Adam Levitan

The Daily Dose

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More pain, less Love

Friday, January 04, 2013

Kevin Love isn’t your typical 6’10/253 NBA power forward. His game is about shooting the basketball.

Back in training camp, Love broke his right (shooting) hand while doing pushups and missed the first nine games of the season. In early December, he bruised his right thumb badly enough that he needed X-rays. And in last night’s win in Denver, he sprained a finger on the same hand in the second half and never returned.

These X-rays came back negative, but Love appeared to be in plenty of pain as he flexed his troublesome hand. It was limp as he was escorted to the locker room. Love told coach Rick Adelman that he could have gone back into the game, but couldn’t shoot. Afterward, Love congratulated his victorious teammates with some left-handed high-fives.

At this point, it would be stunning (and silly) if the Wolves didn’t give Love some time off. He came into this season as a 45.7 percent shooter from the field and 82.3 percent shooter from the line. This year, he’s at 35.2 percent from the field and 70.4 percent from the line. He needs to strengthen the hand, get some confidence in it and find his shot. With 53 games left in the season, there’s plenty of time to do just that. Owners should be worried, but selling at the lowest possible point would be ill-advised.

One of the season’s more interesting stories is developing in an unlikely place: Toronto.

Since Andrea Bargnani went down with a ligament tear in his shooting elbow, they’ve gone 8-2. Before that, they were 4-18. How? Well, the duo of Ed Davis and Amir Johnson are underrated in both real life and fantasy. Check out these numbers over the last 10 games:

Ed Davis: 12.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 0.9 blk, 0.9 stl, 58.9 FG%, 29.6 mins
Amir Johnson: 9.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.5 blk, 1.1 stl, 60.0 FG%, 26. mins

Unsurprisingly, the Raptors haven’t been forthcoming with any details on Bargnani’s injury. They’re almost certainly trying to trade him away for anything of value. But speculation from Toronto’s beat writers has the former No. 1 overall pick out another month.

In order to execute a trade, Bargnani probably will have to be showcased for limited minutes on the court, thus proving his health. The NBA’s trade deadline is Feb. 22. Owners might have to wait until then before Bargs pushes for 30 minutes again.

Meanwhile, the point guard spot has created one of the better “buy low” opportunities in fantasy hoops. Even though Kyle Lowry is over his triceps injury, Jose Calderon continues to start. And Lowry had zero points on Wednesday night. Owners could be panicking.

Eventually, the Raptors will cool off, Lowry will get his starting job back and he’ll go back to posting his top-20 statlines.  

Six games ago, Lou Williams got his chance to start thanks to Devin Harris’ left foot issue. At first, coach Larry Drew said Harris would get his job back once healthy. Well, now that Harris is healthy Drew is changing his tune.

In Williams’ six starts, the Hawks are 5-1. Sweet Lou is averaging 16.8 points, 5.8 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 2.7 3-pointers in those games. Wowzers.

“I’m going to stay with what’s been working for us,” Drew said. “He’s been good in our lineup and I’m going to keep it that way.”

Eric Gordon (knee) is healthy enough to play NBA basketball very effectively. But he’s certainly not 100 percent and knows it. That’s why he was on board with sitting out the second half of a back-to-back on Wednesday.

“I already have a tough time with my body feeling sore after each game, even with limited minutes,” Gordon said. “We’re just being cautious overall.”

At least the Hornets appear to have a plan this time. VP Mickey Loomis and GM Dell Demps are communicating with doctors and telling Gordon when he’ll play and how many minutes. Coach Monty Williams said something closer to 30 minutes is possible for Saturday’s game in Dallas. Ride him until the wheels fall off.

For the first time since tearing his ACL last April, Derrick Rose is traveling with the Bulls. But before we all take our shirts off and wave them around like we just don’t care, note that this is just a planned part of his rehab.

Is it a sign that his rehab is on course and going smoothly? Sure. Does it mean he’ll be back shortly? Definitely not. Rose will have to through an “extended amount” of full contact practices and emerge with no setbacks before the Bulls “even think” about playing him. A best-case for Rose stashers remains limited minutes around the Feb. 17 All-Star break.

Stephen Jackson sprained his ankle when he tripped over a sideline waitress that may have been serving Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He was unable to return to the game. … The Spurs were on a back-to-back road and four-game-in-five-nights spot. Pop still played all his guys, but it was an obvious let-down spot across the board. … Amare Stoudemire got his shot blocked by Tiago Splitter three times in the first quarter. He’s just not explosive anymore.

Ty Lawson (heel) returned after a one-game absence, but played just 22 minutes off the bench behind Andre Miller (35 minutes). The Nuggets lost, but Miller was a +11 and Lawson was a -25 -- and it’s not an aberration. The veteran has been outplaying the youngster for much of the season. The threat of an even timeshare here is very real going forward. … Ricky Rubio (back, knee) is expected back next game. Adjust your reactions to the Luke Ridnour/J.J. Barea lines accordingly. … I know it’s not pretty, but Kosta Koufos is the kind of guy that wins deep-league fantasy championships. He went for two blocks and four steals in this one, bringing his season averages to 1.69 and 0.54. He’s also shooting 59.5 percent from the field and rarely turns the ball over.

The earliest Anderson Varejao (knee bruise) will be back is Wednesday. The Cavs are denying reports out of Brazil that he has a quad tear. I’m holding, not panicking. … Kris Humphries’ ankle sprain is of the Grade 1, or least severe variety. He has a shot to play off the bench Friday. … Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (eye) and his 1.3 blocks per game are expected back Friday. … Glen Davis (shoulder) got some shots up Thursday. A mid-January return seems possible. … George Hill (thigh) is expected back Friday, which is very bad news for savvy D.J. Augustin speculators. … Rodney Stuckey practiced in full Thursday. Say goodnight to Will Bynum’s reliability. … John Wall (knee) got some contact work in. He appears on track to debut sometime later this month. … Joakim Noah (flu) should be fine to return Friday.

Speculation out of Dallas has Dirk Nowitzki (knee scope) returning to the starting lineup as soon as Saturday. The 13-20 Mavs can’t wait any longer – he has to start playing 30-33 minutes nightly right now. … Dion Waiters is pouting over his new bench role. Bad vibes here.  

Adam Levitan is in his seventh season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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