It’s that time again, Grizzlies fans! Let’s see what it’s looking like out East.
Virtual daps: Nikola Vucevic
20 points and 29 rebounds against the Miami Heat on Monday. That alone could state his case for recipient of “virtual daps” for the week. The second year big man out of USC has done a tremendous job assimilating to his new scenery in Orlando. Vucevic is proving to be a very valuable asset, assisting the Dwight Howard trade in looking better than expected for the Magic. His hot streak has pushed him over a double double average on the season. He’s got four straight double-doubles now, with the latest manifesting in the form of an 11 point 18 rebound performance against the Knicks. The Magic haven’t quite been able to translate Vucevic’s stellar performance into wins, but more on that later.
Who kicked off the New Year strong:
– The Detroit Pistons, baby! Not that I have any personal stake in them doing well, but it’s fun to put a new name on this side of the equation every now and then. The Pistons have won four straight games, and furthermore have done so against some good competition. They smoked the Heat back in 2012 to kick off the streak, and narrowly closed out a lead against Atlanta most recently. They’ve benefited greatly from rookie Andre Drummond coming into the picture on the boards and blocking shots.
– In spite of dropping their last game, a Demarcus Cousins-fest against Sacramento, the Toronto Raptors have been red hot. The only other loss attributed to their name in the last 10 was at the hands of the Spurs. Not too shabby for a team that started the season 4-19. Kyle Lowry’s back and lighting it up, but assist wizard, Jose Calderon, has maintained the spot in the starting lineup. Additionally, rookie Terrence Ross has begun to find his groove, recently connecting on 10 threes over the course of two games. The big test for them will be today’s game against Oklahoma City.
– The Brooklyn Nets have yet to lose in 2013 and are 5-1 since handing the reins over to P.J. Carlesimo. It’s premature to say whether or not it’s just a typical jolt in morale due to optimism over change, but they, and more importantly star point guard, Deron Williams, are looking much better then they had in their December collapse.
Who started 2013 on the wrong foot:
– Well I started this post with some love for their young center, but this time around the news is not as nice for the Orlando Magic. They won four straight in mid-December… and have not come out the victor since. Eight straight losses have mounted, but it’s not for lack of effort. The earlier portion of the skid was a bit inexcusable, but the three most recent bouts have been up against Miami, Chicago, and New York. They took the Heat to overtime, lost by two to the Bulls, and just ran out of gas and fell to a forth quarter Knicks rally.
– The Atlanta Hawks were the hot team on the block in last week’s Eastern Connections go-round, but have fallen in three out of their last four. The culprits were a near 20 point defeat against James Harden’s Rockets, a video review that deemed Al Horford’s toe on the 3 point line that kept them one point away from overtime against the Pistons (as pseudo-mentioned above), and a vanilla loss to the Celtics. The Hawks have a few softball games coming up in the schedule to propel them back on track, so I wouldn’t be too worried if I was a fan.
– The Philadelphia 76ers have lost a lot of games lately. After a respectable 12-9 start, they’ve plummeted, winning only 3 of their last 14 games. Interestingly enough, those three victories came against solid teams, in the Hawks, Lakers, and our own Grizzlies. The Sixers have been getting their doors blown off in this tough stretch of schedule, and don’t have too many “gimme” games on the horizon. Not too much for Sixers fans to be happy about right now, but at least Jrue Holiday has been playing like a stud.
A few sweet reads by our TrueHoop brethren:
– Cavs: The Blog conjures up a list of suggested New Year’s resolutions for the guys on the roster.
– Piston Powered looks at the Andre Drummond effect on some other role players in Detroit.
– Pacers’ blog, 8 Points 9 Seconds highlights the Hansbrough bro’s, as Psycho T comes to the defense of his younger brother, backup point guard, Ben.