NEW ORLEANS — Coming off yet another loss but an encouraging performance against an elite team, the Hornets received some bad news Friday.
Backup center Jason Smith injured his right shoulder against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday and will be out up to two weeks, coach Monty Williams said before Friday’s game against Minnesota at New Orleans Arena.
“It’s a sprained shoulder,” Williams said. “He hurt it trying to block a shot by Kevin Durant.”
The injury came two games after rookie power forward Anthony Davis returned to the lineup after missing 11 games with a stress reaction in his left ankle. The solid road showing against the Thunder appeared to be connected to the team nearing full strength.
Williams said the Hornets will be able to adjust.
“We have three bigs that we like to rotate anyway, so Ryan (Anderson), A.D. and Robin (Lopez) will play more minutes,” Williams said. “Lance Thomas is going to float between the three and the four. Al-Farouq (Aminu) can play some four as well.
“We’ll be OK. We need to give the same kind of effort we gave last game.”
It was the fourth nagging injury this season for Smith. In a recent game, he got his foot caught beneath an opponent and twisted his knee and had been playing with a brace.
During training camp, he injured his back when he fell in the first preseason game. When he returned, he injured his left shoulder fighting for position during a scrimmage.
With Ricky Rubio reportedly in line to return Saturday for the first time since tearing his left ACL in March, Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love was asked how he’d describe the flashy point guard.
“He’s a lot like that guy up there,” said Love, pointing to Pete Maravich’s No. 7 hanging in the New Orleans Arena rafters. “(Rubio) is the type of guy who makes plays. Not as much of a scorer as Maravich was, but a play-maker, a guy who plays hard and is fun to be around, especially out there on the court because he makes a lot of good stuff happen for us.”
Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said Rubio worked out for the team’s medical staff Friday in Minneapolis, but he did not know whether he would be able to play Saturday night.
Love, 24, said he learned about Maravich, the former LSU and New Orleans Jazz great, through his father, Stan Love, a forward drafted by the Baltimore Bullets in 1971.
“My dad had me watching a lot of film of (Maravich) when I was young,” Love said.
“Everybody knows what he did at LSU as a scorer but, as far as making plays, (Maravich and Rubio) are very similar.”
In the Hornets’ two previous games before Friday night, against Washington and at Oklahoma City, they allowed their season low for opponents’ points in the first half (36). It was the fewest points the Thunder have scored in the first half all season. The Hornets still lost both games. … The Hornets’ 92-88 loss at Oklahoma City on Thursday was the closest any opponent has gotten to the Thunder during its nine-game winning streak. The Thunder had beaten the Hornets by 15 on Nov. 16 and by 21 on Dec. 1 in New Orleans.
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