Tag: Houston Rockets

Donatas Motiejunas, Kenneth Faried

Report: Rockets’ Donatas Motiejunas out for the season with back injury


Fresh off losing starting point guard Patrick Beverley for the season with a wrist injury, the Rockets suffered another major loss of a rotation player with the playoffs just over a week away. USA Today‘s Sam Amick reported on Wednesday that big man Donatas Motiejunas, who has been out since March 27 with a back injury, will not be back this season.

According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, Motiejunas had been expected back before the season ended, but his injury had not been improving.

This is a huge blow to the Rockets’ frontcourt depth going into the playoffs, with Dwight Howard still limited coming off a knee injury that kept him out for two months. Besides Howard, their only healthy bigs are Terrence Jones (who has had injury issues of his own this season), Joey Dorsey and rookie Clint Capela. Not ideal.

If the season ended today, the Rockets would play the Mavericks in the second round. If they stay in the No. 2 seed, they’ll play the Mavericks. If they fall behind Memphis to third, they’ll most likely play the Spurs, which would be death. They need a healthy Howard to have any hope of advancing in the playoffs as it is, but the loss of Motiejunas doesn’t make things any easier.

Stephen Curry hits ridiculous three against Pelicans (VIDEO)

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry may or may not win the MVP award this season, because James Harden has just as strong of a case.

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But there’s no arguing the fact that Curry has been the league’s most entertaining player, and this preposterous three he hit against the Pelicans on Tuesday is just the latest in a long line of highlight-reel plays we’ve seen from him consistently throughout the season.

Does kinesiology tape work? James Harden, Rockets’ trainer believe that it does.

Houston Rockets v Oklahoma City Thunder

James Harden is nearing the end of an incredible regular season campaign that’s worthy of MVP consideration, and his ability to stay healthy has been a primary reason for the Rockets’ overall success, when so many of his teammates have been lost for extended stretches due to various injuries.

Harden can be seen regularly sporting KT Tape on his right shoulder, but he isn’t injured — it’s a preventative measure to ensure those muscles and joints are behaving as they should.

Kinesiology tape in general has many in the industry skeptical as to whether it provides an actual health benefit, but Harden is a believer, as is Rockets’ Head Athletic Trainer Jason Biles.

“I’ve been in the NBA now eight years, and I’ve been using it probably seven or eight years, right when I came in,” Biles told NBCSports.com. “I like the KT Tape specifically because it promotes a sort of natural healing response, helping with swelling reduction, encouraging optimal movement and proper movement, the appropriate alignment of the joints. It gives the athlete great feedback of where their body is in space — we want them to be aware of if they’re in a vulnerable position, or if they’re in the proper position they can move optimally from.

“So, it’s the tape that we use for those things and also just to sort of encourage the movement that we would like. So if a joint tends to want to, say, become mal-aligned, then we can apply some tape to encourage the proper movement to achieve what the athlete needs on the court.”

A recent piece in the New York Times from Gretchen Reynolds isn’t so sure, and essentially says the claims of the tape providing concrete health benefits are, to this point, largely unsubstantiated.

“There is no solid, independent scientific evidence that kinesio tape does what it is supposed to do,” said Jim Thornton, the president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and the head trainer at Clarion University in Pennsylvania. “It is possible that it has health benefits” like improving muscle flexibility and reducing pain, he added, “but we just don’t know yet.”

Scientifically, the jury may still be out. But if athletes believe it is helping, it can create a legitimate placebo effect, which ultimately can help to achieve the desired result.

“What I would say is that with the use of the tape these days, the athlete, it helps them psychologically to deal with feedback and support, and encourages their optimal movement,” Biles said. “Then, there’s immediate buy-in. So that’s really all that matters when it comes to the evidence that you need.

“We’ve used it on anything from ankle sprains to reduce edema, to help support the arches or the tendons and muscles in the feet and lower legs to encourage them to come back a little bit quicker, and it helps with that. We’ve used it for different tendinitises, whether it’s a common jumper’s knee, low back strains, cervical strains and shoulder strains, they seemed to really respond well to the tape. And one of the major benefits to the tape is postural awareness, and cueing the athlete to be in a good posture so that they can move correctly from that. I think that’s one of the major benefits.”

James Harden isn’t injured, and in fact has only missed one game all season (and that had nothing to do with his health). But he wears the tape anyway, simply as a preventative measure.

“It’s more injury prevention,” Biles said, when asked if the tape was treating a current injury Harden was experiencing. “We have used KT Tape on plenty of the athletes, including James, for injury. But the tape job you see on his shoulder is more for injury prevention. Obviously James is a very physical player, and so he takes a lot of contact on that right side. We just try to encourage as much stability there as we can.”

Harden is a wrecking ball when attacking the basket, and durability is the key to the way he plays the game. He’s made more free throws this season than any other player has attempted, so creating contact is extremely important. And even if the health benefits of the tape can’t be quantified just yet, Harden says the mental aspect of wearing it has been huge for him during what may end up being an MVP season.

“Whenever I’m sore, whether it’s my knee or my shoulder, putting the KT Tape on gets the blood flowing and circulating around my body,” Harden said. “I’m able to go out there and play free, not really thinking about injuries.

“It just gives me that confidence. It gives me confidence to go out there and not worry about getting injured. If you’re playing free and you’re confident, great things are going to happen on the court.”

Brook Lopez becomes first player in NBA this season to be named Player of the Week in consecutive weeks

Brooklyn Nets V Portland Trail Blazers

The Nets are currently in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings, and while nothing is yet guaranteed, they seem primed to make the playoffs.

It wasn’t at all like this for the majority of the season, and the recent play of Brook Lopez is a huge reason the Nets have been so formidable as of late, going 11-3 over their last 14 games.

Lopez has been posting 30-point games on a regular basis; per Nets PR, he’s had six of them since March 1, which trails only Russell Westbrook (10) and James Harden (9) during that span.

He’s been recognized for his efforts by being named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for his second straight week — something no other player has been able to accomplish this season.

From the official release:

Lopez led the Nets to a 3-1 week behind team-leading averages of 20.8 points (sixth in the conference), 10.3 rebounds (fourth in the conference) and 2.0 blocks (tied-fifth in the conference).  Lopez shot better than 50 percent in all four contests, and ranked seventh in the East for the week with a field goal percentage of 59.4. He recorded two point-rebound double-doubles, including a 30-point, 17-rebound outing during a 114-109 win over the Toronto Raptors on April 3.

Lopez’s late-season surge is good news/bad news for the Nets.

In the short term, they may make the playoffs, which is always the goal in Brooklyn — they don’t own the rights to any draft picks in the near future, so tanking doesn’t help, and continuing to be a playoff team will help build a strong fan base that hasn’t yet materialized.

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In the future, however, it may mean that Lopez becomes too expensive to retain in free agency. He has a player option for $16.7 million for next season, and though that may seem like a lot, he can opt out of it to secure more guaranteed dollars on a long-term deal.

If that’s the route he chooses, it would likely mean he ends up playing somewhere else.

PBT Weekly NBA Power Rankings: Warriors, Cavaliers, Spurs then everyone else

Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs

In the penultimate PBT Power Rankings of the NBA season there is not a lot of change at the top, although I was tempted to move the Spurs in front of the Cavaliers. Basically it’s Golden State, Cleveland, and San Antonio then the rest of the league. At the bottom, the Timberwolves take a turn.

source:  1. Warriors (63-14, Last Week No. 1). They had won a dozen in a row but the Spurs reminded everyone on Sunday the West playoffs are no foregone conclusion. Rather they will be a bloodbath. That said, the Warriors have home court throughout the playoffs and they are 35-2 at Oracle Arena.

source:  2. Cavaliers (50-27 LW 2). Cleveland’s offense has been fantastic and it’s defense improved since the All-Star break (and trades), but that defense had gone from terrible to a little above average. But they have shown flashes of better defense of late and they will need that against the Hawks in the conference Finals.

source:  3. Spurs (51-26, LW 3). Kawhi Leonard missed a lot of time this season but he is still going to draw Defensive Player of the Year votes. You saw Sunday why with his play against Stephen Curry on Sunday. Big home-and-home against Houston this week, with some wins they could get home court in the first round.

source:  4. Hawks (57-19, LW 4). Atlanta beating Brooklyn by 32 Saturday — even with Paul Millsap getting injured — is a preview of what the first round will look like in the East. Millsap is going to miss a couple games but is not in danger of missing playoff games.

source:  5. Clippers (52-26, LW 5). Jamal Crawford is set to return on Tuesday and his depth is needed for the shallow-benched Clippers. Los Angeles has a soft schedule the rest of the way, but there is a big game with Memphis this week — win and the three seed is well within reach.

source:  6. Rockets (53-24, LW 6). If Houston is going to hold on to the two seed in the West, they have to get at least a split against the red hot Spurs in a home-and-home this week. James Harden has been putting up MVP numbers and is doing it efficiently, pushing his team into a top seed. He’s got a good case.

source:  7. Trail Blazers (50-26. LW 8). As the winners of the Northwest Division they will be the four seed, but still likely will start the playoffs on the road because the five seed (Clippers, Spurs or Grizzlies) will have the better record. Portland’s offense is clicking but they will only go as far as their defense takes them.

source:  8. Grizzlies (52-25, LW 7). For Memphis the playoffs basically start this week — they are the three seed, just one game back of Houston for the two seed but also just half a game ahead of the Clippers and one up on the Spurs. They could finish anywhere from 2-6 in the West. Big games against the Pelicans and Clippers this week.

source:  9. Bulls (46-31, LW 9). Derrick Rose is expected to return this week, and the Bulls can try to make a positive out of how they stuck close to the Cavaliers Sunday without him or Kirk Hinrich. Yet they have not played the level of defense we expect from the Bulls enough this season to picture them as a serious threat for the conference finals.

source:  10. Mavericks (46-31, LW 10). The Rockets, Grizzlies, Clippers and Spurs are all holding out hope of getting the two seed — because all of them would love to face Dallas in the first round. The Mavs need to get their defense back on track before the playoffs and hope for a favorable offensive matchup.

source:  11. Pelicans (41-35, LW 12). Despite the Pelicans having the tougher schedule they have gotten within half a game of the Thunder as OKC stumbles down the stretch. And the Pelicans own the tie breaker. Ryan Anderson is back in the lineup which is huge for their offense and spacing. Still tough sledding ahead with Golden State, Houston and Memphis on the docket this week.

source:  12. Wizards (44-33, LW 14). They have won 4-of-5 and are within a game of four-seed Toronto and home court in the first round. Those wins hadn’t been that impressive until the upset of Memphis on Saturday night, but the Wizards are playing good defense again and that keeps them in just about every game.

source:  13. Thunder (42-35, LW 11). They have lost five of six and given the Pelicans hope (and New Orleans has the tie breaker). Russell Westbrook is racking up triple doubles (11) but he’s not efficient, the Thunder defense is bad and the losses pile up. Games this week are the surging Spurs, the Kings, then an interesting test at Indiana (with Paul George).

source:  14. Raptors (45-32, LW 15). Toronto’s sloppy defense continues to cost them in close games, as it did over the weekend. They need the wins, the Wizards are just one game back and could take home court away in the first round. Toronto is on the road this week but the games are winnable at Charlotte, Orlando, and Miami.

source:  15. Jazz (35-42, LW 16). Interesting discussion around the NBA now is what the much-improved Jazz should do this summer to build on their defense and second half surge. History suggests there will be patience, looking for growth out of the guys they already have, and maybe one or two trades but not a blockbuster. They just need the right guys.

<source:  16. Suns (39-38, LW 13). Can the Suns finish over .500? Not going to be that easy with this being four of their final five games: At Atlanta, at Dallas, at New Orleans, at San Antonio.

source:  17. Bucks (38-39, LW 17). They should be doing their homework on the looming I-94 first round showdown with Chicago. Just making the playoffs will be a positive experience for John Henson, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the rest of the young Bucks.

source:  18. Nets (35-41, LW 19). They have won 8-of-10 behind the return of Brook Lopez (he was just named Eastern Conference player of the week), yet they are not secure in the playoffs. The Nets are the seven seed, 1.5 games ahead of nine seeds Indiana/Miami, with a tough lineup of Portland, Atlanta, Washington and Milwaukee this week.

source:  19. Celtics (35-42, LW 20). This could be the make or break week for Boston’s playoff dreams. The Celtics are the eight seed, one game up on the Pacers/Heat, but Boston has a home-and-home against Cleveland this week.

source:  20. Pacers (34-43, LW 21). Paul George looked good but rusty in his return Sunday (as to be expected), but his presence brought a new energy to a Pacers team that throttled the Heat. Indy is just one game out of the playoffs with winnable road games against the Knick and Pistons this week, followed by a tough one against Oklahoma City. This is going to go down to the wire.

source:  21. Heat (34-43, LW 18). They were on the wrong side of the Paul George return Sunday, but their problems are bigger than that having lost four in a row. They are a game out of the playoffs and need wins at home this week against Chicago and Detroit or Dwyane Wade could miss the playoffs for only the second time in his career.

source:  22. Pistons (30-47, LW 23). They may just be playing out the string but there are reasons for hope in Detroit — Reggie Jackson is putting up big lines, Andre Drummond remains a beast inside, and the Pistons have turned the Palace into a tough place to play again. All things to build on.

source:  23. Hornets (33-43, LW 25). Kemba Walker came to the defense of coach Steve Clifford this week, saying it’s not his fault the Hornets regressed this season. While everyone can take some blame, more goes on the guys in the front office who pushed for the Lance Stephenson trade than on Clifford, who can still flat out coach.

source:  24. Magic (24-53, LW 27). The Magic are in an interesting place, with some quality young players that should be part of the future — Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Elfrid Payton — but they lack a true No. 1, a cornerstone/foundational player. That’s always the hardest piece to get. Oh, and they need a new coach with a system that fits all these guys.

source:  25. Nuggets (28-49, LW 22). Denver’s players are clearly mailing in the rest of season, which is a bad sign for interim coach Melvin Hunt (but I think this is more on the makeup of the players mentally than the coach).

source:  26. Kings (26-50, LW 24). DeMarcus Cousins put up back-to-back 20-20 games last week and looks very comfortable in the George Karl offense. But it’s what Karl and the Kings front office do this summer that is really going to determine the future in Sacramento, this roster needs work.

source:  27. 76ers (18-60, LW 26). I’m excited to see Joel Embiid in a Sixers uniform playing at Summer League in Las Vegas, he could be the foundational piece that helps transform these Sixers (who certainly have looked better since the All-Star Break).

source:  28. Lakers (20-55, LW 28). Here’s the only number that matters in Los Angeles — 82.8. That is the percentage chance the Lakers hold on to their draft pick this year. They have the fourth worst record in the NBA, if two teams jump them in the lottery and the Lakers fall to the six pick then the Sixers get it (remnants of the Steve Nash trade). But if they keep it and draft wisely, someone to pair with Julius Randell and Jordan Clarkson, then the foundation of the future starts to get laid.

source:  29. Knicks (15-62, LW 30). Phil Jackson talked about defense to season ticket holders this week, and in doing so it sounded like he was leaning toward Karl-Anthony Towns over Jahlil Okafor if the Knicks land the top pick. That may be the better long-term pick but it’s not going to help Carmelo Anthony win right now, and it may be a tough sell.

source:  30. Timberwolves (16-60, LW 29). Watch them to see future Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins (he’s putting up numbers now), but no Nikola Pekovic or Ricky Rubio. Mostly sadly, maybe no more Kevin Garnett again.