Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.
The one recap to watch: Does it get any better than a matchup of the West’s two top teams? We don’t think so, so that’s why last night’s Spurs-Thunder tilt from Oklahoma City gets the nod this morning. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had the Chesapeake Energy Arena crowd rolling and high-fiving all night long, even though this one had a bit of a damper put on it with Tony Parker‘s injury (our man Jeff Caplan has more on what happened here).
News of the morning
Report: Gallinari has likely ACL tear — A magical season in Denver took a turn for the negative last night when the Nuggets’ second-leading scorer, Danilo Gallinari, suffered a knee injury while driving to the hoop in the first half. He eventually fell to the floor and was helped off the court by teammates Timofey Mozgov and Quincy Miller and Denver was left hoping a season-altering injury wasn’t the cause. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports has bad news for Nuggets fans as it looks likely that Gallinari has suffered a torn ACL:
After crumbling to the court and needing to be carried to the locker room, an initial examination of Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari suggested a season-ending tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday night.
“The doctor indicated that the ligament was loose,” one source told Yahoo! Sports. “They expect that it’s a torn ACL.”
Gallinari will undergo a full MRI examination on Friday to survey the complete damage to the knee. After driving on Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki in the Nuggets’ 95-94 victory on Thursday night, Gallinari planted his left leg only to have his knee buckle beneath him.
The Italian writhed in pain on the floor, and needed to be carted to the locker room.
Nowitzki, Carlisle mostly avoid Griner-to-Mavs talk — Mavericks owner Mark Cuban — as is his wont — caused quite a stir this week when he said he’d seriously consider drafting Baylor women’s basketball star Brittney Griner with one of his team’s picks in this year’s NBA draft. Griner, the top player in women’s basketball and the presumptive No. 1 pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft, finished her college career as the NCAA leader in blocked shots and the second-leading scorer in women’s college basketball history. Others have chimed in on Cuban’s statement — including University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma — and now the Mavs’ players are, too. In an interview with the Fort Worth Telegram’s Dwain Price, Dirk Nowitzki gave his thoughts on whether or not Griner, who is 6-foot-8, could make it in the NBA:
When Dirk Nowitzki was asked about the possibility of Baylor superstar center Brittney Griner playing in the NBA, he kept repeating two words demonstratively: “it’s tough.”
Nowitzki weighed in on the controversy after Thursday morning’s shootaround at the Pepsi Center.
“I honestly have huge respect for [Griner],” Nowitzki said. “She may be the most dominant female player ever in college, but I don’t know if the NBA is made for a female.
“It’s physical, there are a lot of athletes out there. I think it’s tough.”
Speaking candidly, Nowitzki offered a suggestion for Griner, who will be the top overall pick in the next WNBA Draft.
“Maybe if she does want to maybe try in the [NBA] summer league to see how it is,” Nowitzki said. “But I don’t think a female, at this point, can play in the NBA.”
Coach Rick Carlisle admitted he hasn’t watched any women’s college basketball games this season, but is fully aware of Griner’s overwhelming talent.
“I know she’s a helluva player,” Carlisle said. “Beyond that I don’t want to get into the polarizing discussion about it because I think it’s important to have an owner that is open-minded and I think it’s important to be an organization that is open-minded.
“Ultimately, whether or not she can play is something I don’t want to get into.”
“Six-foot-eight is about a [power forward] , I’d say,” Nowitzki said. “We have three guys playing at 6-8 and playing [small forward], so yeah, you’re kind of caught between a [small forward] and a [power forward].”
And there’s always the argument that the speed and athleticism of the NBA is superior to any league out there and could engulf Griner.
“It’s tough,” Nowitzki said. “You’ve got to be fast and athletic at that spot, you’ve got to be able to shoot, you’ve got to be able to go by people, guard people on the other end, chase people off screen and rolls, or in the post-up.
“It’s tough. It’s tough.”
Bulls prove playoff mettle in win in Brooklyn — Heading into last night’s game in Brooklyn, the Bulls knew they’d be without Derrick Rose. But they also added Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Richard Hamilton and Marco Belinelli to that list, which made an already thin Bulls roster even more so. Then came the game, where Chicago found itself down 16 points to Brooklyn and had every reason to pack it in and take a loss. But as has been the case with these Bulls under coach Tom Thibodeau, they fought back and, thanks to a late Nate Robinson floater, put away the Nets and moved ever closer to the No. 5 spot in the East. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune details a gutty win for the Bulls:
Thursday night is why anybody thinking the Derrick Rose-less Bulls will be an early playoff exit might want to reconsider.
Down three starters and two rotation players to injury, the Bulls rallied from a 16-point deficit and stunned the Nets 92-90 at Barclays Center when Brook Lopez‘s jumper went in and out at the buzzer.
Nate Robinson scored the go-ahead basket with 22.7 seconds remaining, Nazr Mohammed helped force a steal and blocked Lopez in the final minute and Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler provided multiple big plays.
“You guys have seen the mark of this team: We fight to the end,” Boozer said. “We have some resilient guys in here. We just told ourselves to keep grinding and something would break.”
Robinson’s go-ahead basket came in the lane after he also got credit for a steal on Lopez, whom Mohammed ably guarded.
“I’m not afraid to take big shots if needed,” Robinson said.
“The momentum switched in the third quarter,” Boozer said. “We know (people) don’t believe in us. But we believe in each other, man. We’ve had some close games. We just hope all this is building up to us winning close games in the playoffs.
“We feel if we have everyone out there, we still have a chance to do something special.”
Jordan, Griffin tiring of each other, CP3? — This one might need to be taken with a grain of salt, because as we’ve seen with the Oklahoma City Thunder, star players can have occasional infighting and still be successful. But according to T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times, the Clippers’ frontcourt tandem of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan got into a bit of a spat the other night and some things about Chris Paul bubbled to the surface, too. Here’s more:
The feel-good Clippers are gone, with DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin’s immaturity dragging the team down.
Jordan wants nothing to do with Coach Vinny Del Negro because he blames Del Negro for burying him on the bench.
Yet Jordan’s inability to play consistently or make free throws, thereby turning the ball over to the opposition much like a turnover, makes him a liability in close games.
Jordan sees it differently, and he has for the last two seasons, maintaining he would be more productive if allowed to play more.
The other night in Sacramento, Griffin and Jordan exchanged words on the bench. Griffin told Jordan he best never again stare him down as he did when Griffin failed to give Jordan a good pass for a dunk.
Everyone else was left to sit there while waiting for the kids to stop bickering.
The pair have also grown tired of Chris Paul‘s voice, which is understandable at times.
Paul, very much like Kobe Bryant — who has turned off Dwight Howard with his out-of-this-world standards — is relentless. He never shuts up. And Jordan and Griffin have become weary of him.
When asked about being annoying, Paul smiled and said, “I need to work on being a better leader.”
ICYMI of the night: On a downer of a night in Denver, it’s nice to see Andre Iguodala come up big and keep the Pepsi Center rockin’ …: