Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins will make his return on Monday night against the Chicago Bulls. While Cousins is still considered a game-time decision, per Cowbell Kingdom's James Ham, he jumped the gun on his official Facebook page and told fans he'd be on the floor with this video:
Cousins has missed the Kings' last six games after spraining his ankle early in their game against the Houston Rockets on Jan. 22. He is averaging 22.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists this season, which was not enough to make the Western Conference All-Star team.
Sacramento has lost its last seven games, a streak that started that night in Houston.
Suns' Eric Bledsoe (knee) ramping up rehab
"Doctors said everything looks good," Hornacek said. "He's going to continue his rehab. I think because they got that ‘OK', they'll step up his workload and continue to push him to get back as soon as he can."
Bledsoe had been restricted to strength-building exercises both for his knee and in general. With the first portion of that process successfully completed, speed and endurance form the next step in the rehab process.
"I think they'll have him do more running, now," Hornacek said. "They wanted to wait on that pounding a little bit to see how he's progressing."
Bledsoe had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee three weeks ago and was originally given a timetable of 4-6 weeks for his return, via the Arizona Republic's Paul Coro.
The point guard was having a career year before the injury, averaging 18 points, 5.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds next to Goran Dragic in the Phoenix backcourt. On the strength of Dragic's recent play (more on that at the end of this roundup), Phoenix has gone 10-7 without Bledsoe, winning its last five games.
The Suns are sixth in the West, half a game ahead of the Golden State Warriors and 2.5 games ahead of the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies. If Bledsoe can come back in the near future, he would be a huge boost for their playoff push.
Pelicans' Jason Smith (knee) has surgery, out for season
Smith expressed hope for a quick recovery shortly after the procedure, via the New Orleans Times Picayune's John Reid, but clearly the Pelicans do not want to take any chances. They said in the statement that they expect Smith to make a full recovery.
In 31 games this season, 27 of them in New Orleans' starting lineup, Smith averaged 9.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks.
Nets' Joe Johnson (knee) to sit out Monday
Kidd said Joe Johnson's right knee tendinitis has been an issue for awhile. They want him to rest today & they'll reevaluate him tomorrow.— Andy Vasquez (@andy_vasquez) February 3, 2014
#BrooklynNets Joe Johnson said right knee is inflammed, no structural damage"been grinding through it, trying to do whatever I can to help"— Fred Kerber (@FredKerber) February 3, 2014
One more from #BrooklynNets Joe Johnson: "It’s tendinitis in my knee and it’s like I’ve been on one leg"— Fred Kerber (@FredKerber) February 3, 2014
Johnson, a controversial selection as an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve, has been one of the few steady presences in Brooklyn's lineup this season. The only other time he had to miss a game was against these same Sixers in late December, when he sat out for personal reasons.
Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni said that point guards Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar could all return to the lineup on Tuesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, via the team's official Twitter feed.
Farmar, though, said he was unsure about the Timberwolves game, via ESPN's Dave McMenamin. Los Angeles' plan appears to be to bring the Steves back against Minnesota, then have Farmar return on Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, sitting Nash for the second half of the back-to-back, via the Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan.
Chicago forward Carlos Boozer is not thrilled about having to sit at the end of close games. "I think I should be out there," he told reporters on Monday, via ESPN's Nick Friedell. Boozer repeatedly said that it was head coach Tom Thibodeau's choice to bench him in the fourth quarter, but reiterated that he wants to be out there.
Blog a Bull's Jason Patt looked into the numbers and found that Taj Gibson has performed much better than Boozer in crunch-time situations this season, but it's understandable that a veteran like Boozer would want to be on the floor in deciding moments. The surprising thing is that he publicly voiced his displeasure.
Dave Joerger, Jason Kidd named Coaches of the Month
Memphis' Dave Joerger and Brooklyn's Jason Kidd have been named January's Coaches of the Month in the West and East, respectively, the NBA announced on Monday.
Joerger's Grizzlies went 12-3 in the month to storm back into the playoff picture. At 26-20, they are eighth in the West after their tough 10-15 start. Memphis got reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marc Gasol back on Jan. 14, but the turnaround started weeks before that. Joerger's squad has the NBA's best record since Dec. 21 and its defense held opponents to 97.7 points per 100 possessions in January, the third-best mark in the league.
Kidd, like Joerger, has presided over a total turnaround. The Nets were a miserable 10-21 heading into the new year, then went 10-3 in January. Brooklyn is currently a seventh seed, with a real chance to climb up the standings in its crummy conference. The Nets' defense made a massive leap when Kevin Garnett shifted to center and Andrei Kirilenko came back from injury, with the 6'7 Shaun Livingston playing major minutes at point guard. This ultra-long lineup gave Brooklyn all kinds of flexibility it didn't have before.
Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry named Players of the Week
Between the fact that Goran Dragic and Kyle Lowry were involved in a bit of a point guard controversy in Houston two years ago -- Lowry did not take kindly to head coach Kevin McHale benching him in favor of Dragic -- and the fact that both of them are All-Star snubs, this week's Player of the Week honors are full of more narratives than normal.
Lowry, the winner in the East, averaged 25 points, eight assists and five rebounds in four games this past week, shooting 48.5 percent from the field, 44.4 percent on threes and leading the Toronto Raptors to wins over the Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets and Brooklyn Nets without All-Star DeMar DeRozan. He also averaged 2.3 steals per game. Against Orlando, Lowry scored a season-high 33 points, with 11 assists and seven rebounds.
Dragic, the Western Conference winner, carried the Phoenix Suns to a 4-0 week with wins over the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Bobcats, the first three coming on the road. He averaged 26.8 points, 6.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals in that span, shooting an insane 63.9 percent from the field and 69.2 percent from behind the three-point line. Dragic had 30 points on 9-for-13 shooting, including 4-for-5 on threes, plus six assists and four rebounds against the Bucks.