Periodically on Hornets off days throughout the regular season, I’ll be providing brief updates on the rest of the league, in this “NBA 20-second timeout” update. Here’s a look at a few recent developments (Nov. 10 update):
A seven-game winning streak has vaulted the Cavaliers (8-2) to the top of the Central Division and their best start in the LeBron James era. Trade acquisition Mo Williams is the Cavs’ second-leading scorer and has given Cleveland another weapon, despite not shooting great through 10 games (42 percent from field, 33 percent from three). Cleveland hasn’t lost since Nov. 1 here against the Hornets.
After a 1-3 start, the Trail Blazers have been playing like the team many predicted would be dangerous this season. Greg Oden posted his first career double-double here on Friday and followed that up with 13 and 8 the next night in Minnesota. Our interview subject, Rudy Fernandez, has been as good as advertised, while Brandon Roy has already made as many clutch shots as anyone. The Blazers are 5-1 since Nov. 5, with the only loss coming in NOLA.
It’s been an excellent past two weeks for the Magic, who are 7-1 since losing their initial two games. Orlando also has to be pleased with the recent results from the rest of the Southeast Division: Atlanta started red-hot but has dropped three in a row; Washington is 1-6.
The Hawks’ defense was extremely stingy during a 6-0 start, holding the first five opponents to 92 points or less, including limiting the Hornets to just 79 on Nov. 5. But the absence of feared shot-blocker Josh Smith appears to have caught up with Atlanta lately. The Hawks allowed 115 and 119 points in back-to-back defeats to New Jersey on the weekend.
Following a 5-0 start without Deron Williams, Utah appeared headed to a tremendous November, especially when Williams (ankle) was back in action Nov. 11 at Philadelphia. Unfortunately for the Jazz, Williams’ return only lasted two games. Utah went 1-4 on its weeklong East Coast trip, dropping to 6-4.
Injuries and an extremely difficult opening-week schedule were mitigating factors behind the Clips’ 0-6 start, but they now have Marcus Camby back. Los Angeles’ most recent outings were consecutive home defeats to rebuilding clubs Sacramento and Golden State, en route to a 1-8 record.
UNDER THE RADAR
Lesser-known players around the league who’ve performed well recently:
Anthony Morrow, Golden State
In many cases, players who dominate during summer league can never carry over that success to the real season, often due to a lack of playing time. Then there’s Morrow, a rookie from Georgia Tech. You’re not alone if you’d never heard of him before Saturday, when the 6-foot-5 shooting guard made NBA history against the Clippers. Morrow’s 37-point barrage (on 15-for-20 shooting) was the most ever by an undrafted rookie in his first career start. Morrow first drew attention this summer when he shot a blistering 74 percent from three-point range in Las Vegas for Golden State. By the way, Jerryd Bayless and Donte Greene were the top two scorers in Vegas in July; Bayless has logged a total of 21 minutes for Portland so far. Greene’s played 28 for Sacramento.
Luc Mbah a Moute, Milwaukee
As a second-round pick, the 37th overall choice in the 2008 NBA Draft, he was barely mentioned in any of the preseason analysis of the Bucks. But the UCLA product has emerged as one of the league’s biggest individual surprises and has earned a spot in Milwaukee’s starting lineup. In his three starts, the 6-foot-8 power forward is averaging a double-double, at 14.7 points and 11.0 rebounds. He had 19 points and 17 boards in Friday’s OT win at Memphis.