TODAY'S PAPER
Broken Clouds 53° Good Afternoon
Broken Clouds 53° Good Afternoon
SportsBasketball

Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant out indefinitely with MCL sprain, bone bruise

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant walks to

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant walks to the bench during the first half of an NBA game against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, in Washington. Photo Credit: AP / Nick Wass

OAKLAND, Calif. — Kevin Durant is down for the immediate future with a knee injury, and that’s a huge blow on both ends of the floor for the playoff-bound, championship-chasing Golden State Warriors.

Stephen Curry and Co. are going to have to carry on without KD perhaps for the remainder of the regular season — and maybe longer.

Durant will be out indefinitely after he sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee and bruised a bone in his leg during Tuesday night’s loss at Washington, leaving the Warriors without their shot-blocking big man who also does it all on offense.

“Heal up my Man . . . we will hold it down til your back on the court with us. Prayers up!” Curry, the two-time reigning MVP, posted Wednesday on Twitter.

The NBA’s top team will push toward the playoffs without its leading scorer and rebounder. For the month of March, at least.

The Warriors said Wednesday that their medical staff hasn’t ruled out a Durant return before the end of the regular season, though nobody is predicting at this stage.

“At this time it’s just speculation to guess when that is,” general manager Bob Myers said in a conference call. “He’ll heal as his body heals. And when he’s healed and our doctors clear him and we feel like it’s safe, he’ll play. I want to know as much as you guys but at this point the plan is just to re-evaluate him and see where he’s at in four weeks.”

The All-Star forward hyperextended his knee early in the Warriors’ 112-108 loss to the Wizards and later underwent an MRI exam, which revealed a Grade 2 — or moderate — sprain in the knee as well as a bruised tibia.

Durant is scheduled to be re-evaluated in four weeks, so if he is fully healthy then, that would leave about two weeks remaining in the regular season. He was scheduled to return to the Bay Area on Wednesday and immediately begin rehabilitation. The Warriors headed for Chicago to continue a grueling stretch of eight games in 13 days with a cross-country trip. They return to Oakland for one game then a back-to-back at Minnesota and San Antonio on March 10-11.

On a Wizards possession under their basket less than a minute into the game, Washington center Marcin Gortat pushed Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who fell into Durant’s left leg. While Myers isn’t on the trip and only saw the play on TV, he said the team’s video staff might have other angles he can see — though in speaking to Durant there wasn’t immediate concern about the play being intentional.

“These things happen in sports,” Myers said. “Nobody’s raised that question on our side. I don’t know if it’s being raised outside of us. I spoke to Kevin a couple times. Other than just being disappointed that he’s injured, nobody’s mentioned anything like that.”

The Warriors became the earliest team in NBA history to clinch a playoff berth when they beat the Nets on Saturday and are now focused on locking up the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

LeBron James, whose Cleveland team beat the Warriors in Game 7 for last year’s championship before Durant came from Oklahoma City, saw the injury.

“I hope it’s not serious,” James said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Durant leads the Warriors in scoring and rebounding with 25.3 points and 8.2 boards along with 4.8 assists in his first season with Golden State. At 50-10, the Warriors have the NBA’s best record.

Myers expects the Warriors to fill the 15th spot on the roster in the next 24 to 48 hours, though Matt Barnes posted a photo on his Instagram account from his first stint with the Warriors and this: “You know you’re strong when you’re helping ppl through their storms while going through your own that’s strength.”

Myers declined to provide names in the mix.

“These things are very fluid this time of year or any time of year to be honest. Injuries happen unexpectedly,” he said. “We have to take another look at what our roster needs. I’m not going to get into specifics. We have to look and see where we need the most depth in light of this recent occurrence. We’re in the process of doing that and should have some resolution in the next 24 to 48 hours. ... Last night showed that you have to be able to pivot in the course of an NBA season. We’ll do our best with the options available to keep the roster in the best shape we can.”

76ers shut down Embiid for season

Philadelphia center Joel Embiid’s season is over because of left knee problems, including a torn meniscus that is worse than the team first thought.

The 76ers made the announcement Wednesday, hours before the team’s game against the Miami Heat. Embiid missed his first two NBA seasons with right foot issues, then finally made his debut this season and appeared in 31 games with the 76ers.

He hadn’t played since Jan. 27, and the 76ers had said in recent days that he could be back as early as this week. But an MRI performed on Monday showed the meniscus problem was apparently worse than first thought, and the 76ers made the decision to end his season.

“The area affected by the bone bruise has improved significantly, while the previously identified meniscus tear appears more pronounced in this most recent scan,” said Sixers Chief Medical Director Jonathan Glashow. “We will continue to work with leading specialists to gather additional information through clinical examination and sequential testing to determine the best course of action and next steps.”

Embiid averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds this season, and even though this was his third year since getting drafted he was considered as a strong rookie of the year candidate.

The No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft still could win the award, given how dominant he looked at times this season.

The 76ers were cautious with Embiid, never playing him more than 30 minutes in a game — yet he still had a penchant for big numbers. He scored at least 20 points in 19 of his 31 appearances, had nine double-doubles, blocked at least three shots 12 times and even was a 37 percent shooter from 3-point range.

And now, another setback.

“Our primary objective and focus remains to protect his long-term health and ability to perform on the basketball court,” 76ers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo said.

New York Sports