Posted on: December 22, 2011 12:03 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 2:22 pm

What Kobe Bryant's wrist injury means

By Matt Moore

News of Kobe Bryant's torn wrist ligament spread like fire Wednesday. The Lakers, secretive as ever, list Bryant as day-to-day. That could be because they like to keep things under wraps. Or it could be because they don't know how long they'll be able to keep the strong-willed Bryant -- well-known for playing through pain -- off the floor.

Which is what makes this so frustrating for Bryant. He struggled with injuries the past two seasons, particularly a torn ligament in his pinky and a knee condition which required experimental treatment in Germany. But the long layoff had resulted in an invigorated Bryant proclaiming he was the healthiest he'd been in years. He talked about the knee being able to let him do anything he wanted. So to immediately suffer a significant wrist injury, regardless of how long he's out for, if at all, has to be frustrating. (The fact that he injured it after being blocked to oblivion by DeAndre Jordan doesn't hurt, really, but it cetainly doesn't help.)

There's a wide range of opinions on how long Bryant will be out. It essentially comes down to this. Doctors think the wrist needs time to heal but he could play through it, and teammates are certain he'll play Sunday against the Bulls in the Lakers' opener in Los Angeles.

From the Los Angeles Times:
"Without being privy to the MRI, these types of injuries can take anywhere from several days to several weeks to heal completely," said Keith Feder, a Manhattan Beach sports-medicine specialist. "But depending on the pain level, and with support, the athlete could play."
via Kobe Bryant's wrist injury leaves his status for Lakers' opener in doubt - latimes.com

From ESPN and Dr. Robert Klapper:
"You usually don't have to operate on them, but it means that you need to let them rest so you can heal."

Hands and wrists, Klapper says, heal faster than an ankle fracture, for example. He notes that the length of Kobe's absence depends on the specific diagnosis. How severe is the tear? Recovery time could be a month, it could be less. Bryant really could be day-to-day if the tear is "microscopic." God is in the details.

Interestingly enough, Klapper says anti-inflammatory medicines "have been shown to delay the healing." Meanwhile, Vitamin C helps speed healing (and as an added benefit, staves off scurvy, should Bryant take up pirating in his spare time).
via Dr. Robert Klapper on Kobe Bryant's wrist injury - Los Angeles Lakers Blog - ESPN Los Angeles

Then you have to hear what Bryant's teammates said after the Lakers' preseason loss to the Clippers Wednesday night: Bryant declined to talked to reporters, but longtime teammate Luke Walton was optimistic about his recovery.

"He plays through injuries that most people don't," Walton said. "I did see his wrist and it looked like Professor Klump because it was so swollen. But I think he'll be ready by Sunday."

Said Lakers center Andrew Bynum: "It's tough for him to miss a game, so I think he'll be up and ready to go." via Kobe Bryant's wrist injury leaves his status for Lakers' opener in doubt - latimes.com.

Sounds about right. Most people would be out a few weeks with this injury. Kobe Bryant is not most people. But there are larger questions in play here. Can the Lakers win without Bryant? It's possible. The Bulls game may be a loss, but that was questionable from the start what with Derrick Rose being guarded by Derek Fisher and Steve Blake. The larger problem isn't Bryant's absence, though he is imperative to any Lakers gameplan. It's that Andrew Bynum is serving a five-game suspension starting Sunday for a flagrant foul on J.J. Barea in last year's playoffs. The Laker can survive without Kobe Bryant for a few games. Surviving without Bryant and Bynum becomes a much tougher trick.

So why not play him, just let him work through it? Because the injury is such that repeated damage to it could cause longer term problems. Bryant is still better than 90 percent of most NBA players at 80 percent or even 70 percent, but the wear and tear does have which could be cumulative. The Lakers want to win now. Not next year, not two years from now. Now. (And in the future. That's kind of their bag. Win now, win later, win always.) And to do that they have to have the franchise player healthy for the playoffs. Risking a substantive long-term injury to win a handful of games early is not worth it.

So why not bench him, let him rest up, and play him when he's back at full strength? Take no chances, so to speak? Because of the shortened schedule. With Bynum out, the Lakers would be in the precarious position without Bryant of starting 1-4 or 0-5 without Bynum. Three of their first five opponents are playoff teams, six of their first ten. What does a 3-7 start do with just 56 games remaining? To be assured of the equivalent of 52 wins in a normal season, the Lakers would have to win roughly 42 games. which would likely be necessary for a top four seed in the playoffs even in a diluted Western Conference, the Lakers would then need to go 39-17 the rest of the way. That's just to get to the same winning percentage as the Eastern fourth seed Magic last season.

It's an impossible problem, one which the Lakers will no doubt struggle with over the next few days. The final decision will rest with Kobe, who will want to play. And the amazing part is, it's likely Bryant will score 30+ in a game with a bad wrist. His ability to adapt and play through injury is quite literally the stuff of legend. In ten years, players will tell tales of him playing through having his hand sawed off with a lightsaber like Luke Skywalker. But the issue is that one game will cloud what could be peripheral issues in his game. Ball-handling, which has become more of an issue for Bryant (half-court traps have given him a world of fits the past two seasons, and forced two turnovers in the first preseason game), could be impacted. Passing. Defense due to an inability to effectively check with that hand or apply pressure. Tentativeness on either end of the floor depending on how the wrist is feeling.

Without Bryant, the Lakers are in trouble. If Bryant plays, his season could be in trouble. We're betting Bryant plays, and plays well, but this is not the start the Lakers wanted, even beyond the failed trade for Chris Paul, Lamar Odom's subsequent departure, Bryant's divorce, and the predictable struggle to adapt to a new system. If the Lakers are to overcome adversity and regain the position at the top of the NBA mountain, they'll need everything they can get from every player.

Or Dwight Howard.
Posted on: December 17, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: December 17, 2011 5:42 pm

Celtics' Jeff Green to miss entire 2012 season

By Matt Moore

The Celtics announced Saturday morning that forward Jeff Green will miss the entire 2011-2012 season after surgery to repair a heart condition. During a stress test in his physical upon agreeing to his one-year, $9 milllion deal with the Celtics, doctors discovered an aortic aneurysm, which involves swelling in a valve in the heart. He will undergo surgery, miss the entire year, and the Celtics announced he should be able to return to action for the 2012-2013 season assuming everything goes well with surgery and subsequent treatment. 

With no symptoms, discovering the condition may prove to be a blessing in disguise for Green and his long-term health. For the Celtics, they move forward with no legitimate back-up small forward and a dangerously thin bench. The Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins for Green and the Clippers protected 2012 draft pick at last season's trade deadline. Despite considerable criticism for the move, Celtics GM Danny Ainge has repeatedly defended the move indicating his belief in Green's long-term value to the franchise. 

Due to Green's failure to pass his physical, the Boston Herald reports Green's contract has been voided

The Celtics official press release: 
The Boston Celtics announced today that forward Jeff Green will undergo surgery on Monday January 9, 2012 at the Cleveland Clinic and will miss the 2011-12 season.

A team of leading cardiac specialists who consulted with Green and the Celtics indicated that surgery should completely repair Green’s condition and that he can expect to resume his NBA career next season.

During his team physical Friday, December 9th, an aortic aneurysm was detected. As a precautionary measure, Green underwent extensive additional testing, after which doctors recommended surgery.

“While we are saddened that Jeff will not be able to play this season, the most important thing is his health, and we were fortunate to have access to an amazing team of specialists to evaluate Jeff’s case,” said Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. “The entire Celtics family supports Jeff during this difficult time in his career.”

At Jeff’s request, neither Jeff nor the Celtics will have any additional comment at this time.
Posted on: July 12, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: July 12, 2011 6:23 pm

Derrick Rose says he 'wore down' in the playoffs

Posted by Matt Moore

Derrick Rose was not the same guy against Miami. Really, he wasn't the same guy against Atlanta for most of the series.

Rose was a tour de force in the regular season, spinning and whirling his way to an MVP. He was relentless, and his intensity only increased in the final minutes of a close game. He played 37.4 minutes per game, just slightly the most of his career. In the playoffs? He played over 40 minutes per game. He was the entirety of the Bulls' offense at times. Against the Pacers, for the most part, he was a world above, the gap between an upstart group and an upset, the reason the Bulls were able to handle the Pacers in five. They simply couldn't deal with Rose. Against the Hawks he provided one of the finest games by a player in the entire postseason, a 44-point, 5-rebound, 7-assist, 1-steal, 1-block Game 3 which regained home court for the Bulls. He was masterful in Games 4 and 5, and dished 12 assists in the Game 6 clincher. 

Even in the first game against the Heat, Rose looked to be the best player in the series as many expected him to be.  Twenty-eight points, even if it was on 22 shots, and 6 assists, not an overwhelming statistical performance, but more a sign of the pace and brutality of that defensive series. But after that? The struggles got worse. And worse.  And worse. 

You could see Rose was hurting. He'd suffered an ankle sprain in Game 3 of the Pacers series, but had returned to play through it and had not missed a game. But now Rose has spoken to Yahoo! and it would appear that he's recognized the real problem in the playoffs. It wasn't the Heat's defense. It was Rose's body. From Yahoo!:
After averaging 29.8 points and nine assists in the second round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks, Rose’s scoring dipped to 23.4 points per game on 35 percent shooting in the East finals as the Bulls lost to the Heat in five games. Rose now says he should have been in better shape to handle the strain of the postseason.

“I just learned from last season where my conditioning wasn’t up to par at the end of the season,” Rose said. “That’s what I’m working on this summer, getting my conditioning right. There was just fatigue. My body wore down. Just going through the rounds, the first time being there past the first round, it was hard. I’m just learning from it.”
via For Rose, there's still room to grow - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

Rose also revealed wrist and back injuries which slowed him. In short: it turns out taking up 35.2 percent of your team's offense, as Rose did during the playoffs, the most by a considerable margin of any player in the playoffs, will take its toll.  That's the reality. Rose has been working since the season ended to get into better shape and to learn how to handle things. He sloughs off talk that his teammates need to step up. But that's where he's wrong. Rose needs to be able to be efficient when called on, and called on often. But he can't be the start and end of the Bulls' offense. There are going to have to be other playmakers on the Bulls, whether that's shot making or shot creating. There's got to be some room for Rose not to be involved every trip down. Final five minutes? Sure, let him rip. But there has to be some space where Rose isn't responsible for doing everything. Those drives that lead to all those trips to the line take their toll, as do all the bumps coming around screens, shoves while fighting for rebounds, and shoulders while going for the block. Rose is incredible when he's in a position to be so. But he can't be at that level for 40 minutes a game, every second. 

Turns out he is only a man, after all, despite what his highlight reel tells us.
Category: NBA
Posted on: April 28, 2011 3:38 pm

Lack-o-Shaq Update 19: Practicing Friday!

Shaq reportedly will practice Friday, may play Sunday. Sun may also explode, cats and dogs may also live together. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Shaquille O'Neal, a 7-1, 325 lb. center with the Boston Celtics (allegedly), will reportedly practice Friday with the team in advance of Game 1 vs. the Miami Heat on Sunday. If things go well in that practice, O'Neal may make his playoff debut with the Celtics, marking the first time we've seen him in Green since what feels like the Eisenhower administration. 

There have been reports that O'Neal is done for the year with his injury and the team is preparing to go through the playoffs without him, which the team responded to swiftly with denials.  So swiftly that it almost felt like an assurance he was in fact through. Or maybe that was us just not wanting to talk about whether or not O'Neal will play, since he's a 39-year-old center who played in 37 games this season for 20 minutes a night and averaged 4.8 rebounds while taking 5.4 shots. 

O'Neal could be a huge factor against the Heat, overwhelming the plucky young Joel Anthony underneath and limiting his ability to make hussle plays by blocking him out like the mountains block the sun. Then again, he could go through practice, look slow and out of shape (or 39-years-old) and not play. 

But we'll all pretend like this is a big deal, anyway!
Posted on: April 20, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: April 21, 2011 11:10 am

Is Shaq coming back? Questions abound

Posted by Matt Moore

UPDATE: "I know that's not true," Doc Rivers told CSNNE.com . "He's going to play. I just don't know when."

You wouldn't think a 38-year-old center who has played 89 games over the past two seasons would cause all this hub-ub. But then, most 38-year-old centers aren't the living legend Shaquille O'Neal. A report has surfaced in the Eagle Tribune  that suggests that we may not be seeing the Diesel again... ever. 
Shaquille ONeal may have worn a Boston Celtics uniform for the last time.

In what would be a crippling blow to their chances of winning a title, the Celtics are going forward as if the affable center wont be returning to team for the playoffs, according to an NBA source.


"If he were to come back, it would have to be a miraculous recovery," said the source, who requested anonymity. "And at his age he turned 39 on March 6 and physical condition, the Celtics have planned accordingly."
via Source: Cs not expecting Shaq in playoffs » Sports » EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA .

So that sounds pretty bad. Not having O'Neal, after trading Kendrick Perkins (yes, that old chestnut again, sorry Celtics fans, it's going to keep being brought up), and only having Jermaine O'Neal who has injury issues himself does not set them up well going forward. There is only one dominant center left in the playoffs, but it's more a matter of not having that advantage, rather than another team having a strong one. 

Of course, when you really look at the report, there are some questions. From WEEI in Boston: 
Sounds like a lot of speculation to me. He “may have worn” Green for the final time? That could’ve been written yesterday, the day before that or a month before that. Of course the Celtics are moving forward as if Shaq’s not returning. What else are they going to do? Stop practicing until the Big Fella suits up? Obviously, they’ll move forward with Jermaine O’Neal as the starting center and Davis as the No. 2, and they’ll adjust if Shaq returns.

We already knew about the failed conditioning test, we already knew the Celtics are holding out hope for a return in the first or second rounds and we already knew Rivers had one game plan with Shaq and one game plan without him.

So, really, all we learned is that an NBA source believes it would take “a miraculous recovery” for Shaq to return, based on “his age and physical condition.” We already knew Shaq was 39 years old, and we already knew Shaq weighs at least 325 pounds.

So, before Celtics Nation enters a state of panic, know that Shaquille O’Neal will be reevaluated before Game 3. If he can go, he will. If not, he’ll be reevaluated for Game 4 … and so on and so on. It’s the same old story.
via Green Street » Irish Coffee: Is Shaq coming back, or isn’t he? .

So that's a nice dose of reality. I think it's unlikely we'll find out if O'Neal is done for the playoffs. He will continue to be a "maybe" for every game. Remember how the Celtics treated the Kevin Garnett injury in 2008, cloaked in mystery wrapped in a puzzle. O'Neal is going to be a gametime decision every night, even if the coaching staff is planning for him not to be available. 

But this still avoids the problem. Which is if you can't count on Shaq, the Celtics are still trying to determine a gameplan built around Jermaine O'Neal as the only available center. There's the question of injury, there's the question of endurance, there's the question of matchups. The Shaq question keeps getting louder in Boston. In the short term, though, the numbers show that J.O. can make a big impact on the Knicks... when he's feeling well enough to play.
Posted on: April 13, 2011 4:51 pm
Edited on: April 13, 2011 4:54 pm

Andrew Bynum only has a bone bruise

Andrew Bynum's MRI reveals only a bone bruise, and he is expected to play this weekend in first-round playoff series Game 1. 
Posted by Matt Moore

And the good luck for the Lakers keeps on rolling. Andrew Bynum dodged a major bullet after going down with a knee injury last night. The Lakers released a statement today informing media that Bynum's MRI only revealed a bone bruise, and no structural damage. He's probable to play this weekend in the Lakers' home playoff opener. 

Getting Bynum back will boost the spirits of fans who were fearing the worst Tuesday night. With Bynum in the lineup, the Lakers still feature the longest frontcourt three-man rotation with Bynum, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom which make them nearly impossible to guard and keep off the offensive glass. The Lakers had been on a five game slump until Tuesday night's win over a starter-resting Spurs club. But the losing streak is over, the team can lock up the 2 seed against the Kings Wednesday night, and Bynum will be back for the playoffs. 

Additionally, an MRI for Matt Barnes reveals no damage following knee surgery. He's good to go for the playoffs as well. 

Everything's coming up Lakers, as usual.
Posted on: April 8, 2011 11:30 am

Dwyane Wade probable against Bobcats

Dwyane Wade expected to return to lineup against Bobcats from bruised thigh.

Posted by Matt Moore

Dwyane Wade has missed a few games with a bruised thigh, which probably had something to do with the Heat's loss to the Bucks.  Wade participated in shootaround Friday morning, and is listed as "probable" for Friday night's game against the Bobcats. 

The Heat are tied with Boston for the No. 2 seed in the East. They face the Bobcats Friday, then a game on Sunday, then the Hawks monday on a back-to-back, then finish with the Raptors on Wednesday to close out the season. The Celtics face the Wizards Friday, then they also have a game on Sunday, then a back-to-back in Washington, and finish at home against the Knicks

That game on Sunday is of course Celtics vs. Heat, and it will go a long way towards sorting this whole thing out. Both teams winning out outside of that game is very possible. So that game on Sunday will likely determine not only who gets that 2 seed, but how much rest each team will get. If the Celtics win, with a tie breaker, they can rest players and still walk away with the seed thanks to tie-breaker. If the Heat win, the Celtics may have to keep pushing, when they're pretty burned out at this point. 

All of this could be rendered moot if the Bobcats join the legion of underwhelming teams who have dropped the Heat. 
Posted on: April 8, 2011 10:58 am

Amare' Stoudemire out Friday against Nets

Amar'e Stoudemire out Friday against Nets
Posted by Matt Moore

Amar'e Stoudemire will miss Friday night's game versus the New Jersey Nets, and Chauncey Billups may be out as well for the Knicks. Deron Williams will also miss the game after wrist surgery. 

Here's a list of the six best players that will be playing in this game. Carmelo Anthony, Brook Lopez, Toney Douglas, Anthony Morrow, Sasha Vujacic/Landry Fields. 

May God have mercy on all those who choose to make it out to Newark's arena tonight. 

Stoudemire's dealing with a sprained ankle, and with the Knicks having locked up a playoff spot, there's no reason to avoid shutting him down until he's as healthy as can be. They've only got a half-game lead over Philadelphia for the sixth seed, but really, there's not much difference between facing the Heat and the Celtics. They're outmatched either way. They have a four-game lead over the Pacers to avoid the Bulls in the first round, but then, New York's had the most success against Chicago. Go figure. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com