Raptors' Bosh voted all-star starter

Toronto Raptors stalwart Chris Bosh will start this year's NBA all-star game, but Victoria's Steve Nash will not.

Toronto Raptors stalwart Chris Bosh will start this year's NBA all-star game, but Victoria's Steve Nash will not.

Nash, the league's most valuable player the past two seasons, failed to earn enough votes to start for the Western Conference all-stars.

That honour was bestowed on fellow guards Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Tracy McGrady of the Houston Rockets, who will be joined in the starting lineup by Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs.

Themid-season showcase goes Feb. 18 in Las Vegas.

Rockets centre Yao Ming was the Western Conference's top vote-getter with more than 2.4 million votes, but can't play because of fractured tibia.

His replacement will be chosen by head coach Mike D'Antoni, likely when the reserves are announced next week.

Nash, who turns 33 on Feb. 7, is expected to be named a reserve, marking his fifth all-star selection.

Nash is having yet another MVP-caliber seasonfor the Phoenix Suns, averaging a career-high 19.5 points, 11.6 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 35.6 minutes in 40 starts.

Bosh, 22, is having an equally spectacular campaign, leading the Raptors in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots.

The two-time all-star is averaging 22.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists,1.3 blocks and 37.1 minutes through 31 starts.

"It's a blessing for me to know the fans appreciate my play and I appreciate them voting for me," Bosh said."This is a great honour and I'm looking forward to sharing the weekend with so many outstanding players."

Bosh will start at forward for the Eastern Conference all-stars alongside LeBron James from the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat centre Shaquille O'Neal.

It is O'Neal's 14th straight selection, tying the record shared by Karl Malone and Jerry West.

Arenas nudges by Carter

The backcourt boasts Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards, who surged past Vince Carter of the New Jersey Nets to claim the final starting spot by 3,010 votes — the fourth-closest finish in NBA history.

"It is an unbelievable feeling," Arenas said. "Two years ago, I was voting myself in for the game.

"Now fans are voting me in and I am going to do what they are looking for. I've got something to give back to the fans during all-star weekend."

James, who was named the most valuable player in last year's all-star game, led all players with 2,516,049 votes this season, but he failed tosurpass the record of 2,558,278 set by Yao in 2005.

"I've always wanted to be an all-star," James said. "But being the leading vote-getter over guys like Vince Carter, Shaquille O'Neal, Dwyane Wade and Allen Iverson, you never think that's going to happen.

"Just getting the opportunity to be the leading vote-getter is, kind of, unbelievable."

Bosh finished second behind James in Eastern Conference balloting with 1,091,263 votes.

With files from Sports Network