By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
Having played seven games so far, Memphis has started the season with an impressive 6-1 record and registered two wins the last six days with Marc Gasol being always the starting center. He had just ok numbers (2 p., 10 r., 6 as.) in the big game against Miami (104-86) and was much more impressive against Oklahoma City (107-97). Gasol had 14 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks in the duel with fellow Spanish NT center big man Serge Ibaka (17 p., 8 r., 4 bl.) and Thabo Sefolosha (8 p., 3 r.) from Switzerland.
Not bad for the Grizzlies who have the best record in the West. San Antonio follows with a 7-2 record and Frenchman Tony Parker being his usual self. He had 19 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds in the win over the Lakers (84-82) in which Pau Gasol produced (10 p., 10 r., 5 as.) but missed the final shot of the game. The Lakers did beat Sacramento (103-90) with Gasol having a better night (18 p., 5 r., 4 as.), however they have just a 3-5 record. San Antonio also couldn’t win the game against the unbeaten after six games in the season Knicks (104-100) with Parker having a double double (19 p., 12 as., 6 r.) , but got the “W” against Portland (112-109) without Parker playing and with his fellow countrymen Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo making their usual cameos.
It was one of the best games of Frenchman Nicolas Batum (33 p., 7 r., 4 as.) who is still producing big numbers in Portland, where he have the company of Montenegrin Sasha Pavlovic, Englishman Joel Freeland and Spanish Victor Claver, but not much else from them on the court. Batum scored 19 points in the 95-87 loss by Atlanta (Pachulia 2 p. 9 r.) and had a good all around game (15 p., 7 r. 5 as., 3 st.) in the win at Sacramento (103-86).
The French delegation in the NBA is gaining one more important member, Rodrigue Beaubois. The 24 years old point guard is getting minutes at Dallas, even if he couldn’t help his team avoid the 101-97 loss by Charlotte. He had 4 points and 2 assist in the win over Washington (107-101) against the big game of his compatriot Kevin Seraphin (16 p., 5 r., 5 as.) and he was a little better (3 r., 7 as., 3 st.) in the 90-82 loss by Minnesota. The Russian duo of Andrei Kirilenko (16 p., 11 r., 2 as., 2 st., 2 bl.) and Alexey Shved (16 p., 4 r., 5 as., 3 bl.) continues to dazzle together with Montenegrin Nikola Pekovic (20 p., 6 r., 3 as.) for the Wolves who have a respectable 5-3 record after two losses by Charlotte (87-89) without injured Pekovic and despite 26 Kirilenko’s points and by Chicago (87-80).
It was a Euro-derby won by the Bulls with Englishman Luol Deng (16 p., 7 r.), French Joakim Noah (17 p., 7 r., 4 bl.) and Italian Marco Belinelli (11 p.) scoring in double digits as also did Kirileno (11 p., 12 r. 7 as.), Pekovic (18 p., 8 r.) and Shved added seven points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. Chicago has also a 5-3 record after a 101-95 loss to Boston (Belineli 5 p., Deng 26 p., 11 r., Noah 17 p., 11 r.,) and a 112-106 win over Phoenix in one more Euro-derby (Gortat 11 p., 8 r., Dragic 12 p., 2 r., 5 as., 3 st. – Belinelli 3 p., Deng 21 p., 5 r., Noah 21 p., 12 r., 5 as.). Center Marcin Gortat from Poland and point guard Goran Dragic from Slovenia remain starters for the Suns who lost 91-81 by Utah (Kanter 6 p., 2 r. – Gortat 8 r., Dragic 13 p., 6 as.) and beat Denver 110-100 with Gortat having a double double (12 p., 11 r.) and Dragic a stellar game in the offense (21 p., 4 r. 7 as.).
For the losing side Italian Danilo Galinari touched the double double (15 p., 9 r.), Russian Timofey Mozgov had one rebound and Greek-American Kostas Koufos 4 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks. Koufos is still getting enough minutes on the court and had 7 points, 7 rebounds and 5 blocks in the 107-101 win over Golden State (Biendrins 2 p., 8 r.,) and one spectacular block over Lebron James (video) in the 98-93 loss by Miami (Galinari 13 p. 2 r.).
One of surprise teams so far in the season is Milwaukee which also has two European players, Turk Ersan Ilyasova and Slovenian Beno Udrih, in its roster and a 5-2 record. However, both of them are not in the best form of their career so far. Udrih had a good game in the 99-85 win over Indiana with 9 points, 6 rebounds and 10 assists, but Ilyasova got just 5 points and 4 assists and for the Pacers French center Ian Mahnimi had also 5 points and 2 rebounds. In the 105-96 win over Philadelphia their numbers were mediocre (Udrih 6 p., 3 r. – Ilyasova 2 p., 7 r. 2 as.) as they were also in the 96-92 loss to Boston (Udrih 2 p., Ilyasova 10 p., 6 r.).
In Houston the Rockets used Lithuanian rookie Donatas Motiejunas (3 p.) in the 96-82 win over Detroit and then send him in NBDL. Turkish center Omer Asik on the other hand is a starter, had 14 points and 8 rebounds against the Pistons, 19 points and 14 rebounds in the 113-110 loss by Miami and 15 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks in the 100-96 win over New Orleans.
Asik is playing so good that he could be a candidate for the MIP award, while other Euro-bigs like veteran Ronny Turiaf of LA Clippers and Johan Petro of Atlanta are just searching for minutes. That’s not the case for Montenegrin Nikola Vucevic who was one of the bright spots for Orlando in the losses by the Nets (14 p., 12 r.. 4 as.) and the Knicks (12 p., 10 r.). Of course that applies also to the duo of Oklahoma City, Sefolosha and Ibaka in the wins against Cleveland and Detroit. It should be noted that Israeli Omri Casspi of Cleveland had a decent game with 7 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals against the Thunder.
Last, but not least there is also Toronto (2-6) with four Euros, Spaniard Jose Calderon, Italian Andrea Bargnani and Lithuanians Linas Kleiza and Jonas Valanciunas, getting minutes. However in three games Toronto beat just by two points Indiana (74-72) with Calderon having a triple double (13 p., 10 r., 10 as.), lost to Philadelphia (93-83) and also lost after three overtimes to Utah (140-133) in a game where everyone produced (Calderon 20 p., 17 as., Bargani 19 p., 8 r., Kleiza 20 p., Valanciunas 10 p.).