There’s a little more than half a season to go, so nothing is set in stone.
But the one post-season award that seems most set is Damian Lillard winning the Rookie of the Year. Don’t take my word for it, ask LeBron James, whose Heat face Lillard and the Blazers on Thursday night. From the Oregonian:
LeBron James dubbed Lillard the Rookie of the Year.
“He’s never out of his comfort zone,” James said of Lillard Wednesday. “He’s never too fast; he’s never too slow. He plays in his own lane.”
Lillard has stepped into the starting point guard role in Portland, averaging 18.2 points and 6.5 assists per game, while shooting 35.4 percent from three. What’s more, he has stepped into a real leadership role on the Blazers, a guy his teammates clearly trust and someone who has knocked down clutch shots for them.
That said, his defense has been atrocious. I’d say the Heat can exploit that, but then again I’ve seen their point guards.
DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and the New Orleans Pelicans will take some time to mesh together. In his first game with New Orleans, Cousins saw a difficult opponent and massive deficits against the Houston Rockets. But there was some glimmers of hope.
Cousins, for example, had a productive statistical evening. The former Sacramento King put up 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals, and 4 blocks — just one swat shy of the rare 5 x 5.
Plus, he had this sweet block on Rockets star James Harden:
The Pelicans lost to the Rockets, 129-99, but it’s going to be fun to watch New Orleans battle it out for the 8th seed in the West.
New York Knicks star big man Kristaps Porzingis left Thursday night’s contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers with a sprained right ankle. He could be seen limping back to the locker room late in the second quarter, and reports after the game saw Porzingis in a walking boot.
That’s a major bummer for Knicks fans.
Porzingis, 21, dealt with a left Achilles issue earlier in the season and no doubt would like to remain on the court for the Knicks full-time to close the season.
Then again, it’s important to keep in mind that walking boots can be precautionary, especially as a team plays away from home. New York heads back home tonight and will play Philadelphia on Saturday, so there should be plenty of time for the Knicks to get their full medical staff working on assessing and treating Porzingis.
It’s not as though the Knicks were primed for a late-season run at just 23-35, but there will be less for New York fans to watch for with their best player off the floor.
Terrence Jones is no longer a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. The University of Kentucky product was removed from the team roster on Thursday after head coach Alvin Gentry said there just wasn’t enough minutes to go around after the team traded for DeMarcus Cousins.
The Pelicans roster now houses a frontcourt with most of the minutes going to Cousins, Anthony Davis, Donatas Motiejunas, Dante Cunningham, and Solomon Hill.
Gentry, via Nola.com:
“We released him because, obviously, if you look at the bigs situation we have now and there was not going to be a whole lot of minutes,” said Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry. “He wants to play. Obviously, he’s going to be a guy in a contract year and things like that, so we thought it was best to let him go.”
Jones, 25, was playing nearly 25 minutes per-game for New Orleans. While he was having a productive year, he wasn’t close to the kind of efficient numbers he put up early in his career with the Houston Rockets.
That said, Jones could be a potential candidate to bolster the frontline of a playoff team, so look for some action around him sooner rather than later.
Charles Barkley has a tendency to say some pretty wild stuff, but he’s typically guarded as a TV professional when it comes to swearing. Apparently the heat of the moment got the better of him on Thursday night as he was talking during the matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks.
Speaking about New York, Barkley accidentally let fly with a not-for-primetime word on live television as he discussed Spike Lee and the overall mood around the team.
Via Twitter (NSFW obviously):
In case you can’t hear that, Barkley said (in part):
“I was talking to Spike Lee at All-Star Weekend, he’s dying to get kicked out of the Garden. He don’t wanna watch this s–t.”
The TNT crew then razzed on him for committing the cardinal sin of live TV.