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Celtics notebook

For 12th time, Garnett is a star

He's Boston's only rep among East starters

By Frank Dell'Apa
Globe Staff / January 23, 2009
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ORLANDO, Fla. - Kevin Garnett said he has "lost track" of how many times he has been named to play in the All-Star Game.

"Every time I make the All-Star [Game], I'm always thankful and privileged more than anything," Garnett said after the Celtics defeated the Magic, 90-80, last night. "I'm a kid that came here from high school. You work your butt off every year to give yourself a chance to be something special."

Garnett was voted a starter for the Feb. 15 extravaganza in Phoenix. He was eighth overall in the fan voting, named on 2,066,833 ballots.

The Eastern Conference starters will be forwards Garnett, a 12-time All-Star, and LeBron James (Cleveland); guards Allen Iverson (Detroit) and Dwyane Wade (Miami); and center Dwight Howard (Orlando). Other Celtics among the top 10 in voting at their positions were center Kendrick Perkins (second), forward Paul Pierce (fourth), and guard Ray Allen (sixth). The remainder of the All-Star rosters will be determined by the coaches, which could make Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo a contender, though he was not among the top 11 guards in fan voting.

Coach Doc Rivers said Rondo and the Magic's Jameer Nelson deserve to be named to the team, though "they would be the smallest backcourt in NBA All-Star history."

Nelson (17 points) had the statistical edge on Rondo last night, but Rondo's defense knocked the Magic off balance.

"We wanted to make them use the clock bringing the ball up the court," said Rondo, who scored 9 points and had eight rebounds. "The only thing they can do with 17 seconds is the pick-and-roll, and that was key, too."

New Jersey's Yi Jianlian, who is out with a broken finger, was named on 1,813,829 ballots, receiving a disproportionate amount of votes from China. Yi was on Garnett's heels for the second starting forward spot throughout the voting.

"I still think it should be fans' vote," Rivers said. "It's the fans' game and whoever they want to see play."

Howard set a record with 3,150,181 votes.

Statement issued
The Celtics had few problems with Howard and the Magic.

"We look at every game like a statement game," said Pierce, who scored a game-high 27 points in almost 44 minutes. "At the end of the year, the way Cleveland and Orlando have been playing, it could come down to a tiebreaker - hopefully, we can get two more [wins against the Magic]."

The Celtics, who host Dallas Sunday, have built a seven-game winning streak after losing seven of nine, a slump that began with a Christmas Day loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles.

"To the Lakers, it was like it was the championship," Garnett said. "Some of the comments those guys made were kind of comical - it's still the regular season."

And the Celtics appear to have regained their winning edge.

"We don't lack any confidence, we don't lack any swagger," Garnett said. "It's just coming out and being consistent.

"We've got a pretty tough week coming up and we're just trying to get better."

Family fun
Rivers's family was at last night's game, and the Celtics coach plans to remain in Orlando to attend his son's high school game tonight.

Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at F_dellapa@globe.com.

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