Chris-Bosh-Magic-Heat-2013By the end of next week we will have reached the one-fourths way mark of the 2013-2014 NBA season. At this point we should be getting a clearer picture of who the contenders and pretenders are as well as who is on pace for a breakout season.

Here's this week's NBA recap.

Thunder On Impressive Winning Streak, Russell Westbrook Still Rusty

Russell-Westbrook-November-2013Several heralded contenders have ripped off winning streaks this week. Let’s take a look at how Oklahoma City, Houston and Miami have maintained their winning ways.

The Thunder have won seven in a row, including impressive victories over San Antonio, Golden State and Minnesota this past week. During this current streak, Kevin Durant has been the focal point of the offensive attack — as any superduperstar should.

Reggie Williams, the backup point guard and sometimes two-guard for the Thunder, helped buoy the team this week by shooting 56 percent from the field, well above his career field goal percentage of 46.

The surprising bit during this current streak is the relative lack of efficiency of their No. 2 star, Russell Westbrook. In his 11 games since returning earlier than expected from offseason knee surgery, Westbrook has seen his shooting percentages stay below his career marks.

The early struggles for Westbrook could lead one to believe that he is shaking off the rust from his long layoff where he was extremely limited in his basketball activities. For the year, Westbrook is shooting 41%/29%/70% on his two-point field goals, 3-pointers and free throw attempts respectively. Those numbers are off his career averages of 45%/30%/81%.

Westbrook did contribute when it mattered most against the Warriors, hitting a wild game-winner in overtime as the clock expired. More on that later.

If Westbrook is indeed still getting back into form after a long layoff, then you can expect the Thunder to further improve off their 12-3 start.

Houston Rockets Proving To Be One Of The Top Teams In The Western Conference

James-Harden-Dwight-Howard-Rockets-2013The Rockets are in the middle of a five-game win streak and have also won eight of their last ten games. The core contributors — James Harden, Dwight Howard, Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons — have played up to expectations, and even beyond expectations in the case of Lin.

However, the 13-5 Rockets have been winning, though both Lin and Harden have missed time due to injury. Houston won all four of the games that Harden sat out with a nagging foot injury, with Chandler Parsons and Aaron Brooks taking on the scoring load. When Harden returned, Lin was diagnosed with a grade 1 knee sprain and sat out games against Brooklyn and San Antonio.

The Rockets rolled over the Nets and were able to escape  the Spurs with a win, thanks to a tremendous performance from Harden (36 points, six assists and seven rebounds).

Despite these injuries, Houston has scored an average of 113.7 points per 100 possessions in the past eight games. That mark leads the league over that span. With Lin expected to miss at least the next eight games, the Rockets will need additional help from their deep bench in order for their blistering scoring pace and winning streak to continue.

Miami Heat Are Getting... Hot, LeBron James Returns To Cleveland, And More

LeBron-James-November-2013BREAKING NEWS: The Miami Heat are good.

When you have basketball robot-prototype LeBron James on your team, you will be able to compete. Just ask the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After starting the season with a pedestrian 4-3 record, the Heat have now won 10 games in a row. Somehow, James is having his best season to date. James is shooting 61 percent from the field, 49 percent from 3-point range and 80 percent from the foul line, which puts him on career-best paces in each category.

James recently returned to Cleveland this week, as the Heat took on the Cavs the day before Thanksgiving. Cavs fans have already begun trying to woo James back to Cleveland ahead of his impending free agency.

These are the people who were burning his jersey in the streets after ‘The Decision." It was like seeing someone who has spurned their partner, then begging their forgiveness. It was a little sad to see, actually. The Heat rolled over the hapless Cavaliers, though.

Then on Sunday night, the Heat trailed the Bobcats... in the fourth quarter... in Miami. The Heat needed three 3-point baskets from, of all people, Chris Bosh to close out the victory and keep the winning streak alive.

Until the fourth quarter on Sunday, Bosh had never hit three 3-point baskets in the same quarter in his entire career. He hit three in 79 seconds on Sunday.

Is Dion Waiters On The Trade Block?

Dion-Waiters-December-2013Speaking of Cleveland, the Cavs appear to be interested in moving second-year shooting guard Dion Waiters, despite his production.

In the Cavs’ 95-84 loss to the Miami Heat last Wednesday, Waiters was the team’s best player. He tied his season-high with 24 points, along with adding six rebounds and three assists. Earlier that day, a story broke that the Cavs were shopping Waiters to the Knicks.

The week before last, Waiters was a participant in the team’s players-only meeting. After the meeting, he stayed in Cleveland while the team took a two-game road trip. The Cavs front office claimed he was sick, but since rejoining the team after his two-game absence, Waiters has been coming off the bench.

It is a strange saga for the former fourth overall pick from the 2012 draft. Waiters has a lot of value in a trade scenario, and right now Cleveland needs some help if they are to become the playoff team that many thought they were when the season began.

At this point, a trade might benefit both Cleveland and Waiters.

John Wall Is On Fire

John-Wall-Dunk-2013If you were trying to reach John Wall, I’m sorry but he is unavailable right now because he is on another planet.

The Washington Wizards star point guard is in the midst of a breakout season. Wall is so far playing up to the five-year, $80 million dollar contract extension he received over the summer.

When Washington made Wall the first pick in the 2010 draft, they thought he had a shot at becoming one of the better point guards in the league. This year, that thought has been validated.

John Wall is second in the league in assists per game with nine, and he is also fourth in steals averaging almost 2.5 per game, more than a whole steal per game better than last year for the Wizards star.

Wall has seen an uptick in scoring that is likely to continue, now that he must shoulder more of the scoring burden with Bradley Beal expected to miss the next two weeks or longer with a right leg injury. Without Beal on Saturday, Wall netted 26 points to go along with 12 assists (against three turnovers), six rebounds and five steals.

Given all the bad teams in the East, the 8-9 Wizards are primed to make a run for a playoff spot if Wall continues playing at this level.

Jason Kidd Acts Like A Child


On Wednesday night, with his team down by two points and out of timeouts, Nets head coach Jason Kidd told guard Tyshawn Taylor to “hit me”.

The young guard complied with his coach’s request, and with that Kidd dropped his cup of soda and ice on to the court in order to give himself time to draw up a play while the mess was cleaned. The Nets ended up losing the game.

Is Kidd the first coach to pull this trick? Certainly not. Is he the first to get caught on camera asking his own player to hit him? Yes.

After reviewing the footage, the league fined Kidd $50,000.

More Injuries This Week

JJ-Redick-December-2013JJ Reddick will miss six-to-eight weeks with a fracture and torn ligament in his right hand, which occurred on Friday against Sacramento.

On Sunday night, budding superstar Anthony Davis left the New Orleans Pelicans game against the with a non-displaced fracture in his left hand. Davis is the league leader in blocks, averaging 3.9 per game.

Game Of The Week

The award has to go to Friday’s contest between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their previous meeting in Oakland ended with Andre Iguodala hitting a shot at the buzzer for the Warriors win.

The rematch in Oklahoma City did not disappoint.

Tied at 104 with five seconds remaining, Kevin Durant had a chance to win it for OKC in regulation but came up just short. In overtime, with the Warriors up by two and only 9.5 seconds remaining, the Thunder inbounded from under the Golden State basket.

The play was drawn for Durant to get a look at a 3, but with the double-team collapsing on him he dished it to Serge Ibaka for a shot from the left elbow. The shot missed long, and the rebound was batted towards the baseline. Thabo Sefalosha streaked to save the ball and flung it over his head as he headed out of bounds.

Russell Westbrook collected the ball near the left 3-point line and turned to pass to Durant, but with KD covered he decided to spin back to his right and launch one. He connected, as the Thunder stayed undefeated at home.

Officially mark your calendar for the next meeting between these two on January 17th.


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