Streaking Clippers Win Sixth in a Row — Weekly NBA Roundup [VIDEO]
Just a little more than three weeks are left in the 2011-12 NBA season. Teams are trying to improve their playoff seedings and stay healthy as the postseason approaches. Here’s what’s happening in the NBA this week:
Team on the Rise: Los Angeles Clippers
After a 94-75 road win over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, the L.A. Clippers (32-21) have won six consecutive games and seven of 10. After a post-All-Star break swoon, the Clippers are showing signs of becoming a legitimate contender in the Western Conference. Aside from the consistent production from superstars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Clippers have seen an uptick from shooting guard Randy Foye, who had 28 points and a career-high eight 3-pointers in the victory over the Mavericks.
Team on the Decline: Cleveland Cavaliers
Losers of their last seven games, Cleveland (17-33) is in a free fall. The Cavaliers were barely competitive in losses to Milwaukee and New York on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The 37-point defeat to the Bucks was especially deflating, as star rookie Kyrie Irving suffered a sprained shoulder during the loss. Irving’s 18.9 points and 5.7 assists per game this season have been among the few bright spots for the Cavaliers. The team figures to ride out the last few weeks of the regular season by trying to find what other talent is on the roster aside from Irving.
Play of the Week: Nick Collison, Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City (40-13) was handed a rare home loss on Monday, falling 94-88 to Memphis. However, Thunder forward Nick Collison had a big highlight, as he skied for a put-back dunk.
Player on the Rise: Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
The Celtics (30-22) cruised to a 4-0 week behind the outstanding play of Paul Pierce, who averaged 25 points, eight rebounds and 2.5 assists. Pierce netted a team-high 23 points during Boston’s 91-72 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday. The victory was the Celtics’ fifth consecutive win and put them up a full game over Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division. With veterans like Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, Boston remains a championship threat.
Player on the Decline: Jason Richardson, Orlando Magic
After scoring in double figures in only one of his last seven games, Jason Richardson is close to losing his starting job with Orlando (32-21). The Magic’s current three-game skid has revealed the team’s defensive weaknesses and lack of consistent outside shooting. Richardson must turn his performance around if Orlando is to make it out of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Coach on the Hot Seat: Doug Collins, Philadelphia 76ers
After a better-than-expected start to the season, Philadelphia head coach Doug Collins has seen his team’s lead vanish in the Atlantic Division. The Boston Celtics are now a full game up on the 76ers (29-23). Collins has done a great job in getting a supreme effort from a team without a true superstar, but the fans in Philadelphia want more than a second-place finish and a first-round playoff exit. It won’t be easy to get rolling; Philadelphia’s next game is Tuesday night in Miami against the Heat.
Bizarre Stat of the Week: Chicago Bulls
Chicago lost 99-93 to the Houston Rockets on Monday and 92-78 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. It is the first time the Bulls have suffered consecutive regular-season defeats in 86 games.