Spurs still kicking out West
By: Corby Yarbrough | 11/18/10, 7:36 PM EST
Spurs guard Tony Parker
Team on the Rise
San Antonio — The Spurs are tied with Southwest Division foes New Orleans for the best record at 9-1. They have won eight in a row, including a 4-0 mark on the road.
Offensively, San Antonio is cruising at 108.3 points a game, which is only behind the Lakers' 112.2. The defense isn't too shabby, either, allowing 100.4 a game — .03 under the league average.
As expected, Tony Parker (18.6 ppg) and Manu Ginobili (21.2 ppg) are leading the way. But the Spurs are also getting significant help from Richard Jefferson in his second year with the team. The nine-year vet is scoring 17 a game.
Tim Duncan is still getting it done in just 29.9 minutes a game as he is scoring 13.7 and rebounding at 7.9 a game. The return of PF/C Matt Bonner from injury and the emergence of third-year guard George Hill and rookie Gary Neal has helped (13.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg) give San Antonio a blend of old and new in this hot start to the 2010-11 campaign.
Team on the Decline
Portland — The 7-5 record is irrelevant, really. Six of the seven wins have come against sub-.500 teams.
What is relevant is that the Trail Blazers announced on Wednesday Greg Oden will miss yet another season. The 2007 NBA Draft's first pick will have microfracture surgery on his left knee, thus ending a season that never began.
Oden had not played since December 2009, when he needed surgery on his a fractured left patella, and he missed his rookie season after microfracture surgery on his right knee. Oden has played in just 82 games since 2007.
The team has managed the 7-5 record going in to Thursday's game against Denver without Oden, but there was the hope that he would bring his 7-foot presence into the post to help the team battle the Western Conference's other bigs.
The more worrisome knee injury, however, is that of three-time All-Star guard Brandon Roy. The Blazers' scoring leader (18.1 ppg) had voiced concerns over his knee after logging a number of minutes to begin the season. He last played on Saturday (22 minutes) and will miss at least the next two games.
Roy's knees might not be much better than Oden's, he just doesn't have to carry a 7-foot, 285-pound frame around with him.
The Blazers can compete without Oden — they have for three years basically. Being without Roy is another question, though. And might be too big of a question mark to keep up in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
Numbers to Know
22 — Elias has it all. Michael Beasley's (21 years old) 33 points for Minnesota along with 30 from 21-year-old Clippers Eric Gordon and 26 from Blake Griffin during the team's game Wednesday night marked only the fourth game in NBA history in which three players under the age of 22 each scored at least 25 points.
15 — When Utah had five players score at least 15 points in a win over New Jersey Wednesday it was the first time in franchise history five players scored 15 in a game where the Jazz failed to score 100 points (98-88).
15 again — Tim Duncan went for 16 points and 18 rebounds in the Spurs' win over Chicago Wednesday. It marked the 202nd time Duncan had posted at least 15 points and 15 boards. Only two active players have accomplished the feat more — Shaquille O'Neal (235) and Kevin Garnett (204).
17 — Phoenix guard Steve Nash is 17 points shy of becoming the 16th active NBA player to reach 15,000 points. Nash, who is averaging 19.3 ppg this season, will take on Orlando tonight on TNT.
Beyond the Arc
Ahead of pace: Through Wednesday's games, the NBA's 30 teams are averaging 100.7 points — up two from this point last season. Seventeen teams are averaging at least 100 points. Last season's average finished at 100.4 with 18 teams scoring at or above 100 a game — the most to average triple digits since 1993-94 when 20 teams managed the feat.
Overlooked: Utah forward Paul Milsap has five double-doubles in 12 games this season, and his 46-point effort sparked the infamous comeback in Miami last week. However, averaging 21.5 points a game — eight above his career best — and leading the Jazz with 9.5 boards a game was not enough to get his name on the Western Conference All-Star ballot.
Instead that honor went to PG Deron Williams, SF Andrei Kirilenko, PF/C Al Jefferson and C Mehmet Okur. Of course Williams' name should be on there, AK47 and Jefferson, sure. But Okur has yet to play this season, sidelined with an Achilles injury, and has no timetable for his return.
Let the write-ins begin.
Artest to the NFL: CBSSports.com is reporting that Lakers forward Ron Artest told the Web site, in an interview to air in its entirety later this week, that he will try out for an NFL team once his contract with L.A. is up after the 2013-14 season.
At 6-7, 260 pounds, Artest will be 34 once the 2014 NFL season begins — he will turn 35 in November 2014.
"God willing, after my NBA career, God willing I'm still athletic enough — which I'm trying to take care of my body as best as possible and be prepared for this day, for this tryout of an NFL team," he said in the interview
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
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