NBA AM: Huge Blow To Nuggets’ Title Hopes
Down Goes Gallinari
The MRI is set for Friday morning, but there are those within the Denver Nuggets organization who are already preparing for the worst possible outcome after the team’s second leading scorer, Danilo Gallinari, suffered a left knee injury in Thursday’s win over the Dallas Mavericks.
Gallinari, who averaged 16.3 points per game this season, had his knee buckle during the second quarter of the contest while driving past Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki into lane for a layup. Gallinari hobbled a bit in pain and then sat on the baseline grasping at the knee in obvious discomfort. Most fear Gallinari suffered a torn ACL.
Nuggets head coach George Karl’s initial thought is it could be a serious setback for Gallinari, but the veteran coach is hoping the outcome is reminiscent of former center Nene who went down hard but was later diagnosed as a sprain.
“I can’t deny — it didn’t look good,” Karl told Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post of the Gallinari’s injury. “I usually look at the player’s face. He was scared. … But I’ve had ones look bad and (the MRI) turned out to be OK. Nene went down a couple of years ago and it was just a sprain.”
The Nuggets, despite having no current All-Stars on its roster, surprisingly sit third in the Western Conference’s standings and have compiled an impressive 18-2 record since Feb. 23. While Gallinari has struggled with his shot and gaining a consistent rhythm since the All-Star break, the forward figured to be a huge part of the team’s plans to make a deep playoff run this season.
“It’s tough, you never want to see anyone go down, especially a guy like Gallo, who’s so important to us,” Nuggets forward Corey Brewer said after the team’s win. “But we’re going to fight through it. It’s going to be tough on us. We were just trying to keep his spirits high.”
Injuries are a part of NBA life the good teams adapt and find a way to overcome. Nuggets forward Andre Iguodala says more will be expected from the club’s reserve unit with Gallinari potentially out of the lineup for an extended time period.
“You’ve got to play the cards you’re dealt in the NBA, especially when it comes to injuries,” Iguodala said. “That’s why it’s so important for the ninth and 10th men to always be mentally ready.
“Now it’s time for somebody to step up and just see if they’ve been preparing themselves for any given situation.”
The Nuggets (52-24) hold a two game lead over the fourth place Los Angeles Clippers. The team has six remaining games on the schedule, four of which are at home where the club has compiled a 34-3 record on the season. If the playoffs were to begin today, the Nuggets would face the upstart Golden State Warriors.
HOOPSWORLD TV Discusses Which Players Have Improved Their Draft Stock
In case you missed it, HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy and Yannis Koutroupis recently discussed which potential draft prospects have improved their stock during March Madness.
Is Eric Maynor Part Of Portland’s Long Term Plans?
The Portland Trailblazers pulled off a very crafty move at this year’s trade deadline by acquiring widely respected backup point guard Eric Maynor from the Oklahoma City for Georgios Printezis. The Thunder also received a trade exception in the deal.
However, Blazers general manager Neil Olshey has been non-committal regarding his next move concerning Maynor.
“At this point, we know where things stand with Eric and how he fits with our roster composition,” Olshey told Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com. “Now it’s all about how certain variables play out.”
The Blazers will be amongst the select few teams this summer that will have an abundance of cap room to pursue free agents or absorb contracts via trade. Issuing a qualifying offer will put a cap hold on some of those available funds, so the team has the option of allowing Maynor to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent to keep their flexibility.
Maynor prefers to take a wait and see approach and says he’s concerned with finishing out the season than engaging in contract talks.
“I got seven games left,” Maynor said. “When the summer comes, that’s when I’ll start talking about it more. I’m not really dealing with it right now. That’s my agent talking to Neil, talking to other teams. I’m just concentrating on basketball and taking it from there.”
Maynor has averaged 7.1 points and 4.4 assists in 20 games with the Blazers while playing a much larger role. Maynor’s stats across the board have increased since leaving Oklahoma City.
Spurs’ Parker Banged Up Heading Into Playoffs
The San Antonio Spurs have spent the vast majority of the season amongst the top five in most weekly power rankings. But the question which always seems to surround the Spurs heading into the playoffs is whether they can win a title despite an aging core and will they be able to avoid the injury bug.
Turns out, the injury question is starting to gain more traction as All-Star guard Tony Parker has been battling various ailments in an effort to be healthy for the postseason.
The latest injury to arise is a shin issue aggravated during the Spurs’ Thursday night loss to Oklahoma City which led to head coach Gregg Popovich pulling the guard early in the fourth quarter.
“I’m not going to talk about all my stuff. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on, but I just have to get healthy,” Parker told the Associated Press after the game. ”It’s no excuse. I just have to get healthy.
I’ll just talk with the medical staff and talk with [coach] Pop and try to make the best decision and make sure I’m 100 percent and healthy for the playoffs because that’s the most important thing.”
The Spurs are already expected to be without the services of Manu Ginobili for the remainder of the regular season as the veteran battles a hamstring issue, but the blow to Parker could seriously derail the team’s title hopes.
“Obviously, Tony’s down, Manu’s down, so it’s a concern, especially in this part of the season,” veteran big man Tim Duncan said. “But it’s part of the game, so we’ve got to play through it and we’ve got to find a way to score points and not go through droughts.”
The Spurs own a half game advantage over Oklahoma City for the Western Conference’s top overall seed. San Antonio has six remaining games on the regular season docket, three of which are road contests versus teams with playoff ambitions of their own – Denver, Los Angeles (Lakers) and Golden State.
HOOPSWORLD’s March Madness Coverage
The Final Four match-ups are set. Michigan will face Syracuse and Louisville will face Wichita State. HOOPSWORLD has plenty of content to ensure you’re up to speed on the 2013 NCAA Tournament.
You can find previews for every game here. They have in-depth stats, players to watch and a poll so that you can vote on which team will win. Once it tips off, feel free to discuss the game in the comment section.
If you want to take a look at the bracket, we’ve been updating it here.
We will continue to push out NCAA Tournament coverage over the next few days so be sure to check back regularly.