Clippers rookie forward Blake Griffin, left, and Lakers forward Pau Gasol… (Gus Ruelas / Associated…)
Blake Griffin's highlight-reel exploits during his rookie season with the Clippers have excited NBA fans, garnered national attention from the media and apparently have impressed NBA coaches.
Griffin, the dunking, high-flying power forward, was selected by the coaches as a Western Conference reserve for the All-Star game Feb. 20 at Staples Center.
Joining Griffin on the West reserves list announced Thursday was Lakers forward Pau Gasol. It was his third consecutive selection to the West team and his fourth overall.
Gasol's teammate Lamar Odom was not chosen for the West team by the coaches, who vote for the reserves but not their own players.
The 6-foot-10 Griffin plays for a Clippers team that has a 19-29 record, but he has been a force all season.
He is averaging 23 points on 51.8% shooting, 12.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
He is second in the NBA in double-doubles with 40, and he scored a NBA season-high 47 points last month.
"I'm really proud to be fortunate enough to have been chosen to the Western Conference All-Star team and I'm looking forward to an exciting weekend later this month," Griffin said in statement released by the Clippers after the team arrived in Atlanta on Thursday. "… I do want to say much love to my teammates. I share this honor with them."
Griffin, 21, who will be the 10th Clipper to play in the All-Star game, also was chosen to take part in the slam dunk contest and the rookie-sophomore game.
He is the first rookie since Yao Ming (2003) chosen to play in the All-Star game.
"I think he's an impact player in this game," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "I think he's changed some of the Clippers' fortunes."
Gasol wasn't sure last week whether he would make the team primarily because of the depth among West forwards. The Lakers in general, and Gasol in particular, have struggled with some inconsistency.
"If we were doing really bad, I'm sure I wouldn't be chosen," he said. "There's been a lot of players that have been playing at a high level [in the West] and when the starters are announced, and you're out of the starting lineup, it's up to the coaches to vote you in."
Gasol was eager to play in the game at Staples Center.
"The game being here makes it more special because you're here at home," he said.
Gasol will join teammate Kobe Bryant, who was voted in as a starter.
Odom seemed to be a bit downcast when he talked in a monotone about not being selected as an All-Star reserve.
"A little big disappointment," Odom said, "but I didn't expect it."
There is a glut of good forwards in the West.
Players such as Minnesota's Kevin Love, who leads the NBA in double-doubles and rebounds (15.5), Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, Golden State's Monta Ellis and Memphis' Zach Randolph were snubbed.
Odom was asked why he thinks he didn't make the team.
"It wasn't set up for me to make it," said Odom, who is averaging 15.4 points on 56.6% shooting, and 9.6 rebounds per game, and has been considered the second-most consistent Lakers player behind Bryant. "It is what it is."
Jackson said Odom probably "is an advantageous player for the West" All-Star team.
"I'm disappointed for him," Jackson said. "But I'm not really disappointed. I'd like to see him have a weekend off, personally. I know it's a big thing. He still has an opportunity, right?"
Indeed, Commissioner David Stern still has to make his selection of a replacement for Yao, who was voted onto the team as a starter but can't play because of a stress fracture in his left ankle that has sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Stern might make his decision Friday.
The other West reserves are San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili; Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki; Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook; and Utah's Deron Williams.
The East reserves selected were Boston's Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo; Atlanta's Al Horford and Joe Johnson; and Miami's Chris Bosh.