The NBA: March 2013 Position Battle – The Top 5 Centers Right Now

Dwight Howard is playing like Dwight Howard again, Marc Gasol breaks into the top five, and Sacramento’s resident meathead makes an appearance as well. 

Note: All of the following stats are based on the last five games of each player as computed by They were taken on March 15, 2013 (Manila time).

5. DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) - 14.8ppg, 10.3rpg, 3.5apg, 1.8spg, 1.5bpg, 22.3 EFF
Cousins is nursing a sore left knee as of the moment, but prior to that injury, he exhibited great back-to-back performances against the Suns and the Bucks. 22 and 14 versus Phoenix and 24 and 10 against Milwaukee. Is he becoming the All-Star center he is supposed to be?

DeMarcus Cousins can be one of the best bigs in the NBA,
if only he stop acting like a big baby.
(image by Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

4. Nikola Vucevic (ORL) - 13.2ppg, 13.2rpg, 1.0bpg, .545 FG%, 22.4 EFF
One game stands out – 25 points, 21 rebounds, and 69% FG shooting against the defending champion Miami Heat last March 5, 2013 (Manila time). Not bad for a 16th pick. Hey, Philly, why’d you let him go again?

3. Al Horford (ATL) - 16.8ppg, 11.4rpg, 3.2apg, .542 FG%, 22.6 EFF
The last time Horford scored in single-digits was way back in January 9, and he has put up double-doubles in 7 of his last 10 games. He’s maybe the best passing big in the East, and he’s also probably the most underrated.

2. Marc Gasol (MEM) - 19.2ppg, 6.6rpg, 4.2apg, 1.4spg, 1.8bpg, .620 FG%, 24.4 EFF
The grizzled Grizzly big man is back in the mix. His rebounding leaves a lot to be desired, but that’s mainly because of Zach Randolph’s presence. Instead, look at his awesome FG% and the fact he basically DOES EVERYTHING. Also, Memphis has won all but one game this month. Hey, big bro, where you at?

1. Dwight Howard (LAL) - 21.8ppg, 16.2rpg, 2.0spg, 3.4bpg, .567 FG%, 30.8 EFF
Ah, yes. THIS is the Dwight Howard Hollywood paid for. The Lakers are 4-1 in their last five games, and Howard has been a big reason why. 21 rebounds against Chicago? 39 and 16 against Orlando? Indiana, Sacramento, and Phoenix better call an ambulance because big hurting is coming their way. Oh, but can he keep it up now that Kobe is out with his worst ankle sprain ever?

Kobe Bryant will be missed, and this means Dwight Howard will
have to step up for the Lakers.
(image by Michael Conroy/AP)

Game Recaps (courtesy of the Sports Network):
March 13
Final Score: Indiana 107, Minnesota 91
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Roy Hibbert recorded a double-double with 27 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 107-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. Hibbert shot 10-of-15 from the field for the Pacers, who came into the game off a 105-91 loss at Miami on Sunday. Paul George scored 17 points, George Hill had 16 points and six assists and David West registered 13 points and 10 rebounds. Ricky Rubio, fresh off a triple-double against San Antonio on Tuesday, scored 21 points and dished out 10 assists. He also had six rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost three of their last four games. Luke Ridnour had 17 points in the setback.

Final Score: Miami 98, Philadelphia 94
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Miami Heat became only the fifth team in NBA history to win 20 consecutive games after the defending world champions rallied down the stretch for a 98-94 decision over the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade once again led the way as Miami extended the league's longest victorious stretch since the 2007-08 Houston Rockets ripped off 22 in a row, with James accumulating 27 points along with eight assists and Wade contributing 21 points with eight rebounds. The Heat's accomplishment didn't come easy, however, as the 76ers put forth a 12-0 fourth-quarter run to turn a nine-point deficit into an 85-82 lead with 4 1/2 minutes to play. Philadelphia was dealt its 13th defeat in 15 games despite a 24-point, 15-rebound effort from Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday's 21 points and seven assists. Evan Turner chipped in 15 points in the hard-luck loss.

Final Score: Washington 106, Milwaukee 93
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - John Wall poured in 23 points to go with 10 assists and six rebounds to lead the Washington Wizards to a 106-93 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. Martell Webster added 20 points and Trevor Ariza finished with 14 points off the bench for the Wizards, who got double-doubles from both Nene and Trevor Booker. Nene had 13 points and 13 rebounds and Booker finished with 13 points and 12 boards in the triumph. Monta Ellis scored a game-high 26 points and dished out eight assists and Ersan Ilyasova scored 21 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for the Bucks, who have dropped two straight after winning six of seven. Larry Sanders scored 17 points and pulled down 11 rebounds and J.J. Redick added 16 points off the bench in the setback.

Final Score: Atlanta 96, LA Lakers 92
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Kyle Korver made two free throws with 2.6 seconds left to seal the Atlanta Hawks' 96-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. An entertaining fourth quarter came down to the final seconds. After Korver made 1-of-2 from the line to give the Hawks a 94-92 lead with 16.9 seconds remaining, the Lakers went to Kobe Bryant. The 15-time All-Star tried to tie the game on a baseline jumper. Instead, Bryant missed the shot and landed on Dahntay Jones' foot, rolling his left ankle. Bryant was able to walk off the court under his own power. Korver pulled down Bryant's miss and made two free throws at the other end to secure the win for the Hawks, who had lost four straight against the Lakers. Korver ended with 15 points. Devin Harris tallied 17 points and seven assists for Atlanta, which was without guard Jeff Teague (ankle) and forward Josh Smith (knee). Al Horford had 14 points and 14 rebounds, Johan Petro donated 10 points and 11 boards and Ivan Johnson and John Jenkins each scored 12 points. Bryant ended with 31 points and seven rebounds for Los Angeles, which had a four-game winning streak snapped. It was announced after the game that Bryant severely sprained his left ankle and will be out indefinitely.

Final Score: Boston 112, Toronto 88
Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Jeff Green netted 20 points to lead a balanced Boston scoring attack that carried the Celtics to a 112-88 bounce-back win over the Toronto Raptors from TD Garden. Six other Celtics reached double- figure points to help the team end a two-game skid that included an ugly 100-74 setback at doormat Charlotte on Tuesday. Paul Pierce added 15 points, with Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford contributing 12 each to the victory. Rudy Gay paced the Raptors with 19 points, but went just 7-of-19 from the field and Toronto was outscored by a 63-48 margin after halftime en route to its 10th consecutive defeat at TD Garden. DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross finished with 17 and 13 points, respectively, in the setback.

Final Score: Houston 111, Phoenix 81
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Donatas Motiejunas scored a career-high 19 points to lead six Rockets in doubles figures in their 111-81 pasting of the Phoenix Suns at Toyota Center. James Harden chipped in 18 points for Houston, which avenged Saturday's two-point loss at Phoenix. Wesley Johnson had 15 points to pace the Suns, who have lost four of their last five -- the only win coming against Houston.

Final Score: Oklahoma City 110, Utah 87
Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - Kevin Durant had 23 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 110-87 rout of the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. Russell Westbrook registered 19 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Thunder, who came into the game off a 105-93 loss at San Antonio on Monday. Kevin Martin scored 15 points off the bench in the victory. Gordon Hayward had a team-high 20 points for the Jazz, who had snapped a four-game losing streak after defeating Detroit on Monday. Enes Kanter was the only other Utah player to score in double-digits with 12 points.

Final Score: Sacramento 121, Chicago 79
Sacramento, CA (Sports Network) - Tyreke Evans scored 26 points on 11-of-13 shooting and the Sacramento Kings crushed the Chicago Bulls, 121-79. Isaiah Thomas added 22 points for the Kings, who had lost five straight against the Bulls. Patrick Patterson donated 14 points and nine rebounds, Jason Thompson tallied 12 points and Chuck Hayes and Toney Douglas each scored 10 points. Carlos Boozer had 21 points and seven boards to pace the Bulls, who have lost five in a row on the road. Nate Robinson added 19 points.

Final Score: Denver 117, New York 94
Denver, CO (Sports Network) - The Nuggets fans booed Carmelo Anthony when he was on the court and derisively asked where he was in the fourth quarter. Anthony, in his first game in Denver since orchestrating a trade to New York two years ago, gingerly limped to the locker room in the third quarter with the Nuggets already cruising to their 10th straight victory, this one a 117-94 shellacking of a Knicks club that suffered another blow to their already depleted roster. Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, two of the four players Denver received in the epic Anthony trade, fittingly led the Nuggets with 24 and 16 points, respectively. Andre Iguodala checked in with 14 points, Ty Lawson added 13 and Kenneth Faried totaled 11 with 10 rebounds in the lopsided win -- Denver's 14th straight at home.

Final Score: Golden State 105, Detroit 97
Oakland, CA (Sports Network) - Stephen Curry had 31 points and eight assists to help the Golden State Warriors to a 105-97 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. David Lee had 20 points, 15 rebounds and five assists while Jarrett Jack added 19 points and five assists for the Warriors, who have won their past two games. Rodney Stuckey scored 22 points with five helpers and Kyle Singler added 17 points for the Pistons, who are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak and are 0-3 on a four-game road trip.

Final Score: Memphis 96, LA Clippers 85
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Marc Gasol had 21 points and five steals as the Memphis Grizzlies took down the Los Angeles Clippers, 96-85. Tayshaun Prince added 18 points and six rebounds for the Grizzlies, who improved to 19-11 on the road this season. The 19 road wins in one season matches a team record set in the 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06 campaigns. Mike Conley ended with 17 points and 11 assists for Memphis, which has won six in a row and 14 of its last 15 games. Zach Randolph and Quincy Pondexter donated 13 and 11 points, respectively. Chris Paul had 24 points and nine assists for the Clippers, who got 22 points, six rebounds and five assists from Blake Griffin. Matt Barnes and Chauncey Billups tallied 14 and 10 points, respectively.

March 14
Final Score: San Antonio 92, Dallas 91
San Antonio, TX (Sports Network) - Tim Duncan delivered a monster effort after a one-game layoff, and the San Antonio Spurs held on for a 92-91 victory over the Dallas Mavericks to clinch a playoff spot. Duncan, held out of Tuesday's startling 107-83 loss at Northwest Division bottom-feeder Minnesota with a sore left knee, racked up 28 points and 19 rebounds to lead the way as the Western Conference front-running Spurs secured a postseason berth for a 16th consecutive season. Gary Neal added 16 points and Kawhi Leonard, also rested during Tuesday's setback, had 12 along with six rebounds for San Antonio. The Mavericks entered the contest having matched a season high with four straight wins, and nearly made it five after scoring seven unanswered points to pull within 92-91 in the closing seconds. Dallas got the ball back with a chance to prevail, but Vince Carter's 3-point try rimmed out at the buzzer. Dirk Nowitzki finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Mavs, with Darren Collison netting 12 points in the setback.

Final Score: Portland 105, New York 90
Portland, OR (Sports Network) - Damian Lillard scored 26 points and dished out 10 assists and LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in 22 points and 10 rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers took a 105-90 decision over the New York Knicks, on Thursday. J.J. Hickson had 12 points and pulled down a game-high 16 boards for the Trail Blazers, who had a two-game losing skid come to an end. Nicolas Batum had 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting from behind the arc to go along with six assists in the victory. J.R. Smith had a game-high 33 points and had four 3-pointers for the Knicks, who have dropped three straight and four of five overall. To make matters worse, the team was without leading scorer Carmelo Anthony who was injured in the third quarter of Wednesday's loss at Denver and returned home to New York to have his right knee drained of fluid.

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