Late in Minnesota’s big win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night, Kevin Love took a pretty gnarly poke to the eye. Love eventually ended up stumbling to the free throw line, and in a half Michael Jordan-ish display, hit the freebie without being able to really see. Love appeared to be in amazement when he saw (or at least half-saw) the shot go in, commenting to teammates that he had no idea how it went in. Love missed the second one badly, but that was the last notable moment from the incident. Or so we thought.
It’s a little worrisome that Love didn’t even travel to New York, but it does give him five full days of rest before the Timberwolves play the Rockets on Wednesday. It sounds like the Wolves medical staff is playing it safe by keeping Love out against the Knicks, but if this leads to him wearing some awesome Kurt Rambis or Horace Grant goggles for an extended period of time, that’s not the worst thing.
Cool eye fashion choices aside, it’s a shame we won’t get to see how both the Knicks and the Wolves would have handled the Carmelo Anthony/Kevin Love matchup at the 4. It’s safe to say that neither guy could check the other defensively, and there wouldn’t be too many appealing cross-matchups on the floor for either team. It would have been great to watch it play out, if for nothing else than to see just how committed the Knicks are to playing Carmelo at the 4 for heavy minutes.
Honestly though? If any team can handle losing their star for a few games, it’s Minnesota. The Wolves have started 13 different players already this season, a number most teams won’t even sniff all year. They’ll be just fine.
Gregg Popovich is a basketball lifer.
He’s the NBA’s most experienced active head coach. Before that, he was the Spurs’ general manager. Before that, he was an NBA assistant. Before that, he was a college head coach and assistant. Before that, he was a college player. Before that, he was a youth player.
The San Antonio coach has seen everything.
Except the right quadriceps tendinopathy suffered by Kawhi Leonard, whom Popovich said more than a week would return “sooner rather than later.” Yet, Leonard still hasn’t played this season.
Popovich, via Michael C. Wright of ESPN:
“Never, never,” Popovich said when asked whether he has seen such a condition hampering one of his players. “What’s really strange is that [point guard] Tony [Parker] has the same injury, but even worse. They had to go operate on his quad tendon and put it back together or whatever they did to it. So to have two guys, that’s pretty incredible. I had never seen it before those guys.”
“I keep saying sooner rather than later,” Popovich said jokingly. “It’s kind of like being a politician. It’s all baloney, doesn’t mean anything.”
The 26-year-old Leonard is one of the NBA’s biggest on-court stars. He might be the league’s best defender, and he has built himself into an offensive force. The Spurs (11-7) have fared fine without him so far, but they’ll need him to accomplish their main goals – this year and beyond.
Hopefully, Leonard’s health is better than it sounds here, because Popovich’s answer sure isn’t encouraging.
The Knicks went on a 28-0 run.
They earned the right to showboat late in their win over the Raptors last night.
Tim Hardaway Jr. called a ref, who slipped on the baseline, safe rather than contest Serge Ibaka‘s 3-pointer. Perfection!
Luc Mbah a Moute is a quietly good player.
He’s an effective and versatile defender. Offensively, he shoots 3-pointers well enough to score efficiently and spread the floor. Most of all, the 31-year-old just understands how to play and plays within himself. His teams tend to perform better when he’s on the floor.
That’s an understatement for Wednesday night.
In a 125-95 win, the Rockets outscored the Nuggets by a whopping 57 points in Mbah a Moute’s 26 minutes. That’s the best single-game plus-minus in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to the 2000-01 season. It tops Joe Smith’s +52 in a 2001 Timberwolves win over the Bulls, a 53-point game that also produced a +50 for Wally Szczerbiak and +48 for Terrell Brandon.
Mbah a Moute’s traditional stat line was impressive, though not overly so: 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four rebounds, four steals and an assist. He played well, contributing to winning in all the small ways he often does, and the Rockets happened to play excellently around him.
Now, Mbah a Moute tops the leaderboard in single-game plus-minus since 2000-01:
Russell Westbrook chases triple-doubles.
That hardly makes him unique. He’s just close enough to the feat more often than other players, so he chases them more often.
But he still chases them.
Late in the Thunder’s 108-91 win over the Warriors last night, Westbrook was heading toward his final line of 34 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. His teammates shot off his passes on three of Oklahoma City’s final four possessions before he took a seat (including one assist). The exception came when he passed to Steven Adams, who passed rather than shoot – clearly upsetting Westbrook.
Was Westbrook mad because he missed his chance at a triple-double? Maybe.
Was Westbrook mad because Adams passed as the shot clock neared expiration? Maybe.
It could be both!
Watch Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry on Golden State’s bench. They clearly found something funny.