The Washington Wizards will be without star Russell Westbrook for at least a week due to a left quadriceps injury.

Westbrook will be re-evaluated at the end of the week after suffering repeated contact to the area since the start of the NBA season, the Wizards announced on Monday.

It is a blow for the Wizards, who have slumped to 2-8 amid high expectations following Westbrook's arrival from the Houston Rockets.

Former MVP Westbrook is averaging 19.3 points, 11.3 assists and 9.7 rebounds per game in seven appearances for the Wizards this season.

Westbrook has already made some history since swapping the Rockets for the Wizards in a blockbuster trade.

The nine-time All-Star joined Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to open a season with four triple-doubles in their first four games.

These are uncertain times for the NBA as it continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 protocols have left rosters lighter in number and, with contract tracing having a major impact, it is far from surprising to see games being postponed.

The absences have offered some players greater opportunities to impress in the embryonic stages of a shortened season that will require adaptability from all involved.

After an eventful week, Stats Perform assesses those performers who have stood out - for good and bad reasons - in games from January 4-10.

 

RUNNING HOT...

Bradley Beal 

It has been a tough start for the Wizards, who are stuck in the basement of the Eastern Conference. Beal, however, has excelled amid the defeats. He is averaging 35 points per game for the season but has been particularly spectacular in recent outings, including dropping 60 against the Philadelphia 76ers. While it set a new career best for points - and tied a franchise record too - Beal made clear he is not interested in personal milestones: "I just want to win. Sometimes you might be able to score 40, 50, 60, whatever the case may be, but I just want to win".

Tyrese Maxey 

The 21st pick in the 2020 draft had scored a combined tally of 52 points through his first nine NBA appearances. Then, amid injuries, positive COVID tests and coronavirus-enforced isolations, Maxey was thrust into a leading role as one of just seven players available against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday. His response to the situation was to score 39 points in just under 44 minutes of action, having taken 33 shots but no free throw attempts. In doing so, he became the first 76ers rookie with at least 35 points in a game since franchise legend Allen Iverson in 1997. 

Jimmy Butler 

Butler has begun to heat up after a cold start to the new campaign for Miami. The five-time All-Star had been hampered by injury issues but has looked back to somewhere near his best of late, managing 18, 26 and 26 points in his past three games. Surprisingly, though, Butler is still yet to manage a successful three-point attempt, missing on his seven shots from deep so far. It is a different story from the free-throw line, though, going 28 of 29 from the charity stripe.

LaMelo Ball 

The rise and rise of the youngest Ball brother continues. The point guard became the youngest player in NBA history to score a triple-double as Charlotte Hornets beat the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. At 19 years and 140 days old, Ball had 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. He had narrowly missed out on achieving the feat in his team's previous outing, against a New Orleans Pelicans team that included older sibling Lonzo. His rebounding average has gone from 4.33 a game to 9.25 across the past week. 

GOING COLD...

James Harden  

The NBA's scoring champion for the previous three seasons, Harden is still averaging 26 points per game despite continued doubts over his long-term future in Houston. However, it has not been a particularly productive week for the guard, who has not reached double digits in terms of field goals made in four straight outings. There were 15-point displays against both the Pacers and the Magic, then 20 points in a defeat to the Lakers. Across that stretch, Harden was six for 22 from three-point range. Astonishingly, he did not attempt a solitary free throw against Orlando. 

Trae Young 

To say Young has gone cold from deep recently is an understatement. The Atlanta Hawk landed five of six attempts in the season-opener against the Bulls, but since then has managed just nine successful long-range shots, including going a combined one for 14 in his most recent three appearances. Understandably, then, his average for points per game has dipped from 28.17 on January 3 to 17.67 for the past week.

Russell Westbrook 

A quadriceps injury will keep Westbrook sidelined for at least a week. His early form with the Wizards has been steady, including reaching double digits for points in all of his seven games for the franchise. Where there has been a dip for the former NBA MVP is in rebounding. He was up at 11.20 per game for the season by January 3, but he has averaged 6.00 for the past week following reduced contributions in defeats to the 76ers and the Celtics.

Blake Griffin  

Griffin hit with eight of 16 three-point shots for Detroit against the Cavaliers on December 26, but his output from long range since suggests that number could prove to be a post-Christmas outlier when compared to the rest of the season. In the past week, the 31-year-old has landed two from deep out of 18 tries for the struggling Pistons. His overall field goal percentage is down on his career mark too (37.6 per cent from 49.7 per cent), explaining why he is averaging 13.9 points per game. 

Russell Westbrook, Doc Rivers and Billie Jean King reacted with revulsion to the assault on the US Capitol by supporters of outgoing president Donald Trump, united in the view there would have been a deadlier outcome had the rioters been black people.

On a dark day for the United States, thousands of Trump backers descended on Washington for a protest rally, refusing to accept the result of November's election that saw Joe Biden sweep to power.

Two weeks out from Biden's inauguration, many violent protesters breached security and accessed the Capitol, causing carnage and destruction as they appeared to go largely unchallenged.

There were a number of casualties, with four dead including a woman who was shot, while reports said a number of explosive devices were discovered.

Washington Wizards star Westbrook said: "It's very unfortunate to see. If those roles were reversed, if those were African-Americans, black people, it would be totally different."

He said the chaos was "just crazy, almost like a movie", and team-mate Bradley Beal agreed it was hard to stomach the scenes, given his view that police took a far less lenient approach to protesters during last year's Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

"It's very disheartening in a lot of ways - a lack of sense of urgency to respond to what was going on, versus protesters at Black Lives Matter over the summer," Beal said.

"The people who were invading our Capitol, that's unheard of and it's disheartening this is where we're at as a country."

Veteran Philadelphia 76ers coach Rivers called the insurgency "pretty disturbing" but vowed that "democracy will prevail".

"It shows a lot, though," Rivers said. "When you saw the [Black Lives Matter] protests in the summer, you saw the riots or more the police and the national guard and the army. And then you see this and you saw nothing.

"It basically proves the point about a privileged life in a lot of ways. I'll say it because I don’t think a lot of people want to: could you imagine today if those were all black people storming the Capitol and what would have happened?

"So that to me is a picture that’s worth a thousand words for all of us to see and probably something for us to reckon with again."

Tennis great King, a long-time activist for equality in sport and society, added on Twitter: "If the rioters storming the Capitol building today were Black and Brown people, the police response would be much different."

Footballer Megan Rapinoe became embroiled in a war of words with Trump during USA's triumph at the 2019 Women's World Cup.

Looking at footage of how seemingly easily the protesters were able to break into the Capitol, Rapinoe offered her opinion, writing: "This is crazy, how did they even get through the..... ohhhhh it was opened for them."

Trump had addressed the crowds earlier in the day, forcefully standing by his view that he was fraudulently robbed of an election win.

In the hours after the Capitol was cleared, Congress confirmed Biden's victory.

Richard Sherman, the San Francisco 49ers cornerback, described the rioters as "terrorists".

He wrote on Twitter: "Never thought Americans would let terrorists into the capital without a fight....sad day. There are certain things my brain could never imagine.... and one of them is black ppl storming a government building and taking things without deadly consequences. But that’s just my brain."

It was not just Sherman's brain thinking along those lines, though. Far from it.

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard took the same stance, saying: "You just see the privilege, the privilege in America. "It's sad to see, because if any of us was out there, I think we would've been tear-gassed, Maced, probably gunshots, you know?"

And American track and field legend Michael Johnson said the scenes were only to be expected, given the nature of the Trump presidency.

"The alarms were sounded for four years. Republicans ignored them. Many in the media ignored them and normalized dangerous behavior," Johnson wrote on Twitter.

"Sadly, today it all came to be. Shameful! This president and his supporters. Shame on you! And take responsibility!

"People on Twitter (of course) literally equating BLM protesters fighting for justice and equality to White Supremacist Trump supporters (supposed Patriots) gleefully and violently desecrating America's oldest and greatest institutions of democracy. Sadly, this is typical America."

Russell Westbrook made some history with another triple-double, but the Washington Wizards fell to another loss.

Westbrook, traded by the Houston Rockets to the Wizards in December, posted 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in Thursday's 133-130 loss to the Chicago Bulls.

He joined Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to open a season with four triple-doubles in their first four games.

Despite Westbrook's performances, the Wizards fell to 0-5 to begin the campaign.

The nine-time All-Star is averaging 19.8 points, 12.8 rebounds and 12.3 assists this season.

The NBA season is only a week old but it is not too soon to look at how some of the biggest moves of the abbreviated offseason are faring on their new teams.

No offseason trade made bigger headlines than the blockbuster that sent nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook from the Houston Rockets to the Washington Wizards for John Wall in a swap of high-scoring point guards.

Playing for his third team in three years has not done anything to slow Westbrook's production, as he has averaged 19 points, 13.7 rebounds and 12.7 assists with three triple-doubles in as many games for the Wizards. He is the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1961 to record triple-doubles in the first three games of the season.

While Westbrook's accomplishment is undeniably remarkable, the Wizards are one of four winless teams left in the league and the 0-4 start is the franchise's worst since it began 2012-13 with 12 consecutive losses.

Many of the same issues that have plagued Westbrook throughout his career have followed him to the nation's capital, with shot selection the most glaring weakness.

 

 

 

The early returns on the trade aren't very good from Washington's perspective but at least Westbrook has been on the court. Wall has yet to play a game for Houston after he and several team-mates had to quarantine following COVID-19 issues on the Rockets.

The most surprising free-agent acquisition of the offseason was Gordon Hayward leaving the contending Boston Celtics to sign a four-year, $120million deal with the Charlotte Hornets, a team that have not won a playoff round since 2001-02.

Hayward will not post the eye-popping numbers of some players, but he consistently makes smart choices and elevates the players around him. Hayward has averaged 19.8 points and six assists through his first four games with Charlotte.

A move that would've been impossible to predict a couple years ago was the Rockets giving a three-year, $41million contract to Christian Wood, a player that went undrafted and has been waived four times since entering the league in 2015.

A versatile big man, Wood had a breakout season with the Detroit Pistons in 2019-20 and played at an All-Star level after moving into the starting line-up in early February. He averaged 21.9 points on 56.0 per cent shooting with 9.4 rebounds in 12 games.

In his first two games with Houston, Wood has totalled 54 points on 23-of-42 (54.8 per cent) shooting and 16 rebounds while starting at center. With the James Harden saga hanging over the team, Wood has given Rockets fans a young player to be excited about.

 

Veteran point guard Chris Paul has been on the move quite a lot lately, with the Phoenix Suns his fourth team in five years following his November trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Paul should be the perfect floor leader and mentor for a young Phoenix team that was the story of the bubble last season with an 8-0 record in the seeding games before falling short of a postseason appearance.

Paul has only scored in double figures once in his first four games but he is among the league leaders in assists (9.5) and has helped the Suns to a 3-1 record, their best four-game mark since 2014-15.

Kevin Durant was technically a member of the Nets last season though an Achilles injury kept him sidelined all year. The four-time scoring champion has not shown any rust upon his return this season, averaging 28.3 points on 52.2 per cent from the field while helping Brooklyn to a 3-1 record in the games he has played.

Brooklyn is reportedly Harden's preferred destination and acquiring him seemed to make sense for the Nets, since collecting superstars on one team is all the rage in today's NBA. But with Durant seemingly back to his All-Star form and Kyrie Irving also playing extremely well, perhaps Harden's scoring and demand for the ball is not needed in Brooklyn.

The Durant-Irving combination and a strong supporting staff of players could be enough to get the Nets to a place the franchise has not been since the days of Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson.

 

Durant, Irving and the rest of the league are chasing defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers, who on paper appear to be even better than last season. The addition of point guard Dennis Schroder in a trade with Oklahoma City is already proving to be a very valuable addition.

Schroder is a prolific scorer that can ease the burden on LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and he can take over some of the ball-handling duties in place of the departed Rajon Rondo.

Schroder is one of just 15 players this season (minimum of three games) averaging at least 17 points, five rebounds and five assists. Some of the others on that list are James, Westbrook, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic.

The Philadelphia 76ers made it two wins from two games under Doc Rivers, while Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook recorded his second straight triple-double.

Joel Embiid fuelled the 76ers with a double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds away to the Knicks in New York on Saturday.

Ben Simmons recorded 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists as he nullified Knicks star RJ Barrett, while Tobias Harris and Seth Curry each had 17 points apiece for the championship-chasing 76ers.

76ers head coach Rivers – who replaced Brett Brown in the offseason – also earned his 945th regular-season victory to move 10th all time, surpassing Bill Fitch.

The 76ers have won 13 consecutive games against the lowly Knicks (0-2).

James Harden registered 44 points and 17 assists, but the Houston Rockets still lost 128-126 to the Portland Trail Blazers in overtime.

Houston were playing for the first time after their season opener was postponed due to coronavirus, and Harden – reportedly eyeing a trade to the 76ers or Brooklyn Nets – almost guided the Rockets to victory in Portland.

The Trail Blazers (1-1) were spearheaded by CJ McCollum (44 points) and Damian Lillard (32 points).

 

Westbrook follows in Magic's footsteps

Former MVP Westbrook became the first player since Magic Johnson in 1982 to post triple-doubles in his team's first two games of the season. Westbrook put up 15 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists in Washington's 130-120 loss to the unbeaten Orlando Magic. Acquired from the Rockets, Westbrook became the fourth player in NBA history to achieve the feat, along with Johnson (twice), Jerry Lucas and Oscar Robertson, though the nine-time All-Star is the first player to do it with a new team.

The San Antonio Spurs rallied past the Toronto Raptors 119-114 thanks to DeMar DeRozan, Dejounte Murray and Patty Mills. DeRozan scored 27 points and Murray added 11 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds for his first ever triple-double – becoming just the 14th player in franchise history to accomplish the feat. Mills was eight of nine from the field and five of six from three-point range for 21 points off the bench.

Trae Young posted 36 points to lead the Atlanta Hawks past the Memphis Grizzlies 122-112. Kevin Huerter added 21 points off the bench, while Deandre Hunter had a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Grizzlies star Ja Morant finished with 28 points as team-mate Kyle Anderson (20 points and 14 rebounds) also impressed.

The Indiana Pacers took down the Chicago Bulls thanks to Domantas Sabonis' triple-double (22 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists), Victor Oladipo (22 points) and TJ Warren (23 points).

Collin Sexton (32 points), Andre Drummond (23 points and 16 rebounds) and Darius Garland (21 points and 12 assists) combined to inspire the Cleveland Cavaliers' 128-119 overtime victory at the Detroit Pistons.

 

Rough night for Barrett

Barrett struggled to get going under the watchful eye of Simmons. The Knicks star was just two-of-15 shooting from the field, while he missed all six of his three-point attempts. Barrett finished with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists in a team-high 37 minutes.

 

Gilgeous-Alexander calls game!

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander nailed a clutch jumper with 1.4 seconds remaining to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 109-107 win against the Charlotte Hornets.

 

Saturday's results

Atlanta Hawks 122-112 Memphis Grizzlies
Oklahoma City Thunder 109-107 Charlotte Hornets
Cleveland Cavaliers 128-119 Detroit Pistons (OT)
Orlando Magic 130-120 Washington Wizards
Philadelphia 76ers 109-89 New York Knicks
Indiana Pacers 125-106 Chicago Bulls
San Antonio Spurs 119-114 Toronto Raptors
Minnesota Timberwolves 116-111 Utah Jazz
Sacramento Kings 106-103 Phoenix Suns
Portland Trail Blazers 128-126 Houston Rockets (OT)

 

Timberwolves at Lakers

The Timberwolves (2-0) will face defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers (1-1) on the road on Sunday. LeBron James and the Lakers will look to claim back-to-back wins after their Christmas Day success.

Russell Westbrook declared he was "not good enough" on his Washington Wizards debut despite recording a triple-double in a defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Wizards went down 113-107 in their first game of the season at Wells Fargo Center, where Philadelphia scored 40 points in the final quarter on Wednesday.

Westbrook registered 21 points in total, providing 15 assists and taking 11 rebounds, becoming the first Wizards player to claim a triple-double on debut and only the sixth in NBA history.

The 2017 MVP's exploits could not prevent Doc Rivers from making a winning start to his reign as 76ers head coach, though, and Westbrook says he expects more from himself.

He frankly stated when asked about his performance: "Not good enough. Honestly, I am kind of disappointed in myself, just some mishaps and plays where I could have been better.

"I don't like to lose. At any point in my career, I love to go out and win the game. I got to be better next game."

Bradley Beal scored a game-high 31 points for the Wizards and Westbrook is expecting big things from his team-mate.

"He is really, really good," nine-time NBA All-Star Westbrook said. "Not just at scoring the basketball but in creating space and getting to his spots.

"As I watch film, once I get on this plane, I will learn and see how I can be able to help him, make the game easier for him as we go along this journey.

"This is the first of many [games], so we got to make sure, I got to make sure I can make the game easier for him along the way."

Russell Westbrook said he is happy to be with the Washington Wizards after being asked if he requested a trade from the Houston Rockets.

Westbrook landed in Washington after the Wizards acquired the former NBA MVP in a trade that sent franchise favourite John Wall and a future lottery-protected first-round draft pick to the Rockets on Wednesday.

Nine-time All-Star Westbrook only spent one season alongside James Harden in Houston, where the latter is reportedly seeking a trade to the Brooklyn Nets.

Westbrook was quizzed on his Rockets departure as he fronted the media on Saturday, and he told reporters: "I'm here in Washington.

"Happy about where I'm at and understanding that this is a new journey for me and understanding how important it is to focus on where I'm at, focus on the team, focus on the organisation, the community, the people here."

Westbrook averaged 27.2 points and seven assists per game for the Rockets, who had their 14th consecutive season at .500 or better but failed to reach the NBA Finals – the longest streak of its kind in NBA history.

But Westbrook's struggles were evident in the playoffs – shooting just 24.2 per cent from three-point range and 53.1 per cent from the free-throw line.

Westbrook was the first player in NBA history to shoot under 25 per cent from three and under 60 per cent from the line in a single postseason (minimum 30 attempts in both categories).

Houston had a 29-13 record when Westbrook shot less than five times from beyond the arc compared to 10-13 when attempting five or more.

While Westbrook remains one of the NBA's elite scorers and creators, concerns over his demeanour and character continue to linger.

"Where do you want me to start?" Westbrook said when asked about what is most misunderstood about him. "Well listen, I think the underlying thing about that is 90 per cent, 100 per cent is not even true.

"Because a lot of times, the things that are made up, people don't actually know me to be able to say anything about me or what I am about or what I believe in. ... The biggest thing for me is just kind of going and being myself, which is easy because being myself, I can be genuine and loyal and understanding. Obviously, I am not the easiest guy to understand, whatever, watch play, whatever people may think."

Westbrook was crowned MVP in 2017 but the 32-year-old is yet to win a championship, though he insisted a title will not define his legacy.

"Legacy for me is based on how many people I impact and inspire along my journey," Westbrook said. "I grew up in underserved communities, I understand what it's like, I understand the struggle, I understand what it means and what it's like to be a Black African American in society.

"It's important that somebody that has the power, the impact, the ability, the impact, the outreach to be able to put their foot down and make a stand. To me, that is legacy. That creates legacy long term."

Houston Rockets head coach Stephen Silas said he is giving star James Harden "space" amid trade rumours, though he is confident the former NBA MVP will still be with the team when the 2020-21 season gets underway.

Harden reportedly wants to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets, where he would reunite with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Kevin Durant and team up with Kyrie Irving.

Talk of Harden's future has been further amplified after Russell Westbrook was dealt to the Washington Wizards in exchange for John Wall on Wednesday.

But first-year coach Silas, who replaced Mike D'Antoni, is confident regarding Harden in Houston.

"When stuff like this kind of happens where there's a little indecision and stuff going on, I kind of take a step back and allow guys some space," Silas told reporters on Thursday.

"From my perspective, my communication has been, 'I'm giving you space,' and that's kind of where it's been as far as my communication with him.

"Guys like that need that. They need to figure it out, and they don't need someone banging on them all the time to kind of figure out where they're at and whatnot."

Harden has called Houston home since 2012 and signed a contract extension through to the 2022-23 season in 2017, but the sharpshooter reportedly turned down a new deal and wants to leave the Rockets in pursuit of a maiden championship.

In 2019-20, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game. It followed 53.9 in 2018-19, 51.3 in 2017-18 and 56 the season previous.

That marked four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created, tying Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.

Harden averaged 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game for the Rockets, who lost in the Western Conference semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort.

"I'm confident that he'll be all-in," Silas said. "That's where I'm leaving it. As I said, I'm giving him his space to do his thing, but I'm confident that he'll be here when we get started."

Silas added: "Everybody is excited about the possibilities that we have. Us having multiple ways to play on both ends of the floor and having the talent of DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall and Christian Wood to meld with the previous guys that were on the team.

"James is going to have the ball a lot, like he has in the past. Like I said, we're not going to change things so drastically that the offense isn't going to be as effective as it has in the past.

"We're going to try to change things to make it a little bit more diverse, but he's going to have the ball quite a bit."

The Washington Wizards confirmed the acquisition of former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook in a trade that sent franchise favourite John Wall to the Houston Rockets.

Westbrook leaves the Rockets after just one season alongside James Harden in Houston, the nine-time All-Star moving to Washington in exchange for Wall and a future lottery-protected first-round draft pick on Wednesday.

The shock trade comes amid uncertainty over Rockets superstar Harden, who is reportedly eyeing a move to the Brooklyn Nets, while the Philadelphia 76ers have also been linked.

Wall heads to Houston, having not played since rupturing his left Achilles tendon in January last year. He initially underwent season-ending left heel surgery.

The five-time All-Star, who has appeared in just 73 games since the start of the 2017-18 season, is fourth for career points for the Wizards after being drafted first by the Washington franchise in 2010.

"Having the opportunity to acquire a player of Russell's calibre and character was something that we could not pass up when looking at both the immediate and long-term future of our team," said Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard as Westbrook prepares to team up with Bradley Beal.

"With that said, the decision to part ways with John, one of the greatest players in franchise history, was extremely difficult. What he has meant to our organisation and our community is immeasurable and will not be forgotten."

Harden and Westbrook – who played together at the Oklahoma City Thunder – became the first pair of team-mates in NBA history to average 25.0-plus points and seven-plus assists per game in the same season.

Westbrook averaged 27.2 points and seven assists per game for the Rockets, who had their 14th consecutive season at .500 or better but failed to reach the NBA Finals – the longest streak of its kind in NBA history.

But Westbrook's struggles were evident in the playoffs – shooting just 24.2 per cent from three-point range and 53.1 per cent from the free-throw line.

Westbrook was the first player in NBA history to shoot under 25 per cent from three and under 60 per cent from the line in a single postseason (minimum 30 attempts in both categories).

Houston had a 29-13 record when Westbrook shot less than five times from beyond the arc compared to 10-13 when attempting five or more.

Westbrook, meanwhile, has a career average of 19.6 points, 9.0 assists and 6.1 rebounds in Washington.

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks added: "Russell's accomplishments and honours on the court speak for themselves, but his drive and will to win are what separate him as a truly unique player.

"As much as I'm looking forward to reuniting with him, I'm equally sad to say good-bye to John. He is one of the toughest and most gifted players I've ever been around and we all wish him nothing but the best moving forward."

In 573 career games with 561 starts for the Wizards, Wall averaged 19.0 points, 9.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.70 steals. He joins Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history with career averages of at least 19.0 points per game, 9.0 assists per game and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Over the past six seasons, Wall is the only player in the league to have averaged at least 20.0 points per game and 10.0 assists per game.  

The Houston Rockets have reportedly traded All-Star Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards in exchange for John Wall.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets dealt 2017 NBA MVP Westbrook for injury-hit five-time All-Star Wall and a first-round draft pick.

The shock trade comes amid uncertainty over Rockets superstar James Harden, who is reportedly eyeing a move to the Brooklyn Nets.

Westbrook reunited with former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Harden in Houston at the start of 2019-20, but his stint with the Rockets – who gave up Chris Paul, two protected first-round picks and other draft considerations – was short-lived.

In their first season back together in Houston, Harden and Westbrook became the first pair of team-mates in NBA history to average 25.0-plus points and seven-plus assists per game in the same season.

Westbrook averaged 27.2 points and seven assists per game for the Rockets, who had their 14th consecutive season at .500 or better but failed to reach the NBA Finals – the longest streak of its kind in NBA history.

But Westbrook's struggles were evident in the playoffs – shooting just 24.2 per cent from three-point range and 53.1 per cent from the free-throw line.

Westbrook was the first player in NBA history to shoot under 25 per cent from three and under 60 per cent from the line in a single postseason (minimum 30 attempts in both categories).

Houston had a 29-13 record when Westbrook shot less than five times from beyond the arc compared to 10-13 when attempting five or more.

Westbrook, meanwhile, has a career average of 19.6 points, 9.0 assists and 6.1 rebounds in Washington.

As for Wall, he has not played rupturing his left Achilles tendon in January last year, having initially undergone season-ending left heel surgery.

Wall, who has appeared in just 73 games since the start of the 2017-18 season, is fourth for career points for the Wizards after being drafted first by the Washington franchise in 2010.

Russell Westbrook's reunion with James Harden elevated expectations in Houston at the start of the season.

Another genuine superstar and MVP to partner Harden, at least on paper, rivalled the combinations of LeBron James-Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard-Paul George in the west.

There were definitely good signs after the Rockets opted to move on from Chris Paul and Clint Capela and switch to a 'small ball' strategy.

But Houston's season came to an end in the Western Conference semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort, prompting the parting of ways between the Rockets and head coach Mike D'Antoni.

As the Rockets' wait for an NBA Finals appearance continues, we review the team's 2019-20 campaign using Stats Perform data.

 

Rockets make unwanted history

Houston have enjoyed a lot of regular-season success, but the same cannot be said in the playoffs.

This was the 14th consecutive season the Rockets finished at .500 or better but failed to reach the NBA Finals – the longest streak of its kind in NBA history.

Houston secured the fourth seed with a 44-28 record before falling to the Lakers in five games in the Orlando bubble.

The Rockets have not advanced to the NBA Finals since winning their last championship in 1995 – a sweep of the Orlando Magic.

There will be a new coach at the helm for their next Finals bid after D'Antoni's contract expired and the 69-year-old did not renew.

D'Antoni oversaw a 217-101 regular-season record in four campaigns in Houston, where the Rockets reached the Conference finals once and enjoyed three other trips to the semi-finals.

 

Harden and Westbrook enter record books

The Rockets gave up a lot to reunite former Thunder team-mates Harden and Westbrook – Houston parting with two future first-round selections, two pick swaps and Chris Paul for the nine-time All-Star.

Harden played his first three NBA seasons in Oklahoma City with Westbrook, helping the Thunder reach the 2012 NBA Finals before joining the Rockets afterwards.

In their first season back together in Houston, Harden and Westbrook became the first pair of team-mates in NBA history to average 25.0-plus points and seven-plus assists per game in the same season.

Harden averaged 34.3 points and 7.5 assists, while Westbrook averaged 27.2 points and seven assists in 2019-20.

 

Harden continues to produce crazy numbers

There is just no stopping Harden in Houston. In 2019-20, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game.

It followed 53.9 in 2018-19, 51.3 in 2017-18 and 56 the season previous.

That marked four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created, tying Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.

While Harden dazzled, Westbrook's struggles were evident in the playoffs this year.

Westbrook shot just 24.2 per cent from three-point range and 53.1 per cent from the free-throw line. He was the first player in NBA history to shoot under 25 per cent from three and under 60 per cent from the line in a single postseason (minimum 30 attempts in both categories).

The Rockets are usually at their best when Westbrook is not shooting a lot of threes – Houston had a 29-13 record when the 2017 MVP shot less than five from beyond the arc compared to 10-13 after attempting five or more.

Houston's whole offense revolves around three-pointers, and yet one of their main players does not shoot them well and they do not win much when he shoots a lot of them.

 

Small-ball disadvantage

Houston first experimented with 'small ball' while Capela was injured in January. Shortly afterwards, the Rockets opted to trade the center to the Atlanta Hawks.

All-in on the approach to help free up Harden and Westbrook, it led to a rebounding disadvantage, exposed in the playoffs. Their average rebound margin per game was minus-9.2, the worst by any team in a single postseason in which they played at least 12 games in the past 30 years.

The Lakers' Anthony Davis in particular was dominant against their small line-up, averaging 25.4 points and 12.4 rebounds while shooting 60 per cent from the field in the series against the Rockets.

During the regular season, Houston's average rebound margin was minus-3.4 in 2018-19 and minus-3.6 in 2019-20. Since the 1976-77 merger, there has never been a team to have a minus-3 or worse average rebound margin in the regular season and then go on to win the NBA title. In fact, only three of the 43 champions since the merger had a negative rebound margin in the regular season – the Rockets in 1993-94 (-0.3) and 1994-95 (-2.8) and the Miami Heat in 2012-13 (-1.5).

LeBron James and Anthony Davis were both named in the All-NBA First Team on Wednesday as the Los Angeles Lakers prepare to face the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

The All-NBA selections were announced as the playoffs hot up in Orlando, although the Lakers duo were the only remaining members of the First Team.

James and Davis were joined by James Harden, whose Houston Rockets they beat in the second round, along with reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic.

MVP candidates James and Antetokounmpo were both unanimous votes.

The Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard and playoff nemesis Nikola Jokic headlined the Second Team. Jokic led the Nuggets past the Clippers on Tuesday to complete another remarkable series fightback.

Damian Lillard was also included after carrying the Portland Trail Blazers into the postseason, alongside veteran Chris Paul, who impressed following his trade from the Rockets to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Pascal Siakam - disappointing in the playoffs for defending champions the Toronto Raptors - made up the selection.

Meanwhile, in the Third Team, the Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum and the Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler are both still alive as Eastern Conference Finals opponents.

Russell Westbrook, part of the Paul trade, got recognition, too, and was joined by Rudy Gobert and Ben Simmons, the latter ending the season injured.

Russell Westbrook addressed getting into a shouting match with the brother of Rajon Rondo, saying people watching inside the bubble for the NBA playoffs are "supposed to shut your mouth and watch the game".

Westbrook's Rockets were knocked out of the Western Conference semi-finals in Orlando on Saturday after falling to a heavy 119-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5.

There was a flashpoint in the fourth quarter when Westbrook reacted to a comment from William Rondo, whose sibling later said he had called the Rockets star "trash".

"People at the game, you're supposed to shut your mouth and watch the game," Westbrook told reporters.

"That's the rules, especially when you have families and people here. Apparently, I guess because [Rajon] Rondo was talking s***, [William] decided he wanted to hop in, too.

"But it's okay. I mean, it's all good, I get it. He wanted to take up for his brother. But those rules stand for everybody, though, no matter who it is – family, whatever.

"He started talking crazy. I don't play that game."

James Harden said the situation was disappointing and added: "It affected us."

Guests inside the NBA bubble have been warned not to be verbally aggressive or enter the floor.

The incident saw William Rondo led away by security, but Rajon hopes his brother is not punished too heavily.

"He didn't do anything crazy," he said. "He called the man 'trash'. Fans do what fans do. He's my brother first. He didn't do anything disrespectful."

The defeat for the Rockets is sure to see speculation about the future of head coach Mike D'Antoni, whose contract is now expired, crank up.

D'Antoni has been linked with positions at the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers but hinted his desire is to remain in Houston.

"We've got a great organisation, great city, great fans, team's great," he said.

"I mean, everything's good here. We'll see what happens, but I couldn't ask for a better situation. I had four years and hopefully it keeps going. You just never know."

Anthony Davis and LeBron James starred as the Los Angeles Lakers topped the Houston Rockets 110-100 for a commanding lead in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Davis posted a double-double and James finished one assist shy of a triple-double to help the top-seeded Lakers move 3-1 clear in the NBA playoffs.

All-Star Davis put up 29 points and 12 rebounds in Game 4 at Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday, while James recorded 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists.

The Lakers led by as many as 23 points midway through the fourth quarter and looked on track for a blowout victory before the Rockets rallied.

Houston – who overcame a 3-1 deficit in the second round of the 2015 playoffs – put together a 18-2 run to close within 103-96 but the Lakers managed to hold in in Orlando, Florida.

Russell Westbrook led the Rockets with 25 points, and All-Star team-mate James Harden contributed 21 of his own.

Game 5 between the Lakers and Rockets is on Saturday.

 

Celtics face Raptors

It is a winner-takes-all showdown on Friday as the Boston Celtics and defending champions Toronto Raptors meet in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semi-final series.

Page 1 of 4
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.