Bulls Defense Sets Franchise Record Without Derrick Rose — Weekly NBA Roundup [VIDEO]
With NBA rosters now set after the passing of the trade deadline last Thursday, teams are positioned for the season’s final 20-plus games and the playoff push. Here’s what’s happening in the NBA this week:
Bizarre Stat of the Week: Chicago Bulls
In a contest that reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose missed because of a groin injury, his Chicago Bulls set a new franchise mark for fewest points allowed in a regular season game in their 85-59 win over Orlando on Monday.
Play of the Week: Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets
Danilo Gallinari’s no-look, behind-the-back assist to teammate Kenneth Faried in Saturday’s 98-91 Nuggets’ win over Boston is among the best in the NBA this year.
Team on the Rise: Milwaukee Bucks
Five consecutive wins moved Milwaukee (20-24) into the playoff conversation in the Eastern Conference. Thanks to the play of point guard Brandon Jennings, forward Ersan Ilyasova and center Drew Gooden over the past few weeks, the Bucks are just a half-game behind the Knicks for the final playoff spot. New shooting guard Monta Ellis was acquired from Golden State, along with Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown, for Stephen Jackson and Andrew Bogut. If Ellis and Jennings are able to share the ball in the backcourt, Milwaukee may have a duo that is difficult to match and defend.
Team on the Decline: Portland Trail Blazers
After several trades, the release of former No. 1 overall draft pick Greg Oden and the firing of head coach Nate McMillan last Thursday, Portland (21-24) is far from ready to make a playoff push. The Trail Blazers have lost seven of their last 10 games, including a 42-point defeat to the Knicks last Wednesday. Interim coach Kaleb Canales must get LaMarcus Aldridge and Ray Felton to help him rebuild. More games like Friday’s surprising 100-89 win over the Bulls will help Portland rediscover the confidence it had when it started the season 7-2.
Player on the Rise: Andrew Bynum, Los Angeles Lakers
In his last four games, center Andrew Bynum averaged 27.5 points and 14.5 rebounds for the Lakers, as the Pacific Division leaders went 3-1. When Bynum makes those types of contributions alongside teammates Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the Lakers are difficult to beat. If Bynum can elevate his defensive game to match his offensive production, Los Angeles could make yet another run deep into the playoffs.
Player on the Decline: Boris Diaw, Charlotte Bobcats
Once a key member of the Phoenix Suns, Boris Diaw is now languishing on the bench of the Charlotte Bobcats (7-37), the NBA’s worst team. Coach Paul Silas publicly questioned Diaw’s effort earlier this month, and the veteran big man has now played in just two of his team’s last nine games. If released, Diaw could still catch on with a team in advance of the playoffs.
Coach on the Hot Seat: Frank Vogel, Indiana Pacers
When Indiana (25-18) suffered a 102-88 loss to the Knicks on Saturday, it was the team’s sixth defeat in eight games. The Pacers are still holding down an Eastern Conference playoff spot, but how long can coach Frank Vogel’s team go before the losses pull them down the standings? Indiana traded for guard Leandro Barbosa, in part to give Vogel more options in the backcourt. He’ll need them with so many quality guards on the best teams in the East.