Keeping up: Ohio State Buckeyes in the NBA, week of 3/12-3/18

Two Ohio Staters went at it last week - USA TODAY Sports

With the start of the NCAA Tournament this week, the NBA has taken a back seat, but is still producing some high quality action while the amateurs take center stage.

The NBA is just under a month away from their playoffs starting, and it looks like teams that will come out of the Eastern Conference are pretty much settled, with only seeding questions left to be answered. The Western Conference has a little more intrigue in the race for the 7th and 8th spots, with five teams within 4.5 games for the last two spots. Should the playoffs have started today, three of the five former Buckeyes in the NBA would be participating in the NBA playoffs. Had Jared Sullinger not been ruled out the rest of the season due back surgery, that number would have jumped to four out of six.

Mike Conley - PG - Memphis Grizzlies: Early in the week the Grizzlies extend their win streak to six games behind a couple of stellar displays of distributing the basketball from Mike Conley. On Tuesday Conley dished out 15 assists in a win over Portland followed by 11 assists the next night to lead the Grizzlies to a win over the Clippers. Memphis fell to a white-hot Denver Nuggets team on Friday night, and in that game Conley said that he suffered a sprained wrist. The injury hasn't forced Conley to miss any time, as he played on both Saturday and Monday. The injury was on Conley's non-shooting wrist, but it didn't help his shot Saturday night, where he was just 6 of 18 from the field in the loss to the Jazz. A day of rest seemed to help Conley, and was much more effective from the field against Minnesota, going 8 for 14 from the field and leading Memphis in the win with 20 points. In Monday's game, Conley broke his own team record for steals in a season, when he logged 144 steals in the 2010-11 season. With his two steals on Monday night, Conley now has 145 steals on the season.

Daequan Cook - SG - Chicago Bulls: Cook saw a boom in his playing time, logging 21 minutes on Wednesday night in mop-up duty as Chicago was blown out by Sacramento. Cook finished with 9 points on 4 of 12 shooting from the field and grabbed 9 rebounds in the loss. In the Bulls' next game, Cook only saw 6 minutes on the court, but did register on the scoring sheet by hitting a 3-pointer. Things were back to normal on Monday night for Cook, not leaving the bench in the overtime loss by the Bulls. Chicago only played eight players in the game, with six of them seeing at least 30 minutes of floor time. The outlook for Cook in Chicago does not look good if the only lengthy playing time he is seeing is in blow-out losses.

Kosta Koufos - F/C - Denver Nuggets: With the Nuggets continuing to roll, Kosta Koufos is playing some of his best basketball of his career. Following dropping 22 points the previous week, Koufos followed that up with 18 points and 16 rebounds on Friday night against Memphis. Koufos really did work on the glass last week, averaging over 12 rebounds/game in the three games Denver played last week. Overshadowed by the Miami Heat's 23-game winning streak, is the 12-game winning streak that the Nuggets have compiled. Denver will have a real test to that winning streak when they travel to Oklahoma City on Tuesday night.

Byron Mullens - F/C - Charlotte Bobcats: Mullens has had a difficult time to start the week in adjusting to his new role of the bench for Charlotte. In the first two games of the week, Mullens only scored 2 points in 20 minutes and only pulled down 4 rebounds. The good news for Charlotte is they snapped a 10-game losing streak on Tuesday night by beating Boston. In his last two games Mullens has started to snap out of his funk, as Mullens scored in double figures for the first time since March 3rd in Monday night's win over the Wizards. Mullens played 30 minutes off the bench, registering 12 points, 5 rebounds, and even dishing out 5 assists as the Bobcats held on for their second victory in the last week.

Evan Turner - G/F - Philadelphia 76ers: The 76ers were able to overcome Turner's poor performance on Monday night to slip past the Trailblazers 101-100. Turner only had 2 points on 1 of 8 shooting from the field, and grabbed 3 rebounds in 25 minutes of play. The other two games of the week were a little better for Turner, as he broke double figures in both games. It seems as if every month that Turner will have a 3-4 game stretch where he slumps, but his March slump has stretched over most of the month so far. The good news for Philadelphia is that after losing 12 of 13 games, they have now won 3 of their last 4 games.

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