At All-Star weekend in New Orleans, Kobe Bryant called his recovery from a knee fracture “a slow process.”
That process has suffered another setback.
Lakers’ doctors examined Kobe on Friday and he continues to have soreness and swelling, so he will be re-evaluated in three weeks, according to the Orange County Register. Until then, no workouts, just more stationary bike (that Kobe admits he’s sick of).
With just 27 games left in the Lakers season it becomes hard to see how Kobe comes back to play before the April 16 end of the season. At the most optimistic end of the spectrum Kobe could be cleared to start working out again in mid-March, and after a few weeks of that he would be able to return for the final handful of games in what has been a disastrous Lakers season. That optimistic scenario has him back for 10 or fewer games at the end of a meaningless season. A season where the Lakers are better off losing and getting a higher draft pick anyway.
Kobe and the Lakers can do the math, they know the situation. Kobe hinted at this speaking to the media in New Orleans, saying he normally didn’t play much pick-up ball in the summer and just focused on his own thing, but that this summer would be different. Why? Presumably because he wouldn’t get in any games this season and there is no substitute for game action.
Kobe has played in just six games this season, missing the first weeks of the season recovering from his torn Achilles suffered at the end of last season. Then less than two full weeks into his comeback, he fractured the lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. That has been slow to heal.
All the Lakers will say is that they are not going to rush him back. All Kobe will do is say what he said in New Orleans, that he has to “do what I have to do” and will keep grinding to get back. Of course he will, that’s who he is.
But at this point the math and situation becomes overwhelming and Kobe will have to admit he will not be back until next season. We all realize it. It’s just not time for Kobe to admit it publicly yet.
Oklahoma City has more than a few adjustments to make after a brutal defensive effort in Game 1 of their series against San Antonio, but at the top of the list is sticking with LaMarcus Aldridge on defense.
He was killing them from the midrange, and more than half of his looks were uncontested — the Thunder know he can knock down that shot, right?
It was a fantastic performance from Aldridge; we’ll see if he faces tougher defense in Game 2.
Should we be preparing for Game 7 of the Trail Blazers-Clippers series today?
If the officials had called the final minutes of the last game correctly, maybe.
Portland won Game 6 to take the series 4-2, but a missed call a key missed call helped clinch.
With 1:45 left, Mason Plumlee got away with offensively fouling Jamal Crawford, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:
Plumlee (POR) sets the screen on Crawford (LAC) without giving him room to avoid the contact.
A correct call would’ve meant a Trail Blazers turnover. Instead, Damian Lillard ended the possession with two made free throws.
Portland’s advantage when the Clippers began intentionally fouling: two.
Would the Clippers have won if the refs called Plumlee’s offensive foul? Impossible to say. The final 1:45 could’ve played out much differently.
But this missed call, the only error in the Last Two Minute Report, certainly boosted the Trail Blazers’ odds.
It’s what the playoffs are all about — win or go home Game 7s. Pressure, drama, unlikely stars Sunday is going to have it all. Here are a few things to watch:
1) Can Miami’s jump shooters have another hot game? Dwyane Wade got the headlines (and he earned them) for his Game 6 performance (everyone except purple shirt guy was impressed), but the real key for the Heat to force a Game 7 was they were hitting their jumpers — or at least enough of them. In their three losses, Miami shot 33.7 percent from 3 feet out to the arc, but in Game 6 the Heat shot 43.5 percent in that range, plus knocked down eight threes. The Hornets have packed the paint all series, when the Heat hit their jumpers they win. It’s that simple.
2) Does Kemba Walker have one more big game in him? Walker was fantastic in Game 6 (37 points), and he’s been very good in the Hornets’ victories. He’s going to penetrate and get some shots inside eight feet, but will he be able to finish? And, more importantly, will he hit his threes when they pack the paint on him? If Walker has a huge game, Charlotte very likely moves on.
3) Is Toronto too far into their own head? No team has more pressure on them to advance out of the first round than Toronto after two previous years of getting bounced in the first round, and they will feel that weight at home in Game 7 against Indiana. Will Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan step up with big games in the biggest moments of their careers, or will they succumb to the moment and the Pacers defense? For all the Xs and Os that do matter in this game, how the Raptors handle the pressure will be key.
4) Can the Pacers again get a few quality minutes when Paul George sits? In the Pacers comfortable Game 6 win, George got a rest in the second quarter and the Pacers were +5 while he sat. That was a huge step up from Game 5, where the Pacers were -18 when he was out for less than 7 minutes. If Indiana — by playing some starters such as Myles Turner — doesn’t have a huge bench drop off when George rests a few minutes their odds of winning go way up. We know Paul George can handle the moment.
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.