Duncan tops Durant for Western Conference Player of the Week Honors

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Tim_Duncan_SpursNEW YORK – The Spurs’ 17-game winning streak brought an added bonus Monday. Tim Duncan was named Player of the Week — this coming despite Kevin Durant averaging 32.5 points on .597 shooting.

It was the 22nd time Duncan has won the award.

The Orlando Magic’s Nikola Vucevic and the San Antonio Spurs’ Duncan were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, March 24, through Sunday, March 30.

Vucevic led the Magic to a 2-1 week, which included wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Bobcats, behind averages of 22.7 points (sixth in the conference) and a league-leading 14.3 rebounds. He posted a point-rebound double-double in all three contests, including a 24-point, 23-rebound effort on March 28, during Orlando’s 110-105 win over Charlotte.

Duncan led the Spurs to the NBA’s lone unbeaten record on the week at 4-0. He averaged 20.0 points (tied-eighth in the conference) on .625 shooting from the field (eighth in the conference), 8.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.0 steals. On March 26, Duncan’s versatility was on display as he posted 29 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals during a 108-103 win over the Denver Nuggets.

Here is a recap of the week for Vucevic and Duncan:

Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic

March 25 vs. Portland: Collected 22 points and 10 rebounds during a 95-85 win over the Trail Blazers.
March 28 vs. Charlotte: Scored 24 points and pulled down 23 rebounds in a 110-105 win over the Bobcats.
March 30 @ Toronto: Posted 22 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a 98-93 loss to the Raptors.

Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
March 26 vs. Denver: Notched 29 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals in a 108-103 win over the Nuggets.
March 28 @ Denver: Posted 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks during a 133-102 win as the Spurs swept a home-and-home with the Nuggets.
March 29 vs. New Orleans: Scored 12 points and added eight rebounds, six assists and four blocks during a 96-80 win over the Pelicans.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce, Charlotte’s Al Jefferson, Cleveland’s Dion Waiters, Miami’s LeBron James, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Phoenix’s Goran Dragic, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Washington’s John Wall.

Bernucca: Among the Elite, Thunder the Team to Beat

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Kawhi Leonard A look at the overall NBA standings shows four teams at the top – Indiana, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Miami – separated by one game in the loss column. In fact, they were dead even until three of them lost Sunday. 

Just a notch below them are three more teams – Houston, the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland – separated by two games in the loss column. They also would have been dead even had the Blazers held on Sunday against the Rockets.

Let’s call these teams the Magnificent Seven, because your NBA champion is somewhere among them. Dismiss any of them at your own peril; these are the only teams who, at the season’s three-quarter pole, have won at least two-third of their games.

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Big Day For ‘The Big Diesel’, Shaquille O’Neal

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There are many names for four-time NBA champion and future Hall of Fame great Shaquille O’Neal—many of which he has given himself:  The Big Aristotle, The Big Galactus, Shaqtus, Diesel, Steel and Hobo Master (yes, Hobo Master) among others.

Thursday O’Neal celebrated his birthday. After a long NBA career and continued success off the court, perhaps it’s time to consider a new name…perhaps The Big Father Time?

As he continues to grow older, his popularity still remains. Three of the basketball organizations that he played for professionally—stateside and in international play (having won gold medals in the ’94 FIBA World Championship and ’96 Summer Olympics)—took time recognize his birthday.

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Tweet of the Night: Maurice Harkless relieved to finally get a win on the road

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El Magic Moe HarklessThe Orlando Magic came into the season feeling pretty good about the possibility of being a playoff team after drafting Victor Oladipo with the second overall pick in the 2013 draft. With young players like Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless all looking to improve from their unexpectedly-solid campaigns from a year ago, they very well could have been a dark horse team in the East – especially with the way things have turned out for the anemic conference.

Instead, it has become yet another lost season for the Magic with an 18-42 record as of Wednesday night. They will be better than the pathetic 20-62 record from last season, but that’s not much of a consolation prize.

Bernucca: Feeling the Heat, Pacers Had To Make a Move

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Lance StephensonAll season, the Indiana Pacers have maintained that homecourt advantage for the Eastern Conference playoffs, and their chemistry will give them a great chance to dethrone the two-time NBA champion Miami Heat.

Are both slipping away?

In the last two weeks, Indiana’s grip on the East’s best record has loosened considerably. And the Pacers’  big move at Thursday’s trading deadline, acquiring Evan Turner, illustrated that their belief in chemistry may have been overstated.

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