Tony Parker Leads Streaking Spurs — Weekly NBA Roundup [VIDEO]
The NBA All-Star Game is Sunday in Orlando. Miami, Chicago and Oklahoma City seem poised to head into the All-Star break as the best teams in the league. Here’s what else is happening in the NBA:
Team on the Rise: San Antonio Spurs
After beating Utah, 106-102, on Monday night, San Antonio (23-9) has won 11 games in a row and leads the Southwest Division. Guard Tony Parker has been a force for the Spurs. He scored 34 points and dished out 14 assists against Toronto on Wednesday and added 30 more points and 10 more assists against the Clippers on Saturday. With Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter each out two weeks with injuries, San Antonio will need to get Parker help to continue to rise in the Western Conference.
Team on the Decline: Toronto Raptors
After suffering a Valentine’s Day defeat to the Knicks as a result of a last-second shot by Jeremy Lin, Toronto (9-23) lost to the Spurs and the lowly Bobcats during the week, stretching the Raptors’ losing skid to four games and eight of their last 10. Coach Dwane Casey needs to find a way for his team to improve its defense without putting the other team on the free throw line. Toronto has had eight players foul out this season, the highest total of any team.
Play of the Week: Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
Minnesota point guard Ricky Rubio is known for his no-look passes. This assist to Kevin Love against Houston last week is a fine example of Rubio at his best.
Player on the Rise: Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves
Center Nikola Pekovic has scored 18.6 points and grabbed 10.8 rebounds per game over his last six contests. Though he sprained his right ankle in the Timberwolves’ 103-101 overtime loss to Denver on Monday, Pekovic should return soon. When healthy, Pekovic is teaming with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio to give Minnesota (16-17) a solid core of players to build into a playoff team.
Player on the Decline: Devin Harris, Utah Jazz
Utah (15-16) has lost seven of its last 10 games. In many of those losses, Devin Harris helped allow opposing point guards — like Houston’s Kyle Lowry, New York’s Jeremy Lin, San Antonio’s Tony Parker and more — to score 25 or more points and roll up big assist totals. Worse, Harris’ per game scoring average is down to 9.0 points this season. That’s four points off his career average and six points or more off his totals from the last three seasons.
Coach on the Hot Seat: Doug Collins, Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia (20-12) has lost three in-a-row and five of seven. While the 76ers have managed to stay competitive despite many front court injuries, their guard play has been awful at times. Coach Doug Collins’ team was the surprise of the league at one point, but now teams are adjusting. Collins must get Philadelphia back to winning with defense and taking better shots on offense.
Bizarre Stat of the Week: Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova had 29 points and 25 rebounds in a 92-85 win over the New Jersey Nets on Sunday night. Both totals established new career highs for Ilyasova, who was drafted by the Bucks in 2005.