The Jazz enter another All-Star break, today, happy to rest their aching bones. For guard Deron Williams, among others, it's a much-needed respite from the grappling and shouldering that occurs on an everyday basis.

Not that he's glad about being sidelined. Actually, he's ticked. At least he played that way in Wednesday night's 113-109 win over the Lakers. Now in his fourth season, things haven't gone according to plan. He's still not an All-Star. First year, he rode the bench in the early season. No chance there. But the second , third and fourth years he didn't get selected, either.

At one point, he speculated it was because he played in a small market. Could be, but that didn't seem to hurt Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson or Rashard Lewis from Orlando, David West from New Orleans, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker from San Antonio, or Brandon Roy from Portland.

They're small market players, too, and they made this year's A-list.

Williams missed six games early in the season due to an ankle sprain, tried to come back too early and missed seven more. That was it. As far as an All-Star candidate goes, he was as gone as an eight-track stereo. Maybe next year he'll be there. Or not. With Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Tracy McGrady, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Steve Nash, Chauncey Billups and Brandon Roy in the West, he could become the best player in history never to be named to an All-Star team — though that's unlikely.

At this speed, how long can they can hold him back?

In the last five games he scored 35, 34, 34, 31 and 31 points. So he didn't leave quietly. The All-Star voters can just wonder what they've done while checking out Wednesday night's box score.

That's like omitting "The Dark Knight" from the list of best picture nominees.

Oh, wait, that happened, too.

If this seems disrespectful of the player who ranks second in the NBA in assists, and was among 12 selected to the Olympic team, it is. Williams isn't doing much to disguise the oversight. Wednesday he had 11 assists to go with his 31 points.

"He can put up big numbers," said teammate Ronnie Price.

Williams has said previously he isn't trying to make a statement. It's true, he always plays hard. But it doesn't hurt to do some extra damage while he's at it. Remember the night Karl Malone rampaged for 61 points after being snubbed by voters in 1990?

The outburst prompted Milwaukee coach Del Harris to observe, "I knew he would come out and make a statement. I didn't realize he would write a whole book in one night."

At least Malone ended up being named by the coaches.

To a lot of voters, especially those in the Midwest and East, the Jazz are as remote as the Aleutian Islands. This year Williams didn't finish among the top 11 guards in balloting. But it's one thing to be overlooked by the fans, another to be ignored by coaches. Five starters are picked in fan voting, the other seven are selected by the 30 coaches.

So after Bryant and Paul were chosen by fans, this year, the coaches added Portland's Roy, Denver's Billups and San Antonio's Parker — taking a trio of guys who weren't on the Olympic team.

While Williams could shrug off the fan voting, the slight by coaches has to hurt. Almost to a man, they rave about him when their team meets the Jazz. Former Knicks coach Isiah Thomas described it as "hell" playing against him.

Yet they apparently don't think enough of him to put him on the team.

Thus, the trend continued again this year, and again Williams made his point. He passed brilliantly, shot superbly and defended ruggedly leading up to the break.

He did what an All-Star would do, showing both coaches and fans exactly what they'll be missing on Sunday.

The sad part is what they might be missing for years to come.

Not necessarily, said Price.

"There are still plenty of years," he said, "to see him as an All-Star."


E-mail: rock@desnews.com