1. Suns on top as season passes midpoint
The 2021-22 regular season officially passed the midway point during Week 13 and Phoenix Suns are the only team in the league that has yet to reach double-digit losses. The Suns closed out Week 13 with a league-best 33-9 record; they rank sixth in offense (111.8), second in defense (104.1) and third in net rating (7.7).
11-18 shooting pic.twitter.com/t9OQSOrD7B
— NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2022
2. This move by Chris Paul
Speaking of the Suns, we have to highlight this move by Chris Paul. He may be in season 17, but he’s still freezing defenders with filthy moves like this, as he’s done his entire career.
3. Nets lose Durant with MCL sprain
Kevin Durant – the league’s leading scorer at 29.3 points per game – is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after suffering a sprained left MCL on Saturday against New Orleans when Bruce Brown crashed into his lower leg. The Nets schedule is road-heavy for the next month – with 11 of their next 14 games on the road – which means Brooklyn should have two of its Big Three members available for most games that Durant misses with Kyrie Irving eligible to play road games.
Unfortunately, Durant was not the only All-Star lost to injury this past week. Blazers guard Damian Lillard – who has been sidelined since Jan. 3 due to a lingering abdominal injury – underwent surgery to repair “a core injury causing chronic abdominal pain” that will keep him out for at least six weeks. Draymond Green will miss at least two weeks due to calf and lower back injuries; Green’s already missed Golden State’s last six games and the Warriors have gone just 2-4 without him. Zach LaVine exited Chicago’s game against Golden State on Friday, but tests showed no structural damage which is great news.
4. Grizzlies jersey swap event
Memphis’ franchise-record win streak came to an end on Friday against Dallas, but that 11-game run provided plenty of memorable moments. During win No. 10 on Tuesday against Golden State, Ja Morant iced the game late in the fourth quarter and iced some FedEx Forum fans in Warriors jerseys in the process.
With 30 seconds to play and the Grizzlies up five, Morant drove the lane for an and-1 layup that sent him underneath the basket. As the Memphis crowd erupted, Morant walked toward the stands, and when a young fan in a Steph Curry jersey reached out for a high five, Morant turned and walked back toward the court to shoot his free throw. After the game, he said he couldn’t dap the kid up while he was in a Warriors jersey but would send the kid a Ja Morant jersey so he could cheer for the right team in Memphis.
The moment went viral and the Grizzlies capitalized on the moment perfectly, with a jersey swap event allowing kids to trade in any opposing player’s jersey for a brand new Ja Morant or Jaren Jackson Jr. jersey. And guess who was first in line?
On Tuesday, Ja Morant didn't give a high-five to fan in a Steph Curry jersey, then offered to send him a Morant jersey later.
So the Grizzlies ran a promotion where kids could trade opposing team jerseys for tickets and Ja or JJJ replicas.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) January 14, 2022
5. Dropping dimes
Week 13 saw a number of outstanding passes around the league. There was this between the legs alley-oop from LaMelo Ball to Miles Bridges that brought back memories of Jamal Crawford to Blake Griffin from the lob city era of the Clippers.
LaMelo ➡ Bridges 🤝 Crawford ➡ Griffin
After LaMelo's show-stopping between-the-legs dime, we take a look back at another ridiculous alley-oop! pic.twitter.com/h0AGwZFTiW
— NBA (@NBA) January 15, 2022
And, of course, that means we had to look back at some of the best transition alley-oop assists of all time.
Here are a few other standout passes from the past week:
- Andre Iguodala splits the Bulls defense
- Malik Monk goes off the board to LeBron James
- James Harden goes between the legs to Day’Ron Sharpe
- Giannis Antetokounmpo to Grayson Allen in the corner
- Luka Doncic threads the needle to Dwight Powell
- Darius Garland with the wraparound pass to Evan Mobley (one of his career-best 18 dimes)
6. All-Star second returns announced
The second round of All-Star ballot returns were released on Thursday and Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant remain at the top of their respective conference. Curry (4,463,426) leads Western Conference guards, while LeBron James (4,386,392) leads the West’s frontcourt players. Durant (4,088,334) leads Eastern Conference frontcourt players, while DeMar DeRozan (2,973,854) leads Eastern Conference guards.
Stephen Curry (West guards), Kevin Durant (East frontcourt), DeMar DeRozan (East guards) and LeBron James (West frontcourt) continue to be the top vote-getters at their respective position groups in the second fan returns of NBA All-Star Voting presented by Tissot. pic.twitter.com/dAaVBHrXi5
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) January 13, 2022
Voting remains open until midnight ET on Saturday, Jan. 22. There are also two remaining days when all votes are counted twice – Monday, Jan. 17 and Thursday, Jan. 20 – so get those votes in to send your favorite stars to Cleveland.
7. Trending Up: Sixers, Mavs, Cavs, Knicks
The longest active win streak in the NBA belongs to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have won four straight and currently sit in the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference (just outside the play-in field). The Knicks have the second-longest streak in the East with three straight wins behind an outstanding stretch of play from RJ Barrett, who has averaged 29.7 points and 53.2% shooting (56.3% from three) over the past three games.
Two teams that have put together extended runs are the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks. The Sixers are 9-1 over their past 10 games. They had their seven-game win streak snapped during Week 13, but bounced right back with two more wins. Joel Embiid had his streak of 30-point games snapped at eight in a row; that is the longest streak in the league this season.
The Mavericks have won eight of their past nine games, with Luka Doncic nearly averaging a triple-double (22 points, 10 rebounds, 9.3 assists) while appearing in seven of those nine games. Dallas closed Week 13 in fifth place in the Western Conference; they sit five games back of Memphis and Utah for the No. 3 and No. 4 spots, but have a solid three-game cushion out of the play-in field at the moment.
8. Defense –> Offense
There is no play that illustrates defense leading to offense more than this gem from Terence Davis during Sacramento’s game against Houston on Sunday.
9. Weekly stats leaders
See below for the category leaders for games played between Monday, Jan. 10 and Sunday, Jan. 16, with a minimum of two games played.
- Points: Joel Embiid: 29.8 ppg over four games (PHI 3-1)
- Rebounds: Domantas Sabonis: 14.0 rpg over three games (IND 0-3)
- Assists: James Harden: 13.3 apg over three games (BKN 2-1)
- Steals: Robert Covington: 3.7 spg over three games (POR 2-1)
- Blocks: Jaren Jackson Jr.: 3.0 bpg over three games (MEM 2-1)
- 3-Pointers Made: Anfernee Simons: 4.5 3pm over two games (POR 2-0)
One more stat to note include James Harden climbing to 10th place on the all-time free throws made list. LeBron James (4th; 7,715 FTM) is the only other active player in the top 10. Harden (6,837 FTM) ranks third in both free throws made (7.1 per game) and attempted (8.1 per game) this season and is on pace to pass Paul Pierce (9th; 6,918) in just 12 more games.
10. Plays of the week
— NBA (@NBA) January 17, 2022