NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Garnett could return Saturday — Kevin Garnett has missed the last 19 games with back spasms. And while the Brooklyn Nets have gone 14-5 in that stretch, they need Garnett to help them on the glass. They rank dead last in defensive rebounding percentage since he first went out. Garnett, by the way, leads the league in individual defensive rebound percentage. And he could be back Saturday night in Philadelphia, as Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York writes:
While coach Jason Kidd wouldn’t fully commit to it, the Nets coach sure seemed optimistic about the possibility.
“[Kevin] felt better today,” Kidd said Friday night following his team’s 15th consecutive home victory. “We’ll see how his plane ride goes, and then we’ll see in the morning how he feels. We would like to try to get him to go tomorrow, but it’s up to him.”
Garnett has missed the past 19 games due to back spasms. The Nets (41-34) have gone 14-5 without him.
Asked if he is worried about reintegrating Garnett into the lineup, Kidd replied, “Nope. Kevin is a professional. He’s been doing it for a million years, so there’s nothing to worry about. He’s about the team. He’s about what we as a team stand for — unselfishness, defense — so he won’t have a problem with that.”
No. 2: Nash will play again this season — Before meeting the Mavs on Friday, Steve Nash speculated that it might be his last game of the season, with Jordan Farmar set to return from injury in the coming days. But after Nash dished out seven assists (watch video) in 19 minutes, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said that the 40 year old will play again over the last 11 days. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin has the story from L.A.:
Nash left the arena without speaking to reporters Friday, but his coach is making sure there will be at least one more encore performance.
“I said this is not your last game,” D’Antoni relayed after the Lakers’ 107-95 loss to the Mavericks. “He said, ‘OK.’ So, we’ll play him.”
There are only six games left to the Lakers season and Nash already all but ruled himself out Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers, fearing he won’t have enough recovery time to prepare himself for the early 12:30 p.m. PT tip.
He has repeatedly said he wanted to get out of the way when Jordan Farmar returns from a strained groin injury next week, preferring to give the minutes he’d play to Farmar and Kendall Marshall so they have the opportunity to prove themselves with free agency coming for each.
But D’Antoni, who first coached Nash a decade ago in Phoenix, isn’t going to let Nash disappear so easily.
No. 3: Wade expected back soon — The Miami Heat might not really need Dwyane Wade before the conference semifinals, but his health will always be a concern. Wade has missed 24 games this season (some just for rest), including the last five with a strained left hamstring. The Heat are 16-8 without Wade, but their defense is at its best when he’s healthy and active. The playoffs are exactly two weeks away, but there’s not a high level of concern in the Miami locker room, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes:
A strained left hamstring sidelined Heat guard Dwyane Wade for a fifth consecutive game on Friday night, but Heat players said he’s improving, and LeBron James said Wade “probably” will return “within the next week.”
There doesn’t appear to be concern about Wade’s availability for the start of the playoffs in two weeks.
But there is some uncertainty about a timetable. Udonis Haslem said Friday “it’s hard to tell” when Wade will play in a game again.
The Heat host the Knicks on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, ABC).
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Thabo Sefolosha is getting closer to a return for the Thunder … Tayshaun Prince went down with an ankle injury in the Grizzlies’ win over Denver … Ty Lawson was benched after missing a team meeting (and then turned his ankle too) … The Bulls may sign one or more vets after waiving rookie Erik Murphy … Eric Gordon went to L.A. to have his knee checked out … and Leon Powe wants to own an NBA team.
ICYMI of The Night: Gerald Green went off the glass to himself as the Suns picked up a huge win in Portland: