UPDATE 7:21 pm: Barnes will undergo surgery early next week for a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee.
He is expected to be out at least two months, which means a March return (before the playoffs). This will mean more minutes for Ron Artest and likely Luke Walton behind him. The Lakers may also use Kobe at the three and Shannon Brown at the two at times.
12:00 pm: Outside of Andrew Bynum’s knee and the cavalcade of Kobe Bryant injuries that seem to not faze him in the slightest, one of the biggest boons the Lakers have received on their way to their championships has been good health. But after Matt Barnes sprained his knee in last night’s win over the Hornets, Phil Jackson is “concerned” the injury may be more serious than that.
Barnes is scheduled for an MRI today to determine the severity of the injury.
Losing Barnes for any extended period of time would be fairly devastating for the Lakers, even with their depth. Barnes has been the savvier, more consistent, more stable Ron Artest this year while Artest struggles with both his shot and his continuing issues in the triangle, as well as some tufts with Phil Jackson. Barnes gives the Lakers a toughness that Jackson appreciates as well as being able to space the floor. He backs down from approximately no one and will give the hard foul when at all necessary.
Lamar Odom has been nicked up, Kobe Bryant is dealing with a myriad of issues, Steve Blake tweaked an ankle last night, Andrew Bynum is always one bad step away from crumbling to dust like he’d just made out with Medusa, and Derek Fisher keeps having to turn down requests from the Smithsonian to put him in the Museum of Natural History. Losing Barnes would be a pretty terrible way to start 2011, a year which the Lakers need to go better than the end of 2010.
Then again, the Lakers have had pretty stellar luck during this run, and the test could reveal nothing more than a sprain.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.