The hottest team in the league (along with the Oklahoma City Thunder) continued its torrid streak on Friday by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 94-90. The Grizzlies have now won five straight and 10 of their last 11 games. Overall, they hold a 25-20 record and are now just half a game behind the Dallas Mavericks for the 8th seed in the Western Conference.
Aside from the fact that they are an infinitely disappointing team this season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have some serious problems on their hands. One of them, of course, is the lack of productivity from their first overall pick Anthony Bennett, but we’ll save that issue for another day.
The biggest problem is their supposed franchise point guard Kyrie Irving.
It was recently mentioned in our blog that Irving had noticeably changed – not for the better – since coming back from last season’s All-Star game. Irving was supposed to propel himself into the category of being a part of the upper echelon of point guards with the improvements the team had made in the offseason, but that simply hasn’t been the case. Opposing point guards have lit him and the team’s defense up for much of the season, and his true shooting percentage of 52.1 percent is at an all-time low.
Tweet of the Night: Joe Johnson reacts to All-Star reserve selection, Patrick Patterson upset with pick
To the surprise of many, Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets made the roster for the East. The Nets have played tremendously well in the month of January to bring their record up to 20-23, but it’s still a losing record, and Johnson is averaging 15.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists on the season – not exactly off-the-charts stuff from a statistical standpoint.
SHOULD KOBE BRYANT COME BACK THIS SEASON?
Whether this season is worth coming back to for Bryant was the topic between Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher and Howard Beck. Beck says the guard should probably sit out the entire season because there is nothing to come back to. The Los Angeles Lakers are an injury-ridden mess and are certain to miss the playoffs, so what’s the point?
The issue with sitting Bryant out even if he can come back is this: he needs to have an understanding of where he is physically and mentally heading into next season. There is no replacement for NBA competition. Bryant has suffered two separate devastating injuries he has never had to deal with in the past. There’s no question that he struggled when he initially came back earlier in the season and looked like a shell of himself – perhaps for the first time ever – as he tried to get re-acclimated. If he doesn’t come back this season to find out what level of play he can sustain after suffering a fractured leg, he will be forced to find out next season. Is that something he or the Lakers want to take a chance on?
That has been the question many have been asking since Durant’s incredible scoring run in the month of January. Prior to Oklahoma City Thunder’s matchup against Miami Heat on Wednesday, the forward had scored at least 30 points or more in 11 consecutive games, going 8-3 in that span – all without All-Star guard Russell Westbrook.
For Durant, this stuff matters. He openly admit last season that being second to LeBron James in everything was not something he enjoyed. He wants to be the best, and he may be doing enough this season to be considered just that.
So he went up against the world champions with the utmost confidence, and the “Slim Reaper” continued his dominating performance with 33 points, seven rebounds and five assists to help the Thunder rout the Heat 112-95 despite getting down by as many as 18 points in the first quarter. In the third quarter in particular, he and James had one of those “superstar” moments where the two traded 12 ridiculous points against each other. It’s the kind of show everyone hoped to see from two of the best players in the world, and they did not disappoint. James ended up with 34 points, three assists and three rebounds, but the Heat were sloppy all night and coughed up the ball 20 times.