Nuggets center Nikola Jokic will undergo an MRI today to determine the damage caused to his left hip in a collision Thursday night, according to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. X-rays taken after the game were negative and the injury has been diagnosed as a hip strain. The Nuggets, who currently hold the eighth seed in the West with a 20-25 record, would have a hard time withstanding a prolonged absence by Jokic, who is averaging 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. “It’s good news for us,” teammate Will Barton said of the X-ray results. “He’s been playing out of this world for us, our best player. It would be tough to see him go down for a long time. I’m just happy he’s fine.”
There’s more out of the Northwest Division:
- The loss of Enes Kanter will create an even greater burden for Russell Westbrook, notes Royce Young of ESPN.com. Kanter is expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks after breaking his right forearm by punching a chair Thursday night. The Thunder center was third in the Sixth Man of the Year voting last year and has become even more valuable this season by improving his passing, Young writes. His absence robs the bench unit of a player who can create his own offense.
- The Trail Blazers have one of the best backcourts in the league in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but they may need to break it up to build a contender, writes Michael Pina of RealGM. He suggests dangling both players in trade talks to see what kind of return they might bring, mentioning Andre Drummond, Jimmy Butler and Nerlens Noel as possibilities.
- Tom Thibodeau’s style is starting to work with the Timberwolves, contends Jim Souhan of The Star-Tribune. Thibodeau can be loud and profane on the sidelines, but he is said to be fair and even-tempered with players behind the scenes. The Wolves are 17-29, but are only 3 1/2 games out of a playoff spot that would be the first for the franchise since 2004. “He’s honest,’’ Andrew Wiggins said after a recent Thibodeau press conference. “He said we were flat but he likes the way we fought at the end.’’