Welcome to the first edition of Inside the Numbers.
This will be a weekly column in which I will analyze any recent news from the world of sports and take a deeper look into the numbers and statistics that makes each story interesting. This week's edition will focus solely on the NBA but in the future, other sports will be included.
Without further ado, let's get started.
22—You had to have seen this coming. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that this represents the number of consecutive games that the Houston Rockets have won dating back to January 27. Everyone knows that this is the second longest streak of all-time (the longest is 33 wins by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971) and recently, they've been getting a lot of attention here on Bleacher Report.
One thing I haven't seen mentioned is the fact that they've won more games in a row than six teams have won total this year. The Miami Heat (11), Seattle Sonics (16), Memphis Grizzlies (16), Minnesota Timberwolves (16), New York Knicks (19), and Los Angeles Clippers (21) all have less than 22 wins this season.
That means that the Rockets have won twice as many games during this stretch than Miami has won since their season kicked off on November 1, 2007. That's just ridiculous and shows how amazing this winning streak really is.
0—This is the number of injuries that Miami Heat center, Alonzo Mourning, will let keep him down. Earlier this week, the Miami Herald reported that Mourning is considering coming back from a potentially career ending knee injury and playing for Miami next season.
Many thought that Mourning would never play in the NBA again after needing a kidney transplant in 2003 but he returned to the court in 2005, signing with Miami. He was a key backup for the Heat and played a significant role, especially defensively, in the team's 2006 championship season.
This season, he was playing well despite Miami's slow start. He became the franchise's all-time leader in points scored early in the year and was providing a lot of energy off of the bench. That's when it happened. He injured his knee in late December and it was said to be career ending. Many thought that the veteran would call it quits and retire. After all, he had a championship, an excellent career, and was probably headed to the Hall of Fame.
However, rumors suggest that Mourning has indicated otherwise and may still return. I hope Zo can return and end his career on his own terms rather than having injuries determine when he throws in the towel.
24—Not only is this the number that Kobe Bryant wears each night, it's the number of hours each day he works to improve his game. Seriously, is there a harder working player in the entire league? After missing 22 shots in a loss against the Rockets on Sunday, Kobe was determined to fix the problem.
"I've got to get in the gym, put a little more arch on the ball and I’ll be fine," said Bryant.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Get in the gym? He gets his paycheck no matter what and he is already the most talented player in the world yet he continues to work. Continues to tweak different aspects of his game so he can keep improving. Continues to impress me with his determination and work ethic.
In an interview several years ago, Kobe was asked how he thinks he is viewed by fans. He responded, “I think they’re seeing a person who’s determined, who’s focused on being one of the best basketball players and is trying to elevate his team to get back to that elite status." I don't know about other basketball fans but that answer was pretty much dead on, Kobe. You know, just like your jump shot will be after hitting the gym.
1—This is the number of games that San Antonio Spurs' forward, Bruce Bowen, will be suspended after kicking Chris Paul last Wednesday. Bowen and the Hornets' point guard were going after a loose ball and got tangled up. After the two were separated, Bowen kicked Paul and then threw his hands up and put on his 'it wasn't me' face.
This isn't the first time that Bowen has kicked another player. Back in 2005, the Spurs were in Seattle playing the Sonics and he was guarding Ray Allen. During the second quarter, Allen was called for an offensive foul and both players fell to the floor. Bowen proceeded to give Allen a kick in the back which led to the players having to be separated.
These are just several instances in which Bowen has been involved in dirty plays. He has been accused of trying to hurt opponents and many people feel he is the dirtiest player in the entire league. For more examples of Bruce Bowen's infamous cheap shots, take a look at this article.
By the way, before we move on, I want to say I respect Chris Paul for not retaliating against Bowen. In the heat of the moment, it's hard to just walk away but Chris did a great job of keeping his composure.
10—This is the number of teams in the Eastern Conference that are either at or below .500 at the time of publication. That's two-thirds of the teams in the East. After Boston, Detroit, Orlando, and Cleveland, there is a serious drop off to a bunch of mediocre teams.
Meanwhile, let's take a look at the West. The Western Conference is the exact opposite of the East because almost everyone is playing well. Ten of their teams are above .500 and every day the standings shift because all of the teams are so close.
For example, the eighth seeded Golden State Warriors are just four and a half games back from the Houston Rockets who hold the number one seed. There is no significant drop off in the West until you get to the younger teams like Portland and Sacramento who are still a few years away from contending.
The Blazers have still been one of the pleasant surprises in the NBA this season and while they likely won't make the playoffs (they are tenth in the standings and are seven games back from the eighth seed), they have played some great basketball. If you were to put them in the East, however, they would be the fifth seed and would be a few games away from clinching a playoff spot. I guess that just goes to show you how unbalanced the two conferences are.
Thanks a lot for reading and hopefully you join me next week Inside the Numbers.