Damian Lillard January 2015

After a two weeks of vacation, we’re back with a pleasantly plump rundown of what you missed The Association. A lot went down, so here are some quick hits to get you caught up.

Two days before Christmas, Damian Lillard took out the Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City Thunder with yet another clutch performance.

The Portland Trail Blazers survived a 40-point outburst from Russell Westbrook, thanks to a spectacular 40-point performance from Lillard.

Lillard had 18 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to put his team on his back for the big 115-111 win.

The game was Lillard’s first 40-point, 10-assist performance in his NBA career. Lillard also leads the league in points per game scored in the fourth quarter and beyond with 7.4 per contest.


Nick Young January 2015

That same night, the hapless Los Angeles Lakers took on the hard charging Golden State Warriors. Many tuned this game out due to the absence of one Kobe Bean Bryant.

Somehow though, the Lakers were able to make up for the Kobe's absence by having five players score 14 points or more. The Lakers built a 34-24 lead after the first quarter, thanks to 19 second-chance points and a 14-5 rebound advantage.


Andre Iguodala Jamal Crawford Warriors Clippers December 2014

On Christmas the Warriors faced off against the Clippers in what has become what many consider to be the best rivalry in the NBA.

Last year, these two came to blows on the court. This year, while there were no fights, things were still quite physical.

The Warriors held on to a lead of a single point at halftime, but the Clippers caught fire in the second half. The Clippers hit 22.6 percent of their jumpers in the first half and improved to 41.7 percent on their jumpers in the second half.

Jamal Crawford took things over in the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of his 24 points in the period. The Warriors set season lows in points scored (86) and 3-point field goal percentage (21.4 percent).


Josh Smith January 2015

The Houston Rockets got their big Christmas gift a day late when they signed Josh Smith for a hair over $2 million for one year. The deal reunited J-Smoove with his friend and the best man at his wedding, Dwight Howard.

After the ink was dry, the Rockets took on the Memphis Grizzlies. Smith and the Rockets handed the Grizz their fourth straight loss, winning 117-111 in overtime.

The Rockets have gone 3-3 since Smith’s acquisition. The Detroit Pistons, on the other hand, have won all five of their games since Josh Smith’s departure.

Now, of course, not all of their success can be attributed to “addition by subtraction," but the logjam that once existed among their big men has been alleviated.

Andre Drummond is averaging three more points, four more rebounds and is shooting 10 percent better since Smith departed.

With more shots to go around, head coach Stan Van Gundy is getting a better look at his younger players while keeping one eye on the future of this perpetually rebuilding franchise.


Jared Dudley January 2015

While we were away, Jared Dudley became the first player in NBA history to shoot 10 percent from the field with at least 10 field goal attempts and at least three 3-point attempts in the Milwaukee Bucks' 107-77 defeat of the Atlanta Hawks the day after Christmas.

Dudley finished 10-10 from the field and 4-4 from beyond the arc with no free throw attempts.

It’s a rather arcane record, but it’s still pretty awesome that one of the best teammates in the league and a perennial bench guy was able to achieve this new record mark. If you are a fan of underdogs, this was a great moment.


LeBron James January 2015

Though he remains out nursing multiple injuries, LeBron was still in the headlines this week. King James turned 30 years old on December 30th.

With assists from the media and Basketball Reference, LeBron’s birthday was celebrated the way most 30-year-olds celebrate, looking back on what has been accomplished to this point.

His 23,901 career points are more than any other player in league history has scored before age 30. LeBron has played in 1,029 games (regular season and playoff), which is 22 fewer games than Larry Bird played through age 35 and doesn't count Team USA games.

LeBron certainly has mileage on his tires, but given Kobe Bryant's longevity, staying in the league for 19 seasons, a half dozen more seasons from LeBron is not out of the question.

The question is, for how many of those years will he be the alpha dog?


Carmelo Anthony Derek Fisher Knicks January 2015

The New York Knicks have continued their descent to the basement of the Eastern Conference, and now find themselves in an all out battle with the Philadelphia 76ers for the league’s worst team.

The Knicks have now lost 11 straight and have one win in their last 22 games. ONE WIN IN 22 GAMES! So bad. The schedule does not help this week as they play Memphis, the Washington Wizards and Houston.

The title of "Worst Team in the League" will be bestowed on the loser of the matchup between the Knicks and Sixers on January 21st. Circle your calendars for that one.


Rajon Rondo Mavericks Celtics January 2015

The Dallas Mavericks are starting to gel around their new starting lineup. Dallas has won five straight and their new point guard, Rajon Rondo, has started to find his rhythm with his new team.

Granted, the Mavericks haven’t had the toughest of schedules, facing the Lakers, Boston Celtics and the LeBron-less Cavs over this stretch, but their performances against the Wizards and Thunder were impressive.

Earlier in the week, Rondo admitted to taking the last couple of years off of playing defense. The Mavs will need him to return to his former defensive form if they are to make a deep run come May.


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