By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
The decision of coach Greg Popovic to rest Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green resulted in a 250.000 $ fine by the NBA to the Spurs, but it was also an opportunity for Nando De Colo to prove what he is made of. In the game that created so much controversy Miami beat San Antonio 105-100. De Colo had 15 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists – and also 5 turnovers – getting extra minutes and also Boris Diaw produced bigger than usual numbers (12 p. 6 r.). After that game, however, De Colo ended up in NBDL before being called back just after spending two days in Austin Toros.
Even after that defeat the Spurs are tied with OKC for the third best record in the league (14-4) after beating on the road Orlando (110-89), Indiana (104-97) with a Tony Parker’s masterpiece (33 p. 10 as., 2 st.), Washington (118-92) and Toronto (111-106 2 OT) in the break out game of Lithuanian rookie Jonas Valanciunas (22 p., 7 r., 3 as. 3 bl.) and Italian Andrea Bargnani scoring just 4 points on 2/19 shots. The icing in the cake was one more win over top seeded Memphis (99-95) with Tony Parker having 30 points and Marc Gasol 20 points and 8 rebounds.
The Grizzlies share the best record in the league (12-3) with Miami after wins over Cleveland and Detroit and also the 106-98 triumph over the Lakers with Gasol junior having 14 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 blocks against Pau Gasol‘s 16 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block. The Lakers have just a 8-9 record after a 79-77 defeat by Indiana in which French center Ian Mahimni hold his ground with 11 points and 6 rebounds for the winners. They also lost to Orlando 113-103, but beat Dallas (115-89) and Denver (122-103).
Italian Danilo Gallinari had 19 points in that game for the Nuggets who have a 8-9 record with two wins over New Orleans and Golden State and two defeats, also by Golden State and Utah. Greek-American Kostas Koufos is still getting meaningful minutes and Russian Timofey Mozgov as also French rookie guard Evan Fournier had the opportunity to play.
It was a bad week for Portland and French star Nicolas Batum. His scoring numbers went down, and the Blazers dropped to a 7-10 record after winning Minnesota (103-95) and losing to Detroit, to Brooklyn, to Boston and also to Washington. It was just the first win of the season for the Wizards who have the worst record in the league (1-13), Batum scored 20 points, but his compatriot Kevin Seraphin left the court smiling with a double double (10 p., 10 r., 3 as.). Αt least Portland beat Cleveland after a double overtime (118-117) with Batum scoring the final shot (video) and Englishman Joel Freeland having a decent night with 8 points and 2 rebounds against 11 points and 5 rebounds of Cavs‘ Israeli Omri Casspi.
Toronto decided to add veteran French swingman Michael Pietrus in the mix of a very international roster and in his first game beat Phoenix 101-97 with him having 6 points, Spaniard Jose Calderon adding 13 points and 9 assist and Lithuanian Linas Kleiza also scoring 5 points against the duo of Poland’s Marcin Gortat (14 p. 6 r. 5 as.) and Slovenia’s Goran Dragic (13 p., 5 r. 5 as.). Still the Raptors have the second worst record in the league (4-13) after losing to Detroit (91-90) despite 34 points by Bargnani, to Turkish center Omer Asik‘s (13 p. 10 r.) Houston (117-101) and of course to Gasol’s Memphis (103-82).
The euro-woes continue in Minnesota. The team has a 7-8 record, Russian Andrei Kirilenko miss two game due to back spasms, but Montenegrin Nikola Pekovic produced 16 points and 8 rebounds in the 97-89 win over Sacramento and also 14 points and 16 rebounds in the 95-85 win over Milwaukee. In the same game Russian rookie Alexei Shved had 16 points and he also scored 17 points in the 101-95 defeat by the Clippers. Τhe Wolves lost also to Warriors (96-85) despite Pekovic’s 17 points.
Houston is in a little better shape with a 8-8 record after beating the Knicks 131-103 in a game where Turkish center Omer Asik had a double double (18 p., 14 r., 3 as.). Asik is excellent as a starter, so far he produces 11 ppg and 12.3 rpg in the season and his team won Utah (124-116) and lost to sizzling Oklahoma City (120-98) with Asik scoring 17 points but having just 1/7 free throws.
The Thunder has a 14-4 record after losing only to Boston (108-100) and beating Philadelpia (109-116), Charlotte (114-69), Utah (106-94) and New Orleans (100-79). The Euro duo of Spanish Serge Ibaka and Swiss Thabo Sefolosha are keeping their status in the team rotation, having big minutes and doing the best they can, even in the defeat by the Celtics. In that game Ibaka had a double double (17 p., 13 r.) and Sefolosha added 10 points.
In Central division, it was time for a showdown for the top spot that ended in a draw (8-7) with two road wins. Chicago won at Milwaukee 93-86 behind 14 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assist by Englishman Luol Deng and 9 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assist by Frenchman Joakim Noah, but lost at home by the Bucks (93-92). It was time for revenge with Slovenian Beno Udrih having 11 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and Turkish Ersan Ilyasova adding 18 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists. Chicago beat also Philadelphia (93-88) and Dallas (101-78) with Deng having 22 points, Italian Marco Belinelli adding 11 and Serbian Vladimir Radmanovic having a rare appearance with 2 points. Milwaukee lost to the Knicks (102-88) despite 18 points by Ilyasova.
One more team with two starters from Europe is losing ground in the standings. Phoenix has a 7-11 record after losing to Philadelphia (104-101) even thought Polish Marcin Gortat had 18 points and 7 rebounds and Slovenian Goran Dragic added 10 points. The Suns also lost to Detroit (117-77) and won at Cleveland (91-78) behind a 19 points effort by Dragic. The Cavaliers have a 4-13 record but gave a fight to Miami, losing by just a bucket (110-108) with Omri Casspi scoring 15 points.
On the opposite side of the spectrum in the East, Atlanta has a 9-5 record with Georgian center Zaza Pachulia having a big game (19 p., 12 r.) in the 104-93 win over the Clippers. Orlando’s (6-10) Montenegrin center Nikola Vucevic is still improving with 12 points and 6 rebounds in the loss to Brooklyn Nets (98-86) with Bosnian Mirza Teletovic scoring three points for the winners. Last but not least, French center Kevin Seraphin had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the woefull Wizards (1-13) in the defeat by the Knicks (108-87) and his compatriot Ian Mahimni had 10 points and 4 rebounds also in the defeat of Indiana (8-9) by Golden State (103-92).