Watch Out for the Pacers — Weekly NBA Roundup
With the all-star break now completed, the NBA will begin the remainder of its 2011-12 season on Tuesday night. Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami lead their respective divisions in the Eastern Conference, while San Antonio, Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers top the divisions of the Western Conference.
Here's what's happening in the NBA:
Team on the Rise: Indiana Pacers
Indiana (21-12) went into the all-star break on a four-game winning streak. The Pacers are nine games over .500 and have the third-best overall record in the Eastern Conference. Coach Frank Vogel used a mix of role players with no true superstar. Forward Danny Granger leads the team in scoring with 18.0 points per game, while center Roy Hibbert is both scoring and rebounding well above his career averages. Granger and Hibbert team with forward David West to form one of the better front courts in the East.
Team on the Decline: Boston Celtics
Injuries and age may have caught up to the Boston Celtics (15-17), who were passed by the Knicks in the Atlantic Division standings last week. The Celtics' 119-104 loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday was their fifth straight loss and seventh defeat in eight games. While Boston will have most of its original starting lineup ready for the start of the second part of the season, the Celtics seem far off the pace set by the Eastern Conference's best teams.
Play of the Week: Baron Davis to J.R. Smith, New York Knicks
The emergence of Jeremy Lin allowed veteran point guard Baron Davis to ease into the New York lineup as his injured back heals. Davis demonstrated his passing skills, while new teammate J.R. Smith showcased his leaping ability against the Hawks last Wednesday.
Player on the Rise: MarShon Brooks, New Jersey Nets
Rookie swingman MarShon Brooks scored in double figures in each of his last six games for the New Jersey Nets (10-25), including a career-high 24 points in the Nets' 108-91 loss to the Magic on Wednesday. Brooks was sidelined earlier this season with a broken toe, but he seems to finally be healthy. If he continues on this trajectory, Brooks and Deron Williams could make New Jersey's backcourt one of the best in the NBA.
Player on the Decline: Jodie Meeks, Philadelphia 76ers
No one player is responsible for the Philadelphia 76ers' (20-14) current five-game losing streak, but starting guard Jodie Meeks has been in a terrible shooting slump. Over the past five games, Meeks shot 3-of-19 from behind the 3-point line. He has averaged just 6.8 points during the skid, while scoring in double figures only once.
Coach on the Hot Seat: Tyrone Corbin, Utah Jazz
Utah (15-17) entered the all-star break on a three-game skid and losers of eight of 10. Coach Tyrone Corbin's team blew a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter against Minnesota last Wednesday, capped by Luke Ridnour's buzzer-beating shot that gave the Timberwolves a 100-98 win. Corbin must rally his young team, which desperately needs a better defensive effort from starting guards Devin Harris and Gordon Hayward.
Bizarre Stat of the Week: J.J. Redick, Orlando Magic
Orlando guard J.J. Redick made 34 consecutive free throws from Jan. 18 to Feb. 22. Redick missed a free throw in the final minute of Thursday's 83-78 Magic loss to Atlanta.