Feb. 15, 2013
Deacons in the NBA Photo Gallery
By Maggie Cancelosi, WakeForestSports.com (@WFUSports)
Al-Farouq Aminu - New Orleans Hornets (@farouq1)
Aminu is stepping into a leadership position as the team's go-to rebounder this season. The small forward is boasting better stats in his second season with the Hornets, averaging 7.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. In January, Aminu went on a notable three-game campaign, posting 18 points against the Boston Celtics, followed by two 14-point games against the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings. On Feb. 11, Aminu pulled down 14 boards, his career-high in the NBA, against the Detroit Pistons. Hot against the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 6, Aminu contributed 16 points and went 7-for-9 from the field. The New Orleans Hornets are 19-34 and ranked fifth in the Southwest Division.
QUOTE: "I try to go out there and get every rebound that I can," Aminu said after the Jan. 25 game against the Houston Rockets. "Sometimes when there are taller trees out there, it's harder. This is a way that I can help my teammates. I'm just going to take pride in it and try to rebound as much as I can."
Tim Duncan - San Antonio Spurs
Earning his 14th career All-Star nod, Duncan has continued to play an important role in leading the Spurs to the best record in the Western Conference. Duncan is averaging 17.2 points and 9.6 rebounds in 44 games this season. He opened the month of January with 28 points, 13 rebounds and six assists to lead the Spurs to a 117-110 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. The forward also scored 24 points against the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers to keep the momentum of a nine-game winning streak in January. In a matchup against the Washington Wizards on Feb. 2, Duncan was helped off the court after spraining his left knee and right ankle. After missing four games with the injury, the forward returned to the lineup on Feb. 13 and tallied 13 points for a 96-95 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Spurs lead the Western Conference with a 42-12 record entering the All-Star break.
QUOTE: "He's one of the greatest ever to play this game because he's a tough guy," Spurs guard Danny Green said on Feb. 3, the day after Duncan left the game with an injury. "He's played through some pain and some injuries. He's not going to show you he's hurt."
James Johnson - Sacramento Kings
In his first season in Sacramento, Johnson has played in 47 games with 11 starts and is averaging 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Johnson was recently sidelined with a sinus infection but returned this week to have 16 points, six rebounds and four assists against the Dallas Mavericks on Feb. 13. Johnson's most productive game in January came against the Phoenix Suns when he turned in 14 points and six rebounds. The Sacramento Kings are 19-35 and ranked fourth in the Pacific Division.
Chris Paul - Los Angeles Clippers (@CP3)
In the running as a possible MVP candidate, Paul looks to make a full recovery from a bruised right kneecap that recently forced him to sit out nine games. Without their star point guard, the Clippers dropped six games. Paul, who will be playing in his sixth All-Star game this weekend, returned to the court on Feb. 8.
Paul lit up the scoreboard in back-to-back games at the Knicks and 76ers with 25 points against New York and 21 points against Philadelphia. Paul helped the Clippers win the battle of Los Angeles when they took down the Lakers 125-101 on Thursday. He wrapped up the night with 24 points and 13 assists. The Clippers lead the Pacific Division with a 39-17 record and currently sit third in the Western Conference standings.
Paul will return to his alma mater and hometown for the Wake Forest vs. Maryland game on March 2 for the retirement of his No. 3 jersey.
Ish Smith - Orlando Magic (@ishsmith)
Smith has stepped up as a dependable point guard for the Magic, who are enduring an injury-ridden season thus far. Smith has played in 34 games with three starts and is averaging 2.4 points and 1.6 assists in 10.8 minutes per game. February has been the best month of the 2012-13 season for the Smith, who is averaging 5.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in the month. The Orlando Magic are currently 15-37 and fourth in the Southeast Division.
TWEET: "Congrats to the deacs tonight, big win fellas!" @ishsmith after Wake Forest's win over NC State on Jan. 22.
Jeff Teague - Atlanta Hawks (@Teague0)
Teague has started all 51 games for the Hawks this season, averaging 14.2 points and 6.9 assists per game. The point guard had a solid month of play in January, racking up a season-high of 28 points against the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 16. On Jan. 27, Teague scored 27 points in a loss to the New York Knicks. Off to a strong start in February, Teague turned in 22 points and 13 assists on Feb. 6 against the Memphis Grizzlies. In the last five games heading into the All-Star break, Teague has averaged 18.8 points in 35.2 minutes on the court. With a 29-22 record, the Hawks are ranked sixth in the Eastern Conference and second in the Southeast Division behind the Miami Heat.
TWEET: "A good way to go into the break #nicewin" @Teague0 after the Hawks' 108-76 win over Ish Smith and the Magic on Feb. 13.
Josh Howard - Injured
A torn ACL at the end of December ended Howard's tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves after he signed a one-year deal with the team in mid-November. In the forward's 11 games this season, Howard averaged 6.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 18.8 minutes a game.