1. It’s a nice view from above
If you’re anything like us then you probably have to slap yourself every morning when you see New Orleans sitting atop the Western Conference. But the Hornets recent swarm appears to be legitimate after winning their ninth consecutive game by annihilating the Nuggets 117-93. Chris Paul came up one rebound shy of recording a triple-double with 23 points, 17 assists and the aforementioned nine boards. This game was over for Denver before the first quarter buzzer even buzzed and by halftime they were staring up from a 23 point hole. The Nuggets had a good excuse though with Carmelo Anthony riding the pine.
2. Same faces, new places
There’s about to be a few very excited real estate agents thanks to the recent decisions of several nomadic NBAers. The biggest news comes out of New Jersey where the human triple-double Jason Kidd confirmed the rumors that he wanted a trade before the Fed. 21 deadline. Dallas and Denver already inquired about obtaining the All-Star’s services. Next up is the news that Don Nelson and Chris Webber will be reuniting in Golden State 15 years after things went horribly wrong between the duo in C-Webb’s rookie campaign. Talk about a whacky, whacky world! If time has mellowed these guys then this experiment could pay off come playoff time. Last but not least, we’ve got the buyout of Damon Stoudamire’s contract with the Grizzlies. The Spurs appear to currently be atop the long list of possible new zip codes for the former Rookie of the Year.
3. Rode-oh-no road trip
The slumping Spurs began their annual extended road trip on Monday in Utah and things didn’t go according to plan for the champs. San Antonio fell behind early, trailing 27-19 after the first quarter, and spent the remainder of the game chasing the Jazz. The Spurs made it close late as they drew within three points with a minute remaining in regulation, but Utah got a timely 3-pointer from Kyle Korver to help secure a 97-91 victory. Andrei Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer scored 23 apiece and Deron Williams finished with 11 points and 14 assists. Utah made an astonishing one-day leap from not being in the playoffs to owning a home court, first round seed (No. 4)! For the Spurs, it’s one down and eight to go. D’oh!
Monday’s Player of the Day: Chris Paul vs. Denver 38 min, 23 pts (FG: 7-20, 3FG: 1-2, FT: 8-8), 9 reb, 17 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk
Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Atlanta (18-22) @ Phoenix (32-13)
Phoenix hasn’t lost to an Eastern Conference foe since Dec. 10 when the Heat somehow grabbed a road win in the desert. Yea, the Suns are still scratching their heads over that one too. Their only other loss to the East came in Atlanta when former Sun Joe Johnson was horrid from the field (3-17 FG), but Marvin Williams and Josh Smith both recorded double-doubles, leading the Hawks to victory. Last time Johnson visited Phoenix, he racked up 17 of his 32 points in the fourth and the result was a nine point Hotlanta victory. The Hawks have lost five of their last six, but they have way too much talent to be counted out.
Buzzer Beater: Hedo Turkoglu and Al Jefferson’s time in the spotlight has finally arrived. The duo became perhaps the oddest duo to ever combine for the NBA Players of the Week awards. Jefferson deservedly won the award for the West while playing on the worst squad in the league and Turkoglu won the East honor by somehow becoming the biggest offensive threat on a team with Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis. Anyways, nobody shined brighter so, congratulations fellas, you’re having the Best Week Ever!!
Turkoglu guided Orlando to a 3-1 week, including wins over Eastern Conference leaders Detroit and Boston. Leading the Magic in scoring in all four games, Turkoglu averaged 25.5 points on .492 shooting from the field and .500 shooting from three-point range. Turkoglu tallied a game-high 27 points, including the game-winning three-pointer as time expired in Orlando’s 96-93 win over Boston on Jan. 27.
Jefferson led the Timberwolves to a 3-1 week, averaging 28.8 points and 12.8 rebounds. Minnesota defeated three playoff teams from a year ago and its lone loss came by one point at Boston, owner of the NBA’s best record. Jefferson posted three point-rebound double-doubles, including a 40-point, 19-rebound effort in Minnesota’s 98-95 win over New Jersey on Jan. 27.