NBA All Star 2014 Roster: James Harden replaces Kobe Bryant in West starting line-up [VIDEO]
Houston Rockets guard James Harden will replace injured Lakers guard Kobe Bryant in the starting line-up of the West All Stars which will clash against their East counterparts on Sunday, according to a report from the LA Times.
West coach Scott Brooks of the Oklahoma City Thunder made the decision on Friday, opting to put his former player in lieu of Bryant who is still recovering from a fractured lateral tibial plateau in his left knee which he sustained while playing the Memphis Grizzlies on December 17.
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Harden is the Rockets' leading scorer with 23.9 points. He also averages 5.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds for the team that has strung up seven consecutive wins to gain the third spot in the Western Conference with a 36-17 record. Harden played for Brooks for three years as a back-up guard before being traded to the Rockets last season.
Bryant, on the other hand, has just played in six games this season after recovering from an Achilles tear he suffered last April. Despite his injuries, the popular Bryant was still voted by the fans to start in the All-Star game. He is a 16-time All-Star, just three selections short of the record 19 by Lakers legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Bryant had earlier asked fans not to vote for him, contesting that younger players were more deserving of the All-Star spot.
Without him, his Lakers have struggled to a 18-35 record, tied for last place in the West with the Sacramento Kings. His injury will be re-evaluated after the All-Star break.