- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
Editor's note: Every Monday, senior NBA writer Marc Stein reviews the week that was -- and takes a quick look ahead -- in "Reverse Slams."
Thank you, Rest of the West.
Victories at San Antonio and Dallas on consecutive nights only solidified the Lakers' grip on the top spot in ESPN.com's NBA Power Rankings for the sixth week running.
Yet we also note Minnesota going to Sacramento and winning in (what else?) overtime Friday night, with Kevin Garnett's 33 points and 25 rebounds deciding the fourth successive game between those teams to go past 48 minutes.
We speak of the Wolves completing a 3-0 week, all as the traveling team, and of Houston's back-to-back victories over New Orleans and Detroit. The Rockets beat the Hornets on the road, then rode Yao Ming's 22 points and 20 boards in holding off the Pistons.
Even the Spurs winning at Orlando and Miami, on Friday and Saturday, represented an improvement from the group that is supposed to make the West so mighty and merciless.
Questions and answers about this edition of the rankings will be included as part of my weekly Monday chat at 5 p.m. ET.
Team of the Week
Toronto Raptors. Beaucoup competition for this honor, but the Raps proved irresistible by going 4-0. Not because of the teams they beat -- Sixers (away), Celtics, Hawks and Sonics -- but how they did it. Toronto averaged exactly 100 points in the victories, sweeping its first four games since acquiring Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall from Chicago. Before the trade, remember, Toronto was averaging 78 points per game. Seventy-eight. As a bonus, the Raptors installed themselves as the fifth East team with a record over .500. That's one-third of the conference!
Male of the Week
Carmelo Anthony. 'Melo didn't stop after Tuesday's victory over Cleveland gave him a 2-0 season sweep against rival and dinner companion LeBron James. Anthony averaged 26.7 points on 52.2-percent shooting in wins over the Cavs and two over Golden State, as Denver's winning streak reached six games. The streak was halted Sunday with a home loss to Boston, but Anthony posted a respectable double-double (17 points, 10 boards) against the Celtics and has lifted his field-goal percentage for the season to 40 percent, after spending the first month of his pro career in the 30s.
E-Mail of the Week
- Has anyone told the Magic that LeBron has already been drafted?
STEIN: I like the witty ones as much as the legit questions. Wish that line was mine, Kris.
Speak of the Week
"That monkey is big. It's a gorilla. It's an elephant. It's a refrigerator."
—Orlando's Juwan Howard, after the Magic's losing streak was stretched to 19 games Saturday night in Dallas.
Line of the Week
Another category with loads of competition, because there were some eye-popping lines this week -- like Voshon Lenard scoring 38 for Denver in a victory over Golden State, with 26 points alone in the opening quarter. Look, though, at what O'Neal did on the back end of a back-to-back, after the Pacers were pounded by the Lakers. The Suns certainly aren't the biggest team in the world, but these numbers are vicious nonetheless.
Stat of the Week
Allen Iverson leads the league in four major categories. That would be scoring (29.4 ppg), minutes (43.7 mpg), steals (2.95 spg) ... and free-throw attempts (10.25 per game). Iverson, of course, complained the other night that he isn't going to the line enough, because referees subconsciously think he's tough enough to take a pounding. Only four other players -- Shaquille O'Neal (9.3) and Kobe Bryant (8.6) of the Lakers, the L.A. Clippers' Corey Maggette (8.5) and San Antonio's Tim Duncan (8.2) -- shoot as many as eight free throws per game.
Stat of the Weak
In addition to threatening the NBA record for most consecutive losses (23), Orlando has already clinched the longest losing streak for a team that had a winning record the previous season. The Magic went 42-40 in 2002-03.
19 '03-04 Magic
17 '64-65 Warriors
15 '01-02 Rockets
13 '01-02 Raptors
13 '93-94 Celtics
13 '77-78 Rockets
1dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann