Though 33 wins in an 82 game season isn’t exactly a major feat, it does tell of how far this team has come in one season. There are still 38 games left in the season, and Portland has managed to tie their total amount of wins from last year in half that time.
Tweet of the Night: Damian Lillard and other players around the league react to Kevin Durant’s ridiculous shooting display
No really. This is starting to get ridiculous, even for him.
The forward was having another terrific season heading into January, but one could argue it was not necessarily much better than what he did last season. Through the month of December, Durant averaged 28.3 points per game – in line with the 28.1 points he averaged last season. With Westbrook out since Dec. 27, it was on Durant to carry the scoring load. Most expected his points to increase with a drop in efficiency, but his efficiency never dropped. In the last 14 games without his point guard, here is what Durant is averaging (counting the stats that are relevant for this particular topic only): 36.5 points on 52.2 percent shooting, six assists and 2.9 turnovers. During this span, he has seen a career-high 54-point night, scored at least 40 points three times, and scored under 30 just twice.
Not only is he scoring at a clip reminiscent of a young Michael Jordan with similar or even better efficiency, he’s also keeping the team involved with passes without turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Simply put, no one in the league can sniff the level that Durant is playing in over this dominant stretch, and that includes LeBron James – the guy he is always tired of being second fiddle to.
It also has become the unofficial midway point of the season. By the completion of Monday’s action, more than half of the league’s 30 teams will have played half their games.
With that in mind, we present our midseason awards with this reminder from the bookie of hopeless degenerate James Caan in the grossly underrated 1974 film The Gambler: They don’t give out no prizes at halftime.
However, with our midseason awards, we do give out snarky remarks.
Monday brought with it the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2013 Award Ceremony, where the world’s greatest football (soccer) player is honored.
No different than the rest of the world, many NBA players are avid soccer fans. Prior to the award being announced a couple took to Twitter to express their anticipation for the award’s announcement. Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol seemed exuberant about the closeness of the competition for FIFA’s top honor.
Very tight race this year but we will know pretty soon who is the #Ballondor winner!
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) January 13, 2014
New Orleans Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca gave some pre-award analysis (in French, of course).
CR7 à fais une vrai saison à surpasser tt le monde niveau but et le ballon d’or n’est pas scandaleux mais Ribery as accompli des titres — Alexis Ajinça (@AjincaAlexis42) January 13, 2014
Ajinca seems to have been hoping his native French footballer, Franck Ribery, would win the award. He compared Ribery and Ronaldo’s seasons, suggesting that while Ronaldo had a great individual season, it wasn’t as accomplished as Ribery’s—as he won three titles last year [the 2013 UEFA Champions League, the 2013 UEFA Super Cup and the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup].
In addition to those three championships, Ribery also won numerous individual awards among which included the UEFA Champions League Best Player, UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, UEFA Super Cup Man of the Match, the Bundesliga Player Of The Year, FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball and the FIFA Club World Cup Most Valuable Player.
The Ballon d’Or was then announced. Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo received the award (commonly referred to as the Golden Ball) for the second time in his illustrious career.
After the announcement, a couple players expressed their surprise (and, perhaps, displeasure) with the choice.
The Portland Trail Blazers guard essentially said that Ribery—second runner-up to Ronaldo and first runner-up Lionel Messi—had a big season even though he missed considerable time due to a rib injury. He did, however, congratulate Ronaldo.
Miami Heat star shooting guard Dwyane Wade also congratulated Ronaldo on the accomplishment.
— THREE (@DwyaneWade) January 14, 2014
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The title of this post says it all: Is DeMarcus Cousins an All-Star?
Well, I’ll say this — as I say below in my interview with Grant Napear of KHTK Radio in Sacramento — he is certainly an All-Star talent, and I have even given him an All-NBA third team vote in the past. But then I’ll also ask you this: Is Gordan Hayward an All-Star?
Again, the Jazz shotmeister is certainly an All-Star talent, but an All-Star?
I’ll leave that for the coaches to decide, since the coaches are the ones who pick the reserves. But I’ll warn both Cousins and Hayward that coaches value winning above all else. And they abhor players who put up great stats on terrible teams.