The (16-15) Minnesota Timberwolves will hit the road after a two game home-stand as they face off against the (26-8) Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight at 8:00 p.m. (ET)
The Minnesota Timberwolves have done everything possible to try and fulfill the high expectations that were set for them at the start of the season. With the promise of a playoff appearance and a money back guarantee on tickets to boot, the Timberwolves are doing their best to stay afloat in the wake of numerous key injuries.
Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio made their return to the court earlier than expected, and now the Timberwolves are paying the price. Love re-injured his hand on January 3rd while playing at Denver. News broke that Love may need surgery on his re-fractured right hand, but no determination has been made as of yet, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. With Love out indefinitely and Rubio’s overall health still in question, the Timberwolves will need to rely heavily on rookie guard Alexey Shved and center Nikola Pekovic to carry the load in Love’s absence.
The Los Angeles Lakers have been struck again by the injury bug. This time, the injuries piled up and have depleted their front court.
To begin the season, point guard Steve Nash missed the majority of the first two months of the season with a fracture in his leg suffered in the teams first game.
Currently in midsts of a three game losing skid, the Lakers got hit hard by the injury bug with the announcement of Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill’s injuries. Howard, who had back surgery last May to fix a herniated disk, has a torn labrum in his right shoulder and was seen with the shoulder heavily wrapped after the teams loss on Sunday night at the hands of the Denver Nuggets. The Lakers are reporting Howard will miss one week and will then be re-evaluated.
Gasol, who missed eight games at the beginning of December with tendinitis in both knees, took an inadvertent elbow from Nuggets center Javale McGee late in the teams game on Sunday night. Gasol was forced to leave the game due to excessive bleeding from his nose. The team announced Gasol had been diagnosed with a concussion and is out indefinitely.
The Lakers have been one of the biggest stories to this point of the NBA season, for all the wrong reasons. They’ve seen a horrible start that still has them under .500 in January, a coaching change, an injury that kept new addition Steve Nash out for 20+ games, and now Kobe Bryant’s headline-grabbing comments about the Lakers’ advanced age. And while it’s easy to write off his comments as the frustrations of a tough competitor not used to losing, there may be more than a little truth in what Kobe said.
After signing both former point guard Steve Nash and former Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, many believed this would put the Lakers back into better playoff contention and put them atop the Western Division alongside Oklahoma City and San Antonio.
But if you told any NBA fan that they'd be 12-14 at any point in the season, they probably wouldn't believe you. But so it is.
Having fired former coach Mike Brown after only five games, and having hired former Suns and Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, who has been trying to install his offense since his hire, the Lakers have not been performing to their standards. Kobe Bryant is still putting up points, but it is not translating to wins; Dwight Howard continues to miss free throws, and D'Antoni's offense is not smooth yet.
But there is hope. Steve Nash will be returning from his knee injury very soon. And Laker nation hopes he can become their "Peyton Manning" upon his anticipated return.
Led by the young star trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, the Oklahoma City Thunder have surged (no pun intended) to a 17-4 record and are tied with San Antonio for the best record in the NBA. There are many factors to consider when assessing the team's immense success so far this season, but perhaps the most important of all is the improved play of their superstar leader.
Kevin Durant is simply playing the best basketball of his career. The league's reigning scoring champion made a dramatic leap forward during last year's postseason run to the NBA Finals and is keeping that momentum going into this season. What is perhaps more remarkable is that he has improved at nearly every single aspect of his game, which is a scary development for the rest of the NBA. This is why he is a leading candidate to win the 2013 NBA MVP award.