This is the first Good, Bad & Ugly of the New Year. Happy new year everyone. Let’s hope 2015 is even better than 2014. I would like to say Rest in Peace to longtime ESPN anchor Stuart Scott. He passed away on Sunday morning at the age of 49.
- Since cutting Josh Smith the Detroit Pistons are 5-0. During that span Andre Drummond is averaging 15 ppg, 15 rpg, 2.4 bpg and 1.8 spg on 62% shooting from the field. Brandon Jennings has been even better over that span averaging 21.6 ppg, 5.6 apg on 55% shooting from the field and 48% from beyond the arc. On Sunday he had his best game of the season scoring 35 points on 14-21 shooting while dishing out seven assists.
During this win streak they have held teams to 90 points per game. They haven’t played great competition during this streak, beating the Pacers, Cavs, Magic, Knicks and Kings. Their upcoming schedule is a bit tougher as they face the Spurs, Mavericks and Hawks.
- Two weeks ago the Atlanta Hawks were sitting in fourth place at 19-7 and now they are 1st in the Eastern Conference at 25-8. They dropped a game at home against the Bucks when Jared Dudley shot 10-10 from the field. They bounced back to beat the Bucks the next night.
In their recent game on Saturday night they went on the road to beat a good Portland team. They continue to share the basketball and play very good defense. They are on a current four game winning streak.
- Kevin Durant is back again. He returned from his ankle sprain on New Year’s Eve to score a season high 44 points against the Suns. He played 40 minutes that game so it’s safe to say he is not on a minutes restriction anymore. In his next game he scored 34 points to lead the Thunder past the Wizards. The Thunder are now 17-17. Their next test is on Monday night at the Warriors. The last time these two teams met Durant scored 30 in the first half before leaving the game with a sprained ankle.
- The Cleveland Cavaliers will be without LeBron James for the next two weeks. He is out with a knee and back strain. Since that the announcement the Cavs are 1-1 without LeBron, overall on the season they are 1-4 without LeBron this season. Kevin Love has led the Cavs in scoring in the last two games.
Kyrie Irving left the game early with lower back tightness against the Mavericks and he will be out against the Sixers on Monday. Dion Waiters has not taken advantage of LeBron being out and has struggled scoring the basketball.
The Cavs will most likely be without LeBron until they go on their West coast road trip. They should be able to beat the Sixers without Kyrie but then they take on the Rockets, Warriors and Kings.
- The Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards are on three game losing streaks. Both teams have been on West coast road trips. After beating the Rockets on the road the Wiz got blown out in Dallas and then dropped close games against the Thunder and Spurs.
The Raptors started strong on their West coast road trip beating the Clippers and Nuggets. They then lost in overtime to the Blazers, got blown out by the Warriors and lost to the Suns on Sunday night.
The Wizards will still be on the road when they take on the Pelicans on Monday night while the Raptors don’t play again until Thursday.
- Utah Jazz guard Alec Burks will undergo left shoulder surgery and miss the remainder of the season. Burk was averaging 13.9 ppg, career highs 4.2 rpg and 3 apg. He was shooting 38% from beyond the arc. He signed a four-year contract extension in October. He had the surgery early so he could be healthy and ready for the start of next season.
- Cleveland Cavaliers starting center Anderson Varejao tore his Achilles and will be out for the rest of the season. Varejao was having a solid season averaging 9.8 ppg and 6.5 rpg on 55% shooting. The Cavs will miss his energy around the basket. He was also LeBron’s favorite pick & roll partner.
- The Charlotte Hornets will be without their best player Al Jefferson for a minimum of four weeks. Jefferson has a muscle strain in his left groin. Big Al leads the Hornets in both scoring and rebounding. They are currently 11-24 and might not make up any ground even in a weak Eastern Conference.
- The New York Knicks are 5-31, that is the most losses in the NBA. They only have one more win than the Philadelphia 76ers. They have dropped 11 games in a row. The Knicks are one loss shy of tying the franchise mark of 12 straight defeats. Carmelo Anthony has been dealing with some knee issues and missed the last two games. He will continue to be in & out of the lineup depending on his knee.
Amar’e Stoudemire said, “It’s beyond my imagination at this point.” Samuel Dalembert chimed in saying, “It’s a tragic thing.” The Knicks are not getting any better and should look to rest Carmelo Anthony more often. At this rate they are in the running for a top three pick in the draft.