VIDEO: Highlights from games played Feb. 11
NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Wall (knee) unsure if he’ll play in All-Star Game — After last night’s road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Washington Wizards head into the All-Star break in 10th place in the Eastern Conference. They’re three games behind the Charlotte Hornets for that final playoff spot, not too bad considering all the injuries Washington has faced all season. A new injury cropped up last night, though, as All-Star point guard John Wall suffered a bruised knee and is unsure if he’ll play in Sunday’s All-Star Game. The Washington Post‘s Jorge Castillo has more:
Washington Wizards point guard John Wall will travel to Toronto to attend the NBA’s All-Star weekend festivities but is not sure if he will participate in his third all-star game Sunday after bruising his right knee in the first quarter of the Wizards’ 99-92 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
“If I can’t move and I need more time then I won’t [play Sunday],” said Wall, who received treatment on the knee at halftime and after the game. “But it’ll be frustrating not to.”
Wall injured the right knee early in the first quarter when he collided with Bucks guard O.J. Mayo while driving to the basket. He stayed on the floor in pain for a few moments, but remained in the game and logged 41 minutes, including the entire second half.
“It’s a deep bruise,” Wall said. “As you can see, it’s swollen. It hurts and I’ll do as much treatment as I can on it.”
Wall, who was limping in the locker room after the game, made just three of the three-pointers and scored 15 points on 5-of-19 shooting overall from the floor.
“I just knew how important this game was, trying to get a game before the break,” Wall said. “It’s an honor to be in the all-star game and have the opportunity to play but I can’t do it if it’s still a problem. My team is too important.”
Eastern Conference All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan says it will be “pretty tough” for interested teams to steal him away from the Raptors in free agency this summer.
“My whole mindset has always been this is home for me,” DeRozan said in an interview that will air in full on Saturday’s Meet the All-Stars show on ESPN Radio at 5:30 p.m. “I never think otherwise unless it’s brought up to me, or you see things, or people ask you about certain things.
“This has always been home to me. I took pride in putting on this Toronto Raptors jersey since I’ve been drafted here. And my whole goal was to get this team to the point where it is now. And I feel I’ve been a major key to that.”
But Kyle Lowry, DeRozan’s backcourt mate with the Raptors and fellow All-Star co-host this weekend, expressed confidence in his visit Thursday with NBA on ESPN Radio that Toronto can retain the seventh-year player.
“He will be a free agent,” Lowry told ESPN Radio. “That’s the best thing for him to do. And for me as a friend, as a friend, and what he did for me during my free agency, I’ll do the same thing. I will just listen and sit back. I won’t give him no advice, and I won’t push him anywhere. Because, as a friend, friendship comes before basketball, and that’s my guy.
“Wherever he makes a decision to go — and I’m hoping it’s back here, which I think it’s gonna be — I won’t push him or persuade him or anything. I’ll just say: ‘Hey, listen, bro. I’m here to listen to you.'”
Sources tell ESPN.com that the Raptors, emboldened by that success after establishing themselves as the foremost challenger in the conference to the Cavaliers, have been active in assessing their trade options in advance of the Feb. 18 trade deadline as they search for an upgrade at power forward.
The Raptors, sources say, have had exploratory discussions to gauge the possibility of acquiring Denver’s Kenneth Faried, Brooklyn’s Thaddeus Young and the Phoenix duo of Markieff Morris and P.J. Tucker.
No. 3: Next steps for Hornets in wake of Kidd-Gilchrist’s injury — If you aren’t feeling bad for Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, you may want to check your pulse. The defensive-minded swingman suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder in October, which needed surgery and sidelined him for a projected six months (although he returned in just over three months). He played in seven games and then, on Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers, tore the same labrum again and is done for 2015-16. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tries to make sense of the Hornets’ depth chart in the wake of the news:
The Hornets provided no timetable for his recovery, but it appears unlikely he’ll play again this season. Kidd-Gilchrist could have surgery or attempt to rehabilitate the injury without surgery. However, not having surgery would make him more prone to re-injury.
This is the second time in five months Kidd-Gilchrist has suffered that particular injury. He had surgery in October on the shoulder after injuring himself in a preseason exhibition in Orlando.
Kidd-Gilchrist suffered this most recent injury when he hit the floor under the Hornets’ basket and was fallen on by Pacers center Ian Mahinmi. Kidd-Gilchrist remained on the floor for several seconds, grimacing in pain.
The Hornets have had a series of injuries to key players throughout this season. They hope to get back center Al Jefferson, recovering from knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, sometime after the All-Star break.
Kidd-Gilchrist is the Hornets’ top defender and has a level of energy infectious to the rest of the team.
With Kidd-Gilchrist gone, it seems likely coach Steve Clifford will again turn to P.J. Hairston as a starter. Starting Hairston avoided Nic Batum having to constantly guard the opposing team’s top perimeter scorer.
The Hornets are off for All-Star break. Their next game is Feb. 19 on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks. They will regroup in Charlotte for practice Wednesday afternoon.
No. 4: Scott says Russell not as mature as Irving, Paul — Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott and star rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell have had an up-and-down relationship with each other all season. Russell has seen his role and minutes fluctuate and Scott has at times been impressed — and then frustrated — with his rookie playmaker. He hasn’t held back on criticizing the Lakers’ other youngsters and had a pointed critique about Russell after Wednesday’s shootaround, writes Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:
D’Angelo Russell’s youth was again a talking point.
The Lakers rookie was not as mature as two prominent point guards Byron Scott worked with earlier in his NBA coaching career, Chris Paul and Kyrie Irving, Scott said Wednesday.
Russell is a playful teenager. It’s not unusual for him to make jokes before, during and after practice.
“It is a bad thing at times. There’s always a time to be serious and always a time to joke around,” Scott said before the Lakers lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 120-111. “I’m not saying it’s bad or good, but Chris Paul wasn’t like that. Kyrie was a little bit [playful] but not that much. They’re all different and I accept that.”
Scott coached Irving in Cleveland and Paul in New Orleans when they were rookies. He described them more favorably than Russell, the second pick in last year’s draft.
“[Irving] was just a little bit more mature at 19 [than Russell]. He was a little bit more businesslike at practice and games,” the Lakers coach said. “D’Angelo still has a playfulness about himself. Sometimes at practice he’s joking around and you lose a little bit of focus. But he’s 19, so I understand that. Chris Paul was probably 23 years old at the time when he came in the league, from his mental capacity.”
“Kyrie was a lot farther along [than Russell]. Offensively, there was no weaknesses,” Scott said. “And I haven’t seen that in a 19-year-old since. He was more prepared from an offensive standpoint than Chris Paul was his rookie year. On the defensive end was a different story.”
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: New Philadelphia 76ers executive Jerry Colangelo just wants rookie Jahlil Okafor to ‘tune in’ this season … Advertisements on uniforms is apparently getting closer and closer … The Minnesota Timberwolves have reportedly reached out to Tom Thibodeau about becoming their coach … Reflecting on some of the biggest trade deadline-day deals ever … Great interview with Golden State Warriors announcer Jim Barnett …