- LATIN AMERICA
- MIDDLE EAST
- United Kingdom
- United States
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- iHaveNet.com: Basketball
by Will Laws
Teams are fighting for their playoff lives as the calendar turns to April. Two Western Conference sharpshooters helped their clubs keep pace in the frantic race happening on the postseason bubble. Meanwhile, a veteran experiencing a bit of a down season up north showed he could still make a difference with his shooting stroke.
PointAfter breaks down the three hottest shooters of the week with interactive visualizations.
Note: All weekly statistics cover games between March 25-31.
Guard: J.J. Barea, Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks were briefly out of the Western Conference playoff picture after losing 10 of their first 13 March contests. Their smallest player propped them back up into a tie for seventh place this week by helping them claim two victories to end the month.
J.J. Barea logged a double-double (18 points, 11 assists) in nine-point road win over Denver on Monday, then poured in 26 points off the bench in a 91-89 triumph over the Knicks, the most scored by a Dallas reserve this season.
The 31-year-old has made at least half his shots in Dallas' last four games, and he finished March shooting 49 percent from downtown. Barea rediscovering his shooting touch after three mediocre seasons from beyond the arc has helped him post a career-best 15.1 PER this year. He could be an unlikely hero for the Mavericks in their quest for the postseason.
Wing: Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz
For this generation of NBA players, the ultimate compliment when you're playing the Lakers is having Kobe Bryant ask to guard you. Rodney Hood experienced that on Monday night after he dropped 30 points in the first half of Utah's clash against Los Angeles. Bryant hardly let Hood touch the ball in the second half, and the second-year wing didn't score a point in the second half.
No matter -- the damage was already done. The game ended up as Bryant's worst loss of his career, a 48-point shellacking that Hood sparked by making 8-of-9 three-pointers in the first half. He was easily the most dangerous scorer on the court, whether you measure by efficiency or raw point total. No other player scored more than 17 points or came close to matching Hood's astronomical 115.4 true shooting percentage.
Hood also acquitted himself well in Utah's overtime loss to Golden State, notching 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting. But it was his utter domination of the Lakers that he'll remember when he looks back on his "sophomore" season in the league.
Forward/Center: Patrick Patterson, Toronto Raptors
Patrick Patterson has taken a back seat in Toronto's offense this year, and for good reason. He's posted career lows in usage rate (12.3 percent), field goal percentage (42 percent) and scoring rate (11 points per 40 minutes). However, he can still provide the occasional boost off the bench for the Raptors.
The stretch-four was 7-of-13 from deep this week, including a 16-point outburst in 20 minutes against New Orleans on Saturday that saw him sink all three of his treys.
Patterson impacts Toronto on offense more than most realize. He shoots 39 percent from deep in the Raptors' franchise-record 50 victories compared to 33 percent in their losses, and the team's offensive rating increases by 7.5 points when he's on the court.
With the six-year veteran launching more threes than ever before this year (3.8 per game) and providing savvy defensive play, he's still positively affecting the Raptors despite his reduced role.
Article: Courtesy Point After
NBA Basketball: "Hot Shooters Keeping Western Conference Contenders Alive"