Tag Archives: NBA

Kevin Durant Wins the NBA MVP

This year, the MVP race came down to two players: Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Durant emerged victorious, winning his first NBA MVP award. He also becomes the first player to win the NBA MVP and be the NBA’s leading scorer in the same season since Allen Iverson did it back in 2000-01. The 25-year-old small forward put up some big numbers for his Oklahoma City Thunder team, racking up 32 points, 5.5 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game this year. His 2,593 points scored this season is a career-high for him and he also led the Thunder to a 59-23 regular season record. I couldn’t be happier for this kind of player. This season was tremendous for the young star and hopefully he could top it off with an NBA championship title. I’m sure that he is more focused on this series with the L.A. Clippers, but for now he just has to enjoy this sweet moment. Congratulations Kevin Durant. You earned it. The Thunder will host the Clippers for Game Two at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday night.


Five Game Sevens

NBA history was made last Saturday when three Game Seven NBA playoff games were played on the same day. After today’s Game Sevens, the NBA postseason can move on to the second round: the conference semifinals. One of the biggest stories was the Washington Wizards advancing to the next round over the Chicago Bulls, winning their first playoff series since 2005 where they also beat the Chicago Bulls. This year, the Wizards defeated the Bulls’ squad 4-1 and were led by a young back court featuring John Wall and Bradley Beal. Wall has been great for this young and talented squad, he is 5th in both assists and steals per game this postseason. As for Bradley Beal, he averaged almost 20 points per game against the Bulls, including a game where he scored 26 points and pulled down 7 rebounds to help put the Wizards up 2-0 in the series. Speaking as a guy that was born in D.C., I can say that I am excited for their match-up with the 1-seed Indiana Pacers Monday night at 7 p.m.

John Wall averaged 18.8 points, 6.8 assists and 2.2 steals in the series win over the Chicago Bulls. Credit: www.rantsports.com
John Wall averaged 18.8 points, 6.8 assists and 2.2 steals in the series win over the Chicago Bulls.
Credit: http://www.rantsports.com

As for the Oklahoma City Thunder, they finished out in fashion with a 120-109 rout over the Memphis Grizzlies in their Game 7 finale.  Kevin Durant may not have had the field goal percentage that he was looking for, but he is still putting up points this postseason with 29.9 per game so far. Then there is Russell Westbrook. Some people have judged him and saying that he was the problem with the Thunder’s struggles to close out. I was one of those people. Now, my confidence is regained in Westbrook after putting up a triple-double in the last game against Memphis. The young point guard finished the bout with 27 points, a career-high 16 assists and 10 rebounds. Westbrook also became just the second player in NBA history to record a triple-double in a Game 7 (Rajon Rondo did it first). Sure the Thunder were able to win without the Grizzlies’ top player Zach Randolph, but hey, a win is a win. Durant and Westbrook combined for 60 points and Oklahoma City shot 60.9 percent from the field as a team. Now they will have to put up those kind of numbers when they play the L.A. Clippers Monday night at 9:30 p.m. That should be an exciting series as well.

Kevin Durant took over the series against Memphis by averaging 29.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. Credit: www.usatoday.com
Kevin Durant took over the series against Memphis by averaging 29.9 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 blocks per game.
Credit: http://www.usatoday.com

I was disappointed in the Houston Rockets this year. They had a lot of talent in James Harden and Dwight Howard, but they just couldn’t make it work against the Portland Trail Blazers. LaMarcus Aldridge and company closed out the series 4-2 when Damian Lillard knocked down a three-pointer at the buzzer (thanks to some horrible defense by Houston’s Chandler Parsons) to win the game 99-98. Lillard became the first player since John Stockton in 1997 to knock down the game-winning shot to win a series. You have to give a lot of props to last year’s Rookie-of-the-Year for being the big play-maker at point guard. As for Aldridge, he put up monster numbers in this series against Houston. He had back-to-back 40 point games in the first two games of the series (46 and 43 respectively). Then in the next two games, he recorded consecutive double-doubles and then in Game 6, he scored 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. He is third in the postseason in points per game with 29.8. LeBron James leads the postseason with 30 per game.

Lastly, there was San Antonio knocking off the Dallas Mavericks 119-96 and the Brooklyn Nets defeating the Toronto Raptors 104-103 in an overall thrilling series. Brooklyn will face the Miami Heat Tuesday at 7 p.m. while the Spurs will battle the Trail Blazers the same night at 9:30 p.m. The first round of the NBA playoffs was something to behold. A lot of Game Sevens and a whole lot of fun. This second round will prove to be more exciting with teams starting to lock on to that championship.

NBA Defensive Superstars

The NBA just announced that Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. That makes sense, since he was the cornerstone of a great defensive team that finished 1st in points allowed with just 91.8 per game. The Bulls also finished 10th in both rebounds and assists per game. As for Noah individually, he ended the regular season with 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. With those numbers, do you think he truly deserved the Defensive Player of the Year Award? Let’s look at some other guys that could have been deserving for their play this year.

DeAndre Jordan- The L.A. Clippers’ center had a career-defining year. He scored a career-high 10.4 points per game and led the NBA in rebounds with 13.6 per game and in field goal percentage with 67.6 percent. Not only that, but he also had a career-high 2.5 blocks per game, which was 3rd in the NBA. He also average a steal a game, which is pretty rare for a big guy like him. The Texas A&M product should get some high recognition for how he aided superstar teammates like Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. This astounding season should not be overlooked and the 25-year-old from Houston, Texas has plenty of years like this ahead.

Anthony Davis- In his second season in the NBA, the 21-year-old from Kentucky is already making noise. Davis finished first in the NBA with 2.8 blocks per game. He also started 66 games and averaged 35 minutes a game, showing that he is an integral part of the New Orleans franchise. His 20.8 points, 10 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game were also very impressive. I’m sure this guy will have a chance to win this award somewhere in the near future.

Paul Millsap- His first season at Atlanta will always be remembered as a memorable one. The former Utah Jazz power forward finished the regular season with a career-high 17.9 points, 3.1 assists and 6.4 defensive rebounds. The new Atlanta Hawk also made his first ever All-Star game appearance after 7 years in the league. He also averaged 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. He’s the only player in the NBA with numbers like that until you get to DeMarcus Cousins who averaged 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. For Millsap, you couldn’t have asked for more production in your first season with a new team.

Andre Drummond- Like Davis, Drummond is also a second-year player out of Connecticut and he has already made a big impact in the NBA. The center for the Detroit Pistons has been a force on the defensive side of the ball with 1.6 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. He also had a career-high 13.5 points and 13.2 rebounds per game this year. Although the Pistons had a terrible season, it should not overshadow Drummond’s efforts.

I guess the main reason why Noah ultimately won Defensive Player of the Year was because of his impact to the whole team. Chicago has one of the best defenses in the NBA, all because of him. Every night, Noah gives 100 percent effort and that’s why his Bulls are thriving even without scorers like Derrick Rose and Luol Deng. Some other players you could have thrown in the mix for this award could be Chris Paul (led the NBA in steals per game), Serge Ibaka, Paul George, but Noah definitely deserves this award. Now we wait for Rookie-of-the-Year and MVP (which should be Kevin Durant in my opinion).

NBA Regular Season Closing Shop

The NBA regular season is drawing to a close soon with April 16th being the last day and the last chance for NBA teams to fight for playoff position. So far, the Western Conference is looking dominant while the Eastern Conference has only the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers to worry about. I’ll throw in the Toronto Raptors in there as well since they have had a surprisingly well season and the Chicago Bulls are keeping pace without Derrick Rose. As of right now, the Western Conference has nine teams with winning records while the East has only six. Let’s look at some of the recent stories that has been happening in the NBA so far.

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder put an end to the San Antonio Spurs’ winning streak last night with a 106-94 victory. The Spurs had won 19 games prior to this defeat and Kevin Durant continued his own streak of 39 games with 25 points or more. We have not seen scoring outbursts like this since Michael Jordan did it back in 1986-1987 when he went 40 straight games. This win also proved Oklahoma City’s dominance in the West. With the win, they swept the San Antonio Spurs in their regular season match-ups. There are just eight games left for the Thunder this season, so they can easily catch up to the Spurs for the best in the West. Oklahoma City is only three games behind the Spurs for the 1-seed in the playoffs, so watch out for that as the season rolls along.

The teams with the longest winning streak as of right now are the Miami Heat and the Portland Trail Blazers with four wins in a row. The Heat are coming off a blowout win against the Milwaukee Buck 96-77 without Ray Allen and Dwyane Wade. LeBron James had about average numbers: 17 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds. However, the Miami Heat won their 30th game at home this season, marking the seventh time in franchise history that they have won that many. As for the Portland Trail Blazers, they defeated the L.A. Lakers 124-112 last Tuesday. Lamarcus Aldridge went off in that victory with 31 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists. Nick Young of the Lakers went off as well, scoring 40 points in the losing effort. With his contract expiring after this season, he will be looking for a team that will better utilize his talents. Going back to the Trail Blazers, point guard Damian Lillard became the first player in franchise history to make 200 3-pointers in a season when he connected with 8:07 left in the first quarter. With him and Aldridge running the show in Portland, look for them to make a deep run in the playoffs as a 5-seed behind Houston.

Dirk Nowitzki has the Dallas Mavericks moving in the right direction after a critical win against the Los Angeles Clippers. Credit: bleacherreport.com
Dirk Nowitzki has the Dallas Mavericks moving in the right direction after a critical win against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Credit: bleacherreport.com

Another Western Conference match-up that was intriguing last night was the Dallas Mavericks and the L.A. Clippers. Despite Blake Griffin pulling off his first triple-double of the season and his fourth of his career (25 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists), the Mavericks defeated the Clippers 113-107 behind Dirk Nowitzki’s 26 points and 11 rebounds. The ageless wonder shot 10-18 from the field and nailed 4 out of 7 three-pointers. This win helped Dallas move into a 7-seed in the Western Conference playoffs ahead of the 44-31 Memphis Grizzlies. The Mavs avoided getting swept by the Clippers for the first time since 1993-94 and will use that momentum to carry them for the rest of the regular season. Even with the loss, the Clippers still retain the 3-seed with an impressive 54-23 record.

I’m sure more great games will follow as the regular season dwindles down. Players might go off for amazing scoring outbursts and teams might find a way to sneak into the playoffs (like what the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Bobcats are doing right now). Keep watching the NBA, because things are going to get interesting very soon.

Christian Athlete of the Week: Jeremy Lin

Mostly everyone knows that Houston Rockets’ point guard Jeremy Lin is already a Christian. He professed his faith back during the  2011-12 season when he played for the New York Knicks. Back then, he was known as Linsanity for putting up improbable numbers during the Knicks’ winning streaks. Now, the 25-year-old Harvard grad is on a 47-22 Houston Rockets team that is 4th in the Western Conference standings. They are currently on a three-game winning streak and in those three wins, the Rockets scored 118 points or more. This is one of the most explosive offenses in the NBA with James Harden and Dwight Howard leading the way. Lin hasn’t had a spectacular season statistically (he’s averaging 12.4 points and 4.2 assists a game this season), but he’s not exactly worried about keeping track of how well he plays. Lin is more focused on how he glorifies God on and off the court.

“I’m still learning to be selfless and submit myself to God and give the game up to Him,” Lin said. “It’s a challenge, but thankfully I’m learning more and more.” (Credit: gospelherald.com)

Check out this video I found about Jeremy Lin’s faith and his rise to “Linsanity”

As you can see, Lin has become a pioneer for all of sports. He is now on a team that is poised to win a NBA championship in the near future. What Lin is probably more proud of is his walk with Christ and the relationship he has with the Father.


Christian Athlete of the Week: Caron Butler

Caron Butler has been known to be a journeyman in the NBA. He has played for seven different NBA teams since being selected as the 10th overall pick by the Miami Heat in 2002. Butler now plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder after playing for the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this year. Despite moving from team to team, the small forward from the University of Connecticut has averaged 15.3 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in his career. However, Butler’s journey before he played basketball is more amazing in itself. As a small boy living in Racine, Wisconsin, Butler looked up to his two uncles. His mother was a single parent and was working two jobs at the time and so his uncles were the only father figures he had around at the time, but they were not exactly good examples. Both were drug dealers and got their nephew into the business when he was only 11 years old. From there, Butler got arrested 15 times before he turned 15. While he was serving his last sentence at a juvenile institution, Butler fell in love with two things: basketball and Jesus Christ.

“My grandmother told me to pick up a bible and just believe in God,” he said. “God can hinder all obstacles that you’re going through. And my mother staying in my corner, because a lot of parents, when kids fail, give up on them. A lot of the people that I was incarcerated with didn’t have visitors, but my mother was always there, sometimes twice a day, uplifting my spirits and telling me to stay positive. And I think that really showed me how much she cared and believed in me. She believed in me more than I believed in myself.” (Credit: insidehoops.com)

Butler went on to say that basketball was his ticket out to living on the streets. He started playing so well that he got noticed by Jim Calhoun of the UConn Huskies. In his freshman year, he led his team in both points and rebounds. Then in his sophomore season, he was named co-Big East Player of the Year. Butler was able to accomplish all of these tasks by making God the father-figure in his life that he desperately needed.

“God puts stuff in front of you for a reason,” he said. “He put His hands on my life and said, ‘I’m going to touch you so that you can touch others.”

And he has. Butler donated $200,000 to four local charities in his hometown of Racine back in 2012. He also created a youth basketball league to show other kids that basketball can get you out of the life of a drug dealer. God has shown through Caron Butler’s life that he can take anyone off the streets and make them into a great example of God’s grace and mercy.

Christian Athlete of the Week: Blake Griffin

Last week, I talked about another L.A. Clipper by the name of Chris Paul. This week, we focus on All-Star L.A. Clipper Blake Griffin. The Oklahoma product has been outstanding since winning the NBA Rookie of the Year award back in 2011. He’s been to four All-Star games and won the Dunk Contest that year after he jumped over he hood of a car! Recently, the power forward been averaging a career-high 24.2 points per game this year and he’s had his best season at the free-throw line, shooting 70.5 percent. More importantly however, he considers himself an evangelical Christian and a man after God’s heart. His father, Tommy Griffin, is a pastor and had him home schooled until high school. While at home, Griffin was taught the Biblical principles of life and how to build a strong foundation in his faith. He ended up going to Oklahoma Christian High School, playing under his father and won state titles all four years there. Then Blake joined the Fellowship of Christian Athletes during his years at the University of Oklahoma. Before he could play a single game in the NBA, Griffin broke his kneecap and had God humble him in a big way.

“I was just excited about the opportunity to play in the NBA,” said Griffin. “I was ready to go, but everything came crashing down, so to speak. But these things happen. That was God’s way of just humbling me.” (Credit: thehollowverse.com)

Griffin’s patience to get back on the court helped him out better than anyone thought. This superstar is now one of the top players in the league and is currently on a team headed for a title. Also, his gravity-defying dunks are unbelievable! Griffin revealed that for every dunk he makes, he donates$100 to fight childhood obesity. By the way, when he dunked over that Kia car in the Dunk Contest, he donated the car with the proceeds benefiting Stand Up to Cancer. No wonder he likes to dunk the ball! All of these great things are going for Griffin, because he has great trust and faith in God.

“I know everything happens for a reason,” Griffin said. “I don’t know what the reason is, but only God knows. I just have to wait and let his plan unveil.” (Credit: christianpost.com)

We can all learn a good lesson from Blake’s story. He had everything going right for him at such a young age. When that knee injury occurred, his dreams were put on hold. Griffin had to first understand that God’s plans are more important than Blake’s plans. After Griffin put his faith into what God was doing for him, the rest is history. We must lean on God when the circumstances are tough and trust Him that He will pull through for us. He always has in the past and He always will in the future.

Christian Athlete of the Week: Chris Paul

The L.A. Clippers point guard has been out with injury most of the season, but with him back, the Clippers have won their last three games. In Paul’s last game before the All-Star Break, he had 20 points, 12 assists, four rebounds, and three steals in the 122-117 win against the Trail Blazers. It was his 26th double-double of the season out of the 36 games he has played this year! Before getting injured, he was leading the NBA in assists per game. While he may get great assists on the court, it’s his assists off the court that I would like to focus on. Chris Paul was born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina to parents Charles and Robin Paul. They brought Chris up in a Baptist church all his life and that part of him has rooted him in his faith. Paul’s father Chris talks about how God has blessed his family by giving Chris the talents of a great basketball player.

“My wife and I give all the credit to God because God is the One that gave us Chris and gave us a chance,” said Charles Paul. “Like Chris says, he was given an opportunity to play basketball, so we’re grateful for how God has blessed us.” (Credit: Winston-Salem Journal)

Chris Paul started the CP3 charity foundation that has donated to organizations such as the Salvation Army Boys and Girls club, Feed the Children, Meals on Wheels, and even the Special Olympics. Giving back as always been something that his parents taught him while growing up in church and it’s something that Christians around the world should do no matter what kind of income they have. Back in an interview when he was on the New Orleans Hornets, Chris Paul talks about his growth in the Christian community:

“I grew up in the church and still go to church every Sunday if we don’t have practice,” said Paul. “It’s always something that my parents instilled in me. I’ve grown to be pretty devout in my faith.” (Credit: nba.com)

Paul has been an inspiration on and off the court the last five years. His team is in prime position to make an NBA title run mostly due to his play-making ability in the games. That title run resumes on Tuesday against the tough San Antonio Spurs.

NBA 1st Half Analysis

The first half of the NBA regulat season is in the books. There’s been a lot of great stories and games so far. Let’s take a look at some of the things that happened earlier this year that we should keep an eye on later on this year. Here are the top five stories going on in the NBA:

1. Kevin Durant leads the NBA in scoring…again. The Durantula has been on a hot streak ever since Russell Westbrook got injured. His ability to put the ball in the basket has been phenomenal this year. He leads the NBA in points per game with 31.5. Carmelo Anthony is the closest to that mark with 27.3 and LeBron James is right behind him with 26.5. This could be the year that Durant has been waiting for. His Oklahoma City Thunder team has the best record in the NBA with a 43-12 record, which is four games better than the San Antonio Spurs’ 38-15. Unless something drastic happens to Kevin Durant, he could finally win that MVP award that has eluded him so many times.

2. DeAndre Jordan is having a stupendous year! The big man had a nasty dunk last year that took over the SportsCenter Top Ten plays for months! This year he’s playing like a true All-Star, leading the league in rebounds (14 rpg) and field goal percentage (65.9 percent). He’s also a great defender with 2.4 blocks per game, which is 4th in the NBA right now. His L.A. Clippers are also 4th in the Western Conference standings and have the 2nd best offense in the NBA, averaging 107 points per game. As the season dwindles down, the Clippers could go far into the playoffs and DeAndre Jordan could be that cornerstone in the Clippers’ title hopes.

3. How good are the Portland Trail Blazers? Last year, the Trail Blazers went 33-49, ending their disappointing season on a 13-game losing streak. This year, they’re 5th in the Western Conference standings with a 36-17 record! They also have the number one offense in the NBA and lead the league in rebounds per game! Head Coach Terry Stotts has led a great turnaround for this basketball club in his second season. The former Dallas Mavericks assistant has this team headed in the right direction although they are 4-6 in their last 10 games. They hope to rebound next Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs with superstar power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and young point guard Damian Lillard leading the way.

Thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge, the Trail Blazers have won more games this year than they did all of last season! Credit: larrybrownsports.com
Thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge, the Trail Blazers have won more games this year than they did all of last season!
Credit: larrybrownsports.com

4. The East will be won in either Indiana or Miami. The Eastern Conference of the NBA is definitely weaker than expected. Indiana and Miami are number one and number two in the conference respectively and by a long shot. Third place belongs to the surging Toronto Raptors with a 28-24 record. LeBron James is holding the Heat together without an injury plagued Dwyane Wade and he’s looking more dominant than ever. However, the Indiana Pacers boast the NBA’s best defense with only 90.3 points allowed per game. Guys like Roy Hibbert and Paul George are doing a great job at keeping this team at the top. These top two teams will be a great preview for the Eastern Conference Finals game unless teams like Toronto or Chicago step up.

5. Houston does not have a problem. So far it looks like Houston was the right fit for All-Star center Dwight Howard. The Rockets are 3rd in the league with points per game (105.5) and are 8th in rebounds per game (44.9). James Harden is leading this high soaring club with 23.9 points and 5.3 assists per game. Howard is also having a fantastic season with 18.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. Coach Kevin McHale has this team headed in the right direction and could prove a legitimate threat in the Western Conference playoffs once things roll around.

So as you can see, the NBA season is getting more and more interesting. The second half will provide all the drama a basketball fan could want. Which teams in the East are going to make the playoffs? Who will win MVP? Who’s poised for a championship run? All of those questions will be answered after the All-Star break.

Christian Athlete of the Week: Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat have had a nice three-game stretch lately. Wade scored 30 points againt Detroit last Monday and is coming off a 14 points and 8 assists performance in a win at the Los Angeles Clippers.The 32-year-old shooting guard was already a star before LeBron James came to South Beach. When he played at Marquette University, he led his team to their first ever conference championship and a Final Four appearance. He was drafted 5th overall by the Heat in 2003 where he went on to become Sportsman of the Year in 2006, the same year he won his first NBA Finals and Finals MVP. He is the all-time leading scorer in Miami Heat history and was the NBA’s leading scorer in 2009. He was also a critical part of the Heat’s back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013. However, despite all of this success, Wade has found difficulty in his life. He grew up in a dysfunctional family on the south side of Chicago where his mother was a drug addict. In 2008, he also had a nasty divorce with his wife and mother of two sons. Through all of these hard times, Wade says that Jesus Christ has helped sustain him in these tough moments. In an interview with Chad Bonham of Beliefnet, Wade shares his faith about the One who has been with him through all the trials.

“There are going to be good time and bad times,” said Wade. “There are going to be people who  love me and there are going to be people who don’t love me. As long as you are  real with yourself knowing that you’re still human even though some people put  you on a pedestal. I know that I have to be the same person no matter if people  like me or not. I try to tell kids that there are going to be people in your life that try to  tell you that you can’t do something. There were people in my life who told me  that I couldn’t make it to this point in the NBA. I believed in God, myself and  my abilities to get to this point. Always believe in yourself no matter what  anyone may say to you.” (Credit: beliefnet.com)

To give you a better look of what Dwyane Wade has gone through in his early life, take a look at this video done by ESPN that conveyed the relationship between the basketball superstar and his mother:

I addition to supporting his mother, Wade also founded The Wade’s World Foundation in 2003. The organization provides support to community-based organizations that promote education, health, and social skills for children in at-risk situations. He also hosts a variety of community outreach programs in Chicago and Miami. He wears the number “3” to represent the Holy Trinity of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost. Dwyane Wade has had a positive impact for the NBA both on and off the court.