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Checking in on the NBA at all-star time

The National Basketball Association's All-Star Game is Sunday. That's when the best basketball players put on a show for hoop fans.

The All-Star Game is also a good time to check in on some of the big stories of the NBA season.

San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs have quietly put together the best record - 46 wins, 9 losses - in the NBA this season. That's how the Spurs do everything . . . quietly. No drama, no fuss, nobody pounding his chest and telling the world how great he is.

San Antonio is a real team. The Spurs don't have even one player who averages 20 points a game, but they have five players who average between 11 and 18 points a game. Three more chip in seven to eight points a game. They pass the ball and play tough defense. They may end up winning another championship . . . quietly.

Miami Heat: The big news before this season was that LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade had joined forces in Miami. With those three superstars, lots of fans thought the Heat would be unstoppable.

The Heat started slowly. At one point, their record was only 9-8. Now, they are playing much better. But they still don't have a dependable center or point guard. So I don't see the Heat beating the Boston Celtics in the playoffs.

A new star: Most of the players in Sunday's game have been all-stars before. Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves, however, is playing in his first All-Star Game. Love is certainly a star. The 6-foot-10-inch, 260-pound forward scores more than 21 points a game and leads the NBA in rebounding, grabbing more than 15 per game. In one game against the New York Knicks, Love scored 31 points and pulled down 31 rebounds. That is amazing. One more fun fact about Love: His uncle, Mike Love, was a member of the famous 1960s singing group the Beach Boys. Ask your parents, or grandparents, about them.

Wizards: The local NBA team has been a disappointment. I didn't expect the Wizards to be a big winner. After all, they won only 26 games (and lost 56) last season.

But Washington may not reach that mark this season. Rookie point guard John Wall is fast and fun to watch, but the Wizards' other young players are frustrating. Guard Nick Young can score, but he can't do much else. Big men Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee have a good game one night and disappear the next. And nobody plays defense.

Maybe the All-Star Game would be a good time for the Wizards to try to start over.

Fred Bowen is the author of 16 sports books for kids. His latest book, "Real Hoops," has just been published.

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