Each weekend, we will highlight the trends, rumors and stories going around the NBA that we may miss during the busy week.
I noted this in the Starting 5 this morning after Charlie Villanueva hit the game-winning 3-pointer for Detroit in Milwaukee. Charlie Villanueva has had a rought four years. He signed a 5-year deal in 2009 and has failed to live up to expectations.
His minutes have been all over the place and, for someone making $8 million per year on a young team, you expect him to contribute more. You do not expect him to be out of the rotation for long stretches or to miss games with the dreaded "DNP-CD."
That has become Villanueva's reality and now he is back to being a highly paid role player trying to find his way on the team.
This year, Villanueva is averaging 7.7 points per game and is shooting 41.6 percent from the floor. Villanueva has struggled to find any footing in Detroit the past four years as his scoring numbers have sharply declined. A guy who was thought to be a strong stretch-4 for a Detroit team retooling after letting Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups leave the team.
That plan has obviously failed. Joe Dumars has already shipped off the other "big" free agent of the summer of 2009 in Ben Gordon and the guy they got — Corey Maggette — is not even part of the rotation.
Villanueva though has turned in strong back-to-back performances. He had 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting last night in Milwaukee to follow a season-high 21-point performance at home against San Antonio.
Since joining the Pistons, Villanueva has only 12 streaks of consecutive 15-point games. This current back-to-back stretch is his first set of back-to-back games with 15 or more points since April 2011. Villanueva might be playing better, but it is safe to say he has been a disappointment.
Tonight the Magic will play their 51st game of the season and the hope has to be that the next 25 games go better than the last 25.
Orlando raced out to a 12-13 start and had some fleeting thoughts about making the Playoffs with this spunky squad left in the wake of the Dwight Howard trade. However, the past 25 games have brought the team back down to earth.
Perhaps sparked by the sudden injury to Glen Davis (a separated shoulder first and then a fractured foot next), the Magic have lost 23 of the past 25 games and are currently on a 12-game losing streak.
Orlando has seen a lot of success in the last eight years thanks to Dwight Howard and so a double-digit losing streak like this, the longest in the NBA at the moment, is a rare thing. The Magic's current 12-game losing skid is the franchise's longest since a 13-game skid in March and April 2004. That season also saw Orlando suffer a franchise-worst 19-game losing streak.
An important thing to note about this skid the past 25 games. Those two wins came against the Clippers in Los Angeles and against the Pacers in Orlando.
Every February, the Spurs go out on their Rodeo Road Trip as the Texas Rodeo takes over the AT&T Center. This year's edition features a 23-day stretch filled with nine games where the Spurs will not see the comforts of home. Only next week's All-Star Break provides a moment of respite.
San Antonio is 1-1 so far on the trip, having lost to Detroit on Friday. This trip though is usually seen as a team-building experience for the Spurs. They usually do well on this trip and establish their place at the top of the West standings. The Spurs are already int he top spot.
So how have they done in past Rodeo Trips?
Last year, the Spurs took their Rodeo Trip from Feb. 6 to Feb. 23, going 8-1 on the road trip. In 2011, the Spurs were 6-3 on a 17-day trip. In 2010, they were 4-4 on a 19-day trip.
Generally, as you can see, San Antonio plays extremely well on this trip. Having the All-Star Game in the middle of the trip might help reset the batteries and keep the team in a decent road rhtyhm. Tonight's trip to Brooklyn will be just another stop on this long roadie.