HOOPSWORLD Week In Review
Carmelo Anthony’s Defense Leads To Wins
By Stephen Brotherston
The New York Knicks’ leading scorer at 20 points per game is Carmelo Anthony, but Anthony has looked nothing like a leading scorer since new head coach Mike Woodson took over seven games ago. His team reeled off six impressive wins, and is clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Anthony’s offensive game is a pedestrian 14 points on 39 percent shooting under Woodson and no one is complaining.
“I don’t have a rhythm right now,” said Anthony. “I guess that’s got to come. The team knows what I am doing off the court with treatment and extra shots in the gym early. As far as a rhythm goes, that comes and goes. I am not too concerned about that, it will come back shortly. I am looking for it so if anyone finds it, tell me.
“This year has been a year of adjustments for myself and the team, picking my spots out there on the court trying to figure it out, but right now, I just don’t have a rhythm offensively. I never thought I’d be saying it, but my defense is ahead of my offense right now.”
Lakers Not Quite Measuring Up
By Eric Pincus
The Los Angeles Lakers stand at 31-20, sixth best in the NBA. On Thursday they took a 12-point first-quarter lead at STAPLES Center over the Oklahoma City Thunder only to lose 102-93 to the team with the best record in the Western Conference.
The Thunder, at 39-12, are just a game and half behind the Chicago Bulls. They have a unique combination of speed, youth, experience, continuity and straight-up talent.
Despite their impressive first quarter, the Lakers looked over-matched.
“They’re younger and have more [energy] than we do,” said Kobe Bryant after the game. “Tonight the offensive rebounds killed us, the transition killed us, those 50-50 balls killed us.”
It was no surprise LA gave up their early lead. That’s been a staple most of the year, win or lose. At best, the Lakers have been an incomplete team this season.
In Lamar Odom The Mavericks Trust
By Derek Page
Despite his being a complete non-factor for most of this season, the Dallas Mavericks continue to stand by Lamar Odom.
Through 45 games played in the 2011-2012 NBA season, Odom continues to average career-lows in virtually every statically category. His play at times this year could be described as lackadaisical at best and his desire to give a consistent effort on the floor has been questioned time and time again.
Since returning from a 10-day absence earlier this season, Odom appears to be showing some signs of life. While it has rarely shown up in the box score, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle hasn’t been shy about praising Odom’s renewed effort on the floor – this despite benching Odom just two games ago for the entirety of a 104-87 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Tuesday night, however, provided flashes of what Odom can bring to this team if and when he’s properly motivated.
Wilson Chandler Struggles To Re-Adjust to NBA
By Joel Brigham
The bad news: Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari fractured his thumb. The good news: Wilson Chandler, easily one of the best players on a very good 2010-11 Denver team, was on his way back from a hiatus in China just in time to step in and keep the team’s momentum going.
Unfortunately for both Chandler and the Nuggets, the player’s re-acclamation to American basketball has taken a little longer than many would’ve hoped, but that’s not to say he won’t get there. It’s just not as easy to step back into the NBA as people think.
“I feel excited, but my body is not too excited about it,” Chandler told HOOPSWORLD. “Personally, it’s been tough for me just getting back in the mix of things, getting my conditioning back up… I’m just trying to get a rhythm back.”
DeMar DeRozan Bounces Back
By Stephen Brotherston
DeMar DeRozan averaged 19.4 points per game over the final 50 games of last season, prompting Toronto Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo to label the Raptors’ 22-year-old wing as the face of the franchise. It wasn’t long into this season before it looked like Colangelo might have overstated things.
While Andrea Bargnani and DeRozan were clearly the team’s two best players last season and Bargnani was taking another huge step forward in his development, DeRozan soon found himself in unfamiliar territory. It didn’t help that the floor spreading talents of Bargnani were lost early on to injury and DeRozan had become the focus of opposing defenses.
In his first 24 games this season, DeRozan’s scoring dipped to 14 points per game on an abysmal 37.7 percent shooting and the usually aggressive slasher was having trouble getting to the free throw line as opponents were playing him physically even before he got the ball. The Raptors never gave up on DeRozan despite his troubles.
“We are going to keep feeding him, keep trying to get his confidence back, keep putting the ball in his hands and have him make decisions,” said head coach Dwane Casey in early February. “It’s not going to be from a lack of having touches or plays run for him and finding alleys for him to get to the basket and opportunities to shoot the basketball.”
Jazz Players Relieved Trade Talks Have Passed
By Lang Greene
The yearly blitz at the NBA trade deadline spares no one from its methodical path; from established veterans all the way down to promising young talents, everyone around the league has the potential to be placed on the trading block during this time period.
The trade deadline also leaves players on teams in the middle of the pack in a state of uncertainty, as they’re unsure whether the franchise will blow the roster up to start a rebuilding project or retool on the fly in order to make a deeper playoff push.
For instance, the Utah Jazz compiled a woeful 8-15 record from February 1 to March 14 during the height of the trade talk speculations while boasting a solid assortment of big men. Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors all generated plenty of trade interest around the league.
Jefferson wouldn’t fully admit the trade deadline was the cause of the team’s struggles in February and early March but he is certainly glad the trade winds have passed and the team can now focus on making a playoff run as currently constructed.