Miami's win streak has reached 20 after they survived a spirited effort from the 76ers in Philly. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant is out "indefinitely" after he suffered a severe left ankle sprain late in the Lakers loss in Atlanta. With Carmelo Anthony's return to Denver nearing halftime, let's round up the final links from around the league on Wednesday night here:
- The Blazers, who have a top-12 protected first round pick, are in a conflicting position at 3.5 games out of a playoff spot, writes Jason Quick of the Oregonian. If the season ended today they would retain their selection, and Blazers scouts are spread across the country accordingly, taking in the NCAA conference tournaments. Portland GM Neil Olshey implemented a new draft strategy in Portland, which consists of each scout watching a targeted group of 15 to 18 college players at least three times. The Blazers would currently pick 12th.
- Blazers guard Elliot Williams plans on using the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas as an audition this summer to prove his health, writes Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest. Williams tore his left Achilles in September in a voluntary team workout, but claims to be nearing a full recovery. Portland declined the fourth-year option on Williams in October, making him an unrestricted free agent come summer.
- St. John's freshman Jakarr Sampson, who is considering entering June's NBA draft, had a tough night against Villanova in the Big East Tournament on Wednesday, going 5-of-18 from the field. The performance prompted Jonathan Givony of Draft Express to hope, via Twitter, that Sampson stays in school, opining that there is no guarantee that the 6-foot-8 swingman would even be drafted. Maurice Harkless left St. John's after his freshman season just under a year ago, before being drafted 15th by the Sixers and moved to the Magic in the Andrew Bynum deal.