The biggest surprise of the new year for the former Buckeyes in the NBA iss that Philadelphia found a way to string together a four-game winning streak on their recent west coast trip behind Evan Turner's leadership. A close second might be that Byron Mullens saw minutes in more than half the games he played over the past week. While not huge minutes, it's still better than the zero minutes he usually plays.
Mike Conley - PG - Memphis Grizzlies
Following his thigh injury last month, Conley looks like he is back to normal, hitting over 42% from the field in three of his last four games. The best game for Conley last week was actually in a 111-108 Grizzlies loss at Denver on Friday night, in which he went for 23 points, eight assists, and grabbed four steals. Conley's worst game was in the 99-91 win at Phoenix the night before. In that contest Conley turned the ball over six times and only scored 11 points. The Grizzlies haven't been able to get any momentum going lately as they've alternated wins and losses in their last seven games. If Memphis has any designs on making the playoffs, they'll need to put together a winning streak at some point during the season.
Kosta Koufos - F/C - Memphis Grizzlies
Kosta Koufos has been one of the most consistent performers for the Grizzlies over the past month, allowing for Marc Gasol needing to rush his return. While the Grizzlies would love to have Gasol back as they are trying to maneuver their way into a playoff spot, they can be safe and not rush any further injuries with Gasol. Koufos had hit double figures in scoring in his previous three games before only going for eight points against Detroit on Sunday. Also, in two of the last three games Koufos has grabbed nine rebounds, and is averaging 7.2 rebounds/game on the season. While it might not seem like a lot of boards for a big man, remember that he is putting up those stats while only getting 22 minutes/game on the court. The rebounding average is the best of his seven-year NBA career.
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Evan Turner - G/F - Philadelphia 76ers
Since missing a game due to injury last week, Turner has been on fire, hitting at least 45% of his shots the last five games. It's no surprise that during that stretch, Philadelphia put together a four-game winning streak during Turner's hot play, but it is a surprise that Philadelphia put together that streak while on a west coast road trip. In Thursday night's win against Sacramento, Turner notched a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds . Philadelphia also took down Portland 101-99 on Saturday night in the Rose Garden behind 23 points and seven rebounds from "The Villian". The 76ers now have 12 wins on the season, with a third of those wins coming during their recent winning streak.
Jared Sullinger - F/C - Boston Celtics
While Turner and Conley look to have returned to full strength from their recent injuries, the latest former Buckeye to be dealing with an ailment is Jared Sullinger. A bruised left hand has been hampering Sullinger lately, and you can tell by his shooting numbers recently. Sullinger shot 12-46 from the field last week, including a brutal 3-17 performance in the 95-92 loss to New Orleans on Friday night. Props to Sullinger though for trying to play through the pain, as he grabbed at least eight rebounds in each of the four games that Boston played last week. Boston reallly struggled last week, losing all four games that they played, with the worst loss being a 119-96 decision to Oklahoma City on Sunday. Sullinger fouled in that game after only 19 minutes of court time, but you can't blame him for trying to get out of that beatdown before it was over.
Byron Mullens - F/C - Los Angeles Clippers
You know how you know that 2014 is going to be a strange year? Byron Mullens played in three of the four games that the Clippers have played so far in the new year. You know what's even stranger? Mullens is scoring real basketball points. Mullens started the new year off with a bang, playing a minute in the 112-85 win against Charlotte, but finding the time to take two three-pointers, and hitting both of them. Just to put things in perspective, in 1:22 on the court, Mullens tripled the point output that he had in December. Then in garbage time in the Sunday 116-92 loss to San Antonio, Mullens was on the floor for five minutes, and hit another three-pointer on his way to five points. In the Clippers final game of the week, Mullens saw three more minutes of run and pulled down two rebounds.