Four former Buckeyes are currently on teams that have a losing record, but somehow Jared Sullinger's Celtics are sitting in playoff position in the lowly Eastern Conference. Mike Conley and Evan Turner have been dealing with minor injuries recently, but they both look to be back to form. Action in the NBA was rather light last week over the Christmas holiday, but things should heat back up as the NBA powers towards the All-Star break next month.
Mike Conley - PG - Memphis Grizzlies
Early in the week Conley was still showing signs of fatigue due to a thigh injury suffered a couple weeks ago, only shooting 9-28 from the field as the Grizzlies split a pair of games against the Rockets and Nuggets. Monday night we saw more of the pre-injury Conley, with the point guard showing a little more touch from the field in shooting 9-19 to finish with 26 points and nine assists. The quick hands on defense look to be back for Conley as well, as he grabbed a season-high six steals in the 95-91 loss to Chicago. The runs Conley's streak of at least two steals in a game to four straight, and gives him a combined 14 steals over the last four games. The only problem is that the Grizzlies can't turn these defensive performances into wins. Memphis is only 2-2 in their last four games and are currently sitting on the outside looking in of the Western Conference playoff race.
Kosta Koufos - F/C - Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis head coach Dave Joerger seems to have regained some of his confidence in Koufos, playing the big man at least 23 minutes in all three Grizzlies games last week. The most complete game of the week for Koufos was in the 120-99 win over Denver in which he scored nine points and pulled down 12 rebounds in 26 minutes on the floor. In the loss to Chicago on Monday night, Koufos showcased even more offense, scoring 14 points on 6-8 shooting, but his defense took a little bit of a hit due to that. After recording double-digit rebounds the previous two games, Koufos only grabbed three rebounds in his 30 minutes on the floor. Even though the Grizzlies aren't finding the win column that often, it is encouraging to see that Koufos has worked his way back to significant minutes after his spell of limited floor time earlier in the month.
Evan Turner - G/F - Philadelphia 76ers
After dealing with some knee problems in the 76ers game last Saturday, Turner didn't play in Philadelphia's next game when they played in Phoenix on Friday night. The move looked to be only precautionary after the next night against the Lakers he played 42 minutes in a 111-104 win. Turner showed no ill-effects of the knee troubles, pouring in 22 points, grabbing seven rebounds, and handing out six assists as Philadelphia won for only the second time in 11 games. The 76ers will play three more games out west before heading back home in the midst of a season where they currently hold one of the worst records in the NBA.
Jared Sullinger - F/C - Boston Celtics
After the Celtics got thrashed 106-79 last Sunday by the Pacers, Boston had that loss sit with them for a while since they didn't play again until they hosted Cleveland on Saturday. The Celtics were able to pull out a 103-100 win over the Cavaliers, but it marked the second game in a row, and only third game in December, where Sullinger was held under double digit points. While Sullinger only was on the floor for 16 minutes in the loss to Indiana, he nearly doubled that with 31 minutes against the Cavs. The problem was that Sullinger couldn't find his shot, only shooting 4-14 in the game. The Celtics have one last game in 2013 when they take on Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon, and Sullinger will surely be looking to end the year with a strong performance.
Byron Mullens - F/C - Los Angeles Clippers
Having seen playing time in the last two games that the Clippers have played, Byron Mullens is riding a hot streak of activity. Other than that there really isn't a whole lot to report about Mullens, since when he is on the floor there isn't much else he is registering on the stat sheet. In seven minutes against Utah on Saturday, Mullens grabbed a rebound but committed two fouls. Monday night against the Suns Mullens got some mop-up duty during a 107-88 Clippers loss, playing five minutes and grabbing another rebound. While Mullens isn't getting much run in Los Angeles, he does have something that the rest of the former Ohio Staters don't right now....a winning record this year.