(SportsNetwork.com) - As the NBA nears its midway point, here are some quick observations from around the league:
Before Russell Westbrook was sidelined in late December after undergoing knee surgery, Kevin Durant was averaging 28.1 points, 18.3 field goal attempts and 4.5 3-point attempts while shooting 49 percent from the field. Since the three- time All-Star point guard has been out of the lineup, Durant is averaging 36.5 points, 22.6 field goal attempts and 6.7 3-point attempts, and is shooting 52.2 percent from the floor. Durant had 46 points in Tuesday night's win over the Portland Trail Blazers, marking the eighth straight game he's scored at least 30 points. It was also the fourth game this month he has topped the 40- point mark, including a career-high 54 points in a win over the Golden State Warriors last Friday.
The Indiana Pacers are a league-best 21-1 at home, but their dominance goes way beyond that mark. Sixteen of those wins are by double digits, which includes seven by at least 20 points and five by 25 or more. Their average margin of victory is a mind-boggling 16.7 points. If you're wondering, the lone home loss came on Dec. 16 was against the Detroit Pistons. Since then, the Pacers have won their last 10.
One of the more surprising numbers of the season is DeAndre Jordan's NBA- leading 13.7 rebounds per game. Prior to this season, Jordan was a good rebounder, but certainly not an elite one. In his first five seasons, he averaged 6.6 rebounds in just over 22 minutes per game. Last season, he pulled down a total of 594 rebounds in 2,010 minutes of playing time. This season, he already has 590 rebounds in 1,526 minutes.
Marco Belinelli has more than capably filled Gary Neal's shoes as an offensive sparkplug for the San Antonio Spurs. Belinelli, who signed a two-year deal as a free agent over the summer, is putting up career highs in field goal percentage (51 percent) and 3-point percentage (50 percent) while averaging 11.1 points in just under 24 minutes a game. Belenelli is ranked second among guards in field goal percentage behind Dwyane Wade and just ahead of teammate Tony Parker. To further highlight how well Belenelli has shot the ball, he was a lifetime 41.8 percent shooter from the field prior to this season and shot 38.7 percent from long range.
A change of scenery also has done wonders for D.J. Augustin. The sixth-year point guard signed with the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 13, just four days after being waived by the Toronto Raptors. Augustin was basically a bench warmer with Toronto, where he averaged just over eight minutes and 2.1 points per game, and shot just 29 percent from the field and 9.1 percent from 3-point range. Since joining the Bulls, his playing time has skyrocketed to over 29 minutes per game, and he's certainly done his part contributing to Chicago's recent turnaround. "I think sometimes in this league, when you kind of get a fresh start, that can help," said teammate Mike Dunleavy Jr. "A clean slate for him. He's come in with a lot of confidence, being aggressive, shooting the ball great. He just found a nice rhythm, and when that happens with guys that are talented like D.J., stuff like this happens. I think a little bit is just the situation he's comfortable in and just kind of regaining confidence and really playing well." The Bulls are 8-2 this month, with Augustin averaging 14.6 points and 6.3 assists. In Monday's overtime win over the Los Angeles Lakers, he scored a team-high 27 points, which included 10-of-16 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 from 3-point range. "Huuuge," Joakim Noah said following the game on Augustin's impact since coming to Chicago. "He's been huge. Just his playmaking ability, his ability to score the ball. I'm happy because I think he represents this team great. Somebody that people counted out comes in here and he's doing his thing. I'm happy he's on our side."
Nine points. That's what the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz each scored in one quarter recently as part of some ugly offensive displays. The Rockets scored 19 points in the second half of their loss to the Thunder, after putting up 73 points in the first half. That set an NBA record for the largest scoring differential between two halves. Houston's 19-point second half is tied for the second-fewest points in a second half in NBA history. The Jazz, meanwhile, had their worst shooting game in franchise history, hitting 28.8 percent of their shots from the floor (21-for-73) in a 26-point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
DID HE REALLY SAY THAT?
"Right now they're a better team than we are," said Amar'e Stoudemire following the New York Knicks' 117-89 road loss last Thursday to the Pacers. "We match up well as far as roster. On paper, we're a pretty evenly matched team. But right now as far as what they're doing on the court, they really get after it. They play hard every single night. That's what we've got to start doing."
My immediate reaction? I guess more than just love is blind in this world.