The NBA can sometimes be engaging, paradoxical, unpredictable, hilarious, brilliant, crazy and addictive, and sometimes all of them, all at the same time. So in honour of my favourite piece of fiction that features all of the above characteristics – Joseph Heller’s novel Catch-22 – I bring to you ‘Catch-22’, where we’ll highlight the 22 most interesting short stories from the NBA in recent days.
Record-breaking performances are great, and so are impressively high averages. But there’s something special about a nice, long, unbreakable streak. A great streak of wins, a great scoring streak, a shooting streak without a miss… In this edition, we nod to a few recent streaks by players and teams who consecutively came back to impress us night after night.
1. LeBron James has made a habit out of making statistical history. And the league’s reigning MVP was on a historical scoring run of his own to start this season, as he scored 20 or more points for 33 consecutive games, a streak that finally ended last week in Portland. It was the second-longest such streak (after George Gervin) of all time to start the season.
2. If we include last year’s postseason, LeBron had scored 20 or more points in 54 consecutive games!
3. Another historic streak came via the Clippers who won 17 games in a row last month to race to the top of the league. For a team historically cursed with bad fortune, the Clippers seem to have finally arrived: this was their greatest winning streak in franchise history, even going back to the days of the Buffalo Braves and San Diego Clippers.
4. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder enjoyed their finest win streak in Oklahoma City too, when they won 12 in a row up to mid-December. The last time they won more consecutive games, it was 1996 and they were called the Seattle Supersonics.
5. Also in OKC is the NBA’s new ‘Ironman’, point guard Russell Westbrook, who has extended his streak of consecutive games played to 349, the longest active streak in the league.
6. Westbrook’s accomplishment is impressive indeed, but he’s still a long way off the league’s real Ironman, AC Green, who played 1,192 (highest ever) in the 90s for the Lakers, Suns, Mavericks, and Heat.
7. Back to OKC, however, where MVP candidate Kevin Durant could add his name into a very special 40-50-90 club this season if he continues being on the hot-shooting streak that he’s currently enjoying. Durant could become only the fourth player since Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, and Dirk Nowitzki to have shoot over 40 percent from the 3-point line, over 50 percent from the field goals, and over 90 percent from the free-throw line.
8. San Antonio is always a tough place for visiting teams and it continues into this season. The Spurs just won their 12th consecutive home game on Sunday against the Timberwolves.
9. The Lakers were um, not enjoying, their awful streak, as they were the last team without a win in the New Year until they finally earned one at home to the Cavs on Sunday night.
10. How about the Lakers’ eternal rivals, the Celtics, though? After a rough start, Boston is on a five-game winning streak and looking dangerous in the East again.
11. Don’t look now, but a bunch of unheralded teams have suddenly picked things up and have started to play some fearsome basketball. First off are the Brooklyn Nets, who have won nine of their first 10 games under new Head Coach PJ Carlesimo.
12. Then there’s the Toronto Raptors, who have emerged as a decent squad, even in the absence of regular starters Kyle Lowry and Andrea Bargnani. Led by Jose Calderon, the Raptors are 10-4 since mid-December.
13. Out West, the Trailblazers must definitely be doing something right (something = Damian Lillard + LaMarcus Aldridge + Nicolas Batum) as they have won 12 of their last 16 games.
14. They might be last place in the West, but the return of Eric Gordon has really sparked a fire under the New Orleans Hornets, who had won four in a row before falling on Sunday to the Knicks.
15. It’s always great to see players like Gordon return to action. In Dallas, the Mavericks are continuing to welcome back Dirk Nowitzki to full strength. It’s a slow process, but the Mavericks have been struggling and they need the former MVP to start playing at a high level to save them again.
16. Also returning to action recently was John Wall, who played his first game of the season for the Wizards and helped them upset the Hawks.
17. With each passing day, we also get closer to the return of Derrick Rose. The point guard is back in practice and could be a little over a month away for his return to in-game action!
18. From one former MVP point guard to another (double) MVP point guard. Congrats to the Lakers’ Steve Nash who earned his 10,000 assist last week. Almost 39, and still going strong!
19. We’ll stay with the topic of old men for the new edition of ‘Where Are They Now’: He has played 17 years in the league already, but Jerry Stackhouse is still going strong at 38. The former All-Star is playing the tailend of his career as part of an impressive bench for the Nets. Expect his averages and influences to increase if the Nets make the playoffs.
20. James Harden did something pretty great a few days ago. The only way to describe it is to see it. And you may still not believe it!
21. We have now reached the last days of the NBA’s All-Star fan voting period. So this would be a good time for you to beat the buzzer and ensure that your favourite players get to Houston for the All Star Weekend!
22. We started off with a Miami Heat player, and we’ll end with another one. Mario Chalmers may not be a superstar, but the Heat point guard matched the team’s franchise-high record when he hit 10 three-pointers in a game to help his team defeat the Sacramento Kings. He also scored a career-high 34 points. And oh yeah, LeBron was there to start another streak of 20!