Tim Duncan

MRI shows Duncan may be out more than two weeks

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An MRI on Tim Duncan’s ankle showed “between a grade one and grade two sprain” Spurs GM R.C. Buford said, reports Mike Monroe on twitter.

A grade one sprain would mean about the two-week recovery Duncan himself said after the injury. A grade two sprain — which means a partial tearing of the ligaments – would be more like a month. The Spurs will announce a timetable for Duncans’ return in 48 to 72 hours, Buford said.

The NBA playoffs start in three weeks.

Duncan injured his ankle in the second quarter Monday when came down on the foot of Golden State’s Ekpe Udoh and his ankle rolled.

As Zach Lowe noted at Sports Illustrated, Tony Parker has said the only truly important thing about the Duncan injury to the News Express Spurs Nation blog:

“We can win without Timmy in the rest of the regular season and get that top seed,” Tony Parker said. “But we’re not going anywhere in the playoffs without him.”

The Spurs will finish with the top seed in the NBA, they have a comfortable 7 game lead over the Lakers out West and 6.5 games over Boston and Chicago for the overall. The Spurs likely would win a first-round playoff match up with Memphis, New Orleans or Houston without a 100 percent Duncan, although they could be pushed six games or more.

But by the time of a second round matchup — probably against Oklahoma City — they will need him back and 100 percent.

So expect for the rest of the regular season for the Spurs to take a page out of the Celtics playbook and not rush Duncan back at all. It’s not like this veteran team that has played the first 70 games of the season together need him to work on fitting in. But come the playoffs, you can expect Duncan to play. Or you can expect the Spurs to be in trouble.

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell

After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.

LeBron James: I’m healthier than a year ago


LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.

It’s working.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.

“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”

LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.

But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.

The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.

It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.