Hello everyone, and welcome back to West Coast Bias Sports. It’s been a while, and we missed you. As the site gets back up and running I’m aiming to post a weekly NBA recap article, very much in the style of my DodgersOD.com recaps. However, with my beloved Lakers buried deep at the bottom of the standings, I’ll be examining all of the other happenings around the league; emphasis on the West, of course. So, without further ado, let’s digest some basketball goodness.
Kobe Goes Down Again
Well, I couldn’t not touch on the Lakers.
Despite some great games over the past couple of days, one of the biggest stories was Kobe Bryant going down with a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
The Lakers announced on Monday that Bryant will undergo season-ending surgery. While Bryant has been extremely inefficient this season (career lows 37% FG, 29% 3PT), Kobe’s presence on the court is undeniable, and he is greatly missed in late-game situations when the Lakers tend to crumble.
Not only are the Lakers without their longtime star, the team is temporarily without Nick Young, who sprained his ankle in practice prior to Tuesday’s game against the Wizards.
The Lakers still put forth a game effort, falling to Washington, 98-92. However, it’s just bleak thinking about the rest of the season without Kobe and with Young continuing to bury himself in Byron Scott’s dog house.
Just think of it this way Laker fans, so long as the Lakers finish with the at least the fifth-worst record in the league, they will retain their draft pick this summer.
Fear the Hawks
If you’re only a casual NBA fan, you may not realize that the best team in the league outside of Bay Area is the Atlanta Hawks. A team with no superstars and a coach with a funky name (Mike Budenholzer) has been running the East to the tune of 36-4 since losing three of their first four games to start the season.
The Hawks are essentially the San Antonio Spurs of the East, as Budenholzer was a long-time assistant in San Antonio. The Hawks run a similar offense in which a big man with range and excellent passing skills (Al Horford) has the ability to kick out to multiple shooters on the wing who are adept at passing or creating, most notably point guard Jeff Teague.
They also have the master of the catch-and-shoot, Kyle Korver, who is on pace for a historic 50-50-90 shooting season.
Cleveland has the star power and the highest talent ceiling in the East, but Atlanta is firmly in first place, and that’s not changing anytime soon.
Cavaliers back on Track
After taking two weeks off to soothe his ailing back and knees, LeBron James is back to world-beater form and the Cleveland Cavaliers are on an eight-game winning streak because of it.
A national audience got to watch LeBron go to work in the second half of Cleveland’s 108-98 win over Oklahoma City on Sunday.
Since his return LeBron is averaging 30.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 6.4 APG on 50% shooting from the field. James is also getting to the line more than 10 times a game, something that just wasn’t happening earlier in the season.
The Cavs’ new additions of J.R. Smith and Timofey Mozgov have meshed well with the team so far (although they paid a high price).
Kyrie Irving will continue to do Kyrie things (including a 55-point game in Wednesday night’s win over the Trail Blazers), and Kevin Love appears a little more comfortable in his role as a shooter. How happy he is, that’s a different story, but the so long as LeBron is playing at a peak level and the new bench doesn’t sputter, the Cavaliers appear to be back on track to head to the East finals.
How about the Clippers?
The Clippers have won five straight games including a brilliant road victory in Phoenix on Sunday. Because of the craziness of the Western Conference Standings and the Mavericks losing six of 10 games, the Clippers have leap-frogged into the fourth seed overall.
Despite insane seasons from Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, John Wall and other incredible players, Chris Paul remains probably the best all-around point guard in the game with 17.4 PPG, 9.8 APG, 47-40-89 shooting on the season.
Blake Griffin remains a beast in the paint (50% FG) and has become one of the best passing big men in the game (career high 5.1 APG this season).
DeAndre Jordan continues to feast on rebounds and easy buckets and alley-oops. Jordan leads the league in rebounding (13.4 RPG) and field goal percentage (73%FG)!!! The Clippers will hit the road for the annual “Grammy trip” beginning with a game in Utah on Wednesday night.
Clash of the Titans
In what was surely the game of the night on Tuesday, the Chicago Bulls beat the Golden State Warriors in OT, 113-111. The loss ended the Warriors’ 19-game home winning streak.
Derrick Rose hit the game winner, a step-back jumper no less, with seven seconds left. Like Batman in the Dark Knight, the Bulls’ star’s heroics did not come easy (13-of-33 shooting, 11 turnovers!), but he never faltered.
The Bulls will match up with the Lakers Thursday night on TNT. The Warriors head to Utah Friday night.
Do yourself a favor and check out some NBA action this weekend, games to look out for include:
- POR vs. ATL
- Clips vs. San Antonio
- GSW vs. PHX
- OKC vs. MEM