One of the more interesting debates in the NBA this season was if a well-rounded yet superstar-less Nuggets team could win the West. We’re not going to get a chance to find out.
A team that was already playing without its MVP in Ty Lawson lost Danilo Gallinari to what is almost certainly a torn ACL Thursday night. Here’s a link to the video of the injury and Gallo’s anguished face as he was carted to the locker room.
Without Gallinari, the Nuggets will be forced to rely heavily on Corey Brewer. He started the second half Thursday night, finishing with 23 points, two steals and two 3-pointers in 37 minutes. Brewer’s per-36 minute numbers this season are 17.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.6 treys. In other words, he’s a must-own in all fantasy formats right now.
Owners that missed out on Brewer can turn to Wilson Chandler, who slides in as the sixth man. He can safely expect 27-30 minutes nightly through the rest of the regular season.
THURSDAY GAME RECAPS
BULLS at NETS
* Joakim Noah (foot) was out again. So was Taj Gibson (knee) and Marco Belinelli (ab).
* Before the game, coach Tom Thibodeau said Derrick Rose (knee) was “close.” That seems to suggest that the former league MVP will play sometime before the regular season ends in the next two weeks. It doesn’t seem very realistic for Rose to make his season debut in the playoffs.
* Jimmy Butler is the real deal. He had 16 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals in this win and is going to stick with 30-plus minutes even when Belinelli gets back. Butler could even keep his starting job.
* Joe Johnson was rusty in his return, but looked healthy in 34 minutes. And with Gerald Wallace also returning, those MarShon Brooks streamers predictably got burned (five points in 10 minutes).
MAVERICKS at NUGGETS
* Chris Kaman got some extra burn with Elton Brand (calf) inactive and responded with 13 points and nine boards. I’m not buying it, especially with the Mavs almost eliminated from playoff contention.
* JaVale McGee is going to have his own reality show, called “Millionaire Mama’s Boy.” I’m certain it’s going to ravage.
SPURS at THUNDER
* Tony Parker was active, but looked really lethargic on his gimpy ankle. Gregg Popovich went with Nando De Colo for long stretches – including crunch time. Parker ended up with just two points and four assists in 25 minutes and went back to the locker room a few minutes early. After the game, Pop noted a shin issue for his point guard. Expect plenty of games off and limited minutes down the stretch, making him impossible to trust over the next two weeks.
* Stephen Jackson (ankle) was inactive, leading to a monster game for Kawhi Leonard (24 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, three treys). Oh, and he also did a solid job defending Kevin Durant all night. Leonard is going to be a fantasy superstar, similar to Paul George and Nicolas Batum.
* Coach Scott Brooks continues to get in the good graces of fantasy owners. He runs the most stable rotation in the league and never rests his players in April. He won’t this year either. Check out more notes on that here.
FRIDAY NIGHT GAME-BY-GAME PREVIEW
SIXERS at HAWKS
Devin Harris underwent a PRP injection in his toe Wednesday, leaving him highly unlikely to play Friday. The Hawks are trying to get him to 100 percent for the playoffs. Upgrade Kyle Korver. … Damien Wilkins is for real: 14.2 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.1 steals, 52.9 percent shooting over the last 10 games.
BUCKS at KNICKS
Both Tyson Chandler (neck) and Kenyon Martin (knee) are expected to play, but it’s hard to trust either. They’re far from 100 percent and aren’t involved offensively at all.
CAVS at CELTICS
The earliest Kevin Garnett (ankle) will play is Sunday. But even when that happens, Jeff Green will continue to start. He’s simply playing too well. … Paul Pierce’s ankle is acting up again. Consider him a game-time call. … Dion Waiters (knee) is likely done for the season, but it’s not worth messing with Wayne Ellington or C.J. Miles. … Kyrie Irving (shoulder) is expected to play, but look for him to hover around 30 minutes.
MAGIC at BULLS
The Magic took a day off on Thursday, so there were no updates. On Wednesday, Jameer Nelson (ankle) said he has a chance to make his return Friday. If that happens, the red-hot Beno Udrih will certainly take a hit, but I wouldn’t dismiss him altogether. With Arron Afflalo (hamstring) done for the year, Udrih will still get 30 minutes as a bench player. … See above for Bulls notes.
HEAT at BOBCATS
LeBron James (hamstring), Dwyane Wade (ankle), Ray Allen (ankle) and Mario Chalmers (ankle) are all expected to sit out. Are they a little banged up? Sure. Would they be playing if this were the playoffs? Of course. Look for the Heat to start Norris Cole, Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis, Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh again. … Byron Mullens (ankle) is likely done for the year. The Josh McRoberts party is on.
RAPTORS at WOLVES
Rudy Gay sprained his ankle on Wednesday night, leaving him with a questionable tag. Look for updates after shootaround … I first mentioned Jonas Valanciunas’ prospects way back here, but he’s playing even better than I thought he could as a rookie. How about 18.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.8 blocks with 61.5 FGP and 82.4 FTP over the last five games? Wowzers.
THUNDER at PACERS
Danny Granger had another knee surgery Thursday. He sadly appears to be on the same path as Brandon Roy.
HORNETS at JAZZ
There’s still no timetable for Enes Kanter’s (shoulder) return. … The Hornets only have one more back-to-back this season (Apr. 9/10), meaning Eric Gordon should only miss one more game. … Al-Farouq Aminu continues to be a sneaky option for owners that don’t need points. He’s getting 7.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 0.8 blocks and shooting 53.1 percent over his last five.
MAVS at KINGS
DeMarcus Cousins picked up six fouls in just eight minutes during the second half of Wednesday’s loss. It resulted in just 26 total minutes. He’ll be fine. … See above for Mavs notes.
WARRIORS at SUNS
Wes Johnson continues to log monster minutes. He’s getting 17.6 points, 3.4 treys and 1.2 steals over his last five games. … Marcin Gortat (foot) is hoping to play in the final game of the season. No idea why.
GRIZZLIES at LAKERS
Steve Nash (hamstring) is doubtful. Steve Blake will play at least 33 minutes and is averaging 2.6 3-pointers a night over his last 10 games. … Despite the injuries to Nash and Metta World Peace (knee), I detailed why I’m still low on Jodie Meeks here.
ROCKETS at BLAZERS
Chandler Parsons proved he was over his illness with a monster 29/5/4 line on Wednesday. But he got kicked in the calf and is now listed as a game-time call. … LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) is expected back. Meyers Leonard streamers need to look elsewhere. … Nicolas Batum’s season is in jeopardy due to a labrum tear. Most owners should move on.