Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls. Friend of this site Coach Nick called watching Noah play “coach porn” — he plays with a high IQ, he is focused on defense, he can pass, he moves off the ball, and the energy is always there. Wednesday night he scored eight points, added five assists and three rebounds in the fourth quarter to get his third triple double of the season. Noah finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and the Bulls got a 105-94 win over the Pistons. Noah is playing maybe the best ball of his career right now.
Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats. He just went out and dropped 34 points on 16-of-25 points on the best defense in the NBA. Jefferson completely outplayed future Defensive Player of the Year Roy Hibbert. Jefferson has had a monster season for the Bobcats and they are not playoff bound without him, and they don’t beat the Pacers Wednesday without him.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks. The Knicks win. Theeeee Knicks win. Of course Carmelo Anthony was at the heart of that with 33 points on 14-of-27 shooting. He was attacking off the dribble and abusing Corey Brewer much of the night. The difference was it wasn’t just Anthony — Tyson Chandler was defending, even Raymond Felton played well for a night. Mike Woodson went big and that worked, too. Just that kind of night for the Knicks.
James Harden, Houston Rockets. The Rockets were sloppy in the first half against the Magic. James Harden led the charge in the second half, when he scored 25 of his 31 points on the night, shot 8-of-11 and Houston pulled away for the win. The Rockets are now 21-6 in 2014.
Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks. Round of applause for the man who knocked down a three in 127 consecutive games before Wednesday. He was 0-of-5 in this game despite getting some good looks, then in a blowout he didn’t get back in for the fourth quarter. This streak was pretty impressive, every night in that streak the opposing scouting report said “do not help off Kyle Korver at the arc, do not lose him” and every game he found a way to get space and get off his shot. Good on ya, Kyle.
Joel Embiid on Monday will have an MRI on his injured left knee and is now listed as out indefinitely.
Embiid has been experiencing swelling and soreness in the left knee injury that has caused him to miss 16 out of the last 17 games. Bryan Colangelo announced back on Feb. 11 that Embiid has a minor meniscal tear. In his most recent press conference last Friday, Colangelo had targeted this Friday’s home game against the Knicks as a possibility for Embiid’s return. Now, that isn’t the case.
Embiid had been the biggest ray of hope for Philadelphia, but the 76ers shouldn’t chase watchability down the stretch. Sit Embiid until he’s fully healthy and secure the best draft position possible.
Maybe Embiid’s body just can’t handle the rigors of NBA basketball, but Philadelphia has no choice but to hope for the best with him and Simmons. And hope the nail the their first-round pick this year and get the Lakers’ first-rounder.
This could still be a dangerously good team in coming years. The Process created that potential.
But the threat of injury always looms around the corner, maybe especially so for Embiid.
Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah likely to miss rest of season after knee surgery
Prepare for the talk next fall about Noah feeling refreshed and ready to help the Knicks.
But this surgery won’t reverse the underlying problem: Noah is a 31-year-old big man with heavy mileage. He can manage his knees, but it’s probably too late for him to regain enough athleticism to reliably contribute.
Just three years and $55 million+ remaining on his contract, which already looked like the NBA’s worst deal and is now even more unfavorable.
Buddy Hield: Vivek Ranadive told me at Kings-Pelicans games, ‘We’re still going to get you’