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Cavaliers project J.R. Smith to miss 40-47 more games

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J.R. Smith had his thumb surgery, and his prognosis has been revealed.

Cavaliers release:

Cavalier guard J.R. Smith’s surgery to repair a complex fracture of his right thumb was completed on Friday morning at the Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center in Montrose, Ohio. The surgery was performed by renowned hand surgeon Dr. Thomas Graham of Northwell Health of New York. Dr. TJ Reilly of the Crystal Clinic assisted. Also present was Dr. Richard D. Parker of Cleveland Clinic Sports Health. Smith will now undergo a period of recovery and rehabilitation for his thumb and his return to play timeline is currently projected at 12-14 weeks.

That timeline would put Smith out until late March and mean he’ll miss 40 to 47 more games.

DeAndre Liggins will likely keep starting at shooting guard in Smith’s place so Iman Shumpert can stay in his comfortable – though likely enhanced – reserve role. Liggins is a solid defender, but he can’t match Smith’s outside shooting. Shumpert having a nice season alleviates some concern in Cleveland.

But this still puts a little more pressure on the Cavs to finally add a rotation-caliber backup point guard. That could come via trade or signing. With Chris Andersen out for the year and on an expiring minimum contract, waiving him to open a roster spot carries little pain.

The Cavaliers are the class of the Eastern Conference with plenty of margin for error. Smith’s injury eats only somewhat into that.

Still, it could open the door for the Raptors, who are just 1.5 games out of first place in the East. But LeBron James has shown an ability to win playoff series without home-court advantage. Getting Smith healthy and fully functioning will do more for Cleveland’s postseason prospects than an extra home game in the Eastern Conference finals.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.