Every Monday, we’ll look back over the previous seven days of NBA action and identify who shone on – and sometimes off – the court. Which players dominated week 14 of the NBA season?
DeMarcus Cousins (Golden State Warriors)
Boogie is back! DeMarcus Cousins announced his return to action in spectacular fashion on Friday night with a huge dunk less than 90 seconds into his Golden State Warriors debut.
The enigmatic center hadn’t played since rupturing his left Achilles tendon while playing for the New Orleans Pelicans in January last year.
After he signed for the Warriors as a free agent over the summer, it’s been a long wait for both Cousins and his teammates, who have continually expressed their excitement at having the All-Star on board.
Cousins ended his Warriors debut with 14 points, six rebounds and three assists as they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, and was given a standing ovation from his teammates despite fouling out of the game.
The victory was a seventh straight for the Warriors, who have risen to the top of the Western Conference standings with their 32-14 record.
Derrick Rose (Minnesota Timberwolves)
It ended up being a spectacular week for Derrick Rose on the court as he hit the game-winner in the Minnesota Timberwolves victory over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night, but even before that he had done enough to win the week.
Reports emerged on Friday that Rose played a crucial role in guiding teammate Karl-Anthony Towns through some dark times earlier this season, as the youngster was ‘bullied’ by Jimmy Butler.
In an interview with ESPN, Towns’ college coach John Calipari backed the 2015 top draft pick to become “himself again” with Butler having been traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
“Derrick is the one who got Karl through that whole Butler mess,” Calipari said.
Although the Timberwolves are languishing towards the bottom of the Western Conference, Towns’ production has rocketed since Butler’s departure in November, and part of the credit for that must go to Rose.
From having almost been forced out of the league by injury, the 2011 MVP has re-established himself as a valuable scorer on the court and a positive locker room presence away from it.
LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)
Despite remaining off the court due to the groin strain he suffered on Christmas Day, ‘The King’ still managed to be a part of the biggest story of the week.
James received a surprise call from his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving, and had an even more surprising conversation when he returned it.
Irving, who demanded to be traded away from the Cavaliers having reportedly grown frustrated at playing second fiddle to James, has been struggling with handling his role as the leader of the Boston Celtics.
The All-Star point guard has repeatedly expressed his frustrations with some of his younger teammates and began to see parallels with the relationship he had with James in Cleveland, where the pair won a Championship together in 2016.
“Obviously, this was a big deal for me, because I had to call (LeBron) and tell him I apologised for being that young player that wanted everything at his fingertips, and I wanted everything at my threshold,” Irving said.
James is expected to return to practice this week, with the Lakers in desperate need of his return having slipped out of the playoff places.
James Harden (Houston Rockets)
With Chris Paul already a long-term injury absentee, the Rockets were dealt another huge blow going into the week when Clint Capela was ruled out for 4-6 weeks by a thumb injury.
That left the Rockets’ destiny almost exclusively in the hands of the reigning MVP and Harden responded in unimaginable style.
The bearded one averaged 54.3 points across three games, as he enhanced his campaign to retain the NBA’s most prestigious individual award.
Live NBA: Houston @ Philadelphia
Harden began the week with a 57-point showing as he played just 34 minutes in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies, shooting 17-33 from the floor.
He went one point better as the Rockets went down to the Brooklyn Nets in overtime two day’s later, before showing incredible stamina to score 48 points in another overtime game to lead his side to a dramatic victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the last 50 years only Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan have scored more than Harden’s 163 over a three-game stretch.
Harden has extended his streak of games with 30 points or more to 19, with Wilt Chamberlain the only player to have bettered that run.
You can watch Harden attempt to keep his streak going when the Rockets travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers, live on Sky Sports on Monday night.
The NBA returned to London this week as the Washington Wizards took on the New York Knicks at the O2 Arena.
The sell-out crowd went home more than satisfied after seeing one of the most exciting finishes of the season, as the Wizards snatched victory.
Having trailed for most of the game, the Wizards produced a late surge to draw with a point at 100-99, when Thomas Bryant scored the winning basket via the help of a goal-tending call on Allonzo Trier.
The young Knicks put in a commendable effort as a host of stars from other sports watched on, but ultimately the famed franchise paid for their lack of quality and experience down the stretch.
The win keeps the Wizards just about in touch with an Eastern Conference playoff spot, as they trail the eighth-placed Charlotte Hornets by two-and-a-half games.
Both the victory and the building of team camaraderie on the trip could prove crucial come the end of the season.