Five Christmas day games passed without much fanfare, some players return from injury while some reacquaint themselves with it, Terrence Jones and Damian Lillard continue to step up.
1. Terrence Jones has come through in a big way for the Rockets since being placed in the starting line-up at power forward. In the Rockets four wins last week he averaged 17 points and 7.75 rebounds with one of the few stellar performances on Christmas Day against the Spurs, bringing in 21 points and 14 boards.
2. Blake Griffin had a big outing of his own Saturday against Utah. Griffin scored 40 points, including 14 of 17 free throws while also pulling down 10 rebounds.
3. The Cavaliers announced Saturday that they would be suspending Andrew Bynum from all team activity after an incident at a Friday practice, the most recent of a string of detrimental behavior. It is believed he has played his last game as a Cavalier, with the team looking to either move or release him. Bynum signed a two year deal for $24 million but the team would only have to pay out $6 million if he is traded or released by January 7th.
4. Evan Turner drove home a Sixers win over the Lakers Sunday night with a 360 dunk at the buzzer putting the exclamation point on a 111-104 win and upsetting Nick Young (who sparked the play with his own questionable shot). Turner immediately began apologizing to the Lakers for his dunk, Young is still probably looking for appreciation from the Lakers.
5. Friday it was announced that Russell Westbrook would be sidelined until after the All-Star break due to arthroscopic surgery related to increased swelling in his knees. This marks his third knee surgery since going down with a torn meniscus in April.
6. Kobe Bryant also returned to the injured list two weeks ago just six games after his return from a ruptured achilles that sat him out at the tail end of last season and included an arduous seven month rehab process that only Kobe, at age 35, would attempt. Bryant fractured a bone in his knee against the Grizzlies on December 17th and is expected to miss six weeks.
7. The same day Kobe went down saw the return of Andre Iguodala after missing 12 games with a pulled hamstring. The Warriors beat the Pelicans 104-93 with Iguodala seeing limited minutes as a starter.
8. In two games in week eight, against the Pistons and the Cavaliers, Damian Lillard delivered the Trailblazers to a last minute victory. Showing that he is both capable from long range or creating in the lane at the basket Lillard further establishes himself as one of the leagues premier point men. Not only is he skilled but he is equally as calculating, leaving mere tenths of a sceond on the clock with both shots, .1 against the Pistons in OT and .2 against the Cavs.
9. Jeff Teague delivered his own crushing blow to the Cavs with a last second jumper and a win for the Hawks in a double OT the day after Christmas. Teague held for the shot as long as possible and the ball rattled around the rim longer than anyone would’ve liked to tick the final moments off the clock, securing the win for Atlanta.
10. The NBA’s favorite middle child, Chris Bosh, secured his spot in the conversation of all that is (somewhat) relevant with his performance against the Trailblazers Saturday night. Bosh scored 37 points including three for three from outside, including a game winning three pointer to carry the Heat to victory without Lebron who suffered a groin injury in Miami’s loss to Sacramento the night before.
11. The Knicks continue to find a way to stay in the conversation as well as Tyson Chandler‘s return will hopefully help them crawl out of the basement they’ve inhabited since his injury. In Chandler’s first game back since November 5th, the Knicks managed to pull out a double OT victory against the Bucks 107-101, despite J.R. Smith firing up 17 three pointers (hitting five of them) and Andrea Bargnani defying all logic of professional basketball with a three point attempt at the end of the first OT following a Chandler offensive rebound with 14 seconds left on the clock and a two point lead for the Knicks that allowed the Bucks to force a second OT with a John Henson last second put back. It was Smith’s first time to launch 17 from outside with the Knicks, having done so twice before with the Nuggets, and just another tally on the list of times Bargnani has gone against the obvious decision and/or almost screwed up 48+ minutes of hard work. Tyson Chandler is probably wondering what he came back for and Woodson is probably realizing being fired is the quickest way out of this capsized ship.
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