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Magic rookie Mo Bamba to miss “significant” time with left leg stress fracture

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Mo Bamba has a world of potential but is not yet ready for big minutes at the center spot in the NBA (even if he says he wants that role). This season has been a learning experience — just under 17 minutes a night off the bench behind All-Star Nikola Vucevic in Orlando, averaging 6.2 points and 5 rebounds a game, showing flashes of the defensive potential that got him drafted No. 6 last June.

That learning process is going to be put on hold for a while he recovers from a stress fracture, the team announced Tuesday.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added details.

This may change the Magic’s plans at the trade deadline. There is interest from teams in Vucevic and there is a school of thought Orlando should trade the free agent to be, get some picks/young players back, and throw Bamba into the fire and let him learn. Now there is no Bamba.

Bamba had just told NBC’s Dan Feldman he wanted that larger role.

“The way everything was kind of put in place was kind of perfect for me down here,” Bamba said. “Just have got to earn it.”

He may have to do that next season.

Bamba is taking 43 percent of his shots at the rim and hitting an impressive 74 percent of them (top 10 percentile among centers, using Cleaning the Glass stats, so no garbage time numbers included). He is taking 29 percent of his shot attempts from three, and hitting 30 percent on those. If he keeps working on that shot, Bamba can be a real pick-and-pop threat as well as a guy who gets buckets inside.

To earn those minutes he wants, Bamba needs to get stronger, get a better feel on defense, and become a little smoother on the offensive end. Which reads like the to-do list for most rookies. It will be interesting to see what direction the Magic go this summer, do they turn the frontcourt over to Bamba and Jonathan Isaac, or do they bring in veterans so the learning curve remains slower paced?

Either way, Bamba isn’t going to get a lot more game time this season to work on his skills, it appears.

Patty Mills hits game-winner in Spurs’ NBA-record fourth straight OT game (video)

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.

But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.

Popovich, via ESPN:

“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.

And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.

 

Report: Luka Doncic might return to Mavericks within a couple weeks

Luka Doncic
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Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.

Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.

Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.

Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.

But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.

Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe out two weeks due to right fibula avulsion fracture

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The Milwaukee Bucks keep right on rolling, they won their 18th straight on Saturday night, cruising past the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they’re going to have to keep this winning streak going without point guard Eric Bledsoe.

Bledsoe will miss at least two weeks with a right fibula avulsion fracture, the team announced Saturday. The injury happened Friday night in a win against Memphis.

An avulsion fracture is where a strain to ligament pulls a little bit of bone off where the two connect. It sounds worse than it is medically, and while it hurts rest is usually the only treatment needed.

Bledsoe is averaging 15 points and 5.7 assists per game for the Bucks, shooting 34.4 percent from three, playing solid defense, and providing another ball handler and shot creator next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee has been +4.1 points per 100 possessions this season with Bledsoe on the court.

George Hill, who has had a strong season for Milwaukee off the bench, will step into the starting role for now.

The injury comes at a rough time as the Buck hit a tougher part of the schedule this week, facing Dallas (which may be without Luka Doncic) and the Lakers on Thursday.

Hornets’ rookie P.J. Washington out weeks with fractured little finger

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In what has been a disappointing rookie class so far, Charlotte appears to have a steal drafting P.J. Washington at No. 12. The power forward out of Kentucky has started every game for the Hornets this season and is loving the spacing in the NBA game, scoring efficiently in the paint while shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game, plus is averaging 5.3 rebounds a game.

Now the Hornets are going to be without him, likely for a couple of weeks, due to a fractured fifth finger on his right hand (pinkie). He suffered it in the fourth quarter against Chicago Friday night.

While the Hornets officially only list him as out for Sunday against the Pacers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports he’s going to be out through Christmas, which would mean at least five games.

Usually this would mean more minutes for Marvin Williams, but he is out with a sore right knee. Most likely, coach James Borego slides an undersized Miles Bridges over to the four — which had been the preseason plan until Washington surprised everyone — but he has a variety of small-ball players who likely will get a little run there.

The 12-16 Hornets are hanging around the playoff picture, just 1.5 games out of the eight seed (Orlando).