NBA News and Notes: Russell Westbrook continues to dominate, Raptors streaking

December 5, 2016

This week's edition of NBA News and Notes takes a look at the Raptors hot streak, and examines the league's two Players of the Week: Russell Westbrook and the Greek Freak.

Raptors on a roll

Toronto has set a franchise record for victories in each of the last three seasons. The Raptors are playing like they have designs on extending that streak to four.

Coach Dwane Casey’s team has won six consecutive games to improve to 14-6, the second-best 20-game start in franchise history. The 2015-16 Raptors opened 15-5 en route to a 56-26 season, the high-water mark for a team that began play in 1995.

The Raptors have moved within percentage points of the Cavaliers (13-5) for the best record in the Eastern Conference. First place will be on the line tonight when Toronto hosts Cleveland (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA LEAGUE PASS).

The latest rematch of the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals continues a six-game homestand for the Raptors, who have won the first four by an average of 29.8 points while scoring 120.8 points per game. The sizzling offense is nothing new for Toronto, which ranks second in the NBA in points per 100 possessions (113.8) and field goal percentage (48.0).

Toronto leading scorer DeMar DeRozan (27.9 ppg) is poised to reach two milestones tonight. When he takes the court against Cleveland, DeRozan will tie Morris Peterson for the most games played in franchise history (542). The two-time All-Star guard is also six points shy of 10,000 for his career – all scored with the Raptors – as he closes in on Chris Bosh’s franchise scoring record (10,275).

But Toronto isn't the only team playing surprisingly well right now.  Below are a few more:

Houston Rockets: Coach Mike D’Antoni’s team (13-7) went 4-1 on its recently completed five-game road trip, including a double-overtime victory at Golden State to snap an eight-game regular-season losing streak against the Warriors. The Rockets have made at least 10 three-pointers in 19 consecutive games, the longest streak in NBA history.

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks have a four-game winning streak entering tonight’s home game against San Antonio, which is 11-0 on the road. For the season, Milwaukee is holding opponents to the NBA’s lowest field goal percentage (42.7) and three-point field goal percentage (31.2).

Orlando Magic: Orlando is 3-1 on its current five-game road trip, limiting opponents to 89.5 points and 40.2 percent shooting in those games. Overall, the Magic ranks third in the NBA in defensive rating (100.8 points per 100 possessions).

Oklahoma City Thunder: Oklahoma City has won all five games during Russell Westbrook’s triple-double streak, which is the longest since Michael Jordan had seven straight triple-doubles in 1989.

Speaking of Westbrook . . .

Giannis Antetokounmpo & Russell Westbrook named NBA Players of the Week

The Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Nov. 28 through Sunday, Dec. 4.

Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks to a 3-0 week, averaging 24.3 points (fourth in the East), 10.0 rebounds (tied for fifth in the East), 6.3 assists and a league-leading 3.67 steals.

On Nov. 29, Antetokounmpo matched his career highs for points (34) and steals (five) to go with 12 rebounds and five assists in a 118-101 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.  He capped his week by posting 16 points, 10 rebounds and career-high-tying five blocks in a 112-103 victory against the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 3.

Westbrook led the Thunder to a 3-0 week behind averages of 30.0 points (third in NBA), 16.0 rebounds (second in NBA) and a West-leading 12.3 assists.  He recorded a triple-double in all three games to become the first player with five consecutive triple-doubles since Michael Jordan had seven in a row in 1989.

Westbrook’s fifth straight triple-double came on Dec. 4, when he finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists as Oklahoma City extended its winning streak to five games with a 101-92 victory against the New Orleans Pelicans.  For the season, Westbrook is averaging a triple-double of 31.0 points, 11.3 assists and 10.8 rebounds.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, Brooklyn’s Sean Kilpatrick, Detroit’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Tobias Harris, Golden State’s Kevin Durant, Memphis’ Troy Daniels and Marc Gasol, Miami’s Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, New York’s Derrick Rose, Orlando’s Serge Ibaka, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and Utah’s Gordon Hayward.

Talkin' Smack

Brad Stevens, Celtics coach: “[Boston guard Isaiah Thomas] is really good. He’s really, really good. My advice to anybody is to talk whoever you work for into buying LEAGUE PASS and watch him as much as you can. Because he’s a fun guy to watch.”

Sean Kilpatrick, Nets guard: “[I] play my behind off, not only for my family but for a guy like [Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks], knowing that he sat there and took a chance on me and told me that I can be in this league. I think that’s something that I take a lot of pride in.”

Tony Parker, Spurs guard: “I always say I’m very blessed. Sixteen years, still playing in the league, still doing what I’m doing and be the starting point guard for a great organization, that’s a blessing for me.”

Clippers to hold training camp in Hawaii next season

The L.A. Clippers today announced a partnership with the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA), promoting travel to the Hawaiian Islands and bringing the Clippers to Honolulu, where the team will hold its 2017 training camp on the campus of the University of Hawai‘i.

Details and dates for training camp and other events will be announced at a later date.

“We can’t wait for the Clippers training camp in Hawai‘i and we’re working closely with the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority to showcase the beauty of the state,” Clippers President of Business Operations Gillian Zucker said. “This unique partnership is another step in Steve Ballmer’s vision of expanding the Clippers brand, while also providing our fans in Hawai‘i with the opportunity to see NBA basketball live.”

The Numbers

Patty Mills, Spurs: The 28-year-old reserve guard from Australia is posting career highs in scoring (11.5 ppg) and field goal percentage (51.3), ranks seventh in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage (44.9) and has hit 30-of-31 free throws.

Taj Gibson, Bulls: The 31-year-old forward (12.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg) has already matched his double-double total from last season (seven) and ranks 12th in the NBA in field goal percentage with a career-high 55.1.

Goran Dragic, Heat: In four games last week, the Miami guard scored 27 points twice, matched an NBA season high with a 17-assist performance and nearly recorded his second career triple-double.

Derrick Rose, Bulls: He is averaging 19.3 points on 46.8 percent shooting from the field in his last 10 games for New York, which has won eight of 11. This season, Rose ranks fifth in the NBA in points on drives (8.1 per game).

Bernard King and Larry Bird: King turned 60 on Sunday and Bird celebrates his 60th birthday on Wednesday.

Rick Carlisle, Mavericks: The Dallas coach (665) is three victories from passing Mike Fratello (667) for 19th place on the NBA’s all-time wins list.

J.J. Redick, Clippers: Redick has made a three-pointer in 77 consecutive regular-season games, one behind Dennis Scott for the fifth-longest streak in NBA history and two behind Michael Adams for the fourth-longest run.

Stephen Curry, Warriors: Curry (1,677) is nine three-pointers from passing another two-time NBA MVP, Golden State player development consultant Steve Nash (1,685), for 17th place on the NBA’s career list.

LeBron James, Cavaliers: The four-time NBA MVP (27,229) needs 85 points to pass Elvin Hayes (27,313) for ninth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. James passed Hakeem Olajuwon for 10th place last month.

Warriors get 200th straight sellout

With a capacity crowd of 19,596 expected to enter Oracle Arena as the Golden State Warriors take on the Indiana Pacers tonight, Monday, December 5 (7:30 p.m.), the Warriors will register their 200th consecutive sellout, the team announced today. The current sellout streak, which started on December 18, 2012 against the then-New Orleans Hornets, is the longest streak the Warriors have had since Oracle Arena’s capacity was increased from 15,025 to 19,596 prior to the start of the 1997-98 season. The longest sellout streak was 310, which ran from March 9, 1989 to April 19, 1996.

The Warriors, who own the best record in the NBA (17-3), have the seventh-longest active sellout streak in the NBA. Over the course of the sellout streak, the Warriors have compiled a home record of 161-38 (.809) through 199 regular season and postseason games.

D-League News: Gary Payton II recognized

Gary Payton II of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers today was named NBA Development League Performer of the Week for games played Monday, Nov. 28, through Sunday, Dec. 4.

Payton II (6-3, 190, Oregon State) helped Rio Grande Valley to a 2-0 week behind averages of 33.0 points (second in the league), 10.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals. On Dec. 1, he had 15 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals in a 103-83 win over the Reno Bighorns. He closed his week on Dec. 3, scoring an NBA D-League season-high 51 points on 20-of-29 shooting to go with 11 rebounds and three assists in a 140-125 victory over the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

Payton II is averaging 16.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals in his first NBA D-League season. He also has four double-doubles in nine games.

Other top performers considered included Erie’s TJ Price, Fort Wayne’s Travis Leslie, Maine’s Demetrius Jackson, Northern Arizona’s Derrick Jones Jr., Oklahoma City’s Dakari Johnson, Sioux Falls’ Briante Weber, Texas’ Pierre Jackson and Windy City’s Aaron Thomas.

By Staff of and news services

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