<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

Chicago Bulls v New Orleans Pelicans

Five Things We Learned in NBA Tuesday: The basketball injury gods are heartless and cruel

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If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while wishing the Starbucks near you served beer

1) The basketball injury gods are heartless and cruel.  Paul George. Kevin Durant. Russell Westbrook. Kobe Bryant. Kemba Walker. Steve Nash. Blake Griffin. Dwight Howard. Carmelo Anthony. Jabari Parker. Chris Bosh. Now Derrick Rose. Every one of those stars has missed significant time this season due to injury. Enough already. We are setting up for a what should be a brilliant playoffs, I’m sick of injuries potentially ruining that. Yes, all the injuries should lead to a discussion of the wear and tear the NBA regular season puts on players’ bodies — Adam Silver is already trying to do something about that — but some of this is just bad luck. A statistical anomaly, if you will. But I’m weary of it and sickened by it. Enough is enough.  Just let the guys play the game.

2) Stephen Curry is back and doing ridiculous Stephen Curry things. At least one star is healthy and showing it — Curry missed one game with a sore foot, but returned to the lineup Tuesday to drop 32 points (including five three-pointers) plus dish out eight assists against the Wizards. On top of all that he did a good job defensively on John Wall when assigned to him. If you had any questions Curry was fine, check out this ridiculous tear-drop floater.

3) LeBron James passed Scottie Pippen for most assists ever by a forward — and did it in style. Playing in the social media era has opened LeBron to more — and more public — criticism than any of the game’s all-time greats. And make no mistake, LeBron is going down as one of the game’s all-time greats (exactly where on that list is yet to be determined). He is arguably the most gifted player ever to play the game, but don’t let that distract you from the long hours he’s put in to grow his game. One thing he has always done well — pass. Midway through the third quarter LeBron hit Kevin Love with a behind-the-back dish setting up a three that gave LeBron five assists on the night and 6,136 dimes for his career, passing Scottie Pippen on the list. (LeBron had 11 dimes on the night.) LeBron will set more records before he walks away, but this one will have meaning for him.

4) Kevin Love can still drain the three, in case you forgot. You just saw one of Love’s threes on the night, but he found his groove from three on Tuesday night and drained eight threes, tying his career best. Not sure this means he’s comfortable in the offense yet, but he was feeling it Tuesday.

5) Russell Westbrook’s triple-double reminder he is in the MVP race now. Oklahoma City didn’t have too much trouble with Indiana, despite Kevin Durant being out, and that is thanks to Russell Westbrook, who notched 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. Westbrook is simply putting himself in the MVP race with his play since returning from injury — 26.1 points, 8 rebounds and 6.7 assists a game. Nobody else in the NBA is putting up better across-the-board numbers. Maybe he missed too many games to win the MVP, but he needs to be in the discussion.

Derrick Rose to undergo knee surgery for torn meniscus

Chicago Bulls v Houston Rockets
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Derrick Rose just cannot catch a break from the injury gods.

Things had seemed amiss of late: He had shot 8-of-34 (23.5 percent) in his last three games. Now we find out why:

He has a torn meniscus in his right knee, which will require surgery.

“Derrick Rose reported today with right knee pain,” the Bulls announced in a press release. “Exam and subsequent MRI confirmed medial meniscus tear of the right knee.”

This is the same knee he had the meniscus tear in last season.

The Bulls will not release a timeline for his return until after the surgery, however after this surgery last season in November and did not return. That said, last season he had the meniscus repaired, something that has a longer recovery time. He has the option of having the meniscus removed (although that is an increasingly rare choice), which gets him back more quickly but would be a problem down the line. This option is what Dwyane Wade had done years ago, for example.

Even being optimistic (which is hard with Rose), the idea of a perfectly healthy Rose leading the Bulls into the playoffs seems doomed. And with that, the Bulls title chances fall off a cliff as well.

Rose averaged 18.4 points, 5 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 46 games for the Bulls this season.

He will return from this, but likely not in time for this season. And whether we will ever see anything close to the MVP Derrick Rose — one that can be at the heart of a contender — is certainly up for debate. The Bulls need to seriously consider their long-term plans now.

Kevin Garnett calls return to Minnesota “fairytale”

Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Garnett Portraits 2015
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Kevin Garnett is back where it all started.

For the first decade of his career, when KG established himself as one of the best players in the game, he was carrying the franchise as far as one man could. He eventually left and picked up his ring as a member of the Celtics; then he moved on to Brooklyn.

Now Garnett is back in Minnesota — the Nets bought out his contract, and he re-signed — and at his press conference he called it a fairytale ending. And he said he wants to mentor this young team (the question is for how long, and in what role).

Here are the highlights, courtesy Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune.

PBT Extra: Kyle Korver says good health, good system reasons for his record season

Washington Wizards v Atlanta Hawks
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Kyle Korver could always shoot the rock; he’s a career 43.2 percent from beyond the arc. But this year his skills have really gotten noticed as vital part of the East leading Atlanta Hawks’ offense — he’s shooting 50 percent overall, 50.9 percent from three and 90.4 percent from the free throw line. Nobody has ever put up a 50-50-90 season before. When Korver goes off the floor, the Hawks offense drops 13.5 points per 100 possessions. That gets noticed by the coaches, who voted him an All-Star Game reserve (and he hit seven threes in that game, one shy of the All-Star Game record).

Why has Korver’s game taken off this season? Korver told me in this latest PBT Extra it’s a combination of healthy and a system that caters to what he likes to do — set screens and move off the ball.

Korver and I also talk more about that offense and how it is a counter to the now-standard defenses in the NBA, plus we talk about the increased fan support in Atlanta.

Most importantly, we also talk about the End It movement, which is working to shine a light on the slavery that still exists in the world today.

Steve Nash calls out twitter troll: “Watch your mouth or temecula”

Steve Nash
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Steve Nash is a favorite whipping boy of some frustrated Lakers fans who see him as a guy the team spent a lot of money on but has barely played for the team. It speaks to the depth of knowledge of said Lakers fans who: 1) Don’t blame management for bringing in a guy pushing 40 and saying he’s a foundational piece; 2) Do blame one of the most well condition and hard working players in the game because an injury did knock him out.

Nash got called out by one of these “brilliant” Lakers fans on Twitter — and he had the best comeback.

And if you don’t get the Temecula reference, you have some reading to do.

Nash has been out all season with a nerve issue that runs from his back down into his leg. He worked hard at both rehab and trying to train his body to move differently and not aggravate the injury, but to no success.

Nash was on Twitter live-tweeting the big Champions League soccer match between Barcelona and Manchester City.