The NBA: February 2013 Position Battle – The Top 5 Shooting Guards Right Now

It really is time to fear the beard. James Harden is the best shooting guard in the Association, maybe in the whole world, right now. No Kobe fans, I’m not hating on Mamba. I’m just laying out all the facts and straight up saying that Harden’s production trumps Kobe’s and Harden’s Rockets are in the West’s Top 8 while Kobe’s Lakers have been blowing hot and cold. Facts. Knowing how Kobe is, however, I’m sure he won’t take this sitting down. It’s Beard versus Mamba down the stretch.

Note: All of the following stats are based on the last five games of each player as computed by

5. Monta Ellis (MIL) - 19.4ppg, 5.4rpg, 7.2apg, 2.4spg, 19.2 EFF
The Bucks have lost three in a row, including back-to-back against the Nets, but it’s not for the lack of production from Ellis. Monta is showing everyone he can be a top-tier guard despite the presence of Brandon Jennings, whose skills mirror Monta’s in a very real way. If Ellis and Jennings can find a way to be this generation’s version of the Pistons’ Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, then the Bucks can surprise.

Monta Ellis has kicked his game into high gear
this past month.
(image by Jim Prisching/AP)

4. Joe Johnson (BRK) - 19.3ppg, 4.3rpg, 6.0apg, .421 3pt%, 19.7 EFF
It sucks that he’s injured right now, but the Nets can take comfort in the fact that when (if) JJ returns, then he shouldn’t take too much time to get back on the upswing. His most recent numbers pre-injury, as you can see, were very promising. He’s scoring high again and helping out D-Will in distributing the basketball. It’s also nice to see a jump in his 3-point shooting.

3. Dwyane Wade (MIA) - 21.4ppg, 5.4rpg, 4.6apg, 2.2spg, 1.0bpg, .535 FG%, 22.0 EFF
D-Wade is too good to be subpar for an entire season. His rediscovering of his old form is a BIG reason the Heat have been so dominant in February – Miami has won 11 straight after dropping their Feb. 1 assignment to Indiana. Wade is rebounding better, defending better, and shooting better. It’s time to be scared of the Miami Machine again.

2. Kobe Bryant (LAL) - 28.6ppg, 6.8rpg,7.6apg, .547 FG%, .895 FT%, 29.6 EFF
By all intents and purposes, February has been kind to the Lakers. They’ve gone 8-4 so far, and Kobe is having a helluva time. His numbers from the past five contests are all better than his current season averages, especially his FG%. The big question, of course, is will his production be enough to carry the Lakers into a postseason that might be even more hellacious than the regular season?

1. James Harden (HOU) - 30.5ppg, 6.0rpg, 5.3apg, 2.0spg, .471 3pt%, .938 FT%, 30.3 EFF
For the second straight month, Harden is better than Kobe. Does this mean there’s a new sheriff in town? Perhaps, but if the Beard really wants to be the best SG in the NBA, he will have to successfully lead his fledgling Rockets to the Playoffs. His numbers are out-of-this-world, but is his leadership up to snuff?

James Harden is the best off-guard in the NBA. Period.
(image by Alex Brandon/AP)

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Sports Network):
February 24
Final Score: LA Lakers 103, Dallas 99
Dallas, TX (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant poured in a game-high 38 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, to lift the Los Angeles Lakers to a 103-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday at American Airlines Center. Bryant added 12 rebounds and seven assists in the Lakers' third straight victory and became the youngest player in NBA history to eclipse the 31,000- point plateau at 34 years, 185 days, surpassing Wilt Chamberlain's mark of 36 years, 164 days. Steve Nash followed with 20 points and Dwight Howard finished with nine points and 13 boards for Los Angeles. Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 30 points and 13 rebounds, while Vince Carter and Elton Brand added 15 and 14 points, respectively, for the Mavericks, who saw their three-game win streak come to an end.

Final Score: Golden State 100, Minnesota 99
Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - Jarrett Jack scored a team-high 23 points to go with eight assists on Sunday, as the Golden State Warriors snuck past the Minnesota Timberwolves, 100-99, at Target Center. David Lee recorded a double-double with 22 points and 13 rebounds, while Carl Landry added 19 points and nine boards to help the Warriors snap a five-game road skid. Stephen Curry contributed 18 points and five assists in Golden State's third consecutive win overall. Derrick Williams led the Timberwolves with 23 points and 12 rebounds and Nikola Pekovic poured in 21 points to go with eight boards in the setback, Minnesota's second in a row and seventh in its last nine games. Ricky Rubio registered 16 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and six steals in the loss.

Final Score: Miami 109, Cleveland 105
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Dwyane Wade finished with 24 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, to help the Miami Heat earn their 11th consecutive victory with a 109-105 decision over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena. LeBron James poured in a game-high 28 points to go with eight assists for the Heat, who watched a 22-point third quarter lead turn into an eight-point fourth quarter deficit before Wade took over down the stretch. Mario Chalmers chipped in 16 points to help Miami become the first Eastern Conference team to 40 wins. Dion Waiters led Cleveland with 26 points, while C.J. Miles made five 3- pointers en route to 19 points for the Cavaliers, who saw their two-game win streak come to an end. Kyrie Irving added 17 points and five assists in the setback, Cleveland's fifth in a row against the Heat.

Final Score: New Orleans 110, Sacramento 95
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Anthony Davis recorded 20 points and eight rebounds, as the New Orleans Hornets defeated the Sacramento Kings, 110-95, on Sunday at New Orleans Arena. Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson scored 17 points apiece, Roger Mason Jr. added 13, and Greivis Vasquez registered 12 points and 13 assists for the Hornets, who snap a three-game losing streak. John Salmons scored 18 points for the Kings, who have lost five straight games. DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson and Isaiah Thomas scored 16 points apiece, with Cousins also grabbing 10 rebounds.

Final Score: Memphis 76, Brooklyn 72
Brooklyn, NY (Sports Network) - Zach Randolph recorded a double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 76-72 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. Marc Gasol had 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four blocks for the Grizzlies, who are on a seven-game winning streak. Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, while Mike Conley had 10 points, seven assists and three steals. Deron Williams scored 24 points for the Nets, who lost their second straight game. C.J. Watson scored 11 points and Andray Blatche registered 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Final Score: New York 99, Philadelphia 93
New York, NY (Sports Network) - Entering play Sunday, the sputtering New York Knicks saw their huge lead in the Atlantic Division shrink to one game. A date with the slumping Philadelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden helped New York establish at least some momentum going forward. Carmelo Anthony had 29 points in the Knicks' 99-93 win over the 76ers. The Knicks built a four- game advantage in the division earlier this month over the Brooklyn Nets, but New York saw its gap dissipate to one as it came into Sunday's tilt on a four- game skid. Also prior to the tilt, the squad fell a game behind the Central Division-leading Indiana Pacers, who routed New York 125-91 on Wednesday, for the second spot in the Eastern Conference. Amare Stoudemire added 22 points in the triumph for New York. Jrue Holiday netted 30 points and Evan Turner finished with 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds for the Sixers, who have dropped a season-high five consecutive contests.

Final Score: San Antonio 97, Phoenix 87
Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) - The San Antonio Spurs didn't look past their lowly foe in the finale of their longest road trip of the season. Kawhi Leonard led a balanced Spurs attack with 16 points, nine rebounds and three steals in San Antonio's 97-87 rout of the Phoenix Suns. Six Spurs finished in double figures, including Patty Mills (16), Tiago Splitter (14), Boris Diaw (12), Manu Ginobili (11) and Tim Duncan (10). San Antonio went 7-2 on its road stretch. Tony Parker missed his fourth game this year due to a right triceps contusion. The Spurs are 3-1 without him. Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Suns, who have dropped seven of their last eight games.

Final Score: Portland 92, Boston 86
Portland, OR (Sports Network) - Wesley Matthews scored 24 points and led the Portland Trail Blazers to a 92-86 win over the Boston Celtics on Sunday. Matthews was 8-of-11 from the field, including five 3-pointers. Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 18 and 16 points, respectively, and J.J. Hickson recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers, who snapped a seven-game losing streak. Paul Pierce had a team- high 23 points as well as eight assists and seven rebounds for the Celtics, who came into the game off a win against Phoenix. Kevin Garnett had 20 points and nine boards, while Brandon Bass and Jeff Green scored 11 points apiece.

Final Score: Oklahoma City 102, Chicago 72
Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - The Oklahoma City Thunder finally clamped down defensively. Russell Westbrook had 23 points in the Thunder's 102-72 win over the Chicago Bulls. Oklahoma City had allowed at least 109 points in each of its last four contests when it went 1-3. Kevin Durant registered 19 points, though on only 6-of-19 shooting, to go with 16 rebounds and six assists for the Thunder, who held the Bulls to a season-low 29.1 percent (25-of-86) from the floor. Luol Deng and Nate Robinson both netted 13 points to lead Chicago, which has dropped six of its last nine tilts.

February 25
Final Score: Washington 90, Toronto 84
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - It might already be too late for the suddenly hot Washington Wizards. Bradley Beal had 20 points and six rebounds in the Wizards' 90-84 win over the Toronto Raptors. The Wizards, who began the year 0-12, have won seven of their last nine games and 14-of-23 overall. Washington improved to 18-37 on the campaign. John Wall added 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds in the win. DeMar DeRozan netted 25 points to lead Toronto, which had won six of its previous seven tilts coming in. Rudy Gay was just 1-of-11 from the floor, turned the ball over five times and netted seven points in defeat.

Final Score: Atlanta 114, Detroit 103
Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) - Al Horford had 23 points and 22 rebounds to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 114-103 win over the Detroit Pistons on Monday. Horford shot 10-of-13 from the field for the Hawks, who have won three straight games. Josh Smith also scored 23 points and Jeff Teague recorded a double-double as well with 20 points and 12 assists. Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko scored 22 and 21 points, respectively, for the Pistons, who have lost three in a row. Greg Monroe registered 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Kyle Singler added 13 points.

Final Score: Denver 119, LA Lakers 108
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Ty Lawson had 22 points and eight assists in the Denver Nuggets' 119-108 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Wilson Chandler, filling in for an injured Danilo Gallinari, who is dealing with a thigh bruise, netted 23 points to lead Denver, which has won three of its last four contests. Kobe Bryant posted 29 points, nine assists and six boards for the Lakers, who had their three-game winning streak snapped. Dwight Howard tallied 15 points and 14 rebounds, but went just 3-of-14 from the foul line in defeat.

Final Score: Boston 110, Utah 107 (OT)
Salt Lake City, UT (Sports Network) - Paul Pierce powered Boston with 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, as the Celtics handed the Utah Jazz a rare home loss with a 110-107 decision in overtime on Monday. Pierce strung together a trio of scores in the extra session and Courtney Lee, who scored 14, added the clinching free throws in the waning seconds for Boston, which had lost four of five away from home coming in. Avery Bradley added 18 points, Kevin Garnett totaled 13 points with 10 rebounds and Brandon Bass and Jason Terry scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, in the win. Gordon Hayward scored 26 points and Al Jefferson tallied 15 points and 11 rebounds, but Randy Foye's desperation triple at the end of OT misfired, sending Utah to just its third loss at home since the start of 2013. Paul Millsap suffered a sprained ankle, but battled through to score 16 points in the defeat.

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