From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- From Kobe Bryant to Chris Paul, Blake Griffin to Andrew Bynum, the NBA All-Star game is shaping up as an L.A. story. Two Lakers and two Clippers were voted as starters Thursday for the game, the first time in 15 years that two pairs of teammates have been voted to start for one conference. "It's pretty cool," Griffin said. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant prevented a clean Los Angeles sweep of the Western Conference starting lineup by earning a forward spot for the Feb. 26 game in Orlando. Dwight Howard of the host Magic -- unless he's traded first -- was the overall leading vote-getter with 1.6 million. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are going together again from Miami, while MVP Derrick Rose of Chicago and New York's Carmelo Anthony round out the East starters. The Clippers and Lakers are developing a spirited rivalry this season, but they'll have to get along for a night to give the West a second straight win in the NBA's midseason event. Bryant and Paul will be in the same backcourt two months after the NBA, as owners of the Hornets, killed a trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers. Instead, he was dealt shortly after to the Clippers, and he has teamed with Griffin to make them one of the league's most exciting and improved teams, leading the Pacific Division over their Staples Center co-tenants. "It's an honor and a privilege to be voted as an All-Star starter," Paul said. "I want to thank the fans for their support. It's even more special to be starting with one of my teammates." Griffin and Bynum are first-time starters, while Bryant earned his record-tying 14th consecutive nod. Griffin said he's not planning on defending his title in the dunk contest, which he won by dunking over a car last year in Los Angeles. "It's not really my thing. I said that last year," he said. Griffin was a reserve selection last year, when he also played in the rookie game. "Last year it was hectic," he said. "I'll try to tone it down and try to get a break." It's the first time since 1997, when Houston had Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, and Seattle sent Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, that two pairs of teammates have been voted to start for one conference. Bryant joins Shaquille O'Neal, Jerry West and Karl Malone -- all one-time Lakers -- with his 14th straight starting nod. He earned his fourth All-Star MVP award last year, equaling Bob Pettit's NBA record. Bynum grabbed the starting center spot that for years went to Yao Ming, who retired last summer. Griffin was chosen as a reserve forward last year, when he became the first rookie All-Star since Yao in 2003. Starters were chosen by fan balloting, and none of the races was close. The reserves will be chosen by voting of the head coaches from each conference and will be announced next Thursday. Bryant led all West players with nearly 1.6 million votes. Rose collected 1.5 million to finish third among all players, a year after becoming Chicago's first starter since Michael Jordan. "I remember not being in the All-Star game, just wanting to be in the game. It's something you should take to heart, that I take to heart," Rose said before the Bulls' game against the Knicks. "Just want to accomplish something special while I'm in the league, and one of the accomplishments is being on the All-Star team." Howard will make his fifth consecutive start, and his status will provide much of the intrigue surrounding the event. He has told the Magic he wants to be traded and they have given his agent permission to talk to select teams, putting the franchise in a difficult position of deciding whether it should deal its superstar before hosting the weekend.
After a couple of practices and one exhibition game against the Denver Broncos, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan once again came to the realization things are often not as good or bad as they seem.
That was his takeaway a day after the 49ers provided the Broncos with five giveaways to go along with 11 penalties in a 33-14 loss at Levi’s Stadium.
“But when I get in and watch the tape, it wasn’t quite as bad as it felt,” Shanahan said Sunday on a conference call with Bay Area reporters. “When you look at each situation, especially when you talk about the ones on offense, it takes 11 guys to execute a play, and if you have one guy off a little bit, it breaks down.”
A couple of passes that could have been caught, a ball that slipped out of quarterback Brian Hoyer’s hand and some other correctable errors gives Shanahan reason to be optimistic.
When he spoke to the media on Saturday night after the game, Shanahan was clearly upset with how his 90-man team performed. He was asked a day later if it was a relief to watch the film and come to the conclusion that not everything was a total disaster.
“It’s not really relief,” Shanahan quipped. “It’s kind of my life story.
“We put a lot into it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a scrimmage, practice or preseason. I try to compose myself by the time I talk to you guys (the media) after practice. But I’m pretty pissed after practice when it doesn’t go well. We’re competitive guys and we want everything to be perfect. That’s why most of the time I’m not that happy.”
Shanahan said he expects everyone in the organization to hold themselves to the same high standard.
“Whenever you go out to a game like that, you want to win, you want to play well,” he said. “And you turn the ball over like that and you have the penalties that we did, I’m definitely going to be pissed off and I expect everyone in our building to be pissed off. If they’re not, that’s when I would be worried.”
Shanahan said he had the opposite feeling after the practice Wednesday against the Broncos that looked like a decisive win for the 49ers. Upon review, Shanahan said he felt there was still a lot of room for improvement.
“I thought things seemed real good at practice our first day versus them,” he said. “Then, I go in and watch the film and it was good but not quite as good as I felt when I was out there.”
The 49ers could get their presumptive starting free safety back on the field this week.
Jimmie Ward, who has been on the physically-unable-to-perform list since sustaining a hamstring injury during a conditioning test on the eve of training camp, will go through strenuous workouts Monday and Tuesday.
Ward could be cleared to return to practice as early as Wednesday, when the club is scheduled to hold its next practice.
Coach Kyle Shanahan said Sunday in a conference call with reporters that defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley will will pace him through a football-related workout on Monday and Tuesday.
"Hopefully, we'll get him ready to go by Wednesday," Shanahan said.
The 49ers envision Ward, a first-round draft pick in 2014, as a major contributor in the team’s new 4-3 scheme, which is based on Seattle’s defense. With strong safety Eric Reid playing close to the line of scrimmage, Ward will play the deep safety – a role that Earl Thomas has played for the Seahawks.
In Ward’s absence, undrafted rookie safety Lorenzo Jerome started the 49ers’ first two exhibition games and appears to have played his way into solid position for a spot on the 53-man roster.
"Lorenzo has done a good job," Shanahan said. "I think a couple of times he's ran around and been a ballhawk for us and made some tackles. I thought they caught him a few times out of position last night on a few play-action looks because he's been so aggressive. He's going to have to learn from those, but they never made him pay for those by going outside."
--The 49ers will have days off on Monday and Tuesday as they settle into their regular-season routine.
--Shanahan said he has been formulating ideas for the game plan against Carolina in Week 1 of the regular season. So as the 49ers play the exhibition games, they are mindful of not showing too much.
"I never get too far away from that," Shanahan said. "Everything we put into a preseason game, you always try to take into account what you’re going to be doing in the regular season."
--Shanahan said he thought No. 1 quarterback Brian Hoyer "did a good job." He said the first throw intended for Vance McDonald over the middle was thrown a little late.
"Besides that, I thought he did a good job with his reads and went to the right spots," Shanahan said.
Rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard also was on-point with his reads, Shanahan said.
--Eli Harold got the start Saturday night at outside linebacker position, as he competes with Ahmad Brooks for a job.
"I try to go off what I see in practice," Shanahan said. "You want to know who has more upside, things like that. Who's going to get better throughout the year if given the opportunity? But you also want to know, when it's all said and done, who is going to affect your win-loss record the most. Those are the things I look at personally."
--Former 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin announced his retirement on Sunday. Shanahan never coached him, but he was obviously a big fan.
"I've personally met Anquan or talked to him before, but he has been one of my favorites of all time," Shanahan said. "I love Anquan. I don't know him at all, but I feel like I do because I've always studied how he plays. I remember watching him in college when he came into Florida State as a quarterback and moved quickly to receiver his freshman year.
"And I remember him coming into the league and people thinking he wouldn't be as great because he didn't have a fast 40 time. And watching him play over the years. That's my definition of a football player. He's as violent of a receiver as there is, and I've always truly believed that receivers can really set the mentality of an offense. I feel lineman have no choice, they have to be tough. Running backs, if you're not tough, you're not going to make it in this league because you get hit every play. Quarterbacks got to hang in there. Receivers are the guys who can pick and choose a little bit. And when you have guys who play like Anquan, that just brings a whole different mentality to your offense that I think usually leads to teams that have chances to win Super Bowls."