their 104-100 win versus the Phoenix Suns, their fifth consecutive win on Nov.
24, Valanciunas had a career-high 27 points on 10 for 11 from the floor to go
along with 11 rebounds.
The Raptors got their sixth win in succession at the
Atlanta Hawks two nights later 126-115 with DeRozen leading the way with 27
points. Williams had 22 points off the bench against his former team and
back-up guard Greivis Vasquez had 21 and Lowry had 14 points and 13 assists.
nights later though, the Raptors’ six-game winning streak ended at the hands of
the Dallas Mavericks 106-102. They not only lost the game, but they lost
DeRozen who in the early stages of the third quarter slipped and fell to the
ground and began kicking his leg in great pain. He eventually was able to get
to his feet and walked very gingerly to the Raptors’ dressing room.
first time All-Star a season ago was diagnosed this past Saturday with a torn
left adductor longus tendon in his leg and is out indefinitely.
Raptors finished the month with a 129-122 loss at the Los Angeles Lakers last
Sunday night. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant finished with the 20th
triple-double of his career with 31 points 11 rebounds and 12 assists.
tried to pick up the slack for the absence of DeRozen had 29 points and nine
assists for the Raptors, but shot just 10 for 28 from the field, including
going 1 for 8 from three-point land. Swingman Terrence Ross scored 20. Williams
and Vasquez, who started in DeRozen’s place at two-guard each had 19 points.
Forward Patrick Patterson had 10 points and 13 rebounds off the bench for
one half of one of the most explosive backcourts in the league, the Raptors for
an extended period of time will have to get more out of the likes of Ross,
Valanciunas, Patterson and Williams if
they want to stay atop the Eastern Conference.
the last three seasons the Golden State Warriors have gone from perennial bad
team to one of the best in the Western Conference. Last season they went 51-31
marking the first 50-plus win season in two decades.
season came to a disappointing end last April losing to their Division rival
Los Angeles Clippers in seven games in the first round.
organization decided to shake things up and relieved then head coach Mark
Jackson of his duties and hired five-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls
and the San Antonio Spurs and former NBATV/NBA on TNT color analyst Steve Kerr.
was a bold and risky move by the organization. The one thing that was in their
favor was the fact that the team was stacked with talent lead by dynamic
backcourt of Stehpen Curry and Klay Thompson and supported by guards Leandro
Barbosa and Shaun Livingston; a solid front court that features center Andrew
Bogut, forwards David Lee, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Marreese
team has so far been nothing short of sensational at 18-2, leading the Western
Conference. They shot out of the gates 5-0, consisting of a 95-90 victory at
the Portland Trail Blazers (16-4) on Nov. 2; a 121-104 victory versus the arch
rival and Pacific Division rival Clippers (15-5) on Nov. 5 and a 98-87 win at
the Houston Rockets (16-4) on Nov. 8.
two straight defeats at the Phoenix Suns (12-10) 107-95 back on Nov. 9 and
versus the defending champion San Antonio Spurs (15-5) 113-100 on Nov. 11, the
Warriors closed out the month of November with nine consecutive victories.
has helped the Warriors get off one of the best starts in team history is the
fact that they are one of the most efficient teams in the league on both ends.
rank fourth in the league in points per game at 106.9. The Warriors are No. 4
in three-point percentage at 37.7 percent and in three-point makes per game at
9.5. On top of that, they lead the NBA in assists per contest at 26.0 and Curry
leads the team at 7.7 assists per contest, after averaging 8.5 a season ago.
strong offensive output is the lead by Curry, who is averaging 23.1 points per
contest. Second to him is Thompson, who is averaging a career best 21.0 points
out the double figure scorers for the team are Green, Speights and Barnes who
are having career seasons scoring wise.
who has been filling in as the starting power forward in place of Lee, who has
been on the shelf because of a hamstring injury is third on the team in scoring
at 13.3 points per game, while also averaging 7.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists per
game while shooting 45.5 percent from the floor and 36.7 percent from
an early contender for Sixth Man of the Year, is the fourth best scorer on the
Warriors averaging 12.3 points per contest off the bench along with 5.1 rebounds
per game and shooting 54.2 percent from the floor.
struggling for much of his second season last year, Barnes, who is back as the
starting small forward for the Warriors has come into his own in this third
season averaging 11.2 points per contest, 6.4 boards on 51.6 percent shooting
from the floor and 42.2 percent from three-point range.
defense where they Warriors have gotten better and better over the past two
seasons, they are ranked fifth in points allowed at 95.7; they are leading the
league in opponent’s field goal percentage at 40.9 percent and in blocks per
game at 6.5. They are third in the league in rebounding per game at 45.9. They
also get 8.7 steals per game, which is tied for seventh in the league and are
sixth in the league with 15.6 forced turnovers per game.
their 11 games of their 13-game winning streak, Golden State surrendered just
94.9 points per contest. Their last 11 opponents have manage to shoot just 41
percent against them and teams have managed just 20.9 assists per contest.
big for the Warriors continued improvement at the defensive end has been the
play of Bogut who is averaging 9.4 boards and 2.3 blocks per contest, which is
ranked fourth in the league. His interior presence in the paint has been a good
as gold for the Warriors. The only question is can he continue to stay healthy
so that the can continue their amazing play at the defensive end.
years ago, the Warriors took the league by storm and came within two games of
appearing in the Western Conference Finals.
season in the eyes of the organization, they took a step backwards not getting
out of the first round.
hiring of Kerr, who is coaching for the first time, could have gone the other
way. With that being said, the five-time champion has played for two of the
best coaches in NBA history in Phil Jackson and Spurs’ head coach Gregg
Popovich. He has been able to take bits and pieces from both and has
incorporated them into his own style. One area that can be seen is that the
Warriors share the ball very well at the offensive end. Above all else, from
their best players to the bench guys, the team has a cohesiveness that is very
rare and that has translated into a level of winning in the Bay Area that has
been a long time coming.
question is can the Warriors sustain this hot start though. The defending
champion Spurs are laying in the weeds and it will not be long before they make
a serious run for that top spot in the West the Warriors occupy right now.
David Lee can come back and be that offensive presence in the paint and Barnes,
Speights and Green continue to play at a high level, the Warriors have as good
a chance to be in the Western Conference Finals.
2011 Draft Class Gets Paid
a long time when each new draft class enters the NBA, the question all surfaces
is this the next coming of great talent in the NBA? Will members of this class
lead their team’s from the valley of nowhere to the top of the NBA mountain
where champions reside? Who of this draft class change the way we see the game
several players of the 2011 draft class have taken their teams at least from
the valley of nowhere and have put their team’s at least in the conversation of
becoming a consistent playoff contender; an important building block for the
future and a couple even into the conversation of being a championship
No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 draft class in guard Kyrie Irving of the
Cleveland Cavaliers this off-season got a five-year $90 million contract
resume in his first three seasons consist of him winning Rookie of the Year
(2012) and made the 2012 NBA All-Rookie First Team. Being a two-time All-Star,
capturing MVP honors with a 31-point 14 assists performance in leading the
Eastern Conference to a 163-155 win over the Western Conference at the 2014
All-Star Game a season ago. He helped Team USA capture Gold at the FIBA World
Cup in Spain this past summer.
all of his individual accomplishments, Irving has yet to lead the Cavs to the
playoffs. His chances of achieving that this season became greater with the
return of LeBron James and the additions
of Kevin Love, Mike Miller and Shawn Marion to name a few.
the team struggled out of the gates with a 5-7 mark after a 110-93 defeat
versus the Raptors on Nov. 22, the Cavs have won seven consecutive games, which
includes three straight victories to close the month of November.
the new additions, James in particular, anything less than an appearance in the
NBA Finals would be considered a failed season for the Cavs. Irving’s ability to
play at a high level not just in the regular season, but in the postseason,
where he has yet to be, will be very important in helping make the Cavs dream a
far he has played at okay averaging 21.2 points and 4.8 assists per contest on
47.9 percent from the floor and 41.8 percent from three-point range.
player who was a major factor in helping Team USA capture Gold this past summer
in Spain was starting two-guard of the Warriors Klay Thompson.
Oct. 31st, the 11th overall pick in the 2011 out of Washington State
and the son of former NBA champion Mychal Thompson signed a four-year $70
million contract extension and 24 hours later, he scored a career high 41
points going 14 for 18 from the field in the 127-104 victory versus the Lakers
on Nov. 1.
season, Thompson has improved his scoring going from 12.5 points in his rookie
season of 2011-12 to 16.6 the next season; to 18.4 a season ago and to 21.2 so
far this season.
he has been known as a sharp shooter, he has expanded his game to where he can
more than hold his own guarding the opposing team’s best player on the
perimeter. At the offensive end, Thompson can is as good as any perimeter
player not just scoring on the perimeter, but putting the ball on the floor and
scoring at the rim or getting to the free throw line more consistently, where
he is shooting at 87 percent this season.
floor game has been pretty good as well averaging nearly 3.5 rebounds and 3.7
assists per game.
since his entrance into the NBA, he and his backcourt mate Stephen Curry, who
is the father of Dell Curry, one of the best shooters in league history have
taken the Warriors from a perennial bottom dweller in the West to a
championship contender especially this season.
years ago the duo dubbed “The Splash Brothers” helped lead the Warriors back to
the playoffs for the first time since 2007 as the No. 6 Seed. They upset the
No. 3 Seeded Denver Nuggets in six games, but fell in six games to the San Antonio
Spurs in the Conference Semifinals.
season, Curry and Thompson helped guide the Warriors to a 51-31 record, the
team first 50-plus win season in 20 years.
duo set an NBA record that season by making a combined 484 three-point field
goals a season ago, besting their mark from the year prior by one.
entered the playoffs as the No. 6 Seed again, but lost to the Pacific Division
champion Clippers in a thrilling seven game series.
the great season, the Warriors let Head Coach Mark Jackson go and they hired
former NBATV/NBA on TNT color analyst Steve Kerr.
far, the team has made out great with nine consecutive wins to close out
November and with their 112-85 victory versus the New Orleans Pelicans on
Thursday night, the team tied a franchise record with 11 consecutive wins and
right now are neck and neck with the Memphis Grizzlies.
had 23 points in the contest on 8 for 16 from the field, where five of those
field goals came from three-point range in eight tries.
player who unexpectedly made Team USA this past summer and turned his great
season a year ago into a major pay day was Denver Nuggets’ forward Kenneth
the first two seasons of his career, Faried put up solid numbers with 10.2
points, 7.7 boards on 58.6 percent shooting in his rookie season and 11.5
points and 9.2 rebounds on 55.2 percent shooting in his second season.
a season where the Nuggets were without key member of their team because of
injury, it gave opportunity to the likes of Faried, who really capitalized
averaging 13.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest on 54.5 percent shooting.
His stellar third season earned him a contract extension of four years and $50
million that the 22nd overall pick out of Morehead State signed back
on Oct. 8, when the 22nd overall pick out of Morehead State.
really kicked it into high gear the last two months of the season averaging
19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest in the month of March and 21.0 points
and 13.0 rebounds in the month of April last season.
Apr. 2, he scored a career-high 34 points in a 137-107 victory over the
past summer, his trade hustle and relentless energy which has become a trade
mark in the early part of his career helped him become a member of Team USA
this summer and that same intensity was a big reason the team went 9-0 on their
way to capturing Gold in Spain.
the FIBA World Cup games, Faried averaged 12.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game
and he was named to the All-Tournament Team.
several Nuggets back in the fold like J.J. Hickson, Darrell Arthur, Nate
Robinson, Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee, the number for Faried (11.1 ppg,
6.7 rpg) have been down a little bit.
his energy and effort are just as important as the talents of the other
players. He brings something to the table that you cannot teach. You either
have it or you do not.
the Nuggets (9-12), who have been up and down in the early part of this season
can bring the consistent energy and effort Faried has going back to his early
years of playing on the courts of Newark, NJ, the Nuggets can get back into the
difficult playoff chase in the West.
members of the 2011 draft class that received contract extensions include
Charlotte Hornets lead guard Kemba Walker, who received a four-year $48 million
contract extension; Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks, who got a four-year $42 million
extension; forward Markieff and Marcus Morris of the Phoenix Suns received
four-year $52 million contract extensions and Orlando Magic starting center
Nikola Vucevic received a four-year $53 million extension.
each of these players has in common is that they are on teams where they are
trying to get into the conversation of becoming a consistent participant in the
season, the Hornets, then the Bobcats made the playoffs for just the second
time in team history with a 43-39 record making them the No. 7 Seed. They took
on the Miami Heat and got swept 4-0.
major reason for the team’s turnaround a season ago was the addition of Al
Jefferson in free agency, who gave the then Bobcats a presence in the paint,
especially at the offensive end. That allowed Walker and the other perimeter
players like Gerald Henderson and Gary Neal to name a few more room to operate
on the perimeter. The result, Walker had a solid season tying a career-high in
scoring per game with a 17.7 average.
season though, the now Hornets (4-15) have struggled out the gates with nine
straight defeats to close the month of Nov. and their 102-95 setback versus the
Chicago Bulls (12-8) six days ago was their 10 straight defeat.
Hornets ended their 10-game slide in dramatic fashion last Friday night when
Walker scored on a driving layup with four seconds left to defeat the New York
additions via free agency and the draft of Lance Stephenson, Brian Roberts,
Jason Maxiell and P.J. Hairston have not panned out and Walker is scoring just
14.3 points per game is only shooting just 36 percent from the field.
they have been singing the blues over the past couple of seasons in Utah (6-16), Burks
is part of team that at least has talented players to build towards the future
and he is a big part of that.
12th overall pick out of Colorado has really emerged last season
scoring 14.0 points on 45.7 percent shooting from the floor and 35.0 percent
from three-point range coming off the bench.
season as Utah’s starting shooting guard, Burks has been very steady scoring
13.4 points and grabbing 4.5 rebounds per game, but is shooting just 40.7
percent from the field.
along with starting point guard Trey Burke, swingman Gordon Hayward, forward
Derrick Favors, center Enes Kanter, rookie guard Dante Exum, back-up center
Rudy Gobert are the nucleus that Jazz fans, under the direction of new head
coach Kirk Snyder are counting on to get them back to being a consistent
playoff contender and championship contender like they were back in the 1990s
lead by of Hall of Famers John Stockton, Karl Malone and head coach Jerry
the history of the Orlando Magic, they have had two big man in future Hall of
Famer Shaquille O’Neal and current Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard lead
them to the NBA Finals although they could not get them to the finish line in
1994 and 2009.
Aug. 12, 2012, the team acquired center Nikola Vucevic in a four-team trade
involving the Howard, Andrew Bynum, Arron Affalo, Andre Iguodala and others.
arriving in Orlando, Vucevic and been a fixture in the middle with his scoring
and rebounding presence.
his first two season with the Magic, the 16th overall pick in 2011
by the Philadelphia 76ers out of University of Southern California (USC) has
garnered 82 double-doubles. In 2012-13, Vucevic has averaged 13.1 points and
11.9 rebounds per game and last season he averaged 14.2 points and 11.0 boards
on Dec. 31, 2012 in a 112-110 overtime loss versus the in-state rival Miami
Heat, Vucevic had 20 points to go along with a single-game team record 29
was rewarded this past off-season with a four-year $53 million extension.
far this season, he has garnered 13 double-doubles, which leads the NBA and he
is averaging career-highs with 18.6 points, second on the team and 11.7
rebounds per game, which is fifth in the league.
move has allowed the team to put its focus on taking care of other areas. In
the draft over the past two seasons they have drafted their starting backcourt
in Victory Oladipo, the No. 2 overall pick a season ago out of Indiana and
rookie lead guard Elfrid Payton, the No. 10 overall pick this past June out of
Louisiana-Lafayette. The Magic also drafted this past summer forward Aaron
Gordon, the No. 4 overall pick out of Arizona, who is out for the next six to
eight weeks because of surgery to repair the fifth metatarsal in his left foot.
free agency this summer, the Magic signed sharp some veterans in shooting
forward in Channing Frye, guards Luke Ridnour, Willie Green and Ben Gordon.
season, they acquired their current starting power forward in Long Island
native and cousin of Frye in Tobias Harris and they acquired this past summer
their starting small forward from the Denver Nuggets in Frenchman sharp shooter
out the team’s nucleus is forwards Maurice Harkless, Andrew Nicholson and Kyle
talent is there, the question now is can it call come together and soon under
third-year head coach Jacque Vaughn. So far the team is 9-14, on the outside of
the playoffs looking right now. You only have so long to have losing season
after losing season.
team ahead of the curve in terms of become a playoff contender is the Phoenix
awful 25-57 season two years ago, the Suns had a 23-game improvement but missed
out on the playoffs by one game.
key contributors to that turnaround a season ago were the Morris’ twins
Markieff and Marcus.
were primetime contributors off the bench a season ago as Markieff averaged
13.8 points, 6.0 boards on 48.6 percent shooting and Marcus averaged 9.7 points
and 3.9 rebounds on 44.2 percent shooting.
on Sept. 29, Markieff, the 13th overall pick out of Kansas and
Marcus, the 14th overall pick by the Rockets, who was traded to the
Suns back on Feb. 21, 2013 received a] four-year $52 million contract
far this season, now the starting power forward, Markieff is averaging a
career-high 14.9 points 6.6 rebounds on 46.7 percent shooting.
Nov. 17, he scored a career-high 30 points to go along with seven boards, five
assists and four steals in a 118-114 win at the Boston Celtics (7-12). In that same game,
Marcus, who is averaging 9.4 points and 3.9 rebounds shooting 38.2 percent from
three-point range had 13 points, five boards and seven assists as well in the
victory at the Celtics.
Morris twins ability to score inside and stretch the floor have been great in
complementing the likes of starting guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe as
well as center Miles Plumlee, forward P.J. Tucker, swingman Gerald Green and
far the Suns (12-10) has held their own in the tough Western Conference and through
their moves the past two off-seasons has emerged as a consistent playoff
contender and whose future is very bright.
Star Player Making History
in the 1998 Draft, the Dallas Mavericks acquired the draft rights to a
sharp shooting forward from Wurzburg, Germany named Dirk Nowitzki, the ninth
people did not know who he was and really did not expect much from him.
17 seasons, he not only made his presence known across the NBA landscape as
well as the world, he helped turned the Mavericks from a perennial loser into a
consistent playoff participant and lead the Mavs to their first ever NBA title
when they defeated the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals in six games. Nowitzki
capture the Bill Russell Finals MVP Award.
the way he has been named the MVP of the league, which happened in 2007. He has
been All-Star 12 times; a four-time All-NBA First Team selection; a five-time
All-NBA Second Team selection and a three-time All-NBA Third-Team selection.
Nov. 11, Nowitzki scored 23 points to surpass Hall of Fame center of the
Rockers Hakeem Olajuwon as the highest scoring player in the league that was
born outside North America as the Mavericks defeated the Sacramento Kings
106-98, garnering their 21st consecutive regular season home victory
over the team from the capital of California.
history making points came when Nowitzki hit a jumper from inside the three-point
line in the early part of the fourth quarter.
with becoming the highest scoring foreign player in NBA history, Nowitzki moved
into ninth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list passing Olajuwon, also
known as “The Dream.” Nowitzki at that time had 26,953 total points.
know to pass ‘The Dream’ is unbelievable,” the 36-year-old Nowitzki, who is in
his 17th season with the Mavs said after the victory.
was unguardable on the block. His footwork, his skill level, his hands, his
touch was second to none, so I’m pretty proud.”
days later in a 107-80 victory at the Hornets, Nowitzki scored 13
points and surpassed the 27,000 point mark. He joined Michael Jordan, Kobe
Bryant and Karl Malone as the only players in NBA history to score 27,000-plus
points with one NBA franchise.
the Mavs 106-102 victory over the Raptors back on Nov. 28, Nowitzki had 15
points and eight rebounds and became the 23rd player in NBA history
to make 1,500 three-pointers in his NBA career when he connected on his only
make in seven tries at the 7:27 mark of the open period. He now has a total of
1,503 three-point connections in his career and sometime this season he will
move into the top twenty surpassing former Vancover Grizzlies’, Kings, Atlanta
Hawks, Washington Wizards’, Miami Heat and New York Knicks guard Mike Bibby and
former Los Angeles Lakers,' Denver Nuggets’, Mavericks’, Warriors’, Portland Trail Blazers’
and Spurs guard Nick Van Exel.
with achieving this amazing milestones, the Mavericks have gotten off to a
solid start at 16-6 so far this season, No. 7 Seed in the West.
additions of center Tyson Chandler, in his second tour of duty with the Mavs
along with the Chandler Parsons, Richard Jefferson, Jameer Nelson, Al-Farouq
Aminu and J.J. Barea, who is also in his second tour of duty with the Mavs has
additions along with the continued steady play of Nowitzki and the great play
of last season’s free agent acquisition of Monta Ellis has put the Mavs back in
the conversation of winning another title.
Shelve Marquee Players to Start Season
most professional sports it is about the team coming together to achieve a
common goal. Most of the time it is to win a championship. On top of that, it
is also about some key individuals who take the spotlight in leading that team
to that goal.
2014-15 season began with a number of marquee players on the shelf because of
the Oklahoma City Thunder (7-13), the dynamic duo of forward Kevin Durant and
Russell Westbrook have combined to play in just five games because of injury.
last season’s MVP missed the first 17 games because of a fracture in his right
foot. Westbrook broke his right hand in just the second game of the season back
on Oct. 30th, a 93-90 loss at the Los Angeles Clippers.
result, the Thunder won four of their first 16 contest. So far this season,
they have averaged just 92.5 points per game and rank 29th in
assists per contest at 19.2.
made his return last Friday versus the New York Knicks and he came back with a
vengeance, finishing with 32 points, seven boards and eight assists in 24
minutes in the Thunder’s 105-78 victory.
Thunder’s lead guard became the first player in the 24-second shot clock era to
have 30 points and eight assists in 24 minutes or fewer.
put this in an even bigger perspective, Westbrook in the first quarter had 14
points on 6 for 7 shooting and the Knicks had 13 points on 4 for 22 from the
floor as a team. With Westbrook on the court, the Knicks managed just 36 points
going just 14 for 40 from the field, 0 for 8 from three-point land and having
just seven assists.
just blessed to be able to get back out on the floor with my teammates,”
Westbrook, who went 12 for 17 from the field, including 3 for 4 on
three-pointers, said to ESPN’s Marc Stein after the game last week.
past Tuesday, the Thunder got their All-Star forward back in Durant, who scored
27 points on 9 for 18 shooting in the 112-104 loss at the New Orleans Pelicans.
his second game back, Westbrook put in 21 points, six boards and seven assists,
but shot just 6 for 20 from the field.
the West loaded with so many good teams, the slow start by the Thunder this
season has put them behind the eight ball in a major way and just making the
playoffs will not be an easy task.
the past six seasons in the West, the No. 8 Seed has averaged 48 wins. Four
years ago, the Thunder were the No. 8 Seed with a 50-32 mark.
them to even have a chance to make the post-season this year, where the Thunder
currently are four games out of right now, they have to go 43-19 the rest of
the way to even give themselves a chance.
Durant and Westbrook back now, the team can start developing chemistry with the
rest of the cast in Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, Anthony Morrow, Perry Jones,
Jeremy Lamb, Steven Adams, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison to make this major run to the postseason
team that sustained injuries to key people are last season’s Eastern Conference
runner-up the Indiana Pacers (7-14).
injury problems began this summer when their All-Star forward Paul George
suffered a fractured leg during a Team USA scrimmage.
he has started working on his conditioning on an underwater treadmill, George
is still expected to be out for this season.
went from bad to worse as starting lead guard George Hill has yet to play this
season because of a left knee contusion; starting power forward David West and
back-up guard C.J. Watson missed the first twelve games of the season because
of a sprained right ankle and right foot injury respectably.
and Watson made their 2014-15 season debuts back on Nov. 28 versus the Magic.
finished with 18 points and six boards on 8 for 17 from the field in the 98-83
victory. Watson had nine points and four assists off the bench in 18 minutes.
Pacers have been able to stay afloat in the playoff race because of the solid
play of center Roy Hibbert, who averaged 12.9 points, 7.7 boards (leads team)
and 2.4 blocks (3rd NBA) per contest.
team has also gotten major contributions from its free agent guard Rodney
Stuckey, the Pacers leading scorer 12.9 points per contest.
absence of George, Hill, West and Watson has given playing time to forward
Chris Copeland (11.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 34.5 3-Pt.%), forward Solomon Hill (11.6
ppg, 5.5 rpg) and guard Donald Sloan (11.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.0 apg) and forward
Lavoy Allen (7.1 ppg 7.7 rpg)
that 15-point win versus the Magic, Stuckey lead the way with 24 points on 9
for 15 from the field. Hill had 11 points and four rebounds and Allen had 10
points and 14 rebounds.
solid play from the rest of the team in the absence of Hill, West and Watson
has allowed the Pacers to be within striking distance of making the playoffs
again. A recent three-game losing streak however, with their last loss at the
Portland Trail Blazers this past Thursday night has not helped.
has allowed the Pacers to stay afloat to start this season has been the fact
that they have remained true to their identity of being a defensive team first
are ranked seventh in points allowed surrendering just 96.9 per contest and
they are second in rebounds per game at 46.0.
good thing the Pacers have in their favor unlike the Thunder, the East aside
from the Bulls, Cavs, Washington Wizards and Raptors is very weak. If they can
string a run together, they can easily be back in the playoff mix.
Flagship Franchises at the Bottom
National Basketball Association has been around for nearly seven decades. In
that period of time the Lakers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and
Philadelphia 76ers have a combined total of 38 championships.
it comes to players in the Hall of Fame and game changers, these three teams
have had some of the best to ever lace them up from guys like Larry Bird,
Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Earl “Pearl” Monroe, Dr. Julius Erving,
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlin, Dennis
Johnson, Bob Cousy, Maurice Cheeks, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale and many more.
season, all four of these franchises are a far cry from those moments of glory
and the supposed stars of those teams and who hoped to become stars have
individually been okay or played great, but have not lifted their team to that
Sixers in particular are building to a championship culture starting at the
from last season’s Rookie of the Year in the 11th overall pick guard
Michael Carter-Williams out of Syracuse, forward/center Nerlens Noel, the sixth
overall pick last June and center Joel Embiid, the third overall pick out of
Kansas, the team is made up of players who otherwise would be playing in the
D-League or overseas.
two years ago, the team from the city of “Brotherly Love” was just one game
away from the Eastern Conference Finals as they lost to the Celtics in the East
Semifinals in seven game.
members of that team like head coach Doug Collins, Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner,
Lavoy Allen, Lou Williams, Jodie Meeks, Spencer Hawes, Elton Brand Andre
Iguodala and Jrue Holiday are all with other teams now as they all left via
free agency or they were traded.
journey to get back to respectability has been one that has been filled with a
lot of losing streaks for the Sixers over the past two seasons.
year, they set a franchise record and tied the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers for
the longest losing streak in NBA history dropping 26 consecutive games.
Sixers dropped their first 17 games of this season, losing all 15 games in Oct.
and Nov., before finally getting into the win column last Wednesday night with an
85-77 win at the Minnesota Timberwolves (4-16).
hope for the rest of this season is that Carter-Williams and Noel can develop
into the key building blocks that can lead the Sixers to brighter and better days
ahead. That some of the players who are getting a chance now like Tony Wroten,
K.J. McDaniels, Robert Covington, Hollis Thompson, Henry Sims and Alexey Shved
show well enough that they can be a part of the Sixers going forward. More than
anything, they need Embiid to rehab from his back injury and return whether it
is this season or next season and they need Dario Saric, the 12th
overall pick in last summer’s draft to make an immediate impact when he does
play for the Sixers.
the Laker and the Knicks have a number of things in common. Both have superstar
players in Kobe Bryant for the Lakers and Carmelo Anthony for the Knicks. Both
are cities with fan bases that expect them to win every year. Both are parts of
teams that are struggling to win.
Lakers are next to last in the West with one loan victory against a Western
Conference opponent in 15 chances.
Knicks have not only three victories against Eastern Conference opponents and
are in the middle of an 8-game losing streak and they are in the middle of
their worst start in franchise history.
have lost every which way possible. They have been blown out and they have
suffered gut wrenching losses like the one they had back on Nov. 14 when Jazz
guard Trey Burke scored on a fade away jumper at the buzzer to beat the Knicks
other thing that these two franchises have in common is the fact that the
supporting cast is not one that is championship caliber.
the Lakers, the likes of Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis, Wayne Ellington, Wesley
Johnson, Nick Young and Ryan Kelly are all talented players and were very high
draft choices when they entered the league. Unfortunately, they never
materialized into players that were able to be traded, amnestied in the case of
Boozer and some are just players that on championship caliber teams would be
the case of the Knicks, the likes of Andrea Bargnani, Samuel Dalembert, Cold
Aldrich, Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, J.R.
Smith, Jason Smith and Amar’e Stoudemire are all players who have worlds of
talent, but have been inconsistent.
the cases of Stoudemire and Bargnani, injuries in their careers have set them
back. When each was brought to the Knicks via trade or in the case of
Stoudemire, signing a five –year, $100 million contract as a free agent four
years ago, they were expected to be big parts of the Knicks becoming a
championship caliber team. The furthest the Knicks have gotten since Stoudemire
has arrived in New York is the East Semifinals two years ago.
has also happened for these two teams also is that they have had serious bad
he was acquired from the Suns a couple of seasons back, two-time MVP guard
Steve Nash has managed to play in just 65 games the past two seasons because of
injury and he has yet to get back on the court this season.
prized first round pick, seventh overall out of Kentucky Julius Randle broke
his right tibia in the season opener a 108-90 loss versus the Rockets on Oct.
top of that they had a chance to bring Phil Jackson back into the fold as head
coach a season ago, but they never pounced on that chance and it has hurt them.
Also, they allowed two of the best front court player in the game in Dwight
Howard and Pau Gasol, who helped the Lakers win championships 2009 and 2010
walk in free agency of the past two summers.
both of these teams have a long road back to playoff contention, the Knicks
right now seem to have the upper hand. Why? For starters, they have Jackson in
the front office. Their superstar player in Carmelo Anthony is signed for a
lengthy period. Also the contracts of Stoudemire and Bargnani will be off the
books this off-season.
Lakers on the other hand have an aging star in Bryant who has battled back from
two serious injuries and has played well this season tied with emerging
superstar forward/center for the New Orleans Pelicans Anthony Davis and Rockets
guard All-Star guard James Harden for NBA scoring lead at 25.2 per game.
is at the tail end of his career and when he does finish out his two-year
contract for about $49.0 million, what plan do the Lakers have for this summer
to bring in better players to get the Lakers back in the championship
one flagship franchise that has given faith and hope to their fan base is the
Celtics. For starters they have a headline player in guard Rajon Rondo, who is
a free agent at season’s end.
Rondo the Celtics have a bargaining chip that they can turn into draft picks or
players to help guide the team into the future.
current roster right now has some very talented building blocks in rookie
guards James Young and Marcus Smart; forwards Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green and
Brandon Bass; centers Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller and guards Marcus Thornton,
Evan Turner and Avery Bradley.
years ago, they signed Brad Stevens, who led Butler University to two straight
NCAA title games as their new head coach and the team has played much better
they can make a serious push for the playoffs this year is uncertain. With that
being said they have a puncher’s chance of getting back into the conversation
of being a playoff team in the near future because of what they already have
and what could be coming their way in the future.
quotes and statistics are courtesy of www.espn.go.com/nba; 11/1/14 3 a.m. edition of NBATV’s
“Gametime” with Rick Kamla, Steve Smith and Dennis Scott; 11/13/14 6:30 p.m.
edition of NBATV’s “The Starters” with Trey Kerby, J.E. Skeets, Tas Melas and
Leigh Ellis; 11/18/14 2 a.m. edition of NBATV’s “Gametime” with Matt Winer,
Steve Smith and Brent Barry; 11/29/14 1:30 a.m. edition of “NBA Tonight” on
ESPN 2 with Doug Kezirian and George
Karl; 11/29/14 10 a.m. edition of NBATV’s “Gametime” with Rick Kamla, Steve
Smith and Sekou Smith; 12/5/14 1 a.m. edition of “Inside the NBA” on TNT with
Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal;