NBA Week 4: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In an era of expeditious news dissemination, it's nearly impossible to keep anything major under wraps.

Yet the Minnesota Timberwolves somehow kept the return of a top-five NBA player, PF Kevin Love, a secret. Love's stunning return from a broken hand several weeks earlier than we expected was the top development of this past week of NBA action.

Fantasy owners also lost another superstar to a hand-related injury, as Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving was sidelined with a non-displaced fracture in his left index finger. Irving will miss four weeks.

We can only hope Irving can pull a Love and return earlier than his timetable suggests.

Let's take a look at who else made waves, both good and bad, in this week's edition of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good

- Players measuring 6-foot-10 not named Dirk Nowitzki aren't supposed to be able to shoot like this, but New Orleans Hornets forward Ryan Anderson has been the gold standard of 3-point shooting the past two seasons. Anderson drilled 20 3-pointers in 35 attempts (.571) in four games over the past seven days, including 5-of-5 Wednesday at Indiana and 8-of-13 for 34 points with 11 boards Friday at Phoenix.

- We've touted Portland Trailblazers rookie guard Damian Lillard plenty of times at The Sports Network since his impact performance in the Summer League, but he took things to another level Friday. The 22-year-old dropped 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting with four threes, eight assists, four rebounds and one block on the Timberwolves. And how's this for impressive? He had zero turnovers. Per the Blazers' PR dept.: Lillard has eight 20-plus point games this season; all other NBA rookies have combined for 11 such games.

- Houston Rockets F Chandler Parsons averaged 21 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals and three 3-pointers over four games in the last seven days. He broke out with 31 on 13-of-17 shooting Friday against the Knicks. If you're looking for more incentive to add Parsons, consider this: after averaging 10.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in his first six games, Parsons has scored 20.1 points with 7.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 3.0 threes in his last seven and he's eighth in the NBA in minutes per game.

- While most of his teammates have been struggling to find the bottom of the net, Indiana Pacers F David West has been heating up, shooting 58.5 percent (31-of-53) from the field in his last four games. West's most impressive game this season came Nov. 19 against the Washington Wizards when he scored 30 points on 10-of-14 shooting (10-of-10 FT) with eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and four blocks. He netted 22 more points Friday against the San Antonio Spurs.

- We panned Oklahoma City Thunder guard Westbrook's shooting last week but we have to give credit where its due. The Thunder guard had games of 30, 26 and 23 points in the last seven days while shooting an excellent .476 from the field in that span. He added 8.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.3 threes per game. Westbrook is averaging 8.4 assists per game this season, up from 5.5 in 2011-12.

- Moving Isaiah Thomas out of the starting lineup has worked wonders for Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans, as he scored 21, 19 and 18 points the past week, his three highest scoring games since the season opener. He also averaged 5.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and shot .857 from the foul line in that stretch.

- The other two members of the "Big 3" may get more press but Miami Heat F/C Bosh has been fantastic this season and should be recognized for his efficiency. The Heat have only played two games since Nov. 17 but Bosh scored 24 points in both of them on 18-of-25 shooting (.720) combined. On Nov. 21 against the Milwaukee Bucks, Bosh pulled down a season-high 18 rebounds.

The Bad

- Like his backcourt teammate Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings can light it up at times. But his shot has been largely inconsistent this season. He shot just 5-of-18 on Nov. 19 and 9-of-25 two days later, going 1-of-12 from beyond the arc in those two games. He also failed to get to the foul line in either game.

- Brooklyn Nets C Brook Lopez and Toronto Raptors F/C Andrea Bargnani have both put together three consecutive 20-point games, including 26 for Lopez and 34 for Bargnani Friday. However, their work on the glass has been as poor as ever. Lopez averaged 5.0 rebounds per game in his last four and Bargnani was worse at 4.2 per game in his last five. Those numbers are unacceptable for two 7- footers.

- Whatever Lakers center Dwight Howard is doing, it isn't what fantasy owners are looking for. Along with his usual atrocious free-throw numbers (19-of-41, .463 in his last four games), Howard scored just 14 points with 13 rebounds and seven turnovers combined in his last two games.

- Pacers point guard George Hill hasn't shot better than 41.7 percent from the field in seven of his last eight games. In four contests this past week, Hill made just 14-of-47 (.298) from the field. Fortunately, he racked up 4.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists with just 1.3 turnovers per game while shooting 13- of-14 from the charity stripe in that span.

The Ugly

- With Irving out the onus is on Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters to produce. Unfortunately, the shots just haven't been falling for the rookie. In his last four games, Waiters has made just 22 field goals in 73 attempts, an abysmal .301 shooting percentage. We'll pinpoint Nov. 18 as one of the ugliest games from this past week, as Waiters shot 2-of-13 with no free-throw attempts or assists. He finished with five points and three turnovers.

- A 7-footer that can shoot the 3-ball is definitely a big asset, but it doesn't seem like Charlotte Bobcats center Byron Mullens is that guy, even if he'd like to be. Mullens made just 3-of-14 from downtown and shot 34.9 percent from the field in his last four games. Nov. 21 was particularly off-putting, as Mullens made 0-of-5 from 3-point range and 2-of-4 from the foul line with one assist, zero steals and zero blocks.

- Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin has combined poor shooting with his usual helter-skelter style recently, and the results haven't been pretty. In his last four games, Lin has scored just 8.8 points on 33.3 percent shooting while turning the ball over 3.8 times per game.

- It's a shame Chicago Bulls fans' tears can't hasten Derrick Rose's healing process. His replacement Kirk Hinrich only shot 25 percent from the field and 50 percent from the foul line while hitting 0-of-6 3-pointers this past week, and though he handed out 7.3 assists per game he also turned it over 4.3 times. He'll likely continue to lose minutes to Nate Robinson.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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