Major injury-related goings-on in the NBA lately, and not of the trivial kind, either. Quick rundown:
1. First, Andrew Bynum went down with what has been diagnosed with a torn MCL after being hit on the knee by teammate Kobe Bryant. It's not much of an understatement to say that a large part of the Lakers' championship aspirations are on the shoulders of their fourth-year center. He's supposed to be out 8-12 weeks, which means he could very likely miss the first round of the playoffs or more. And as nice as a nucleus of Kobe, Gasol and Odom is, it might not be enough to beat a hungry New Orleans or healthy Spurs team.
Bynum was averaging 14 and eight in 29 minutes per game, and had some monster games before the injury.
2. But speaking of New Orleans, Chris Paul went down with a right groin injury against the Trailblazers last night. From the Basketbawful blog:
When Paul left with 1:30 left in the third, New Orleans was up on Portland 72-55. They were then outscored 42-17 [!!] the rest of the way, including 38-15 in the fourth quarter, en route to losing 97-89. No doubt if you look up "complete and total collapse" in the dictionary, you'll find a short description of this game.Good gravy... I knew Paul made this team go, but that's flat-out amazing. If you watch Hornets' games, you see just how involved CP3 is on every single play the team runs while he's on the court. If he doesn't pass to the guy who's shooting, he shoots it himself. It's a small wonder he's so statistically dominant... when 95% of your team's plays are run directly through you, your stats will benefit. But if he can't be back for the playoffs, this is another team that can't get it done with the remaining pieces.
3. And finally we have the Magic. Just as things were clicking in Orlando, Jameer Nelson tore his right labrum (shoulder) and is out the rest of the season. From Yahoo!'s Ball Don't Lie blog:
It's no slam on the rest of the Magic if we don't expect much from this lot with Jameer Nelson out. Nobody should try to tell you that Jameer is this team's best player, he's not; but he's also an All-Star point guard who can defend, rebound, start a break, push the ball, make good decisions, and destroy teams from all over the perimeter. 50 percent shooting, 89 from the stripe, and 45 from behind the arc? And he can create his own shot? Instead of ruing this team's cloudy future, let's appreciate the sort of year Nelson has had to this point.And they're right. I've had Jameer on a few fantasy teams over the recent years, and he's never been spectacular. But this year it seems like he made the leap, averaging almost 17 points and five assists a game, while shooting well from everywhere (see above). Though to be honest, I can't understand how someone who has Dwight Howard to lob passes to in the paint and Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis to kick the ball out to on the wings averages only five asissts a night.
That said, the team is worse without him. This may end the Magic's hopes for a championship.
4. Oh, and the Jazz continue acting as the league's official MASH unit, as Deron sat out last night's game against Charlotte with a contusion above his right knee. Boozer remains out and Andrei is still missing due to an ankle injury. So, uh, their championship plans are also in peril.
And finally, on a lighter note, I bring up another NBA All-Star Weekend suggestion from Bill Simmons from 2002:
Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages ... I will now let loose the greatest theory ever unleashed on Page 2, something that even surpasses the stark, overwhelming power of The Ewing Theory. My buddy Joe House and I hatched this plan four years ago on my old website, and it's the only way "All-Star Saturday" can be saved. You ready?
H-O-R-S-E. Every hoops junkie has played roughly two million games of HORSE over the course of his basketball life. It's the greatest game of all-time. This isn't even an argument -- it's an out-and-out fact. Everyone loves HORSE.
Well, it took seven years, but Simmons' dream has been brought back from the dead (apparently the NBA had a HORSE competition until it died sometime in the 80's).
Looks like it'll be fun. Some think the bigger stars won't want to participate, but I hope they do. How awesome would be it be to see Howard and Lebron trying to one-up each other with ridiculous shots? I'm watching.