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.

VIDEO: What’s Wrong With Pacers; Grizzlies Will Earn 7th; Cavs Making Push

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How about those Indiana Pacers? For five straight games they have been held below 90 points — and in four of those games they were sub-80. Their last two victories have been quality wins against the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls, but they have lost five of six overall and are now tied in the loss column with LeBron James’ team.

All in all, it is fair to call them something close to a mess as they head into Monday night’s matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, who come in riding a 17-game winning streak — tying a franchise record. (More on the Spurs’ streak here).

What’ll it take to win tonight — or at least to keep it competitive? Well, getting to 90 points would be a start. The Pacers are 7-2 this month when they reach that number. Indiana has one road win over a winning team since Jan. 20 and is 6-9 in its last 15 games overall.

Bernucca: Spurs Aren’t Streaking, They’re Gliding

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lebron-wade1There have been some fair comparisons drawn between the current 17-game winning streak of the San Antonio Spurs and the remarkable 27-game run put together a year ago by the Miami Heat.

Both teams expect to compete for the NBA championship. Both teams found their rhythm at the most opportune time of the season. Both teams stormed to the league’s best record and home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

There are obvious differences as well. For one, San Antonio still needs 10 straight wins – a run reached by only three other teams this season – to merely match Miami’s streak. Even if they win out, the Spurs will still come up one short of the Heat and have to resume the chase next season.

But here’s the biggest difference. The Heat were somewhat consumed by their streak. The Spurs are not consumed by theirs.

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Bernucca: You Can Have the NCAA Tournament

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sportsWICHITAstate_t640I don’t like the NCAA Tournament.

I don’t like that college basketball’s regular season provides little postseason incentive. I don’t like that the coach is a bigger personality than the players. I don’t like that the games are played on neutral courts. I don’t like that one bad game or bad call or bad break can end a team’s season. I don’t like that “close” becomes a synonym for “well-played.” And I don’t like that poor play determines the outcome much more often than great play.

Most of all, I don’t like how I’m supposed to just accept that it’s fantastic and wonderful and beautiful, when it’s actually substandard basketball in a flawed format that tells me less and less every year about the game I love, which is the NBA.

I’m not trolling here. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’ve truly felt this way for a while. Part of it is admittedly a lingering distaste developed over more than a decade of working on a sports news desk and spending countless hours having to plan, preview, write, edit, update and package all of the words and numbers associated with the NCAA Tournament.

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SH Blog: Phil Jackson will officially join Knicks on Tuesday; Rockets to pursue Carmelo Anthony in Free Agency; Klay Thompson first to 500 3′s

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Phil JacksonThe week of March 9th-16th should hence forth be known as Phil Jackson Week.

In the world of basketball at least.

Because as the Zen Master continues to dominate the daily headlines, well, that’s sure what it feels like.  

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