Our grades from Monday around the NBA, or what you missed while wearing your $550 sweatpants….
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks. The big German with the soft touch reached an NBA milestone Tuesday — he passed Jerry West to move into 16th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Appropriately he did it with a couple consecutive threes as Dallas was beating Washington. Nowitzki now has 25,197 points after his 19 in the win and at his current pace he could get all the way up to number 10 or 11 this season. Nowitzki is simply the best European player ever in the NBA and a guy who explodes myths — he may be a seven-footer who likes to shoot threes but go ahead and tell me again how he’s soft.
Michael Beasley, Miami Heat. That he is putting up numbers — 19 points on Tuesday against the Bucks — is not the surprise, it’s the fact that he has been efficient doing it that is the new wrinkle. Known as a gunner up to now, he is shooting 65.2 percent on the season, and he has done it by shooting 7-of-8 in the restricted area and 4-of-6 from three. We’re just eight games into the season, but if he can keep this up he becomes a very valuable weapon for Miami when the games really matter.
Los Angeles Lakers bench. In the Lakers four wins this season the bench has scored 76, 48, 54 and Tuesday night 56 points. They outscored the starters in two of those games and in all of the wins the play off the bench from guys such as Nick Young (17 points Tuesday) and Xavier Henry (15) has been key. These guys along with Jordan Farmar are thriving in Mike D’Antoni’s more free flowing system and the nights they are putting it all together is what is keeping the Lakers close to .500 (4-5) without Kobe Bryant or Steve Nash.
Through the first two weeks of training camp, the Pelicans have seen their frontcourt depth decimated by injuries to Alexis Ajinca and Omer Asik, both of whom are out for a few weeks. A deal with Greg Smith fell through after he failed a physical. Now, Yahoo’s Marc Spears reports that they’re signing former Knicks and Nets center Jerome Jordan as a short-term solution:
Jordan has only played 65 games in his career and hasn’t been spectacular, but the Pelicans need a body while their two centers are out. Anthony Davis will spend some time at center, but considering the contracts Asik and Ajinca got this summer, Alvin Gentry clearly plans on playing him at power forward as well, and they need a center to at least fill time before Asik and Ajinca get back.
He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.
Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:
“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”
Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.
“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”
At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.