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In second round of All-Star voting, Kevin Durant maintains lead in East but James Harden slips

Brooklyn Nets v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

In the second round of All-Star fan balloting, released Thursday afternoon, Kevin Durant maintained his lead as the East’s biggest vote-getter but James Harden slipped, dropping from second to fourth among the NBA’s guards. Kyrie Irving continued to gain votes following his return and in a bit of a surprise, LaMarcus Aldridge showed up in the tally as well.

Overall, Steph Curry remains the big vote getter among fans who contribute 50 percent of the final tally, the other 50 percent divided evenly between players and the media. The game will be played in Cleveland on February 20.

At 4.1 million votes, KD, an 11-time All-Star, maintained a lead of more than 200,000 votes over Giannis Antetokounmpo for the top spot in the East. Curry has 4.5 million votes. LeBron James, who for years has been the leading vote-getter in whatever conference he’s played, is behind Curry but quickly catching up. At 4.4 million votes, James also has more votes than Durant.

Meanwhile, James Harden, who’s been in selected nine times for the mid-season classic, dropped from second to fourth among East guards, falling behind DeMar DeRozan, Trae Young and Zach Lavine. The Beard has 1.4 million votes. However, the gap between the No. 2 and No. 4 vote-getters is small, about 160,000 votes and as our Holden Velasco noted this week, Harden has a strong case.

Irving, who was in sixth place among guards in the first round of balloting, remains in that position, almost a million votes behind his teammate. He’s a seven-time All-Star. Aldridge, also a seven-time All-Star, is now in tenth place among East frontcourt players with 216,000 votes. Former Net Jarrett Allen is in sixth place among the East’s frontcourt players.

The Nets have mounted an extensive All-Star balloting campaign as Michael Grady of YES explained during Thursday’s game vs. the Thunder.

Voting continues through midnight January 22, a week from Saturday, with the All-Star starters for both conferences to be released a week later. The top vote-getter in each conference acts as captain in an “All-Star Draft,” which will be televised. The two captains go back and forth “drafting” from a pool of 22 players who were voted as All-Stars, picking starters first and reserves next. In case of injury or illness, the commissioner’s office picks replacements.

Here’s the second round tally...

There’s also a possibility that Steve Nash could join Durant and whoever else among his team makes the cut. Whoever is coaching each conference’s top team two weeks before the All-Star Game gets the coaching nod and normally brings along his staff. The Nets are now one and a half games behind the Bulls for the East lead. Byron Scott was the last Nets head coach to sit on the All-Star bench 20 years ago.