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76ers Winning with Defense – Weekly NBA Roundup [VIDEO]

Sixers Defense
Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Most NBA teams will have played 10 games by the end of this week, meaning it won’t be long until divisional races to start to take shape. Here’s a look at the past week in the NBA:

Team on the Rise: Philadelphia 76ers

After winning their fifth straight game on Monday night, Philadelphia (6-2) is now in first place in the Atlantic Division. The 76ers possess the NBA’s best defense, holding opponents to a league-low 85.6 points per game and 39.5 percent shooting from the field. Coach Doug Collins has a deep roster of non-superstar players who have thus far allowed him to substitute freely without hurting the game plan. If Collins can get this team to 40 wins in a 66-game season, he may take home Coach of the Year honors.

Team on the Decline: Detroit Pistons

Detroit (2-7) had a terrible week, losing four games in a row by an average margin of 21.5 points per game and falling into last place in the Central Division. All NBA teams are dealing with an increased impact of injuries due to the compressed schedule this season, but Detroit guard Rodney Stuckey and forward Charlie Villanueva missed the last three losses with injuries. Worse news for the Pistons: the defending world champion Dallas Mavericks visit the Palace on Tuesday night.

Highlight of the Week: Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

Watch Kobe Bryant zip past Rudy Gay on the way to a nice reverse dunk during Sunday night’s 90-82 Lakers’ win.

Player on the Rise: Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz

Al Jefferson led Utah (5-3) to four wins in six days. While Jefferson has averaged 18.1 points per game on the season, he increased his output to 20.8 during the four-game winning streak. The 6’10″ center has proclaimed himself to be in the best shape of his life due to an off-season conditioning and weight-training program. Jefferson needs to continue to make an impact if the Jazz are to contend in a very competitive Northwest Division.

Player on the Decline: Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

Chicago (8-2) leads the Central Division, but Joakim Noah struggled over much of the past week as the Bulls went 3-1. After Noah’s 13-point, 11-rebound effort in a Jan. 4 win over Detroit, he had just 9 points and 22 rebounds combined in the Bulls’ next three games. His season averages are now down more than four points and three rebounds per game from 2010-11.

Coach on the Hot Seat: Monty Williams, New Orleans Hornets

Though New Orleans (3-6) beat Denver 94-81 on Monday night to snap a six-game losing streak, the Hornets have struggled to develop continuity this season. Various injuries have left coach Monty Williams with as few as 10 healthy players on game nights, and his lineups have not produced many wins. Williams will get help from the schedule, as New Orleans plays six of its next eight games at home. If the Hornets start another losing streak, he could be in trouble.

This Week’s Bizarre Stat: Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns

In Phoenix’s 102-77 win over Portland on Friday, Steve Nash didn’t miss any shots. The veteran guard connected on all seven of his field goal attempts, including two from three-point range, and he was 1-for-1 from the free throw line. Nash finished with 17 points on the night.

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