Looking at the rest of the West!
The Suns have improved marginally since Lindsey Hunter replaced Alvin Gentry, going 4-4 with Hunter, compared to 13-28 with Gentry. This team doesn’t have the personnel to contend for the postseason, but they do seem to have new sense of purpose, as shown in their 4th quarter comeback over Memphis last night. Michael Beasley has been disappointing this year, but in the past few weeks, he’s illustrated some of the flash that made him so alluring back in 2008. The Suns will definitely be a lottery team this year, but they appear to be one quality pick away from being a playoff team again.
The Rockets had an offensive explosion last night, taking down the Warriors by an eye-popping score of 140-109. One year after the initial outbreak of Linsanity, Jeremy Lin reminded us why we loved him in the first place, going for 28 points, nine assists, and only two turnovers. Lin has been somewhat inconsistent this year, but the talent is clearly there, as he has gone for 20 points twice in the past three games. his problem as that too often, he shrinks from an active role on offense, and ends up passing on what could be easy shots. If Lin is to become the top-flight point guard we thought he could be, he needs to be aggressive on offense. When he is, the Rockets tend to be victorious.
As for Golden State, the loss sent them to 6th in the West, while a win would’ve put them in fourth. Still, they’ve been hot as of late, and it would be a shock if they didn’t qualify for the postseason. Klay Thompson has asserted himself one of the better scoring 2-guards in the game, and the combination of Thompson and Stephen Curry in the backcourt can be deadly. Neither is a particularly good defender, but if either one gets hot from the field, they can take over a game pretty fast.
The Clippers continue to drop games without Chris Paul in the lineup. This isn’t exactly surprising. They won a few when he first went down because everyone was motivated to pick up the slack and win one for CP3, but now that he’s missed more and more time, the flaws of the Clippers without him have been exacerbated, and opposing teams know how to exploit them. But hey, Caron Butler stealing the ball from Jonas Valanciunas was funny, so at least there’s that.
There has been yet another Lakers resurgence recently, as the team is once again inching closer to .500. They’ve won six of their last seven, putting them at 23-26. At this point, though, any alleged run of excellence by the Lakers will be met with a firm “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Plus, the Rockets and Jazz winning, so they’re not even gaining any ground anyway.
The Nuggets may never lose again. At the very least, we should be exploring that possibility. After all the talk of Denver being a disappointing team, it turned out they were merely victims of an especially tough early schedule, and now they look as dangerous as anyone in the league. They’re 13-2 in their last 15 games, and are quickly marching up the Western standings. Just when it looked like Milwaukee would do the grizzlies a solid and hold Denver off, the Nuggets rallied for a 4th quarter win, and are now tied with the Grizzlies for 4th, with the Grizzlies only being ahead because they’ve played fewer games. Right now, the Nuggets are the biggest threat to the Grizzlies quest for home court, but quite frankly, the Clippers shouldn’t be sleeping too easy either. Look out folks, Denver is coming.
The Mavericks are kind of depressing right now. Not because they’re awful, but because they’ve fallen just short of good. they have some quality players, and they seem to be losing every close game they wind up in, including a thriller against the Warriors on TNT this past Thursday. They’re still feisty, but they’re not what they used to be. It’ll be interesting to see if the land a franchise-altering free agent this summer, but if not, we could be in for a lengthy rebuilding period in Dallas.
The Spurs experienced some brief concern when Tim Duncan was injured against the Wizards last week. As The Basketball Jones pointed out, one of the more amusing aspects of this was when Wizards coach Randy Wittman mentioned that he went to check on the status of Duncan. You know you’ve commanded respect when opposing coaches want to know if you’re doing okay after an injury. Duncan will miss a few games, but the injury doesn’t look to be serious, and really, it’ll probably just mean he has more energy in the playoffs. That’s how it tends to go with the Spurs; even negatives can be quickly turned into positives.
The Thunder continue to reel off wins being the well-oiled machine that they are. Not as well-oiled as the Spurs, mind you, but still. The case for Kevin Durant over LeBron James for MVP is better than most would think. Durant is beating James in win shares, and win shares per 48 minutes, and his team has a better record. Not that LeBron isn’t having an excellent year in his own right, and he leads Durant in PER, but at this moment, I would gave KD a very slight edge. The season is still young, though, and I expect this race to go right down to the wire.
Well, that’s it for this week. There’s a few teams I didn’t mention; as far as I can tell, none of them have done anythign interesting lately. If you want to tell me otherwise in the comments, please do! See you next week, Grizz fans!