The Pulse of the NBA

By Andy Roth
Contributing Editor

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    New York, NY (Sports Network) - Washington is anything but Wizards on the road. The "other" team in Los Angeles is making some noise, while the decision is in on the Cavaliers. They're awful! I've got those stories and more in my latest take on the NBA.


    The long-time laughing stocks of the league have actually been playing very competitive and winning basketball over the last month. After capturing only five of their the first 26 games, the Clippers have put up a 9-4 record. They snapped the Lakers' seven-game winning streak on Sunday after ending the Heat's nine-game streak just four days prior to that.

    Blake Griffin, the double-double machine whose streak is now at 26 games, has quickly become the face of the franchise with his highlight reel of dunks and spectacular play. But a much maligned player also has played a key role in the recent turnaround. Baron Davis, who reportedly was heckled last month by owner Donald Sterling over his play and conditioning and has been a major disappointment for the Clippers, has really stepped up his game lately. Even opposing coaches are noticing the difference. "I think he's gotten himself in good conditioning and now he's not simply trying to be the leading scorer but making sure the young guys are in the place they're supposed to be in." said Warriors head coach Keith Smart. You see he does a great job with (DeAndre) Jordan as well as Blake in baiting a help defender and then when you go to help on him he gets the ball to those guys well above the rim."

    Since being inserted back into the starting lineup on December 18, Davis is averaging 13.4 points and 7.9 assists per game, and the Clippers are 8-4 during that stretch.


    Zach Randolph is playing up to his all-star level of last season, but that probably won't be good enough to get him on the squad this year with a plethora of great power forwards in the Western Conference.

    Randolph is averaging 20.1 ppg and is third in the NBA in rebounding, pulling down 13.1 per game.

    His game has especially taken off in the New Year, as he's putting up huge numbers in January. In eight games, Randolph is averaging 25.5 points and 14.1 rebounds, and shooting 53% from the floor.


    After being blown out four times over a six-game span, the Lakers ran off seven straight wins before losing to the Clippers. But I'm not ready to say the ship has been completely righted because only two of those W's came against teams with a winning record.

    The two-time defending champs will be able to get a better gauge of where they're at over the next month, as they play many of the upper echelon teams and have to go on the road for seven straight games beginning February 5th.


    Just like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, there's no place like home for the Wizards, because that's the only place they've won a game this season. Washington still has the distinction of being the only team without a road win (0-19), but its best shot to break that streak may come in its next road game in Milwaukee on January 19. That's because the Bucks are one of only six teams in the NBA with a losing record at home, with their mark at 8-9.

    And while on the subject of negative statistics, I should mention that John Wall leads all rookies in turnovers and is tied for second overall in the league, averaging 3.7 per game. Wall's penchant for turning the ball over isn't a big surprise considering he averaged four per game in his only season at Kentucky.


    As bad as things are in Washington, they're a lot worse in Cleveland with the Cavaliers having lost 13 in a row, 23 of their last 24, and owner's of the league's worst record at 8-32. Last week had to be one of the worst a team has had to suffer through as the Cavs lost by a mind boggling 55 points to the Lakers, then lost to the Jazz by 22 and the Nuggets by 28.

    Adding injury to insult so to speak, Cleveland has been hit with a ton of injuries, the worst being the loss of Anderson Varejao for the season with a torn tendon in his right ankle. The Cavs have had the likes of Alonzo Gee, Manny Harris, and Christian Eyenga in their starting lineup recently due to all the banged up bodies, so it's no surprise their play has looked more like a D- League team.

    Andy Roth covered the Knicks for NBC Radio and AP Radio for eleven years and was an NBA Columnist for Celtics Pride Magazine for two years. He's covered many of the major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, U.S. Open Tennis and Golf.

    Copyright 2010

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