You [media] guys forced me into it.”
Players and coaches take part in mandatory interview sessions with reporters, and there is a long list of events the day before the game, including the dunk contest and the three-point shooting contest.
Jackson has coached in only three All-Star games -- two with Chicago (1992, 1996) and one with the Lakers (2000).
As per league rules, the team with the best record in each conference a few weeks before the game will send its coaching staff.
Jackson would rather take a four-day break, but that would mean the Lakers’ encountering an unexpected losing streak.
“I have to go and grin and bear it,” Jackson said. “That’s what you do. That’s what my mom told me, to make the best out of it.”
Jackson would be joined by assistant coaches Jim Cleamons, Frank Hamblen, Kurt Rambis and Brian Shaw.
The new year has brought few surprises in the West, according to Jackson.
“Maybe our own record,” he said.
Despite slow starts by New Orleans and San Antonio, the conference is beginning to line up the way it was expected, with a few minor deviations.
“It’s all boiled out the way we thought it would except for Houston. They have so many injuries,” Jackson said. “Utah’s had a lot of injuries. Still in all, the projection looks like another eight or nine teams will still be close to 50 victories in the West again.”