Fortunately it doesn’t appear to be anything worse than that, but Jones likely misses a few games for this. He will be missed as he has had some strong games recently, such as 16 points against the Clippers and 17 against the Trail Blazers.
Three Things We Learned in NBA Thursday: It’s not always pretty, but Harden is serious MVP candidate
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 watching your NCAA Tournament bracket go up in flames…
1) James Harden gives us 50 reasons he’s an MVP candidate. If you’re going to base your MVP choice on who has the most aesthetically pleasing game, pick Stephen Curry. James Harden’s game isn’t pretty. He isn’t the explosive athlete that Russell Westbrook is. Yet Harden is effective — very effective. He dropped a career-high 50 points on the improved Nuggets, shooting 12-of-27 and getting to the free throw line 25 times (hitting 22). That’s what he does; he attacks and you can’t guard him without fouling. It’s not always pretty, just look at is shot chart.
However, thanks to Harden the Rockets have held on to the three seed in the West without Dwight Howard in the lineup. That’s Harden. That’s the work of a guy you have to consider for MVP.
2) Ugly game sets Pelicans’ playoff chances back. And the game of basketball. The Pelicans won four in a row without Anthony Davis not all that long ago, but if you watched the Suns and the Pelicans play Thursday you’d have to ask “how?”Here is all you need to know about the New Orleans vs. Phoenix game: The Suns shot 34.9 percent overall and 9.1 percent from three and won. The real issue for the Pelicans was this is the kind of game they really needed, they are now one game back of the Thunder for that final playoff spot in the West (and the Thunder likely get Kevin Durant back this week).
3) Utah keeps racking up wins since All-Star Game. The Jazz are now 12-4 since the All-Star break and have played the best defense in the league during that time. That said hopefully you watched Kentucky’s game, or caught up on the new season of House of Cards, or something else rather than watching this game. It wasn’t pretty. Utah won 80-73 behind 22 from Gordon Hayward, and the Jazz will take the win. Now let us never speak of this game again.
James Harden drops career-high 50 on Nuggets (VIDEO)
James Harden kept making his MVP case Thursday night — he dropped a career-high 50 points on the Denver Nuggets in a needed Rockets win. With the victory, the Rockets move a game up on Portland for the No. 3 seed in the West.
Harden did his damage all game long and in the most Harden of ways — he attacked, he got to the rim, and he got to the line. He was 12-of-27 shooting but was 22-of-25 from the free throw line. Just look at his shot chart.
One of those corner threes was the 50 you see in the video above.
He also did this.
Kevin McHale says he won’t rest Rockets, Steve Kerr defends trend
Of the trend toward resting players, Kerr said, “They have access to a lot more data now than they did 20 years ago. We keep track of everything.”
He then pivoted to a belief in progress itself: “It’s like anything else. Medicine improves, science. People learn more. We learn better ways to take care of our bodies. Not just athletes but people in general. So, anytime somebody starts a comment out with, ‘In the old days,’ it’s usually not that great. Well, in the old days, guys played 48 minutes. Well, we’ve made advancements. We don’t go backwards with this stuff. We go forwards.”
On the other hand, Rockets coach Kevin McHale doesn’t seem to have learned anything in the last 20 years.
“I don’t know, I’m not one of those guys who thinks the panacea for life is taking a game off on a Tuesday night in March and all of a sudden you are 21 years old,” McHale said. “I don’t know. As a player, I never thought that made a difference truthfully.”
As far as resting his players, though, McHale said he has no intention of pulling anyone out with the playoffs this close.
I side with Kerr here.
McHale’s personal experience is valuable, but that’s only one man’s experience. It seems foolish – maybe even arrogant – to use that to determine the best course for everyone else.
We’re still learning how rest helps NBA players, but data-driven analysis seems to indicate it boosts player health and performance. I’ll take that over McHale’s feeling.
But you have to credit McHale for this: It’s one heck of a feat to put the Rockets on the old-school side of an old-school/new-school debate.
Larry Brown: Kentucky would make NBA playoffs in Eastern Conference
Kevin Pelton smartly analyzed this in 2012, when Kentucky had Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Marquis Teague and Darius Miller. Pelton found that Kentucky team would be expected to win just 1.6 games in a 66-game season (it was the lockout season).
But all three teams – and every great college team – operates on the same general level. It’s far short of NBA caliber – let alone NBA-playoff caliber, even in this historically bad Eastern Conference. The Pacers, Heat, Celtics and Hornets would run circles around Kentucky. For that matter, so would the Knicks, Timberwolves, 76ers and Lakers.