Phoenix has stumbled amid injuries to key players, but two of them are expected to return for Monday’s game in New York, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Landry Shamet and Cameron Payne are both listed as probable for the afternoon contest as the Suns try to shake a slump that has dropped them to seventh in the West.
“I feel good,” said Shamet, who has sat out the past three games with a sore right Achilles. “Training staff took care of me as they always do. I feel good. Body feels good.”
Payne suffered a strained right foot December 13 and has missed nine games. He was posting career highs with 12.7 points and 5.3 assists per game before the injury, and he enables the Suns to play at a faster tempo when he comes off the bench to replace Chris Paul.
“Pace. Getting into the paint,” Payne said when asked how he can help the team. “Like touching the paint. I feel every time we touch the paint, something good happens and I feel like we got away from that. I feel like getting into the paint and bringing my energy.”
There’s more from the Pacific Division:
- The news isn’t as good for the Warriors, who will be without four frontcourt players for Monday’s game against the Hawks, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Andrew Wiggins remains sidelined with an illness and will miss his 14th straight game since suffering an adductor strain. Also inactive are Jonathan Kuminga (sprained right foot), James Wiseman (sprained left ankle) and JaMychal Green (lower right leg infection).
- Nicolas Batum‘s goal of playing all 82 games this season ended when he sat out Saturday with a sprained ankle, but the Clippers forward is proud of his durability at age 34, writes Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. Batum credits daily weightlifting sessions, workouts and practices with keeping him in top condition. “If I got some injury stuff, I take care of it,” he said. “I don’t want to miss practice. I haven’t missed practice or shootaround yet this year, so I try to be there as much as possible every time. It’s just the routine I have just to take care of my body to be there for my team.”
- Lakers players are responding to the challenge LeBron James delivered last week when he said he doesn’t want to “finish my career playing at this level, from a team aspect,” per Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. “I actually appreciate the pressure, I like the pressure,” Juan Toscano-Anderson said. “I know what championship basketball looks like, I know what high-level basketball looks like. That’s what they expect. … You gotta step up to the plate. It’s a man’s game.”