Around the League

Young Guns

Young guns Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant, who face off in Chicago tonight, were named Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week.  Rose’s play has noticeably improved from earlier in the season and last week we saw him average 26.7 PPG, 5.7 assists and 5 boards, highlighted by the 30-point, seven-assist, six-rebound effort in Saturday’s win over Orlando, the Bulls’ fourth in a row.  With Rose coming into form and several pieces of the puzzle returning from injuries, hopefully the whispers about Vinny Del Negro will quiet.

I can’t say enough about what 21-year-old Kevin Durant is doing this year.  He’s making an impact in all facets of the game and his points come easily in an Iceman-esque style. He’s on a seven game streak of 30+ points per game and last week led his young team to three wins averaging 34.3 points to go with 7.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals. OKC is now tied for eighth place in the West and I wouldn’t be surprised if they made some noise in the playoffs.

The King Breaks His Curse While Atlanta Takes a Turn for the Worse

“Old” man LeBron James isn’t quite ready to give up his thrown yet. The King turned 25 last week and he celebrated his birthday by going for a season-high 48 in completing the sweep of a back-to-back against Atlanta.  He had some help from Anderson Varajao who made an improbable three-pointer, his first career three, to seal the victory and gift wrap LeBron’s first birthday victory of his career. I bet Shaq didn’t expect that his Phantom VI Rolls Royce would be outdone.

LeBron also became the youngest player to reach 14,000 career points when the Cavs defeated the Nets 94-86 for their seventh straight win.

After losing back-to-back games against the Cavs the Hawks continued their disappointing week dropping a tough one to the Knicks in overtime. Nate Robinson returned to the lineup for the Knicks after spending a few weeks at the end of Coach D’Antoni’s bench and had a monster game, putting up 41 points.  Led by David Lee’s inspired play, the Knicks are digging out of the 1-9 hole they dug to start the season and are only a half game out of the eighth spot in the East.

The Injured List

The top team in the East has lost a top player: Celtics’ Kevin Garnett has missed two games and could be out for at least 10 more days while he recovers from a hyper-extended right knee.  I hope that’s all it is.  Last year Garnett played in just four games in the final two months of the regular season and missed all of the playoffs. Without Garnett, already banged-up Boston will suffer as he’s the heart and soul of the team, especially on the defensive end.

Back over in the West Pau Gasol left Sunday’s Mavericks’ matchup with a left hamstring strain.  This is no doubt of concern for Lakers fans as Gasol is a key piece, if not the key piece, to the Lakers puzzle. He missed 11 games earlier in the season with a strain in his right hamstring and the team just wasn’t the same without him. Pau’s one of my favorites and I hope he’s back quickly. But if he’s out for an extended period let’s see if Bynum steps up his production with more touches and space to operate in the lane.

Locker Room Low Down

Off the court the Wizards are garnering unwanted attention. Peter Vescey broke the story in which Gilbert Arenas and his teammate Javaris Crittenton allegedly drew guns on each other in the team’s locker room over a disputed gambling debt.  Not surprisingly this incident has already ignited endless speculation and condemnation.  No use fanning the flames until all of the facts are brought to light.

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