Steph Curry in position to start

NEW YORK -- Stephen Curry, an NBA All-Star snub last year, is in position to start this year's game.

The Golden State sharpshooter moved past Chris Paul into second place among Western Conference guards Thursday when the third returns of fan balloting were released.

Curry trails the Lakers' Kobe Bryant but is about 26,000 votes ahead of Paul, the injured Clippers' point guard. Voting runs through Jan. 20, and the starters for the Feb. 16 game in New Orleans will be announced Jan. 23.

Curry wasn't chosen last season despite averaging 20.9 points at the time of the selections. He was the league's eighth-leading scorer at the time and the highest one not chosen for the game.

Paul ended up being voted the MVP of the West's victory in Houston.

Heat forward LeBron James leads all players with 1.076 million votes, fewer than 22,000 ahead of Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant. Miami teammate Dwyane Wade is on pace to join James in the Eastern Conference lineup, along with Paul George of Indiana, Carmelo Anthony of New York and Kyrie Irving of Cleveland.

Houston's Dwight Howard and the Clippers' Blake Griffin are running second and third in the West frontcourt.