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Sixers officially shut Joel Embiid down for rest of season

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Is playing in 31 games enough to win Rookie of the Year?

That’s the question buzzing around the NBA after Philadelphia made official what a lot of people expected: Joel Embiid is being shut down for the rest of the season to let his knee heal. An MRI Monday led to the decision, according to the team.

“The assessment of Monday’s follow-up MRI of Joel Embiid’s left knee appears to reveal that the area affected by the bone bruise has improved significantly, while the previously identified meniscus tear appears more pronounced in this most recent scan,” said Sixers Chief Medical Director Dr. Jonathan Glashow in a statement released by the team. “We will continue to work with leading specialists to gather additional information through clinical examination and sequential testing to determine the best course of action and next steps.”

Embiid averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game despite a minutes restriction all season. He was incredibly efficient in getting his numbers — he had an All-Star level PER of 24.2 — and when he was on the court the Sixers outscored their opponents by three points per 100 possessions. He was clear and away the best rookie when he played, with the Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon and the Nugget’s Jamal Murray a distant second and third.

Still, just 31 games. The fewest games a Rookie of the Year has played in up to this point is 50 by Patrick Ewing.

Talking to voters, I get the sense Embiid is still the frontrunner for the award and may well win. Marc Stein of ESPN summed it up well.

Lakers may not be winning, but Black, Ingram were dunking on Hornets (VIDEO)

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The Lakers weren’t going to win on Tuesday night at home, Kemba Walker and his 30 points were going to see to that. Charlotte got the road victory.

Most Lakers fans are okay with that, having reached the “we need to hold on to our pick” phase of the season (it’s top three protected, otherwise the Sixers get it). But they want to be entertained, and Tarik Black and Brandon Ingram did that on back-to-back plays with big dunks.

Three Things We Learned Tuesday: Kevin Durant injury clouds Warriors season

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The NBA world — and potentially the race to the Finals — changed in an instant Tuesday night with one injury. But if you were busy celebrating Bill Paxton’s best work as the director and star of a music video about fish heads, we understand, here are the big takeaways from the night.

1) Kevin Durant injury leaves cloud over Warriors season (but Wizards will take the win).
Here are the numbers that matter most as we await the MRI results and the news of just how severe Kevin Durant’s knee injury is:

The NBA playoffs start in six weeks, the Western Conference Finals in two-and-a-half months, the Finals in three months.

The Golden State Warriors went from “can anyone beat this team” to vulnerable in the space of this one play, when Washington’s Marcin Gortat threw Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia to the floor to get a rebound and Pachulia fell right into Durant’s knee, leading to a hyperextension.

The MRI results are expected Wednesday at some point, but the Warriors are bracing for the worst having already set up plans to sign Matt Barnes to fill in on the wing.

While the Warriors tried to focus on the game despite not having their best player this season, the Wizards were playing with some real desperation — and that got them a much-needed win, their first since the All-Star break. John Wall dished out a career-high 19 assists, Otto Porter and Markief Morris hit key shots down the stretch, Stephen Curry is now 2-of-20 from three his last two games, all of which led to a dramatic Wizards win in Washington.

2) Triple-doubles tonight: Russell Westbrook (of course) and Nikola Jokic (the guy is a stud). The Thunder and Nuggets are both teams in need of wins as they focus on the playoffs — the Thunder to climb up the West seedings, the Nuggets to hang on to the eighth seed — and on Tuesday night both got massive games from their stars to get key wins.

Russell Westbrook put together his 30th triple-double of the season, scoring 43 points and hitting some clutch shots late, and did it against one of the best defenses in the league leading the Thunder to a win over the Jazz.

Denver leaned on their big man and franchise cornerstone Nikola Jokic, who led the team to a road win in Chicago with 19 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. Combine that with a Portland loss (see below) and Denver moves to 1.5 games ahead of the Blazers (and one better in the loss column).



3) Pistons knock off Blazers in overtime in the best game of the night.
Detroit entered Tuesday night as the eighth seed in the East. Barely. Portland entered as the ninth seed in the West. Barely, just half a game back of Denver. Both teams are desperate for wins to make the postseason, and desperation can lead to exciting basketball.

Damian Lillard forced overtime with a driving lay-up, but the night ultimately belonged to Marcus Morris, who had a career-high 37 points and was feeling it. Detroit got the win thanks to him.

Report: Golden State to sign Matt Barnes in wake of Kevin Durant injury

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This is a sign that the Kevin Durant knee injury is at least fairly serious.

The Golden State Warriors are changing course and plan to sign Matt Barnes to give them some depth on the wing going forward, reports Marc Stein and Chris Haynes of ESPN.

Barnes seems to confirm this with an Instagram post of his text conversation with Stephen Jackson.

Golden State had come to an agreement with Calderon, and even though nothing is yet in ink signing him then waiving him is the classy thing to do (and puts some money in Calderon’s pocket).

Barnes, at age 37, is certainly no Kevin Durant, but he can play the role as a “3&D” wing. How well he plays it is the question, Barnes is shooting just 38.4 percent overall and 32.7 percent from three this season for the Kings. Barnes was waived after Sacramento traded DeMarcus Cousins.

The Warriors feel they need another body on the wing, which is clearly a sign something is up with Durant.

Report: Andrew Bogut to sign with Cavaliers

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LeBron James wanted help and was vocal about it.

Cavaliers GM David Griffin was patient despite the pressure, rather than trading assets (that he really doesn’t have) he waited until teams waived guys after the trade deadline, figuring he could get the cream of the crop (“come play with LeBron, and also you’ll rack up a lot of playoff money”). It worked, the Cavaliers have already signed Deron Williams.

Now they are about to add Andrew Bogut to the mix, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

In-demand center Andrew Bogut has committed to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers upon clearing waivers Wednesday night, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that Bogut and agent David Bauman began notifying interested teams Tuesday night that the Australian has chosen to sign with the Cavaliers despite interest from Houston, San Antonio and Boston.

Bogut was traded from Dallas to Philadelphia as part of the Nerlens Noel deal, but he quickly worked with the Sixers to arrange a buyout. Once he clears waivers he will be a free agent, able to sign anywhere.

Bogut will come to Cleveland as a situational/matchup player off the bench. When healthy, the Cavaliers start Tristan Thompson at center and Kevin Love at the four, but also have a lot of success with a smaller LeBron/Channing Frye front line at the start of the second and fourth quarters. They are not going away from that in a significant way.

Bogut would be used for specific matchups that could be a problem for the Cavaliers — if they face the Pistons and Andre Drummond in the first round, or Dwight Howard and the Hawks in the second. Bogut is a quality defender, who can space the floor from the midrange and is a very gifted passer. He also has plenty of playoff experience — including Finals experience against the Warriors.

The Cavaliers just got deeper and a little more experienced for the playoffs.