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Lakers Take Over First in the Pacific — Weekly NBA Roundup [VIDEO]

Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace
Harry How, Getty Images

Two triple-doubles in three games from the Boston Celtics’ Rajon Rondo and a 57-point performance from Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets highlighted the first week after the all-star break in the NBA. Here’s what else is happening in pro basketball:

Team on the Rise: Los Angeles Lakers

Despite Kobe Bryant’s broken nose and the trade rumors shadowing Pau Gasol, the Lakers (23-14) have managed to inch ahead of the crosstown Clippers atop the Pacific Division. Winners of three games in a row and eight of their last 10, coach Mike Brown’s team punctuated its recent rise with a 93-83 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday. The Lakers’ bench isn’t as deep as it’s been in past years, but the starting talent is still good enough for a playoff run.

Team on the Decline: Cleveland Cavaliers

After a 109-100 loss to Utah on Monday, Cleveland (13-23) has now dropped six consecutive games and eight of 11. On Saturday, Cavaliers’ coach Byron Scott sent starting forward Omri Casspi and center Semih Erden to the bench in favor of Alonzo Gee and Ryan Hollins, respectively. The move hasn’t stopped the slide, but it showed that Scott knows he must shuffle his personnel to find players to match promising rookie-of-the-year candidate Kyrie Irving. If the losing continues for Cleveland, power forward Antawn Jamison or guard Ramon Sessions could be traded to get help for 2012-13.

Play of the Week: Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets

In the middle of his 57-point outburst against Charlotte on Sunday, Deron Williams of the New Jersey Nets connected for a 4-point play to help his team to a 104-101 win. Watch the video below:

Player on the Rise: Ty Lawson, Denver Nuggets

Point guard Ty Lawson had a tremendous week for Denver (22-17) as the Nuggets ran out to a 4-0 start after the all-star break. In the four victories, Lawson averaged 19.5 points, 12.0 assists and 7.0 rebounds. He also hit the go-ahead 3-point shot in Monday’s 119-116 overtime win over Sacramento.  On the season, Lawson’s scoring, assist and rebounding averages are all up sharply over his career highs. The increases may indicate that it won’t be long before the Denver guard is mentioned among the NBA’s elite play makers.

Player on the Decline: JaVale McGee, Washington Wizards

Center JaVale McGee found himself out of the starting lineup for Washington (8-29) on Wednesday. After six straight games in double figures, McGee has averaged just 8.2 points over his last five contests, while making several sloppy mistakes. Wizards’ coach Randy Wittman has shown less patience with McGee than former coach Flip Saunders, who was fired earlier this season. McGee’s development is important to Washington, as they try to turn the team into a more competitive unit.

Coach on the Hot Seat: Nate McMillan, Portland Trail Blazers

After beating New Orleans 86-74 on Monday night, Portland (19-19) is only at .500. The Blazers have lost six of their last nine home games and nine of their last 14 outings overall. With Jamal Crawford, LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace, Portland has far too much talent to fall out of the playoff race. Coach Nate McMillan must get his team to respond during the seven-game road trip that starts on Wednesday in Minnesota.

Bizarre Stat of the Week: Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

Rajon Rondo scored 18 points, had 20 assists and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds in Boston’s 115-111 overtime victory over the Knicks on Sunday. Magic Johnson was the last NBA player to record at least 17 in each category. Johnson had 24 points, 17 assists and 17 rebounds for the Lakers on April 18, 1989.

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