NBA News & Notes: Hawks Flying High

March 22, 2016

In the DSH's latest NBA News and Notes report, we take a look at the Hawks' recent improvement, and examine other developments from around the league:

Atlanta Hawks on the Rise

Atlanta is playing some of its best basketball of the season just as the jockeying for playoff position intensifies. The Hawks have won five in a row and 10 of 12 to move a season-high 12 games above .500 (41-29), giving them a slim lead for third place in the Eastern Conference.

Coach Mike Budenholzer’s team is a half-game ahead of Miami, one game in front of Boston, and 1.5 games clear of Charlotte. During Atlanta’s 10-2 stretch, the Hawks have an NBA-high point differential of +11.3 and lead the league in defensive rating (92.6).

The Hawks have also gotten a recent boost from guard Tim Hardaway Jr., whose two 20-point performances this season have come in his last two games.

Parsons to Miss Road Trip

The Dallas Mavericks announced that forward Chandler Parsons will not travel with the team on their upcoming road trip due to a right knee injury.  Treatment options are currently being explored.

Chandler (6-10, 230) has played in 61 games (51 starts) and averaged 13.7 points, while shooting .490 from the field and .414 from 3-point range in 29.5 minutes.  He also has averaged 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

Triple-Double Frenzy

Triple-doubles are piling up around the NBA. The league has produced 59 triple-doubles this season with more than three weeks still to play. That number is a single-season record for a 30-team league, as well as being the fifth most all time and only six behind the second most.

The NBA record is 78 triple-doubles in the 1988-89 season, followed by 65 in 1961-62 (when Oscar Robertson recorded 41 and averaged a triple-double).

This season’s barrage is led by Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who on Saturday became the first player to post 11 triple-doubles in a 30-game span in one season since Michael Jordan in 1989. Oklahoma City is 14-0 when he puts up a triple-double this season.

Also Saturday, Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph registered his first triple-double in his 974th game, an NBA record for most games before a triple-double.

Lowry, Durant earn NBA Player of the Week honors

The Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, March 14 through Sunday, March 20.

Lowry guided the Raptors to a 4-1 week, averaging 27.2 points (fourth in the Eastern Conference and the NBA), 6.8 assists (eighth in the conference), 6.4 rebounds, and 2.2 steals (seventh in the conference).  He was the only player in the East to average at least 25.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists.

Lowry scored 30 or more points twice, including a 32-point performance to go with five assists, four rebounds, and two steals in a 105-91 victory over the Boston Celtics on March 18.

Durant led the Thunder to a 4-0 week behind averages of 26.8 points (tied for first in the Western Conference), 9.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists.  He scored 20 or more points in all four contests, including a 33-point performance in Oklahoma City’s 115-111 road win over the Indiana Pacers on March 19.

Durant closed the week with back-to-back double-doubles against the Philadelphia 76ers (26 points and 13 rebounds) on March 18 and the Indiana Pacers (33 points and 13 rebounds) on March 19.

Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Atlanta’s Al Horford, Miami’s Dwyane Wade, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, Toronto’s Bismack Biyombo, and Washington’s John Wall.

Talking Smack
  • Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks forward: “When [Warriors guard Stephen Curry] is in the zone, I catch myself screaming at the TV, ‘Shoot! Shoot!’ as soon as he crosses half court. It’s so much fun to watch.”

  • Chris Paul, Clippers guard: “When I was growing up, I would eat Little Debbie’s oatmeal cakes after school. Now, when my son comes home, he asks for seaweed. My diet has changed because in the field that I’m in, as you get older, your body changes. I’m always trying to be more disciplined in how I eat and what I eat, and staying in shape and exercising is big.”

  • Mike Ganter, Toronto Sun: “[T]he Raptors … are playing the kind of basketball right now that has the rest of the league taking notice and perhaps even a little envious. Meanwhile, a quiet sense of confidence within the locker room has them feeling that no matter who the opponent is, they have the pieces to take down anyone.”

  • Draymond Green, Warriors forward: “[I]’m not going to shy away from saying we want the [NBA single-season wins] record. Absolutely, we want it. And we’re going after it.”

What to Watch

Tuesday, March 22: TNT has a doubleheader of Rockets-Thunder (8 p.m.) and Grizzlies-Lakers (10:30).

Wednesday, March 23: The Clippers and Warriors renew their rivalry (10:30 p.m.) in the second game of ESPN’s doubleheader, which opens with Knicks-Bulls (8 p.m.) Also Wednesday, Utah visits Houston (8 p.m., NBA LEAGUE PASS); the Rockets begin the week tied with the Mavericks for seventh place in the West, one game ahead of the Jazz.

Thursday, March 24: Indiana completes a five-game homestand against New Orleans at 7 p.m. on NBA TV.

Friday, March 25: The first two point guards selected in NBA Draft 2015 presented by State Farm, the Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell (No. 2) and the Nuggets’ Emmanuel Mudiay (No. 7), square off for the final time as rookies (10:30 p.m., NBA LP).

Saturday, March 26: Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard match up at small forward as the Thunder plays host to the Spurs at 8 p.m. on NBA TV.

Sunday, March 27: In the teams’ last matchup, March 3, the Kings snapped a 22-game losing streak on Dallas' home court. Now the clubs finish their season series at Sacramento (6 p.m., NBA LP).

The Numbers
  • Thunder forward Kevin Durant has scored at least 20 points in 55 straight games, one shy of his career high.
  • The Pacers need one victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to secure a winning home record for the 27th consecutive season, the longest active streak in the NBA. Indiana has three home games this week, starting tonight against Philadelphia.
  • Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki needs one three-pointer to pass former teammate Steve Nash (1,685) for sole possession of 15th place on the NBA’s career list. Nowitzki, 37, made three triples as part of a 40-point effort in Sunday’s overtime win over Portland, becoming the oldest player to score 40 points in a game since 39-year-old Karl Malone scored 40 for the Jazz against the Magic on March 12, 2003.
  • Raptors center Bismack Biyombo has three double-doubles in his last four games, including 16 points and a franchise-record 25 rebounds in a victory at Indiana on March 17.
  • Jazz guard Shelvin Mack is averaging 16.8 points, 8.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds and shooting 60.9 percent (14-of-23) from three-point range in his last six games – a 5-1 stretch for Utah.
  • The Cavaliers have made 10 or more three-pointers in a season-high seven consecutive games. Their season average for threes made (10.3) is on pace to be a franchise record.
  • The Pistons are 2-1 on their franchise-record nine-game homestand.
  • Bulls forward Doug McDermott has scored at least 20 points in three of his last four games.
  • Lakers guard Marcelo Huertas, a 32-year-old rookie from Brazil, is averaging 8.6 points and 6.0 assists in his last eight games.
  • Guard Isaiah Thomas has scored 20 or more points in nine games in a row, the longest streak by a Celtics player since Paul Pierce's 16-game run in February-March 2006. Thomas is averaging 26.3 points in those nine games.
  • In the Kings’ win over the Knicks on Sunday, Sacramento center DeMarcus Cousins (24 points, 20 rebounds) and New York center Robin Lopez (23 points, 20 rebounds) became the first opposing players to have at least 20 points and 20 rebounds since Cleveland’s Michael Cage and San Antonio’s David Robinson on Jan. 10, 1996.
  • Swingman Joe Johnson is averaging 15.7 points and shooting 57.1 percent from the field and 59.0 percent from three-point range in 11 games with the Heat. Miami is 8-3 with Johnson in the lineup.

Grizzlies' Barnes Suspended

Memphis Grizzlies forward Matt Barnes was suspended one game without pay for attempting to enter the Milwaukee Bucks’ locker room and verbally challenging Milwaukee forward John Henson following both players’ ejections on Thursday, March 17, it was announced last week by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

In addition, Milwaukee guard Greivis Vasquez has been fined $15,000 for following Henson to the locker room, while Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and center Greg Monroe have each been fined $10,000 for their roles in the incident.

The incident began when Henson blocked Barnes’ shot with 5.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the Bucks’ 96-86 win over the Grizzlies at BMO Harris Bradley Center.  Following the play, Henson taunted Barnes and was subsequently assessed two technical fouls and ejected.  Barnes was then charged with a technical foul and ejected for continuing use of obscenities.

Barnes served his suspension when Memphis hosted the Los Angeles Clippers at FedExForum last week.

D-League News

The NBA Development League record for victories in a season could be broken soon. The Sioux Falls Skyforce (36-8) needs three wins over its final six games to surpass the 2011-12 Los Angeles D-Fenders’ single-season mark (38-12).

The Miami Heat’s NBA D-League affiliate, coached by Dan Craig, leads the league in defensive rating by a wide margin, allowing 97.9 points per 100 possessions, and is also the top rebounding team.

Jarnell Stokes (20.5 ppg, 9.6 rpg) and Rodney McGruder (15.7 ppg) are among the current standouts for Sioux Falls, which also featured current Heat guard Josh Richardson earlier this season. Richardson is now thriving in Miami, helping replace another Skyforce alum in the rotation, injured guard Tyler Johnson.

By Staff of and news services

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