Kurt Helin

Marcus Smart

Celtics’ Marcus Smart out a couple weeks with left leg injury


Marcus Smart has started eight games this season for the Celtics, and while you wouldn’t call the second-year guard’s play brilliant he’s been solid. Most of the time. He’s averaged 9.8 points a game and worked hard on defense.

The Celtics will be without him for a couple of weeks due to a lower left leg injury, reports A. Sherrod Blakely at CSNNE.com (and confirmed by the team).

But the injury was feared to be a lot worse, according to a league source.

“Luckily it’s a few weeks versus a few months,” the source told CSNNE.com.

Officially, the injury was a subluxation of the proximal tib-fib joint. That is the area basically behind the knee where the tibia and fibula connect. A subluxation is a partial dislocation (or a misalignment, if you ask a chiropractor about your back).

So, ouch. And that could have been a lot worse.

Avery Bradley will get the start for the Celtics, and that is good — he has been a defensive beast this season off the bench. He has a personal defensive rating of 85.7 (points allowed per 100 possessions).

Kobe Bryant has become guy Lakers count on for ball movement. Yikes.

Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo Russell, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is a smart and gifted passer. When he wants to be. We certainly have seen “facilitator Kobe” but he often comes at the expense of “scoring Kobe.” We get both in the same game, but rarely both at the same time — he is either thinking pass or shot. Usually shot. This season the Lakers assist ratio is up very slightly when Kobe is on the court, but the Lakers have the third fewest assists in the league period.

The Lakers’ offense is a lot of isolation and stagnation. So what is coach Byron Scott’s plan to fix it? From Shahan Ahmed of NBCLA.com.

So to be clear, the Lakers are going to take the ball out of rookie D'Angelo Russell‘s hands (and second-year guy Jordan Clarkson) so Kobe can help the Lakers win more games? Interesting player development system.

Kobe himself touched on the Lakers’ offensive challenges recently, saying with a laugh that if he is the poster child for ball movement this team is in trouble. Via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

“I’m just trying to help these young guys, honestly,” Bryant said Friday after the Lakers’ 102-91 loss to the Toronto Raptors…. “I feel good enough that I could go out there and score 25 or something like that, but what the hell is that going to do for these guys? It’s not going to do a damn thing…..

“When I’ve become the voice of ‘ball-movement reason,’ you know you have an issue,” Bryant said. “I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be the one preaching that stuff. That’s crazy.

He added, “I can’t believe I’m saying this s—. Are you kidding me? Like a kid that grows up and just starts sounding like his parents.”

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2015-16 Los Angeles Lakers.

Clippers have post-game locker room blowup after loss to Raptors

Doc Rivers

The Los Angeles Clippers played poorly Sunday — much like they did the fourth quarter Thursday against the Warriors, but instead this time for a full game — and lost to the Toronto Raptors at home, 91-80. J.J. Redick put up an early dozen to make it interesting, but after that the Clippers just fell apart. Los Angeles is now 6-7 on the season and has lost seven of its last nine.

This latest loss led to a locker room blowup Sunday.

The interview room that the Clippers use at Staples Center is next to the Clipper locker room. After the loss Sunday, multiple media members could hear yelling coming out of the closed Clipper’s locker room. Here are some of the comments from the Clippers on Twitter, trying to play it all down.

The Clippers do have a lot of issues, but they start on the defensive end — the Clippers are 22nd in the league in defensive rating, giving up 104.3 points per 100 possessions. For comparison, the Clippers were a middle of the pack defensive team, and they gave up 2.3 points fewer per 100 possessions. Paul Pierce looks slow, Lance Stephenson looks like a swing and a miss by Rivers the GM, and while the overall Clipper offense is still potent it is 5.4 points worse per 100 possessions than it was a year ago.

The Clippers are not in New Orleans-level trouble this season, but it’s not pretty. The Clippers look nothing like the contender everyone expected them to be this season.

Quote of the Day: How would a scout describe the Sixers?

Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Russell Westbrook

“Two big men who don’t really fit together and the rest is a D-league roster.”

—An anonymous scout, when as by the Charlotte Observers’ Rick Bonnell to describe the Philadelphia 76ers. The 0-14 Sixers.

It’s a funny line. And the fact is we know that most of this Sixers’ roster will not be around in a few years as they start to bring in better talent (via the draft, and then free agency). The problem is it’s hard to evaluate Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor as a front line because of the terrible play around them. Make no mistake, they have not looked good together — when Okafor and Noel are on the court together, the Sixers have an offensive rating of just 80.7 points per 100 possessions, and they are getting outscored by 25.7 per 100. The spacing is terrible, but then again the Sixers’ spacing is terrible in general because of the lack of quality guard play and shooting.

The Sixers are committed to this rebuild system for now — they could have two top five picks next June (theirs, plus the Lakers’ pick if it is outside the top three), and potentially other picks in the first round (depending on how things go, those picks have protections, but likely at least one more). Plus we are still waiting on Joel Embiid to play and Dario Saric to come over from Europe. There is potential in the Sixers’ process — if they nail the draft picks. Have they so far? Can they in the future? The entire process we are supposed to trust relies on it.


Report: Rockets to test to see if Dwight Howard can play back-to-backs

Kenneth Faried, Dwight Howard

Since J.B. Bickerstaff took over the Houston Rockets they have one overtime win and two losses — but they are losing by less, so that’s improvement, right?

One thing that might help is more Dwight Howard, the Rockets’ defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when he is on the court (the offense is much worse, for the record). The Rockets’ rebounding is better with him on the court.

Howard hasn’t played in one-half of every back-to-back the Rockets have had this season as they try to keep him healthy following all the back problems he had last season. But the struggling Rockets are going to reconsider that policy, reports Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

The plan was always to have Howard start playing back-to-backs at some point during the season, but the ugly start to the season apparently has upped the timeline.

Which isn’t the worst idea, but like swapping Bickerstaff for McHale, it’s not enough on its own. Houston has a lot of things that need to improve for them to turn the season around.