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Monday, March 25, 2013
Joakim Noah out again with foot injury


There are injuries a player can push, and there are injuries he can't push through. A bruised thigh, a slightly sprained ankle, a strained finger and a sore knee are examples of injuries where a player may simply battle through the pain. Plantar fasciitis, on the other hand, is a perfect example of an injury that will heal only with extended rest, which means that trying to push through the injury for the long term is basically futile. It will only get worse until the player finally succumbs and misses more games.

That's why when Joakim Noah returned from a three-game respite to rest the plantar fasciitis in his ailing foot in early February and pledged to play though the malady for the remainder of the season, I repeatedly pleaded with people to trade the big fella away before the condition crept back up. This is an injury that requires three weeks or three months to heal, not three games.

Fast-forward to this weekend, and sure enough, after being a fantasy beast for the 18 games since his last rest, Noah missed games Saturday and Sunday, without any warning, because of a recurrence of his plantar fasciitis. This isn't an "I told you so" session here -- OK, maybe a little bit -- but this is one of those things that savvy fantasy owners across all sports need to simply have tucked away in their heads: When a player is diagnosed with a serious case of plantar fasciitis, it's going to be a lingering condition that will not go away without an extended stint in the infirmary.

As for the short term with Noah, the timing couldn't be worse, as head-to-head fantasy teams are deep in the playoffs and roto squads are battling for every rebound and block. He's listed as day-to-day, and unless there's a relevant update regarding his status prior to the deadline to set weekly lineups this evening, his owners are going to have a very difficult call to make, because the Bulls play only three games this week. The only upside for Noah is that they don't ball until Wednesday against the Miami Heat, so perhaps five days of rest will allow him to give it a go for the short term.

The one thing we do know for certain is that his condition won't fully heal until the season is long over. Be sure to remember that the next time one of your players is diagnosed with plantar fasciitis.

Looking Back

Ersan Ilyasova returned Sunday from a three-game absence to rest his sore back and hip. The time off appeared to work; he torched the Atlanta Hawks for 19 points and 10 boards, though he made only seven of his 16 field goal attempts. The only bummer is that the Milwaukee Bucks play only three games this week (before two weeks of four-game sets), but he should be a solid play overall this week.

• On the heels of a zero-point dud Thursday, Dorell Wright popped off 22 points (6-for-13 FG), 6 assists and 3 boards Sunday. The intriguing thing was that all six of the shots he nailed were 3-pointers. In 13 games this month, Wright is averaging 2.5 3-pointers per game and has hit 45.2 percent of his shots beyond the arc. I'm intrigued to see where he ends up as a free agent this offseason, because if he can land a starting role on a team where he can get off five to six 3s per game, he could be an intriguing source of 3s next season.

Andrei Kirilenko showed some signs of life with 20 points and 7 rebounds Friday, but he has been completely useless in his other four games since returning to action. He has missed all seven of his 3-point shots and has only 2 steals and 3 blocks in those five tilts. He has played right about 25 minutes per game, but he clearly is not fully healthy. With four games each of the next three weeks, you probably have little choice but to toss him into your weekly lineups and cross your fingers that he'll get over the hump and make an impact during the stretch run.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist blocked three shots Saturday and had a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) Sunday. The real key Sunday was that he played nearly 32 minutes, the most court action he has seen since March 6. Seemingly, the Bobcats should turn the rookie loose in the waning weeks of the season, so he is a player to keep a close eye on. He's available in more than 60 percent of ESPN leagues.

Looking Ahead

Dwyane Wade tried to battle though a bruised knee that he sustained a week ago, but he was finally shut down for Sunday's game. The injury doesn't appear to be too serious, but he probably will be a game-time call Monday against the Orlando Magic. The Heat play four games this week, so hopefully, he will shake off the ailment and play at least three of them.

Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey admitted that Rudy Gay's nagging back injury could force him to miss the remainder of the season. It seems he'll surely miss some of the three games the Raps have scheduled for Week 22, which makes him a shaky play, at best.

Stephen Curry hopes to play through his latest ankle sprain Monday evening against the Los Angeles Lakers. You'll want to check for updates, though, as game time nears.

• The New York Knicks hope to have Tyson Chandler back in the mix Tuesday against the Boston Celtics, but there is no guarantee at this point. They play three more games this week, so he may be a decent roll-the-dice option at center if you have to set your lineup Monday.

• The Magic probably will face the Heat on Monday without the services of Nikola Vucevic, who is dealing with a concussion that has kept him out for two games. Obviously he won't hit the hardwood again until he passes his concussion protocol, so he may well miss more action this week.

• Meanwhile, teammate Arron Afflalo is done for the season because of a strained right hamstring. He acquitted himself pretty well in his scorer's role with the Magic this season by scoring in the upper teens with good assist totals and field goal percentage for significant stretches of the season. He's a better fit as a complementary scorer, though, a role he likely will have next season.

Fastbreak Player of the Night

It's a light slate of games Tuesday evening, as only six teams will play. The pickings at guard are particularly slim, as Chris Paul is the only sure-fire stud option available. For the other Fastbreak guard spot, I'm intrigued by point guards Jose Calderon and Ricky Rubio, who face each other in Minnesota. I think I will go with Rubio, because it's a home game for him and he has a little higher ceiling.