Robin Lopez has been quite good for the Phoenix Suns this year, and his health is, in many ways, key to their late-season success. Without Lopez in the lineup, the Suns are a sub-par defensive team forced to rely on Jarron Collins, as Alvin Gentry is now committed to playing Amar’e Stoudemire at his natural position (power forward) as much as possible. Collins is — and this is no exaggeration — far and away the worst starting center in the league, and the only alternative would be to give more minutes to Channing Frye.
Frye’s already playing pretty significant minutes on most nights, and the problem with giving him more playing time is that doing so is, by extension, giving the Suns opponents more layup attempts and rebounds. According to Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside, the latter (at least) is about to be remedied: the Suns have signed rebounding machine Dwayne Jones of the Austin Toros to help fill out their center rotation.
Jones isn’t likely to jump head-first into significant playing time, but I’m optimistic that if given a chance to play, he’ll produce. He’s the best rebounder the D-League has to offer, and his biggest weakness (a complete lack of offensive moves) happens to be well-remedied by Steve Nash’s passing and the Suns’ pace. Jones is an athlete perfectly suited for an up-and-down game, and if given the chance, he’ll rebound and finish well even against NBA competition.
It’s not entirely certain he’ll actually get that chance, though. Phoenix picked Jones out of all the fish in the sea, but it’s possible that the Suns’ sole motivation in signing him was to fill out the roster and provide a back-up plan should Lopez’s injury be worse than anticipated. Despite the fact that Jones could make a legitimate difference on a team that has a place (and minutes) for Jarron Collins, he could very well be filed away as Plan Z and practice fodder.
There’s no use in judging the Suns or Jones either way until we see the team’s plans unfold, but part of me can’t help but worry that Jones’ long-awaited call-up may not be as fruitful as it could have been.
The New York Knicks couldn’t get out of their own way on Thursday night, even with a historic performance from Carmelo Anthony. With the Washington Wizards in town, it was John Wall‘s finishing ability that pushed the Wiz over New York, 113-110.
The final 45 seconds were hectic, as Wall took the lead for Washington with just 32 seconds left after drawing a foul on Carmelo.
Down by 1, Anthony then missed a jumper with 18 seconds left and the Knicks allowed Wall to do this:
Wall would go on to steal the final possession from the Knicks, and the Wizards left MSG with a win.
Gregg Popovich can be a fiesty dude, and sometimes he just wants to get his team pumped up. After news that Pau Gasol was going to be absent from the San Antonio Spurs’ lineup against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, perhaps this was his way of doing that?
Late in the second quarter in Denver, Popovich was seen arguing with a baseline official as play continued on. Pop was hit with an initial tech, and as the officiating crew walked away he blasted ’em with the best dad insult I’ve heard in a long time.
“You’re a terrible referee!”
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Mudiay was more than happy to assist with the second technical and ejection portion of Popovich’s tirade.
Long Live Pop.
Kristaps Porzingis is “The Unicorn” perhaps in part because of his high basketball awareness on the offensive end of the floor. On Thursday night against the Washington Wizards, the New York Knicks big man had an incredible putback dunk that surprised even his teammates.
Thanks to a missed Courtney Lee 3-pointer, Porzingis was able to fly in from beyond the arc to slam home two points.
Yeah, that’s crazy.
There’s putback dunks and then there’s flying in from beyond the 3-point line like this one. Wild.
The San Antonio Spurs will have to make do without PF/C for a while Pau Gasol thanks to a recent fracture in his left ring finger.
That’s according to a press release from the team, who said Gasol fractured his fourth metacarpal — the bone that connects the ring finger down to the carpal bones in the wrist area — during warmups before a game against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.
No word yet from the team on recovery time, but estimates given similar recent NBA player injuries suggest anywhere from 4-8 weeks.
Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward missed the first month of the season after fracturing his finger in early October. Cleveland Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving missed around a month in 2012 with a similar injury.
Here’s hoping Gasol can make it back to the court quickly for the Spurs.