NBA Weekly (Feb. 4-11)
By: Tarun Sathish
This past week was yet another great one for the NBA, highlighted by two much anticipated inter-conference matchups, and a few incredible statistical performances.
On Wednesday, the 4th of February, the Atlanta Hawks beat the Washington Wizards in a big Eastern Conference game. The Indiana Pacers continued their upswing with a win against the Detroit Pistons. Brooklyn upset Toronto by an impressive 16 points. James Harden scored 27 in a Houston win over a reeling Chicago team. Milwaukee won their fifth game in a row after beating the Lakers in overtime. Russell Westbrook’s amazing game (45 points six rebounds and six assists) led the Thunder to a key win over New Orleans. Ricky Rubio led Minnesota to a win over the Miami Heat despite Hassan Whiteside scoring 24 points with 20 rebounds for the losing team. In the nightcap Steph Curry scored 51 in a Golden State comeback win against the Mavericks.
On Thursday, the Wizards dropped another game to the Charlotte Hornets. The Cleveland Cavaliers stayed hot, beating the Clippers convincingly for their 12th straight win. The Portland Trail Blazers scored a big win against the Phoenix Suns. The Orlando Magic fired their head coach Jacque Vaughn, and replaced him with James Borrego for at least the time being.
Friday was probably the best NBA night of the season. Starting with the biggest game of the year, the Atlanta Hawks outpaced the Golden State Warriors with a big second half for a massive win, firmly putting them in the conversation as a title contender. The Toronto Raptors came back from 20 down in the first quarter against the Clippers, to win by 16. The Indiana Pacers, led by a huge 4 point play by George Hill late, ended the Cleveland Cavaliers’ win streak. Ricky Rubio dominated the last couple of minutes to lead Minnesota to an upset win over the Memphis Grizzlies. James Harden’s 33 points helped Houston beat the Bucks. Kevin Durant returned for Oklahoma City, but played second fiddle for the night as his teammate Russell Westbrook had the best game of his career, 48 points 9 rebounds and 11 assists including three game tying free throws with almost no time left. However it was all for naught, as Anthony Davis hit an absurd catch and shoot three (his first of the season) while double teamed to beat the buzzer and give New Orleans the huge win. Davis scored 41 points on the night.
Saturday was highlighted by Dirk Nowitzki’s throwback game against Portland, a clutch 3 late in regulation sent it to overtime where the Mavericks won. Anthony Davis injured his shoulder early against the Bulls, who went on to win by 35.
On Sunday morning, the Clippers announced forward Blake Griffin is out for at least 3 weeks with a staph infection on his elbow (the surgery to remove it went well), and then got destroyed by the Thunder that afternoon. Kevin Love had his best game of the year for Cleveland, scoring 32 points with 10 rebounds in a blowout win of the Lakers. Memphis and Atlanta had a defensive slugfest that ended with Memphis coming out on top.
Monday was special for Spurs coach Greg Popovich, who recorded his 1000th win after Marco Bellineli hit the game winning shot against the Philadelphia 76ers. The rest of the night was full of blowouts; the Thunder crushed Denver behind Durant’s 40 points and Westbrook’s 26, and the Clippers blew out Dallas.
On Tuesday, James Harden put another notch in his MVP campaign belt, recording a 40 point 12 rebound 9 assist performance to beat Phoenix. In Lionel Hollins first game in Memphis since leaving the team, his Nets lost. The Charlotte Hornets were blown out by the Detroit Pistons, capping off a bad weekend for the Hornets.
In coaching news, the Sacramento Kings seem ready to move on from Ty Corbin, and George Karl is the most likely replacement. The Kings players were very unhappy when Mike Malone was fired midseason, and Ty Corbin struggled (somewhat predictably, he was also a poor coach in Utah) to gain the locker room back, or to get results on the court.