NBA Stock Watch: LeBron continues hot streak, Pelicans struggling without Zion – Trending News

NBA Stock Watch: LeBron continues hot streak, Pelicans struggling without Zion

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Trade season is heating up and the all-star break is fast-approaching. 

But in the meantime, let’s take a look at what’s happening in the NBA, and whose stock is going up and whose is going down. 

Rising: LeBron James

LeBron James seemingly can’t wait to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the all-time scoring list. Either that, or he has realized that in order to keep the Lakers afloat without Anthony Davis, he has to score at a wild clip. 

Over the last week, the 38-year-old James has averaged 35 points on 51% shooting, nine rebounds and seven assists to lead the Lakers to a 3-1 record, with wins over Houston, Memphis and Portland. 

At the top of last week, James scored a season-high 48 points against the Rockets, his third 40-point game this season. In Sunday’s win over the Blazers, he had 37 points and 11 rebounds to help the Lakers storm back from a 25-point halftime deficit, tying their second-largest overcome halftime deficit in franchise history (the largest was 28 points in December 2002).

LeBron James scores season-high 48 points in win over Rockets

LeBron James scores season-high 48 points in win over Rockets

Skip and Shannon discuss one of the several outstanding performances LeBron James has had in January.

James is now only 223 points away from Abdul-Jabbar’s record of 38,387 points. If he continues at this scoring clip, he could reach (and potentially pass) Abdul-Jabbar’s record in about six games. 

The good news for the Lakers (and James) is that Davis could return this week after being sidelined for more than a month because of a right foot injury. Davis will take a lot of the burden off of James. And if he picks up at the MVP-caliber level at which he was playing before the injury, the Lakers could be in a good position. Even though they’re in 12th place in the Western Conference, they’re only two games behind the sixth-place Clippers. 

Falling: The Pelicans

With Zion Williamson (hamstring strain) and Brandon Ingram (toe contusion) out, New Orleans doesn’t have much of a margin for error. 

Those absences have caught up with the Pelicans, who have dropped four straight games. 

C.J. McCollum, who is shooting 42.8% from the field this season, has shot 36% from the field over the last four games, including going 6-for-21 (28.6%) in Friday’s loss to Orlando and 5-for-16 (31.3%) in Sunday’s loss to Miami. 

Then there’s Trey Murphy III, who was a combined minus-66 over that stretch. 

The Pelicans have lost seven of their last 10 games without Williamson. They’re now in fourth place in the Western Conference with a record of 26-21, only three games ahead of the 11th-place Oklahoma City Thunder.

Rising: Jrue Holiday 

Holiday’s play has exploded over the last week. 

The Bucks point guard, who is putting up 19.6 points and 7.5 assists on the season, averaged 33.3 points and 9.3 assists over the team’s last three games prior to Monday night, leading them to a 2-1 record with both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton sidelined (the two returned Monday and Holiday scored 16 in their 150-130 win over Detroit).

Over that period, Holiday shot 56.9% from the field and 47.8% from 3. He also had back-to-back 35-point and 37-point performances, the first consecutive 35-point games of his career.  

He’s making a very strong all-star case. Even though Antetokounmpo had been sidelined five straight games because of a knee injury and Middleton, prior to Monday, had missed the last 18 games because of knee soreness, the Bucks are still in third place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 29-17. 

Holiday is a big reason for that success. 

Falling: New York Knicks

The Knicks have lost four straight games, and they have a tough stretch ahead, with games against Cleveland on Tuesday, Boston on Thursday and Brooklyn on Saturday. Each of those opponents are in the top five in the East standings. 

The Knicks, who are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 25-23, have Atlanta and Indiana nipping at their heels, which are a half-game and two games behind them, respectively.

The Knicks need to tighten their defense to prevent sliding further in the standings this week. 

Rising: Boston Celtics 

I was debating whether to include the Celtics or the 76ers in this final slot. Both teams had put together impressive win streaks over the last two weeks.

But I went with the Celtics because they’re coming off their second nine-game winning streak of the season, they’ve had the No. 1 rated defense in the league over this period, and they’re the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 35-13, four games ahead of the 76ers. 

This team has been laser-focused this season on getting back to where they left off last season: The Finals. 

In Saturday’s win over Toronto, Robert Williams III suffered a left knee injury and Marcus Smart sustained a right ankle sprain in a game in which the Celtics were already without Jayson Tatum. They edged the Raptors anyway. 

This team is deep and hungry, a dangerous combination. 

Falling: Indiana Pacers

The Pacers have lost seven games in a row ever since Tyrese Haliburton suffered elbow and knee injuries in a game against New York on Jan. 11. 

Haliburton’s injury has exposed how much this team lacks depth. Without him, they’ve slipped from sixth to ninth place in the East. Over that stretch, they’ve also fallen to last in the league in offensive rating (106.7) and net rating (-13.9) and turnovers per game (18). 

Haliburton is likely to be a starter on the all-star team this season, but the Pacers shouldn’t be this lost without him. 

His absence might be a big wake-up call for the Pacers as they approach the trade deadline. 

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.

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