FOX Sports NBA Reporter
The trade season is heating up and the All-Star break is quickly approaching.
But in the meantime, let’s take a look at what’s going on in the NBA, the actions of who’s up and who’s down.
Lifting: lebron james
It looks like LeBron James can’t wait to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time scoring list. Either that, or he’s realized that to keep the Lakers afloat without Anthony Davis, he needs to score a wild goal.
Over the past week, James, 38, has averaged 35 points on 51 percent shooting, nine rebounds and seven assists to lead the Lakers to a 3-1 record, with wins over Houston, Memphis and Portland.
On top of last week, James scored a game-high 48 points against the Rockets, his third 40-point game this season. In Sunday’s win over the Blazers, he had 37 points and 11 rebounds to help the Lakers rally from a 25-point halftime deficit, tied for the second-largest halftime deficit overcome in franchise history (the biggest was 28 points in December 2002).
LeBron James scored a season-high 48 points in the win over the Rockets
Skip and Shannon discuss one of several standout performances LeBron James has had in January.
James is now just 223 points shy of Abdul-Jabbar’s record of 38,387 points. If he continues at this scoring clip, he could match (and potentially surpass) Abdul-Jabbar’s record in about six games.
The good news for the Lakers (and James) is that Davis could return this week after being sidelined for more than a month with a right foot injury. Davis will take much of the load off James. And if he picks up the MVP level he was playing at before the injury, the Lakers could be in a good spot. Although they sit in 12th place in the Western Conference, they are only two games behind the sixth-place Clippers.
Fall: The Pelicans
With Zion Williamson (hamstring strain) and Brandon Ingram (bruised toe), New Orleans doesn’t have much room for error.
These absences have come on the day of the Pelicans, who have lost four games in a row.
CJ McCollum, who is shooting 42.8% from the field this season, has shot 36% from the field over the past four games, including going 6-for-21 (28.6%) in Friday’s loss to Orlando and 5 of 16 (31.3%) in Sunday’s loss to Miami.
Then there’s Trey Murphy III, who was a combined minus-66 during that stretch.
The Pelicans have lost seven of their last 10 games without Williamson. They now sit in fourth place in the Western Conference with a 26-21 record, just three games back of the 11th place Oklahoma City Thunder.
Lifting: Jrue Holiday
Holiday’s work has blown up over the past week.
The Bucks point guard, who is averaging 19.6 points and 7.5 assists on the season, averaged 33.3 points and 9.3 assists over the team’s last three games before Monday night , leading them to a 2-1 record with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. sidelined (both returned Monday and Holiday scored 16 in a 150-130 win over Detroit).
During that span, Holiday shot 56.9% from the field and 47.8% from 3. He also had back-to-back 35- and 37-point performances, the first back-to-back 35-point games of his career.
He is making a very strong case for stars. Even though Antetokounmpo has been out for five straight games with a knee injury and Middleton, before Monday, had missed the past 18 games with knee soreness, the Bucks are still in third place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 29-17. .
The holidays are a big reason for this success.
fall: New York Knicks
The Knicks have lost four straight and have a tough stretch ahead, with games against Cleveland on Tuesday, Boston on Thursday and Brooklyn on Saturday. Each of those opponents is in the top five of the East standings.
The Knicks, who sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 25-23 record, have Atlanta and Indiana nipping at their heels, trailing by a half game and two games, respectively.
The Knicks need to shore up their defense to avoid slipping further in the standings this week.
Lifting: Boston Celtics
I was debating whether to include the Celtics or the 76ers in this final stretch. Both teams pulled off an impressive win rats during the last two weeks.
But I went with the Celtics because they are coming off their second nine-game winning streak of the season, have had the league’s No. 1-ranked defense during that span, and are the top seed in the East. Conference with a balance of 35-13, four days ahead of the 76ers.
This season, this team has been laser-focused on getting back to where they left off last season: the playoffs.
In Saturday’s win over Toronto, Robert Williams III suffered a left knee injury and Marcus Smart suffered a sprained right ankle in a game in which the Celtics were already without Jayson Tatum. They beat the Raptors anyway.
This team is deep and hungry, a dangerous combination.
fall: Indiana Pacers
The Pacers have lost seven straight since Tyrese Haliburton suffered elbow and knee injuries in a Jan. 11 game against New York.
Haliburton’s injury has highlighted the lack of depth on this team. Without him, they have fallen from sixth to ninth in the East. During that stretch, they’ve also fallen to last in the league in offensive rating (106.7) and net rating (-13.9) and turnovers per game (18).
Haliburton will likely be an All-Star starter this season, but the Pacers shouldn’t be so lost without him.
His absence could be a big wake-up call for the Pacers as they approach the trade deadline.
Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.
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