In this week's BTP NBA Roundup, an ex-Hoosier goes down, a former Michigan star reaches a major career milestone and a former Terp makes an ex-Buckeye say "derp." Oh, and one of Illinois' finest breaks some major news about the Spurs being good and stuff.
--Just when Eric Gordon seemed to be having the best game of his young season, a shoulder injury could sideline him for a lengthy period. The New Orleans Pelicans guard scored eight points in 13 minutes Monday against Utah, but left with a shoulder injury. The team later announced that the problem was a torn labrum, the kind of injury that could linger for only weeks if surgery isn't required, or several months if it is. Jameer Nelson missed three-plus months in 2009 before returning for Orlando's NBA Finals series with the Lakers. He stunk mercilessly. The Pelicans may get a boost in Gordon's absence by feeding most of his minutes to Austin Rivers. This odd-sounding hypothesis is validated here by CBS Sports' Matt Moore.
--Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo scored a season-high 22 points on Monday, playing 36 minutes in a blowout loss to Cleveland. Magic coach Jacque Vaughn cited a need for Oladipo to improve his conditioning as the team prepares for a six-game road trip.
--Like Oladipo, another former Hoosier set a high scoring mark on Monday. Cody Zeller dropped in a career-high 17 points, leading the Hornets in a 113-92 loss to the Clippers. The downside is that he only added one rebound and committed five fouls.
--Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams wants to play for the Spurs. Well, who wouldn't if they were serious about a championship, but that's not a literal translation of D-Will's comments to the New York Daily News' Stefan Bondy. Williams merely points out what every NBA fan already knows: The Spurs have a front office, coach, roster and team-first mentality that the rest of the league can only envy. Where R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich have seemingly presided in San Antonio since the Carter administration, the Nets have already scuttled three coaches in two years, and life isn't improving much under Lionel Hollins. Bondy points the finger at GM Billy King for repeating all the mistakes he made in Philadelphia: bench bosses leaving practically on every passing subway train and repeated trades for aging players and their big contracts, the kinds of deals on which even novice fantasy leaguers would pass.
--When you run down the list of NBA stars with killer crossovers, how far do you have to go before you get to Steve Blake? According to Boston's Evan Turner, apparently not far. Blake ate Turner for dinner on consecutive possessions in Portland's win at the Garden Sunday:
--In case you haven't gotten Exorcist-level sick of the word "platoon" during Kentucky games, now it's being used in connection with ex-Terrapin big man Alex Len. Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek told AZCentral's Paul Coro that he intended to rotate Len and starting center Miles Plumlee in bursts of approximately six minutes each when neither man is struggling with foul trouble. Bright Side of the Sun's Sean Sullivan broke down the numbers to determine if it's time for Len to take over the starting role from the offensively deficient Plumlee. Brief teaser: Maybe not yet, but it's very likely coming.
--Just as the drumbeat of support for Dante Exum as Utah's starting point guard is becoming louder, Trey Burke is showing signs of life. After getting baked, glazed and sliced by Golden State last week (to the tune of an ugly -28 rating), Burke has actually done more good than harm for the Jazz in his last two games. He's produced 38 points (on 16-26 shooting) and 14 assists in those outings, but Utah has still suffered a pair of losses.
--We knew Jamal Crawford was a bomber, but the fact that he's been around this long should make some of you feel old. J.Crossover passed longtime Seattle SuperSonics sniper Dale Ellis for 10th in career three-point makes Monday night, now sitting at 1,723. If he keeps up his current 2.2 makes-per-game average and plays every time out for the rest of the season, he'd finish the year with 1,874, passing Peja Stojakovic, Rashard Lewis, Vince Carter and Chauncey Billups for sixth place. Of course, he'd still be about 1,100 behind Ray Allen, so let's not fire up the Hall of Fame train yet. (As an aside: Seriously? Rashard Lewis? I'm embarrassed to say that I'm old enough to remember when he was good.)
--The Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones discussed Nik Stauskas with some of his Sacramento coaches and teammates. They want him to stay aggressive, even as he struggles early.
--The Heat waived Shannon Brown to make room for D-League big man Hassan Whiteside. Brown played 89 minutes in five games, not accomplishing much. Whiteside? All he's done is tear up the D-League, albeit in a three-game sample size: 22 points per game, 15.3 rebounds, 5.3 blocks and 85.7% from the floor.
--Grizzlies big man Zach Randolph gave a lot of Memphis families a great deal to be thankful for this holiday week. Z-Bo donated 450 Thanksgiving meals, passing them out to at Booker T. Washington High School Monday. The boxes consisted of a turkey, corn, macaroni and cheese, stuffing, green beans, cornbread and brownie mix. (Just threw that in there to make you as hungry as this story made me.)
--Jared Sullinger's offensive rebounding was the subject of some effusive praise from Celtics Hub's Tom Westerholm. Specifically, his ability to track down "contested" offensive boards. (Yes, such a thing gets tracked.)
--There's been an E'Twaun Moore sighting! Moore scored his first nine points of the season Friday in the Bulls' 105-87 loss to Portland. He added four rebounds and three assists, but quickly lapsed back into DNP-ville.
--With the Grizzlies winning several recent games in convincing fashion, Jon Leuer has been seeing some steady minutes off the bench. After last week's 13-point breakout against Houston, Leuer was inactive for the next game as a stomach flu epidemic swept the Memphis roster. He bounced back strong two nights later, hanging 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists on the Celtics Friday night. His last three games have been his highest-scoring of the season and the first outings since opening night in which he's played 18 minutes or more.