Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 2/9/12
NEW YORK -- Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce overcame slow starts to return to the All-Star game, while lengthy runs ended for Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. Nowitzki was chosen Thursday to his 11th straight All-Star game, despite his lowest scoring average since his second NBA season. Pierce has come on after a slow start caused by a foot injury and was picked for the 10th time. But Garnett wasn't chosen after 14 consecutive selections, and Duncan was left out after 13 in a row. Other All-Star regulars such as Ray Allen and Amare Stoudemire will be home, giving way to five first-timers: Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, Marc Gasol of Memphis, Andre Iguodala of Philadelphia, Indiana's Roy Hibbert, and Chicago's Luol Deng. Also headed to Orlando for the Feb. 26 game are NBA assists leader Steve Nash of Phoenix, Tony Parker of San Antonio, Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City, Kevin Love of Minnesota, Chris Bosh of Miami, Atlanta's Joe Johnson and Deron Williams of New Jersey. Already voted to start by fans in the Eastern Conference were Orlando's Dwight Howard, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of Miami, Chicago's Derrick Rose and New York's Carmelo Anthony. The West starters are the Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin of the Clippers, and Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant. Coaches voted for the reserves, and they had a tough task in this lockout-shortened season, when they were given only about 25 games to evaluate players. That threatened to make it tough for Nowitzki and Pierce, whose bodies weren't ready to go after the lengthy offseason and brief training camps, and have played below their usual standards. But the coaches picked Nowitzki, the NBA finals MVP, even though his average of 17.6 points is his worst since he scored 17.5 per game in the 1999-00 seasons. Even he wondered recently whether his streak would continue, given the depth of players in his position in the West. Pierce has been a little better, winning last week's East player of the week award and hiking his average to 18.4 per game, but acknowledged during an interview on TNT before the Celtics played the Lakers that he was a little surprised to be picked.
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