What’s happening out West? Pain. The Denver Nuggets lost their best player, the San Antonio Spurs picked up another key injury, and the New Orleans Pelicans need some Obamacare.
Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to January 30 inclusive:
It must be great to play six lousy games still be considered an All-Star. Kobe Bryant finished third in voting for the 2014 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, slotting in behind Stephen Curry in the starting backcourt. It’s not Bryant’s fault, of course, but this makes it even less likely that some deserving players will get invited. Neither Goran Dragic (21.4 PER) nor Mike Conley (20.8 PER) nor Ty Lawson (20.1 PER) was voted among the Top 10 guards. Jeremy Lin (14.6 PER) was, though. Also, Omer Asik (10.6 PER) got over 130,000 votes. Zaogao!
Not that Jeremy Lin can’t ball. With James Harden (21.1 PER) ruled out because of a thumb injury on his shooting hand, Lin has been put in the starting backcourt next to Patrick Beverley, and the Rockets (31-17 SU, 24-22-2 ATS) have won back-to-back games SU and ATS. They beat the San Antonio Spurs (–1.5 away) 97-90 on Tuesday, and followed up with a 117-115 victory over the Dallas Mavericks (–5 at home) on Wednesday. Striking the right balance between Lin’s offense and Beverley’s defense has helped Houston overcome the NBA odds with Harden out of the picture – although he could return at any time.
San Antonio Spurs
This is starting to get ridiculous. First, the Spurs (33-13 SU, 22-24 ATS) lost Tiago Splitter (17.6 PER). Then it was Danny Green (12.8 PER). And Kawhi Leonard (17.5 PER). Now they’ve been joined by Manu Ginobili (19.2 PER), who strained a hamstring during Tuesday’s loss to the Rockets and has been ruled out for the next 3-4 weeks. San Antonio limped back home on Wednesday and fell 96-86 to the Chicago Bulls (+7.5); SG Othyus Jeffers was brought up from the D-League on a 10-day contract and started against Chicago, going scoreless in 15 minutes. These injuries are a lousy development for the Spurs, but at least they’ve got some value against the NBA lines for a change – as a fade candidate, that is. They’re 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games.
The Nuggets (22-22 SU, 21-23 ATS) were heating up again with three straight ATS wins, improving to 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games, but they lost Lawson to a strained rotator cuff over the weekend. Then Nate Robinson (16.3 PER) hurt his knee in the first quarter of Wednesday’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats. Denver lost 101-98 as a 7.5-point home chalk. Uh-oh. Andre Miller (13.8 PER) might have to be put back into the rotation after he butted heads with head coach Brian Shaw over his lack of playing time. Miller hasn’t played since 2013. We’ll see what Robinson’s MRI turns up on Thursday; Lawson is officially day-to-day in the meantime.
New Orleans Pelicans
Oh no, not again. Anthony Davis (26.7 PER), arguably one of the Top 5 players in the NBA, dislocated his left index finger during Tuesday’s 100-89 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers (–2.5 at home). Davis had it popped back in and taped up, and he finished the game with 30 points, seven rebounds and eight blocks. But he had to sit out Wednesday’s 88-77 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves (–10.5 at home). New Orleans was on a nice 7-2 ATS run before Davis was knocked out of the lineup. The Pellies don’t have many big bodies left with Ryan Anderson (19.0 PER) and Jason Smith (12.5 PER) both out indefinitely, and Jrue Holiday (17.3 PER) is also on the shelf, so they’d better get Davis back ASAP. Otherwise, it’s Fading Time in the Big Easy.