MORE IN LATE SEASON INJURIES
I was up close and personal at Sleep Train last night when Anthony Davis went down with a knee injury and it didn’t look good at first. He left the court under his own power and the Hornets are talking somewhat optimistically, as Davis will get evaluated today.
Robin Lopez is now worth a look given Davis’ injury after he posted 20 points, five rebounds and a block, and Brian Roberts scored 20 points with six rebounds, five assists, two steals, a block and two triples in 33 minutes.
Greivis Vasquez looked like he shouldn’t have played last night given his ankle injuries, and he finished with just four points, one rebound and two assists in 25 minutes. Garbage time could have been a factor for his low minute total, but clearly he didn’t look right and owners shouldn’t be surprised by missed time. He gets a day of rest before Friday’s game, but I wouldn’t hesitate to add Roberts given the likelihood that Vasquez and Eric Gordon (23 points, three boards, seven assists, two steals, one block, three treys) miss time. That said, Gordon played in his first back-to-back set and both he and the Hornets would love for him to pump up his trade value heading into the summer.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
The Kings were destined to win in their second-to-last home game of this season, playing behind a raucous home crowd and against a Hornet team coming off a game at Staples the night before. Marcus Thornton got hot and scored 20 points with four threes, five boards, a steal and a block, and Jason Thompson scored 20 points with eight boards, a steal and two blocks in the Kings’ blowout win. John Salmons scored 22 points with three rebounds, three assists and two treys, but more so than the previously mentioned Kings he can’t be trusted by owners in normal formats.
DeMarcus Cousins fouled out after 25 minutes of action, scoring 11 points with four rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. He’s going to finish the year one step away from forced time off, but for now owners can continue to use him. Patrick Patterson (back) did not play last night, and before Kings fans get thoroughly excited about a good player that happens to run to the right spaces on the floor they should realize that Patterson has a bit of a nagging injury history.
KOBE THE GREAT
I’m running out of superlatives to describe Kobe Bryant with, as he played all 48 minutes and led his beleaguered Laker team to a much-needed win in Portland last night. He scored a season-high 47 points on 14-of-27 shooting with eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and four blocks while setting the Rose Garden single-game scoring record.
Pau Gasol paid off owners once again with 23 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and two blocks, though it should be noted that the Blazers were extremely weak up front last night. Antawn Jamison aggravated his pesky shooting wrist injury, playing just 15 minutes with five points and three rebounds on the night.
Steve Nash did not play last night, as expected, and he added that he has nerve issues with his injured hamstring. He’s questionable at best for Friday’s game against the Warriors. Steve Blake filled in with eight points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and two triples, in an effort that owners may be able to pencil in for the rest of the year. Dwight Howard went for 20 and 10 with three blocks, and the rest of the squad bottomed out with fantasy lines so ugly they aren’t worth mentioning. The Lakers moved a full game ahead of the Jazz for the only undecided playoff slot in the land.
Nicolas Batum (shoulder) did not play last night but he made comments to the effect that he wants to play again this season, which is enough to hold him unless you’re in a must-win situation. J.J. Hickson (back) was added to the injury list and did not play last night, with reports that he won’t be playing in Portland next season an interesting backdrop, unless of course like me you had him in a weekly lineup.
LaMarcus Aldridge (migraine) played and put up 17 and 16 with three steals, while Damian Lillard scored a season-high 38 points on 12-of-25 shooting with five 3-pointers, nine assists, three steals and a perfect 9-of-9 mark from the foul line. Lillard has been looking a bit hobbled and run down at times, and a game against the Lakers might have been tempting enough to run the tank a bit empty, so keep an eye out for any reports that he might get a game off. I don’t think it will happen since the Blazers could really struggle without him, but anything is possible at this time of the season.
Will Barton didn’t live up to the hype last night, scoring nine points on 4-of-12 shooting with one rebound, two assists and two steals in 29 minutes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he improves on that now that the Lakers are off the slate. Victor Claver also left last night’s game due to an ankle injury, subtracting yet another option from Terry Stott’s rotation.
PAIN IN THE NECK
Tony Parker (neck) did not play last night despite being a game-time call, but you know the drill by now with Pop and the end of the year. Tim Duncan didn’t exactly pick up the slack on a 17-point night that included just three rebounds and one block, but it helps his cause that he’s the only member of the Big Three that is on the floor. Gary Neal scored 17 points off the bench, hitting 6-of-15 shots with three treys and two steals. He’s a guy to look at if you’re scraping the barrel on a deeper league.
Ty Lawson (heel) did not play last night, as expected, and while George Karl put a 15-20 minute outlook on Lawson’s return there are no guarantees that he returns before the playoffs. This freed up Andre Iguodala (12 points, 13 boards, 10 assists, three steals, seven turnovers) to triple-double, Andre Miller scored 12 points with five assists, and Wilson Chandler went gadzooks with 29 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block, and three triples. Corey Brewer got in on the fun with 28 points on 12-of-25 shooting with two threes and a steal, and with Lawson and Danilo Gallinari out right now this core is poised to do some damage.
Ricky Rubio has hit the wall hard and fast this week, and last night he handed owners another slow six-point, seven-assist night that included a 2-of-8 mark from the field. He is dealing with a shoulder injury but it’s also possible that he carried too much load coming off knee surgery. Regardless, owners should be weary of a shutdown and hope for the best. The rest of the box score was tepid outside of Nikola Pekovic (20 points, five boards), though Derrick Williams did put up 13 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, a block and a three despite a 3-of-12 mark from the field. Dante Cunningham (hamstring) was a late scratch, though his absence was absorbed in a rotation that included seven guys playing between 19-26 minutes.
SLICED (AND DICED)
Chris Paul made easy work of Ricky Rubio and Co. with 19 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists, four steals, two blocks and two threes while shooting 7-of-11 from the field. DeAndre Jordan scored 10 points with five blocks, Blake Griffin scored 19 points with eight rebounds, seven assists and a steal, and Matt Barnes spoke up with 14 points, seven rebounds and a steal.
NEWS AND NOTES
Jonas Valanciunas suffered what is being called a “flexion extension injury” to his neck and will be reevaluated in Toronto today. Our blurbs have been pretty forceful about him missing Friday’s game, but I keep hearing beat writers report things like JV “joking around” while getting strapped to a gurney and yesterday that he is “fine other than an uncomfortable neck brace.” Of course, the Raps will treat him with kid gloves and there is no incentive to rush him back, but I personally can’t rule him out with reporters saying things like that. Therefore, I’ll be holding him until we get further clarification on the matter.
Chandler Parsons (calf) said he overdid things in rehab and now his regular season is in doubt.
THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
NY @ CHI: Tyson Chandler (neck) and Kenyon Martin (ankle) will miss tonight’s game and one more after that, but if it’s any consolation Chandler said he could play if it were the playoffs. Now that you’ve thrown something at the wall, start sacrificing things with the hopes Chandler can return before the playoffs. Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) was ruled out early yesterday for tonight’s game and his season is in doubt. Taj Gibson was called “day-to-day,” as was Luol Deng (hip), and both guys fit that designation to a T. Richard Hamilton (back) said he felt good after Tuesday’s game but owners shouldn’t expect much as he ramps up for the playoffs. This leaves Jimmy Butler in a prime position to succeed, and Nazr Mohammed is worth a look as a low-end boards and blocks play.
OKC @ GSW: Oklahoma City comes into the game healthy and fighting for the No. 1 seed in the West, while Golden State comes into tonight riding a tsunami of celebration having clinched a playoff spot on Tuesday. The national TV game and opponent should keep the Warriors from having a letdown, assuming they all didn’t strain an oblique patting each other on the back. In related news, I can’t wait to watch the playoffs as a fan and not an analyst (at least for the most part).