East 119 - 146 West
  for this game

Stoudemire, Shaq lead West All-Stars in front of home crowd

Feb 15, 2009 - 6:37 AM East All-Stars vs. West All-Stars, 8:00 p.m. EST

PHOENIX (Ticker) -- The stars have aligned in Phoenix, a city where the stars are out of alignment with regard to the Suns.

Much of the attention for Sunday's NBA All-Star Game - which will feature stars from the Eastern and Western Conferences - will be focused on the host city's own, namely the frontcourt tandem of Amare Stoudemire and Shaquille O'Neal.

In their All-Star history, the teammates - for now, at least - have averaged a combined 34.5 points and 16.1 rebounds. The focus won't just be on their play.

Both superstars' names have been bandied about in trade rumors in recent weeks, with some speculation going so far as to say that at least one trade as assured - if not by Thursday's trading deadline, then certainly by next season. Even the Suns' coaching situation seems in flux, with first-year man Terry Porter already on the hot seat after a disappointing first half.

"I tell you what, if my last home game is the All-Star starter here, that will be a great way to go out," Stoudemire said. "I turn every negative into a positive. I just keep my head up. Got to turn it into a positive."

Until anything conclusive happens, both Stoudemire and O'Neal are members of the Suns, and they will team to try and bring back the bragging rights the Western Conference lost in last February's 134-128 loss.

Standing in their way is two-time All-Star Game MVP - and current frontrunner for league MVP honors - LeBron James, who posted 27 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in last year's victory. Joining him will be a slew of veterans against whom James and his Cleveland Cavaliers will likely compete come springtime. The five East starters come from five of the top six teams in the conference standings.

James will also get some time with one of his own teammates, as point guard Mo Williams - who has been instrumental to the Cavs' 40-11 start - earned his first career invite as a reserve.

For the West, Shaq - who has won All-Star MVP honors twice in his legendary career - will be going for his third trophy, and will perhaps be buoyed by his home crowd. After all, in 2004, he did earn top honors when his Lakers hosted the annual event at the Staples Center.

For the first time since he was dealt by the Lakers following the 2004 campaign, Shaq will team up on the same roster with his old cohort - and rival - Kobe Bryant. The duo will be coached by Lakers' head man Phil Jackson, who guided them to their three titles.

"We are the best little-man, big-man tandem," O'Neal said. "If we had our own TV show, it would have been the No. 1 TV show ever."

Kobe has two All-Star Game MVP awards to his own credit, most recently in 2007, when he lit up the East for 31 points, five boards and six assists in a 153-132 victory.

"Everything that everybody says about it, we won," Bryant said of his relationship with O'Neal. "That's the bottom line and something we'll never forget."