John Rohde's NBA roundup: Northwest Division heating up after trading-deadline moves

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Modified: February 26, 2011 at 5:29 pm •  Published: February 26, 2011
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TEMPERATURE GAUGE

* Who's hot? Northwest Division. Every playoff contender in this division appears to have gotten better since the trade deadline. The Thunder added a much-needed inside presence. Portland stole a former All-Star in Gerald Wallace. Denver sadly lost Chauncey, but got rid of a colossal headache in Carmelo and was compensated with a good Knicks mix. Utah shoved malcontent Deron Williams out the door in exchange for a skilled tandem in Devin Harris and Derrick Favors, plus two first-round draft picks and cash. All the Jazz has to do now is bring back Jerry Sloan as coach.

* Who's not? Minnesota. The only Northwest Division team that got worse after the trade deadline. Now riding a seven-game losing streak, the Timberwolves dealt away their best defender in guard Corey Brewer, which means Minnesota now officially can't guard anybody. Guard Luke Ridnour has become the team's "stopper." Newly acquired 6-foot-11, 225-pound Anthony Randolph was seldom-used by the Knicks (7.3 mpg) and now gets to watch from the bench as the backup to power forward Kevin Love (league-leading 15.4 rpg and 45 straight double-doubles).

SNEAK PEEK

Next Five for Thunder

* Today: vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 1:30 p.m. (ABC) � Kendrick Perkins will be in street clothes, but can scowl at Pau Gasol from the bench.

* Wednesday: vs. Indiana, 7 p.m. (FSO) � Curious to see how the Thunder looks after players finally have had some practice time together.

* Friday: at Atlanta, 6:30 p.m. (FSO) � Hawks were upset about the New Year's Eve loss in OKC when Serge Ibaka tacked on a late dunk.

* Sunday: vs. Phoenix, 6 p.m. (FSO) � Each team has won in the other's arena this season, and Suns have since added guard Aaron Brooks.

* March 7: at Memphis, 7 p.m. (FSO) � Thunder killer Zach Randolph now will have to deal with Perkins and Nazr Mohammed underneath.

THUNDER BAROMETER

Two seasons ago, through 57 games: 13-44 (.228)

Last season, through 57 games: 34-23 (.596)

This season, through 57 games: 36-21 (.632)

On pace for: 52-30

Current playoff seeding: No. 4


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