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This week saw the return of a superstar, the continued dominance of a surprising Western Conference team, the continued downfall of an Eastern Conference playoff team and the East leaders being dealt a blow.

Let's take a look back at the week that was in the NBA.


Russell Westbrook made his much awaited return to the Oklahoma City lineup this week, playing in his first game of the season since suffering an injury October 30th.

Westbrook laced them up on Friday when the Thunder faced off against the New York Knicks, who themselves were without the services of Carmelo Anthony.

Without anyone in the lineup to match his athleticism, a fully healthy and capable Westbrook took the Knicks to task, amassing 32 points to go along with eight assists and seven rebounds.

Though it’s early, the Thunder have plenty to be concerned about heading into December. The team’s record sits at 5-12. Their twelve losses are more than half of the total losses they incurred during last year’s campaign.

With Westbrook back, the bleeding will certainly slow. If Kevin Durant can also return sooner rather than later, the Thunder may begin to fully turn things around, and not a moment too soon.


The East leading Toronto Raptors were dealt a serious blow when DeMar DeRozan tore a tendon in his groin during a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night. DeRozan was optimistic about the injury, predicting that he will only miss four weeks.

If that is in fact the case, the Raptors may well weather the storm in his absence thanks to a schedule that includes games against such league doormats as the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons.

The Raptors should be able to rely on their quick start and lax December schedule to not fall too far in the standings without DeRozan’s services.


The Grizzlies have surprised many ascending to the top of the Southwest Division over such stalwarts like the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks. Memphis owns the league’s best record at 15-2.

One big factor in the consistency of their play so far has been the ability of their biggest stars to stay healthy. Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley have all played in each of Memphis’ first 17 games. Last year, after starting the first 12 games of the season, Gasol missed 23 straight games due to injury while his team went 9-14 in that stretch.

Courtney Lee has bolstered the scoring for the defensive-minded Grizzlies since his acquisition 30 games into last season. This year, he seems to have ingrained himself even more into the offense shooting better than 50 percent from two-point and three-point range and averaging one more assist per game over last year.

The Grizz won the four games they played this week, including road wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers, and have won five in a row for the second time this season. As long as they stay healthy, this could be a team to watch in the West all season.


If it weren’t for the existence of the putrid Philadelphia 76ers, it would be the Charlotte Hornets who we’d be pointing to as the league standard for futility right now.

The Hornets are in free-fall after losing their tenth game in a row on Saturday when they lost by 30 to the division-rival Atlanta Hawks.

There are a litany of issues with this team: lack of progress from Kemba Walker, underwhelming production from their big free agent signee Lance Stephenson and zero defense.

But perhaps their biggest issue is a lack of frontcourt help for Al Jefferson. Last year, Josh McRoberts stretched the floor with his 3-point shooting ability and freed up the lane for Jefferson to score and rebound without contention from too many defenders..

This year, the combination of Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams is just not as threatening from beyond-the-arc, and defenses can pack the lanes for the inevitable rebound.

The Hornets are missing 68.2 percent of their 3-point attempts, good enough for the fifth-worst shooting percentage from 3 in the league. They are also fifth-worst at shooting the ball when they aren’t shooting 3s. They are only seventh-worst in the league at shooting free throws, so that’s...something.

Luckily for the Hornets, they too reside in the Eastern Conference where early season mistakes can negated over the course of the season due to a forgiving conference slate.


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