NBA News and Notes: Anthony Davis goes 59 & 20, Warriors pick up Anderson Varejao

February 23, 2016

In the DSH's latest NBA News and Notes report, we take a look at Pelicans' star Anthony Davis' recent monster game, and examine Golden State's new big man:

Warriors add Varejao

The 2015 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors have signed free agent center Anderson Varejao to a contract this week, the team announced.

Varejao, 33, has spent all 12 of his NBA seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, posting career averages of 7.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 25.0 minutes over 591 games (208 starts).

However, this season the 6’10” center saw limited action coming back from his Achilles surgery, as he appeared in 31 games for the Cavaliers, averaging 2.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in 10.0 minutes before being sent to Portland as part of a three-team trade on February 18.  He was then subsequently waived by the Trail Blazers.

At his best Varejao is an active banger who will defend, set screens, and rebound.  That formula should fit well with the defending champs who don't need another scorer, but could use another big body in the lineup while Festus Ezeli remains on the mend.

Originally selected by the Orlando Magic with the 30th overall selection of the 2004 NBA Draft (first pick of the second round), Varejao has appeared in 71 career postseason games and was named to the All-Defensive Second Team in 2009-10, finishing third in Sixth Man of the Year voting that season. Prior to making his NBA debut in the 2004-05 campaign, he played professionally for three seasons with FC Barcelona in Spain’s top league, Liga ACB.

A native of Santa Teresa, Brazil, Varejao joins fellow Brazilian Leandro Barbosa on the Warriors roster, making the pair one of two sets of Brazilian teammates on an NBA roster (Toronto’s Bruno Caboclo and Lucas Nogueira are the other).

Pistons and Rockets nix trade

What is it with the Pistons and Rockets canceling their trades?

Years ago, the Pistons and Rockets evaporated a deal that awkwardly sent Robert Horry back to Houston, and now the two teams seemingly have done it again.  Once more, the basis of this rescinded deal was a medical concern involving one of the players, presumably, Donatas Motiejunas.

Motiejunas has had health problems with his back.

The deal originally involved the Pistons acquiring forward/center Donatas Motiejunas and guard Marcus Thornton from the Houston Rockets in exchange for center Joel Anthony and a protected 2016 first-round draft pick.

“Standard with all trades, medical clearance on all players involved is required for completion.  Medical clearance was not given on all players and the trade is being rescinded,” said Jeff Bower, General Manager of the Detroit Pistons.  “In view of privacy considerations relating to medical information, we will have no further comment.”

Nikola Pekovic Injury Update

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that center Nikola Pekovic will be out indefinitely as he continues his recovery from surgery on his right Achilles. Pekovic underwent a debridement and repair of his right Achilles on April 8, 2015.

“Our main concern is for the health of Nikola,” said Timberwolves General Manager Milt Newton. “Our priority is getting him back on the court, playing at a consistent level for a sustained period of time. After much consulting with Nikola, our medical staff and some of the leading doctors in this field, we believe this is a necessary step in that process.”

Pekovic missed the first 35 games of the season before making his season debut on January 6 vs. Denver. He played in 12 games, averaging 4.5 points and 1.8 rebounds in 13.0 minutes per contest. Pekovic has been inactive for the past eight games, beginning Feb. 2 at the Los Angeles Lakers.

Drafted by the Wolves with the 31st overall selection in the 2008 NBA Draft, Pekovic owns career averages of 12.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per contest in 271 games, all with Minnesota.

“A typical recovery from an Achilles surgery is 9-15 months,” said Timberwolves Vice President of Sports Performance Arnie Kander. “While we’ve made significant strides with Nikola since his surgery, we’ve come to the conclusion that to ensure he has the best opportunity for sustained success on the court, we need to continue to focus on his rehab and make that the priority. We will continue to do that for the foreseeable future with the goal of him returning to the court at the appropriate time. We will continue to provide further updates as they relate to his return to action.”

In other franchise news, the Timberwolves also announced an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) taken at Mayo Clinic on Wolves forward Nemanja Bjelica’s right foot revealed a foot strain. Bjelica will travel on the Wolves upcoming road trip to Toronto, New Orleans and Dallas, but will not play and will slowly be introduced back to basketball activities as tolerated.

Bjelica has missed the last three games, including tonight vs. Boston, due to the injury.

Anthony Davis puts up 59

New Orleans forward Anthony Davis scored an NBA season high of 59 points (on 24-34 shooting) and grabbed 20 rebounds in a victory over Detroit on Sunday, two days after Portland guard Damian Lillard erupted for 51 points in a win against Golden State.

With Davis and Lillard joining Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, Stephen Curry (two), James Harden and Kemba Walker, seven players have already posted 50-point games in 2015-16 – one behind the most ever for a season, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

A record eight players had 50-point games during the 1989-90 season: Larry Bird, Tom Chambers (two), Terry Cummings, Dale Ellis, Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan (three), Hakeem Olajuwon and Karl Malone (two).

Vince Carter chases Sir Charles

Grizzlies guard Vince Carter’s most productive stretch of the season has him on the verge of a milestone. The 39-year-old Carter needs eight points to pass Charles Barkley (23,757) for 24th place on the NBA’s career scoring list. Carter ranks seventh among active players with 23,750 points. In addition, Carter on Friday became the sixth player in NBA history to make 1,900 career three-pointers – part of a 15-point performance in a win over Minnesota, which was followed Sunday by a season-high 16-point effort in a loss to Toronto.

Five of Carter’s seven double-digit scoring outings this season have come in his last eight games.

D-Rose picking up his game

Bulls guard Derrick Rose is playing better and better as the season progresses. The 2010-11 NBA MVP is averaging 21.1 points (on 46.2 percent shooting), 5.7 assists and 5.7 rebounds in his last 10 games.

In three games since the All-Star break, Rose has led Chicago to a 2-1 record by averaging 26.0 points and shooting 57.4 percent. His strong performance comes at an important time for the Bulls, who are battling for playoff position. Chicago is tied with Charlotte (both 29-26) for seventh place in the Eastern Conference, with only two more losses than third-place Boston (33-24).

They Said It

Anthony Slater, The Oklahoman: “Around the Thunder facility, [guard Russell] Westbrook is legendary for his instant explosiveness. Nine in the morning, guys tricking in, flip-flops, Starbucks coffee, no one is warm yet. But Westbrook can roll out of bed with playoff energy.”

Paul Flannery, SB Nation: “[Warriors forward Draymond] Green didn’t just break the mold, he invented a new model: A hybrid frontcourt player who can guard multiple positions, switch on screens and knock down jump shots. He’s also a gifted passer, a skill that has elevated him beyond the ranks of role players into the realm of the truly elite. Who would have guessed that everyone would be looking for the next Draymond Green?”

Paul George, Pacers forward: “[Rookie teammate Myles Turner’s] biggest quality is that he’s not afraid. He’s never afraid, he’s never shying away from the moment. He asks questions, he wants to learn, wants to get better, works hard. It’s everything you want in a young player. He has it and he’s going to be special for us.”

What to watch

Tuesday, Feb. 23: NBA TV’s doubleheader opener has Anthony Davis’ first game since his 59-and-20 effort as the Pelicans take on the Wizards in Washington (7 p.m.), followed by Nets-Trail Blazers (10 p.m.).

Wednesday, Feb. 24: Along with ESPN’s doubleheader of Wizards-Bulls (8 p.m.) and Spurs-Kings (10:30 p.m.), Toronto-born Andrew Wiggins and the Timberwolves make their one regular-season visit to Air Canada Centre to meet the Raptors (7:30 p.m., NBA LEAGUE PASS).

Thursday, Feb. 25: The Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard and the Rockets’ James Harden, two of the seven players with 50-point games this season, go head to head at Portland in the second game of TNT’s doubleheader (10:30 p.m.). The opener features the Thunder visiting the Pelicans at 8 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 26: The East’s top two teams square off for the third and final time of the regular season as the Cavaliers face the Raptors in Toronto (7:30 p.m., NBA LP). The clubs split their first two matchups.

Saturday, Feb. 27: The Warriors and Thunder are set to play each other twice in five days, starting here in Oklahoma City at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. The rematch is at Golden State on Thursday, March 3 at 10:30 p.m. on TNT.

Sunday, Feb. 28: The red-hot Hornets open the week trailing the Hawks by one game for sixth place in the East. The teams play each other in Atlanta (3:30 p.m., NBA LP).

The Numbers

  • The Hornets have won a season-high five straight games and 10 of 13. They have three road games this week, including Wednesday’s visit to Cleveland (7 p.m. ET, NBA LP), before beginning a stretch with 10 of 12 at home.
  • Damian Lillard is the first Blazer with four consecutive games of at least 30 points since Clyde Drexler in November 1991. Behind Lillard, Portland has matched its season high with five victories in a row to move two games above .500 (29-27) for the first time since a 4-2 start.
  • During Sunday’s victory against Philadelphia, Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki became the sixth player in NBA history to reach 29,000 career points, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,290), Michael Jordan (32,292) and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419).
  • Spurs big man Tim Duncan is two blocks from becoming the fifth player in NBA history with 3,000. The top four are Hakeem Olajuwon (3,830), Dikembe Mutombo (3,289), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (3,189) and Mark Eaton (3,064).
  • Speaking of Nowitzki and Duncan … They are separated by one made field goal in their careers. Nowitzki has 10,214 (12th all time) and Duncan has 10,213 (13th).
  • With 30 points and 11 rebounds in Friday’s win over Atlanta, Heat forward Luol Deng had his first 30-and-10 game since Feb. 23, 2007 – nearly eight full years. According to Elias, the last player to go that long between such games was Grant Hill, who went more than 10 years (April 2000 and December 2010).
  • Bucks second-year forward Jabari Parker had career highs of 28 points and 13 rebounds in Saturday’s double-overtime victory against the Hawks. Parker is averaging 22.7 points (on 54.9 percent shooting) and 11.0 rebounds in his last three games.
  • Center Brook Lopez passed Richard Jefferson to move into third place on the Nets’ all-time scoring list. With 8,543 points, Lopez trails Buck Williams (10,440) and Vince Carter (8,834).
  • The Warriors have recorded at least 30 assists in 28 games, matching a franchise record set last season. Golden State is averaging an NBA-high 29.1 assists for the season, 3.6 more than the next team (Atlanta, 25.5 apg).
  • 76ers forward Nerlens Noel has improved his field goal percentage from 46.2 as a rookie last season to 53.7 this season (seventh in the NBA).
  • Celtics guard Avery Bradley is shooting 50.0 percent from both the field and three-point range in his last seven games, averaging 17.4 points in this stretch.
  • Julius Erving celebrates his 66th birthday this week.

By Staff of and news services

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