Injuries to NBA stars Giannis, Ja dim start of postseason
MILWAUKEE - Anthony Davis scared Los Angeles Lakers fans by grabbing at his right shoulder and saying he couldn't move his arm.
Luckily for the Lakers, Davis rebounded from a stinger and returned for the start of the third quarter. Yet injuries over the span of a couple hours Sunday sidelined two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, two-time All-Star Ja Morant and Tyler Herro, keeping them from finishing their playoff openers.
Injuries to some of the NBA's top stars has dimmed the start of this postseason with title hopes possibly fading just as quickly depending on how bad they're hurt.
"We’ll monitor him and see how he does, see how he wakes up, how he feels," Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said of Antetokounmpo.
Both Antetokounmpo and the Memphis Grizzlies' Morant were hurt on drives to the basket where each landed awkwardly.
Antetokounmpo came down hard on his backside after being fouled by Miami's Kevin Love. The Bucks' forward got up slowly with 4:13 left in the first quarter. He picked up his second foul about 2 1/2 minutes later but played about 11 minutes for the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed.
The Bucks went on to lose 130-117 to Miami with the Heat winning despite Herro breaking his right hand late in the second quarter apparently while diving for a loose ball late in the first half. The starter was obviously hurting in front of the Miami bench at the end of the second quarter.
The Heat disclosed the severity of his injury at halftime. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said Herro, seen with a cast on his hand after the game, won't play Game 2 on Wednesday night and the Heat will figure out what to do next.
"I got the same diagnosis that you all heard," Spoelstra said.
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Morant came into Sunday's first-round Western Conference series with his right hand already bandaged after being hurt in a win that clinched the No. 2 seed for the Grizzlies for a second straight season.
Then he drove to the basket against the 6-foot-10 Davis with 5:48 left with Memphis trailing the Lakers 105-101. His right hand appeared to bend the wrong direction as he hit the court. Morant writhed in pain, then ran toward the Grizzlies' bench letting out a yell near midcourt before sprinting to the locker room.
Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said X-rays were negative and the Grizzlies will do further testing taking this injury one day at a time.
"I’m not the medical expert," Jenkins said.
Morant said he's doubtful for Game 2 on Wednesday night with Memphis down 0-1 following a 128-112 loss.
"Tough man, especially with everything I’ve been through pretty much this season," said Morant, who was suspended by the NBA for eight games in March after livestreaming himself holding a gun at a Denver-area strip club.
The guard who set the Grizzlies' single season scoring record averaging 26.2 points a game wants to play. Memphis already is without center Steven Adams because of an injured knee and reserve big man Brandon Clarke tore an Achilles tendon in March.
"Another incident where that’s pretty much in jeopardy," said Morant, who missed the final three games of Memphis' semifinals loss to eventual champ Golden State with an injured knee.
Pain level and how effective he can be will decide if Morant can play.
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"I feel like I can go out there and be somewhat myself, I’ll be playing," Morant said. "If not, I don’t want to do anything to hurt the team."
The Clippers survived their opener by beating No. 4 seed Phoenix 115-110 without eight-time All-Star guard Paul George, who's been sidelined by sprained right knee since late March.
Lakers coach Darvin Ham may have been the happiest coach after sending Davis to the locker room with 1:15 left in the second quarter to make sure the medical team started working on the eight-time All-Star immediately.
"Just happy he’s OK," Ham said.