NBA Rebound; Lakers Ailing, Hawks are Hot

Tim Duncan

Duncan continues to lead the Spurs in scoring so far this season despite his 'advanced' age.

Much like Major League Baseball and professional hockey (when it’s being played), the National Basketball Association regular season is not a sprint. It’s a marathon that takes time and requires strategy and health. If you are lucky enough to have both, then consider yourself ‘lucky enough’.

The Los Angeles Lakers are hurting despite climbing back to the .500 mark recently. Pau Gasol reportedly has tendinitis in his knee and Kobe Bryant was a game-time decision last night against the Indiana Pacers because of flu-like symptoms. Kobe will recover, but what can we expect from Gasol moving forward? It’ll depend on his pain tolerance and ability to go back-to-back nights especially. The Lakers and new head coach Mike D’Antoni seem to have righted the ship but with injuries to Steve Nash and the ever-problematic back of Dwight Howard just how much can we expect from the Lakers this season?

Al Horford

Horford has been huge during the Hawks' five-game winning streak.

The Atlanta Hawks must have decided that if they were going to keep the Miami Heat within shouting distance in the Southeast Division then they better start playing some ball. This is exactly what the Hawks are doing as they have now won five straight to get to 8-4 on the season. The recent charge has been led by defense where the Hawks rank third in the league in scoring defense by giving up just 92.1 points per game. Al Horford is nearly averaging a double-double with 15.9 points and9.2 rebounds per game.While the offense is still coming around Atlanta has shown they can win with defense which could serve them well in the latter part of the season.

Games for tonight

Portland at Washington – With everyone talking about the fiscal cliff we may fall over in the next six to eight weeks the attention paid to the Washington Wizards has been minimal in D.C. and that’s a good thing since at 0-12, they’ve already taken the plunge. The Blazers come in at 6-8 and off a 108-101 loss in Detroit. LeMarcus Aldridge leads Portland with 20.6 points per game. The Wizards’ biggest issue is offense where they rank 30th in the league in scoring at 90 points per game. Their defense is respectable but unable to save this horrendously poor shooting team. Take the Blazers tonight.

San Antonio at Orlando – The 12-3 Spurs are fourth in the Association in scoring and are 10th in total defense allowing 95.5 points per game. That’s not great news for a Magic team that ranks near the bottom in scoring. Orlando will need to set the pace defensively for any shot against the Spurs but I don’t see it happening with the balance San Antonio has. Take the Spurs behind that balance and great play of Tim Duncan.

Brooklyn at Boston – The Nets are fresh off an overtime victory over the rival Knicks Monday night and are now 9-4 on the season. What Brooklyn has going for it is defense where they are number one in the league allowing just 91.3 points per game. I predicted Brook Lopez to be just a shade under 20 points per game this season and that’s exactly where he is in leading the Nets at 19.2 per game. The Celtics are 8-6 and are uncharacteristically low in defensive points allowed at 22nd. While the team runs off Rajon Rondo, he can’t do it all and needs more help at each end of the court especially in rebounding where they rank 30th. I suspect a tight game here and will take the Celts in a nail-biter.

Houston at Oklahoma City – The Rockets are 6-7 so far and played the Raptors last night. Houston has no problem scoring and rebounding the basketball as they are in the top five in both areas, but defensively they must improve. A good test is of course the Thunderwho are 11-4 and are coming off a total annihilation of the Bobcats. OKC is starting to play some defense to go along with their scoring which could be dangerous and oh yeah, James Harden returns to Oklahoma City following his trade so this one should be fun. I like the Thunder though.

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