Notes: Big men lift surprising Grizz
Now that the Grizzlies have climbed above .500 and
Randolph, who is averaging 20.4 points and 11.5 rebounds, joins perennial All-Stars
Randolph has earned his bad reputation by punching teammates (he broke
Randolph won't be voted in, because he's not even on the All-Star ballot. But his teammate
Furthermore, according to
• The NBA cognoscenti are rightfully buzzing about
The effort was both foolhardy and admirable, obviously borne of competitive zeal more than self-aggrandizement. It was a jaw-dropping spectacle quickly subsumed by the ongoing drama of the game, as the 31-year-old superstar quickly scrambled to his feet and raced back on defense as the Kings inbounded the ball. But it again underscored how much
How has he managed such durable excellence? Good genes, no doubt, along with his now-legendary training regimen, impressive enough to intensify the attitude and workouts of
It has been Jackson's custom to ride his superstars --
• The Bulls, already reeling from a brutal November schedule, had the kind of spectacular December pratfall that normally produces a toxic mixture of apathy with dissension in the locker room and forces a coach's head to roll.
In a 16-day period last month, Chicago sandwiched two 30-plus-point defeats around an embarrassing loss to New Jersey, got waxed by 26 three days later, then choked up a 35-point second-half lead in a home loss to Sacramento. Those who remembered personnel boss
But Chicago has weathered the storm. Del Negro is still around and, miraculously enough, even after back-to-back losses following a four-game winning streak, Chicago is only a half game out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The folks who want to ascribe the Bulls' better play to the return of
A better reason for the turnaround was inserting
Yes, Chicago dearly misses
• It's gut-check time for the Jazz, who have lost three straight to fall to 18-16 and are only 25-27 over their past 52 regular-season games extending back to last season. Burdened by
Utah continues to run coach
At the other end of the court, Sloan's starting frontcourt -- especially Boozer --has trouble stopping people. According to
The bottom line is that the lack of outside marksmen coupled with porous defense from key players puts an enormous amount of pressure on Utah's offense to operate efficiently. The Jazz have shot 50 percent or better in 16 of 33 games this season, going 12-4. That means they lose twice as often as they win (6-12 record) when they don't make at least half their shots.
"Vince is a smart guy who figured out very quickly that our 4-man [the power forward] was always going to be open in the corner on the high pick-and-roll," coach
Carter hasn't exactly been a godsend for the Magic. His 39.3 percent shooting from the field is the lowest of his 11-year career, and he hasn't shot so poorly from three-point territory (31.3 percent) since his rookie year. His rebounds and assists are likewise at five-year lows.
Yet despite myriad injuries, the Magic (24-10) are just two games behind last year's pace, and it's worth noting that Orlando has been better both offensively and defensively when Carter is on the court. While Turkoglu puts up his typical numbers in Toronto, it's important to remember that the Raptors are on the hook for $53 million through 2014, by which time Turkoglu will be 35. Carter, who turns 33 later this month and is owed a combined $33 million this year and next, needs to have more games like his performance in Minnesota.
• And finally, a shout-out to the best second-round draft class in recent memory. No fewer than five second-rounders are averaging at least 16 minutes, led by Detroit's