Southwest Division Update: December 23rd-29th

By Connor Paden

Dec 28, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) shoots the ball against Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs – Season Record: 24-7

Week of December 23rd-December 29th: 3-1

Another solid week from San Antonio. Spurs fans shouldn’t be too concerned with the Christmas Day blowout to Houston, the Rockets seem to love playing in the Alamo as that’s their 2nd win down there this season. Tony Parker may never win an MVP but the point guard certainly plays at that kind of level, averaging 18 points and 6 assists this season. We’ve seen how poor this team plays when he’s not in the lineup as was evident by losses last week. Apart from these controversial photos Parker posted, I don’t think the Spurs have too much to worry about.

Tim Duncan is still lighting up the box score with a 17 and 13 line against the Kings this past Sunday. Why would the big man retire when he is still one of the most effective power forwards in the game. Maybe another NBA championship will usher him out the door.

I would expect another strong week from San Antonio with three home games coming up, two of which are against pretty weak teams.

This Week: vs. Nets, vs. Knicks, vs. Clippers

Dallas Mavericks – Season Record: 17-13

Week of December 23rd-December 29th: 2-1

First of all, a win to start the week in Houston is excellent. Dirk Nowitzki seems to be laughing at the notion that he’s playing as well as he did during the Mavericks 2011 NBA Championship run but it certainly looks like it on the stat sheet. He had 31 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, in a 111-104 victory over the Rockets. Congratulations to him for moving to 13th on the all-time scoring list.

Even Jeremy Lin’s return didn’t seem to help the Rockets slow down the Mavericks guards. Monta Ellis 18 points and Jose Calderon, who is starting to play at a very high level, added 15 points to go along with 5 assists.

The more the Mavericks play, the more I’m starting to believe in them. Currently the 8th seed in the Western Conference, a full two games ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas will have to keep winning in order to say in playoff contention.

This Week: @ Timberwolves, @ Wizards, vs. Clippers, vs. Knicks

New Orleans Pelicans – Season Record: 13-15

Week of December 23rd-December 29th: 2-1

A decent week for the Pelicans, although nothing to get too excited about. They got back on the winning track with solid, double-digit wins against the Kings and the Nuggets, after losing four straight. Even though the Nuggets seem to be falling off a cliff, losers of 5 straight (Even though I’m rooting for you Brian Shaw!!), it was a dominant win for New Orleans. Tyreke Evans is so comfortable coming off the bench that even with Eric Gordon out, coach Monty Williams decided to keep Evans in the second string. Boy did that work out for New Orleans. Tyreke turned in a 19 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds line for the Pelicans in a 105-89 victory. After a very slow start, he seems to have found his stride.

I know I’ve been saying it all season, but Anthony Davis needs to be an all-star this year. Sure, Dwight Howard got the best of him in the Rockets 107-98 victory Saturday, but the smaller Davis still managed 18 points and 16 rebounds against the “games best big man”. A very difficult week coming for the Pelicans including three games on the road and a home matchup against Portland.

This Week: vs. Blazers, @ Timberwolves, @Celtics, @ Pacers

Memphis Grizzlies – Season Record: 13-16

Week of December 23rd-December 29th: 2-1

Finally, a bit of light for the Grizzlies this week. They beat the Jazz to start the week although everyone is beating the Jazz (except for my Lakers…), and played the Rockets respectably in a eight point loss in Houston. They concluded the week by blowing out the Nuggets in a 120-99 blowout victory at home. Zach Randolph contributed 20 points and 6 rebounds and Mike Conley has 14 points of his own. Mike Miller even made an appearance, knocking down three 3-pointers off the bench.

The Grizzlies have a lot of work to do still, currently 3 and a half games behind the 8th seeded Mavericks with 3 teams in between. The biggest concern in Memphis is the scoring as their average is the 2nd lowest points per game in the Western Conference at 94.8. Only the Jazz average fewer than the Grizzlies. Perhaps a trade is in the near future to add a bit of offense to the team?  I’d love to unload that contract Pau Gasol has out here in Los Angeles and he’d love to play with his brother…

 This Week: vs. Bulls, @ Suns, @Nuggets, @ Pistons