HOUSTON — Never mind the standings and the early season problems and the firing of a coach and the controversy over his replacement.
According to the 2013 All-Star Balloting presented by Sprint, Mike D’Antoni should have enough elite talent on his roster to get the Lakers into the Western Conference finals against the Thunder.
The Lakers with Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace and Thunder with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin each have five players on this season’s ballot, which was unveiled at a tipoff ceremony at the Toyota Center.
The defending NBA champion Heat — LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen Shane Battier — along with the Celtics and Nets all have five players on the Eastern Conference side of the ballot.
In keeping with league policy, No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis is the only rookie on the ballot.
For the first time ever, NBA fans will be able to vote via social media networks, including Twitter and Facebook, and Sina Weibo and Tencent QQ in China.
The balloting is now open and fans also have other digital methods of voting:
— on NBA.com/ASB
— through SMS voting by texting the player’s last name to 6-9-6-2-2 (MYNBA)
— on NBA Game Time
— on NBA Game Time from Sprint
The All-Star ballot lists 120 players — 60 from each conference — with 36 front-court men apiece. Previously the ballot featured three positions with fans picking two guards, two forwards and a center.
Balloting will conclude on Jan. 14 and starters will be announced on Jan. 17 during a special one-hour show on TNT featuring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith.
The 2013 NBA All-Star Game will be played on Feb. 17 at the Toyota Center in Houston and televised exclusively on TNT.
Now all D’Antoni has to do is pick up his All-Star pieces and glue them back together.