Charlotte remains one game back but tied in the loss column with Indiana for the final playoff spot in the East, and with that the honor of getting crushed in the first round by the Chicago Bulls.
Stephen Jackson, Charlotte’s leading scorer, will miss Friday’s game against Orlando due to a hamstring that continues to linger, according to a tweet from Mike Cranston of the Associated Press. Jackson played only a half against Cleveland Wednesday before aggravating the injury (he was 1-for-4 shooting in that first half).
Tyrus Thomas — and his 10.2 points and 5.2 rebounds a game off the bench — also will be out Friday. He missed the Cleveland game entirely.
Jackson may be the bigger issue. When he is off the court, the Bobcats offense drops 4 points per 100 possessions because he is one of the few guys on the team able to create his own shot. And the Bobcats are 26th in the league in offensive efficiency with him, so they don’t have points to spare.
But Jackson has not been very efficient at it this season, shooting just 41.1 percent overall (and 36.8 percent in the last 10 games), with a true shooting percentage of 52 percent (that number is right about the league average and includes his free throws and threes in the mix).
Charlotte needs a healthy Jackson and Thomas because of their final eight games, two are against Orlando, one is against Miami and they close with Atlanta. Even if they won the other four games, a 4-4 record down the stretch may not be enough to pass Indiana (which has just six games left, three against playoff teams).
On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.
Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.
As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”
Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.
For two decades, Kobe Bryant saw everyone and everything as an obstacle to overcome: The Pacers, Sixers, Nets, Magic, Celtics, Tim Duncan, Gregg Popovich, Smush Parker, a torn Achilles. It didn’t matter. Kobe’s work ethic and drive had him rising above it all.
His focus hasn’t changed now. Kobe was on the Jim Rome show, and the topic of the new-look Warriors with Kevin Durant came up, along with the “woe is me” attitude of some players (and plenty of owners and GMs).
“I would have thought less about myself if I looked at that move and said, ‘That’s unfair,'” he said. “If you’re a real competitor, you look at that and say, ‘OK, lace ’em up. Let’s go. I don’t care how many players you have over there; we’re still going to take you down.'”
Easier said than done to make that happen, but that attitude is the only one to have if you think you have a chance. You can be sure LeBron James is thinking that way and telling his Cavaliers teammates the same.
We’re going to miss Kobe.
This news is just sickening. In a world with just too much sickening news.
According to NBC 5 in Chicago (which spoke to police), Dwyane Wade‘s first cousin Nykea Aldridge was pushing a stroller down the street when she was shot and killed as an innocent in the crossfire of a gang shooting.
The 32-year-old woman, whom family identified as Nykea Aldridge, was apparently the unintended victim of a gang shooting, police said. She was walking around 3:30 p.m. in the 6300 block of South Calumet when two males approached another male and opened fire, police said.
Wade tweeted this.
Aldridge was on her way to a local school to register her kids (they had just moved) when the shooting took place. There has been a rash of gang and gun violence in Chicago in the past year, and Dwyane’s mother Jolinda Wade had just been on a panel on ESPN’s Undefeated talking about it.
Wade is coming to play for his hometown Chicago Bulls this season.
Our thoughts are with Nykea Aldridge’s family and friends.