Southwest Notes: Porter, Morant, Kyrie, Jones, Vassell

After returning on Wednesday from a 20-game absence due to a toe injury, Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. admitted that he still wasn’t 100%, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. However, Porter considers it important to play during the final stretch of the season to try to carry some positive momentum into the offseason.

“There’s definitely going to be some tolerable pain going on,” Porter said. “I want to play. This is the best I can get it. Can’t get it 100 percent, so I will play.

“Just the passion and love I’ve got for the game. I’ve been away, been trying to do everything I can to get back on the court. Twenty games later, I’m at this point. This is the best I can get as far as my toe. The pain’s not too bad. I can play through it.”

As Feigen observes, injuries have prevented the Rockets from getting an extended look at their young core together this season, so the hope is that they can stay relatively healthy down the stretch. The starting lineup that Houston employed on Wednesday – Porter alongside Jalen Green, Jabari Smith, Alperen Sengun, and Kenyon Martin Jr. – is probably the one the team would like to lean on down the stretch, but it has been used just four times so far this season.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, whose alleged involvement in a pair of off-court incidents had been previously reported, has been accused of threatening a security guard at a Memphis mall, according to reporting from Molly Hensley-Clancy of The Washington Post. The Post’s report also stated that the 17-year-old who was punched by Morant last summer during a pickup game claimed that the Grizzlies star went into his house and reemerged with a gun visible in his waistband. Morant’s lawyer and agent put out statements on Twitter vehemently disputing that claim, but didn’t address the incident involving the security guard.
  • On Thursday, two days after expressing a need to scale back the pressure he’s putting on himself with his new team, Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving scored 40 points to complement Luka Doncic‘s 42 in a victory over Philadelphia. The Mavs are still just 2-4 in games the two stars have played together, but are confident that the wins will come, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “They’ve got to work through the kinks,” head coach Jason Kidd said of his backcourt duo. “But I think at the end of the day, we’ll be happy with what we have.”
  • The Spurs got two of their top rotation players back on Thursday, as Tre Jones (left foot soreness) returned from a five-game absence, while Devin Vassell (left knee surgery) played for the first time since January 2. Both players were on minute limits, but had positive plus-minus ratings in a victory over Indiana, with Vassell scoring 18 points in 23 minutes. “It’s refreshing, man,” Spurs center Zach Collins said, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “These guys mean so much to our team. We’ve had a lot of guys hurt, one through 15. But Tre and Devin were starters for us. To get them back, is going to make the game a lot easier for us.”
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