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All-stars energized for NBA playoff run

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LOS ANGELES – They were teammates on the winning Western Conference side in Sunday’s 60th NBA all-star game but now it’s back to business for Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin.

The second half of the 2010-11 NBA season begins with Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder taking on Griffin’s Los Angeles Lakers as one of nine NBA games on Tuesday.

Durant said he is taking not only good memories from the all-star weekend but also a renewed sense of purpose in trying to help the Thunder win the Northwest Division.

“My shots felt good. So hopefully during the next couple of days, they will feel good, as well,” said Durant who had 34 points in the West’s 148-143 win over the East at Staples Center arena.

“This was a great experience for me. I can’t take anything for granted.”

Carmelo Anthony expects this to be his last all-star appearance as a Denver Nugget.

Anthony, who had eight points and seven rebounds Sunday as a starting West forward, hopes to get an answer this week on where he will be playing in the future. The NBA trading deadline is Thursday at 12pm Los Angeles time (2000 GMT).

“Time is ticking, man, and time is money,” Anthony said during Friday’s media day at the all-star game.

“There’s a lot of teams that I’m pretty sure that’s going to call. I don’t really know how much interest the Lakers have or Dallas or anything at this point.

“The end is near. All this stuff will be over with.”

Los Angeles Clippers rookie Blake Griffin soared over a car Saturday to win the slam-dunk contest. Griffin, who will turn 21 next month, was the busiest all-star, competing in the rookie game, dunk contest and making his main all-star game debut.

“Oh man. I can barely move right now,” Griffin said following Sunday’s game. “The last time I was this tired was probably at training camp.”

Since Griffin’s arrival, the Clippers have been playing in front of sold-out houses and even taking some of the limelight in Los Angeles from storied Lakers franchise.

“I am excited about that,” Griffin said. “But the big reason is not just for me but for how we have been playing as a team. We have not accomplished anything yet. We are still learning. I am glad to be part of it.”

The defending champion Lakers head into the second half with a 38-19 record and a commanding nine and a half game lead over second place Phoenix in the Pacific Division.

All-star game MVP Kobe Bryant said the Lakers were in contact with each other during the all-star break and are ready to get back at it.

“We are looking forward to it,” Bryant said of the second half of the season.

“We are up for the challenge. Pau (Gasol) and I have been talking this whole time. We have been in communication with the rest of the fellas, and we all can’t wait to get started.”

Anthony hopes to get his short term future sorted out by the end of the week but nobody knows what is going to happen with the long-term future.

The players union and the owners are in limbo over negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement and if the two sides can’t agree on a deal by midnight on June 30 there could be a lockout.

“Nobody knows what’s going to happen with the lockout,” Anthony said.

“At the end of the day, if I was to sit here and say I’m not thinking about that, I would be lying to you guys. I don’t want to go into no lockout. I don’t think none of the players want to go into a lockout.”


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