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Eastern Connections is running a bit late this week, but arrived just in time for the holidays!

Virtual daps:

Christmas CalderonJose Calderon, Toronto –

Once again this season, in light of an injury to the recently acquired former Grizzly, Kyle Lowry, Jose Calderon has been given the shot to prove himself as the point guard of his team.  And how.  Calderon put up a whopping 15 assists in his first audition back in the starting gig.  Two games later, he brought it with a triple double against Jeremy Lin and the Rockets.  As a starter he has been posting an astounding rate of 11.3 assists a game to go along with 13.5 points.  Calderon is a pure point guard with great veteran instincts and a pure passer’s mentality.  He’s a rarity in today’s NBA, and hey, he’s a natural in a Santa hat!

Who’s been nice:

– Jose Calderon’s insertion  into the starting lineup, along with a somewhat favorable portion of the schedule have boosted the Raptors to 5 straight wins.  Before the season I thought they had an outside chance at getting into the playoffs in the thin Eastern Conference, and while 5 straight wins is encouraging, they have dug themselves a large enough hole to begin the year that they have a long way to go to get back into the picture.  Their cause is unaided by the fact that they face San Antonio to start a 3 game road trip, tomorrow night.

– After putting together a strong run last week, the Indiana Pacers continued to keep up the solid play.  This week, they strung together another three game streak, as they’re beginning to figure out how things are going to go without Danny Granger.  Paul George has continued his elevated play, as Gerald Green and Lance Stephenson have stepped up beyond the call of duty in Granger’s absence.  The Pacers are keeping things interesting with the Bulls atop the Central Division, and the two are set to square off in Indiana tomorrow, in their second meeting this season.  Indy took the first matchup on Chicago’s home court.

– The Chicago Bulls are also still playing pretty well, as they have been able to stiff arm the Pacers out of the division lead, with a 7-3 record through their last 10.  Their  only losses in that span have come from the Clippers, Grizzlies, and Hawks.  They’ve also handled the Knicks twice so far this year, winning 110-106 behind Luol Deng’s 29 point 13 rebound cancelling out of Carmelo Anthony, on the 21st.  Thibodeau is doing a heck of a job out there.

Who’s been naughty:

– Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah might find coal in their stockings after earning themselves ejections for a minor altercation in the December 21st game, referenced above.  In the true spirit of NBA altercations, it was all barking and little bite, but tempers flared and the two were tossed, nonetheless.

– Brook Lopez has returned, but Nets of Brooklyn are still bearing more resemblance to the Nets of New Jersey, than the team that started the year.  They’ve won only three of their last twelve games, with the victories coming against the likes of Toronto, Detroit, and a struggling 76ers team.  Apparently Deron Williams has some grievances regarding Avery Johnson’s offensive system (or lack thereof).  Interesting… didn’t his displeasure force Jerry Sloan’s hand to leave town in Utah?

– Stuck at 7.  The story of life as a Charlotte Bobcat.  Another week, another string of additions to the loss column.  They’ve dropped 15 straight now.  To make matters worse, Byron Mullens, one of  a few bright spots since the strong start, suffered a severe ankle sprain in garbage time against the Nuggets.

A few sweet reads by our TrueHoop brethren:

– Cavs Blog takes a moment to venture a peek into what they call The Argument Index.

– Over on TrueHoop TV, our man Shane Battier plays a game of Jeopardy with Kevin Arnovitz.

– The truth about it is that the Wizards are a team searching for something to latch onto in this seemingly already lost season.  Wizards blog, Truth About It, offers up a look into the bleak locker room situation.

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