The NBA: The Best Players and Teams of January 2013

Aaaand just like that 1/12th of 2013 is done. January is over and there’s nothing we, or the Charlotte Bobcats, can do anything about it. The Clips were victimized by the law of averages in this month, not to mention the injury bug, while the Spurs continued to be, well, awesome. So, now we find ourselves a week into February and a few days away from Valentine’s Day (ready your wallets guys). Le’ts look back and appreciate all the players and teams who made the good kind of noise in January 2013.

This is the third in a series of “Best of the Month” citations based on the Efficiency Recap ratings on Team citations will be based on Efficiency Recap Difference (Team Efficiency – Opponents’ Efficiency), while Player citations will be based on Player Efficiency. You can check out the Stats Glossary here.

Team Citations:

Best Backcourt: Miami Heat -- 47.5ppg, 12.1rpg, 10.1apg, 4.3spg, 1.4bpg, 17.8 DEFF
Coach Spo can thank the real Dwyane Wade for showing up. More on HIM later.

Dwyane Wade has rediscovered his fine form and
has helped the Heat have the top backcourt
this past month.
(image by Wilfredo Lee/AP)

Best Frontcourt: Chicago Bulles -- 58.4ppg, 36.9rpg, 10.6apg, 3.7spg, 5.3bpg, 17.0 DEFF
Who’s missing Omer Asik? Apparently, not the Bulls.

Best Bench: Boston Celtics -- 36.3ppg, 15.6rpg, 6.1apg, 3.2spg, 1.6bpg, 15.7 DEFF
Jeff Green is finally getting into the groove, while Courtney Lee has been a solid back-up. Too bad Jared Sullinger is out for the season.

Best Starters: Miami Heat -- 75.9ppg, 28.5rpg, 17.2apg, 7.4spg, 3.5bpg, .516 FG%, 29.1 DEFF
All three Big Three guys are All-Stars. Put anyone with them, like a monkey and a giraffe (oops, they already have Bosh) and this will still be the best starting unit in the NBA.

Best East Team: Miami Heat -- 102.0ppg, 40.8rpg, 22.1apg, 9.0spg, 5.5bpg, 20.5 DEFF
Makes you wonder how the Heat dropped 5 of their 13 games in January, right?

Best West Team: Oklahoma City Thunder   -- 105.2ppg, 42.2rpg, 21.7apg, 8.6spg, 5.9bpg, 17.3 DEFF
OKC went 11-5 in January and still holds one of the top two West spots. This early, it looks like they’re a shoo-in for the homecourt edge AT LEAST until the Conference Semifinals.

Player Citations:

Best Point Guard: Chris Paul (LAC) -- 18.1ppg, 3.9rpg, 10.8apg, 2.0spg, .892 FT%, 25.1 EFF
Paul got injured late last month, but he was a beast before that. Still one of the best, if not THE best, all-around PGs in the world.

Best Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade (MIA) -- 21.3ppg, 5.1rpg, 4.7apg, 1.8spg, 1.0bpg, .507 FG%, 22.0 EFF
The Flash is so back. After a subpar first two months, it seems like Wade has FINALLY gotten his mojo back. Watch out, world.

Best Small Forward: Kevin Durant (OKC) -- 31.6ppg, 6.3rpg, 5.2apg, 1.6spg, .529 FG%, .917 FT%, 32.7 EFF
KD’s MVP material version dislodges LBJ for the first time this season.

Best Power Forward: Tim Duncan (SAS) -- 16.8ppg, 10.1rpg, 3.5apg, 3.5bpg, .889 FT%, 24.4 EFF
When was the last time TD normed a double-double, blocked more than THREE shots per game, AND shot nearly 90% from the line?! N E V E R.

TIm Duncan is injured right now, but he was unstoppable back in January.
(image from the Associated Press)

Best Center: Nikola Vucevic (ORL) -- 14.4ppg, 12.9rpg, 1.2bpg, .569 FG%, 23.9 EFF
Who needs a petulant Dwight Howard when you have an uberefficient 7-foot Montenegrin?

Best East Rookie: Andre Drummond (DET) -- 8.8ppg, 9.2rpg, 1.2spg, 2.1bpg, .638 FG%, 17.1 EFF
Second straight month Drummond snares this citation. He should be an All-Star next year if he finds more ways to score.

Best West Rookie: Damian Lillard (POR) -- 17.7ppg, 3.4rpg, 6.8apg, 1.1spg, 16.9 EFF
Lillard finally topples Anthony Davis as the Best in the West. His numbers are actually comparable to Paul’s, too!

Best East Player: LeBron James (MIA) -- 27.0ppg, 8.1rpg, 7.2apg, 1.9spg, .555 FG%, 32.2 EFF
Still the leading MVP candidate, and still the leading villain in my NBA universe.

Best West Player: Kevin Durant (OKC) -- 31.6ppg, 6.3rpg, 5.2apg, 1.6spg, .529 FG%, .917 FT%, 32.7 EFF
At the rate Durant is improving his game, he might be in a league of his own by the end of the season.

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Sports Network):
February 5th
Final Score: Indiana 114, Atlanta 103
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Paul George led seven Indiana players in double figures with 29 points help the Pacers down the Atlanta Hawks, 114-103, on Tuesday. George Hill and David West each added 15 points, Lance Stephenson poured in 14 and Roy Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi scored 12 points apiece for the Pacers, who have won 15 straight games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and improved to 20-3 at home this season. D.J. Augustin added 10 points off the bench in the win. Jeff Teague scored 24 points and dished out eight assists and Al Horford scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Hawks, losers in three of their last four games.

Final Score: LA Lakers 92, Brooklyn 83
Brooklyn, NY (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant had 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 92-83 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. Despite not having Dwight Howard, who was out with a shoulder injury, nor Metta World Peace due to a suspension, the Lakers were able to pull off the win, their sixth in the past seven games. Steve Nash added 17 points and eight assists, while Earl Clark registered 14 points and 12 rebounds. Brook Lopez scored 30 points for the Nets, who came into the game off a win against Chicago on Friday. Deron Williams had 15 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Final Score: Houston 140, Golden State 109
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Jeremy Lin paced Houston's red-hot shooting attack with 28 points to lead the Rockets to a 140-109 drubbing of the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. Lin made a game-high five 3-pointers for the Rockets, who tied an NBA record with 23 3-pointers. Houston finished 57.5 percent (23-for-40) from long range to pick up its fifth win in six games. The Orlando Magic also hit 23 3-pointers during a 137-107 win over the Sacramento Kings in 2009. James Harden and Chandler Parsons each knocked down four treys en route to 18 and 16 points, respectively. The Rockets had several opportunities to make the record-setting 24th triple, but the Warriors repeatedly fouled Houston over the final minute. Jarrett Jack scored 20 points and David Lee netted 18 points and pulled down seven rebounds for Golden State, which had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Final Score: Phoenix 96, Memphis 90
Memphis, TN (Sports Network) - Goran Dragic scored 15 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter to push the Phoenix Suns past the Memphis Grizzlies, 96-90, on Tuesday at FedExForum. Dragic shot 5-for-6 from the floor while also making all five of his free throw attempts in the final quarter to help the Suns end a two-game skid. Marcin Gortat came through with 20 points and Kendall Marshall added 11 off the bench. Jermaine O'Neal returned after a seven-game absence with an irregular heartbeat to score 14 in the victory. Jerryd Bayless finished with a season-high 29 points, but Memphis couldn't take advantage of a Phoenix team which came in with a 4-20 record on the road. Zach Randolph broke out of a three-game slump with 21 points and 13 boards in defeat. Tayshaun Prince scored 11 points in his second game with the Grizzlies, but had a crucial turnover late in the contest, which helped decide the outcome.

Final Score: Denver 112, Milwaukee 104
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson each scored 22 points and led the Denver Nuggets to a 112-104 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. Gallinari was 7-of-14, including 3-of-6 from three-point range, and Lawson added seven assists and two steals for the Nuggets, who have won seven straight games. Corey Brewer scored 20 points off the bench. Samuel Dalembert scored 35 points on 17-of-21 shooting and had 12 rebounds for the Bucks, who have lost three of their last four games. Four of Milwaukee's starters -- Larry Sanders, Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings and Luc Mbah a Moute -- recorded 12 points.

February 6th
Final Score: Cleveland 122, Charlotte 95
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - Kyrie Irving netted a game-high 22 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers rolled over the Charlotte Bobcats, 122-95, at Quicken Loans Arena. Dion Waiters added 19 points, Wayne Ellington scored 16 and Tristan Thompson contributed 17 with nine rebounds for the Cavaliers, who have won two straight. Byron Mullens had 15 points off the bench to pace Charlotte, which has dropped its last five games.

Final Score: LA Clippers 86, Orlando 76
Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - Eric Bledsoe scored 27 points to go along with six rebounds and six steals, as the shorthanded Los Angeles Clippers grinded out an 86-76 victory over the struggling Orlando Magic. DeAndre Jordan added 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Clippers, who finally had something to smile about on the Grammy road trip, snapping a three-game skid. They did it without Blake Griffin, who missed his second straight game with a strained left hamstring, and Chris Paul, who sat out his ninth straight contest with a bruised right kneecap. Jameer Nelson led Orlando with 18 points and five rebounds, while Nikola Vucevic recorded a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. The Magic were the cure to the Clippers' ails, dropping their 11th straight game. Orlando is just 2-22 since Dec. 21.

Final Score: Indiana 88, Philadelphia 69
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The heavy-legged Indiana Pacers, led by Roy Hibbert's 18 points and 14 rebounds, displayed their defensive prowess in downing the Philadelphia 76ers, 88-69, for their third win in as many days. Playing the final test in the NBA's only back-to-back-to-back this season, the Pacers held Philadelphia to 34 percent shooting in rolling to their fifth consecutive victory, including a rescheduled Central-Division clash with the Bulls on Monday and a double-digit win over the Hawks on Tuesday. George Hill, Paul George and David West all chipped in 15 points for the victors. The already-ailing Sixers fell to 4-2 on their eight-game homestand and received more dire news Wednesday as it is being reported starting guard Jason Richardson will need to undergo season-ending surgery on his knee. On Monday, the club's second-leading scorer and top rebounder, Thaddeus Young, suffered a grade one left hamstring strain and will miss the next three weeks. Rookie Arnett Moultrie saw more playing time as a result and netted 12 points to follow up Jrue Holiday's team-high 19-point effort in the club's lowest scoring output of season.

Final Score: Boston 99, Toronto 95
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Doc Rivers tallied his 400th win as a Boston head coach, as Kevin Garnett had 27 points and 10 rebounds in the Celtics' 99-95 win over the Toronto Raptors. Courtney Lee added 15 points for Boston, which has won five in a row since standout point guard Rajon Rondo went down. The Celtics had dropped six straight prior to the Rondo injury. Paul Pierce finished with 12 points, 11 boards and six assists in the triumph. Rudy Gay posted 25 points, 12 rebounds and four steals for the Raptors, who have dropped 10 of their last 13 contests.

Final Score: Washington 106, New York 96
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - John Wall led six Washington players in double figures with 21 points, as the Wizards earned a rare victory over the New York Knicks with a 106-96 decision on Wednesday at Verizon Center. Wall added nine assists and five rebounds, while Trevor Ariza knocked down five 3-pointers en route to a season-high 20 points off the bench for the Wizards, who had lost their last 10 meetings with the Knicks. Martell Webster added 19 points, Nene donated 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Emeka Okafor and Chris Singleton scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, in Washington's second consecutive victory. Carmelo Anthony poured in a game-high 31 points to go with nine rebounds, while Amare Stoudemire netted 19 points off the bench for the Knicks, who had their five-game winning streak snapped.

Final Score: Atlanta 103, Memphis 92
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Jeff Teague scored 22 points and dished out 13 assists to pace the Atlanta Hawks to a 103-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. Josh Smith had 19 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks and Al Horford added 17 points and 11 boards for the Hawks, who had dropped three of their last four entering the contest. Zach Randolph scored 20 points and Mike Conley had 17 points and eight assists for the Grizzlies, who have dropped three of their last four games overall. Marc Gasol scored 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in the setback.

Final Score: Brooklyn 93, Detroit 90
Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) - Joe Johnson buried a pair of free throws with 8.8 seconds remaining, as the Brooklyn Nets held on for a 93-90 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Brook Lopez scored a tough lay-in with 17.8 seconds to play, giving the visitors a crucial three-point cushion, and finished with 17 points to go with nine rebounds for the Nets, who ended a 10-game road losing streak at Detroit. Johnson finished with 16 points and four boards, while Gerald Wallace contributed 14 points in the victory. Greg Monroe netted a game-high 23 points and grabbed 10 boards for the Pistons, who have dropped three straight and five of their last six overall. Will Bynum donated 13 points and dished out seven helpers, while Kyle Singler and Brandon Knight each registered 12 points in the setback.

Final Score: Miami 114, Houston 108
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had 32 and 31 points, respectively, and the Miami Heat continued their home success with a 114-108 victory over the Houston Rockets. Wade also had eight assists and four steals for the Heat, who improved to 20-3 at home this season. Shane Battier and Norris Cole donated 12 and 10 points, respectively. Miami was without the services of Chris Bosh due to the flu. James Harden ended with 36 points, 12 boards and seven assists for the Rockets, who tied an NBA record with an eye-popping 23 3-pointers in Tuesday's 140-109 win over Golden State. Houston went just 9-of-25 from beyond the arc on Wednesday. Omer Asik had a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds, Patrick Patterson donated 15 points and Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin added 13 points apiece.

Final Score: New Orleans 93, Phoenix 84
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Al-Farouq Aminu scored six of his 16 points during a game-sealing run late in the fourth quarter, helping the New Orleans Hornets snap a four-game slide with a 93-84 victory over the Phoenix Suns. Aminu also pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds, and Greivis Vasquez recorded a double-double of his own with 19 points and 12 assists for the Hornets, who shot 52 percent from the field and allowed just 31 points in the second half. The Suns, coming off a win at Memphis on Tuesday, received 14 points apiece from Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat.

Final Score: Oklahoma City 119, Golden State 98
Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - Kevin Durant poured in a game-high 25 points to go with seven rebounds, as the Oklahoma City Thunder throttled the Golden State Warriors, 119-98, on Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Russell Westbrook added 22 points and Kevin Martin donated 21 points off the bench for the Thunder, who have won back-to-back games for the first time since winning six straight from Jan. 9-18. Serge Ibaka finished with 15 points, nine boards and six blocks to help Oklahoma City improve to 22-3 at home. Harrison Barnes paced the Warriors with 19 points and Stephen Curry stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds in the team's second straight defeat.

Final Score: Dallas 105, Portland 99
Dallas, TX (Sports Network) - O.J. Mayo poured in a game-high 28 points and dished out five assists to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 105-99 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. Vince Carter added 17 points off the bench and Dirk Nowitzki finished with 16 points and eight rebounds for the Mavericks, who had dropped three of their last four games entering the contest. Shawn Marion finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds in the triumph. With the victory, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle became the 28th coach to reach 500 career wins. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, Wesley Matthews tallied 21 points and Damian Lillard scored 19 points and dished out six assists for the Trail Blazers, who saw their two- game win streak come to an end.

Final Score: San Antonio 104, Minnesota 94
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - Tony Parker had 31 points and eight assists in the San Antonio Spurs' 11th straight win, a 104-94 triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Danny Green added 28 points for the Spurs, who have prevailed in 20 of their last 23 contests overall. Kawhi Leonard finished with 19 points and 10 boards in the victory. Nikola Pekovic tallied 21 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, which has dropped 13 of its last 15 tilts.

Final Score: Utah 100, Milwaukee 86
Salt Lake City, UT (Sports Network) - Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap scored 19 points apiece to lead the Utah Jazz to a 100-86 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. Jefferson also had 11 rebounds for the Jazz, who have won four of their past five games. Enes Kanter registered 17 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova scored 17 points apiece for the Bucks, who came into the game off a loss against Denver on Tuesday. Samuel Dalembert recorded 10 points and 11 rebounds.

February 7th
Final Score: Boston 116, LA Lakers 95
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - The Boston Celtics have yet to lose since Rajon Rondo suffered a torn ACL, and none of their six wins following the All-Star point guard's injury were as impressive as Thursday's 116-95 pasting of the rival Los Angeles Lakers. Paul Pierce led the way with 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Celtics, who shot 53 percent from the field and led by as many as 32. Jeff Green donated 19 points off the bench, while Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett added 15 apiece in the rout. The Lakers welcomed back Dwight Howard, who missed three straight games with a shoulder injury, but the All-Star center was a virtual non-factor in totaling nine points and nine rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Kobe Bryant netted 27 points and did not record an assist for just the third time this season, as LA fell to 3-2 on its seven-game road swing. Earlier Thursday, the Lakers confirmed forward Pau Gasol will miss at least 6-to-8 weeks due to a tear of his plantar fascia in his right foot.

Final Score: Denver 128, Chicago 96
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Wilson Chandler scored a season-high 24 points as the Denver Nuggets routed the Chicago Bulls, 128-96, at Pepsi Center. Kenneth Faried added 21 points and 12 rebounds, while Ty Lawson also posted a double-double with 16 points and 12 assists for the Nuggets, who have won eight straight games. Danilo Gallinari and Andre Iguodala contributed 15 and 14 points, respectively, in the victory. Daequan Cook dropped in 19 points off the bench to pace Chicago, which lost for the third time in four games.

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