Cavaliers, NBA blew handling of Kevin Love’s potential concussion

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Kevin Love got elbowed in the head. The Cavaliers say that didn’t cause them to suspect he suffered a concussion.

Love immediately grabbed his head in pain. The Cavaliers say that didn’t cause them to suspect he suffered a concussion.

Love fell to the floor and lay there for an extended period while still clutching his head. The Cavaliers say that didn’t cause them to suspect he suffered a concussion.

Love, according to Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue, “looked kind of woozy” in a later timeout. The Cavaliers say that didn’t cause them to suspect he suffered a concussion.

Take it in aggregate: Love got elbowed in the head, immediately grabbed his head in pain, fell to the floor, lay there for an extended period while still clutching his head and then, according to his own coach, “looked kind of woozy” in a later timeout.

No suspicion.

It’s unbelievably negligent or plain unbelievable.

Maybe Love was concussed. Maybe he wasn’t. That determination needn’t be made immediately after Harrison Barnes‘ elbow floored the Cleveland forward in the second quarter of Game 2 last night.

The first step is determining whether a player is suspected of having a concussion or shows any signs or symptoms of having one. Per the NBA’s concussion protocol:

If a player is suspected of having a concussion, or exhibits the signs or symptoms of concussion, he will be removed from participation and undergo evaluation by the medical staff in a quiet, distraction-free environment conducive to conducting a neurological evaluation.

Love remained in the court area, on the floor and on the bench, during the timeout followed his injury. That is not a “quiet, distraction-free environment conducive to conducting a neurological evaluation.”

Of course, the Cavs are incentivized not to suspect Love suffered a concussion. Even the suspicion would pull him from a crucial game for at least a few minutes.

This is a problem with sports culture and the NBA’s guidelines can’t magically fix it.

In fact, I don’t believe the guidelines go far enough to protect players. Anyone who requires testing for a concussion shouldn’t be permitted to return to play that day. Delayed symptoms are just too common. (The current rule bans only players diagnosed with a concussion from returning that day or the next.)

Unfortunately, that’d only further incentivize teams to ignore potential concussions. Players who should be at least tested could be ignored so as not to automatically end their game.

Yet, as lenient as the rules are now, Cleveland didn’t even follow them.

Lue said Love showed no symptoms at halftime – as if that’s highly meaningful. Love experiencing delayed symptoms is quite normal for a concussed person. That’s why continued monitoring is necessary after dangerous-looking hits to the head.

And Lue did continue to monitor.

Love started the second half, playing 1:55 until a timeout brought him back to Cleveland’s bench.

“I could see in a timeout he looked kind of woozy,” Lue said.

Lue left Love in the game, and Love played 11 more seconds before exiting for good. Thankfully, 11 seconds are a short window, and nothing catastrophic happened. But if he thought Love looked woozy, Lue should have immediately pulled Love from the game.

Why does all this matter? Dr. Ben Wedro of the DocTalk blog on MDDirect.org, addressed it last year when discussing a similar situation involving Klay Thompson:

“The concern is something called second-impact syndrome,” Wedro said. “And that says that, if you have a brain that is concussed and has not healed, it may not be able to protect itself against a second injury as well, and you can get swelling of the brain that spins out of control and people die. This is a rare situation. Some people believe it does not exist. Other people do. But that’s the concern – that if you stack concussions, that disaster can happen.”

There is no perfect method for preventing players from playing through concussions. Players can suffer concussions without getting hit in the head. If that happens, and he shows no immediate symptoms, how can you suspect to pull him from the game?

But removing someone who got elbowed in the head, immediately grabbed his head in pain, fell to the floor, lay there for an extended period while still clutching his head and then, according to his own coach, “looked kind of woozy” in a later timeout? That’s the bare minimum.

Love’s dizziness in the early third quarter sent him to the locker room, where he was finally given a proper assessment for a concussion. The Cavs then put him in the concussion protocol.

The Cavaliers say they handled this correctly. The NBA concurs.

I’m just curious what a player must do to arouse suspicion of a concussion if someone who got elbowed in the head, immediately grabbed his head in pain, fell to the floor, lay there for an extended period while still clutching his head and then, according to his own coach, “looked kind of woozy” in a later timeout doesn’t qualify.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.