Duncan, who may soon be joined in the frontcourt by Karl Malone, could be forced to miss a game for the first time all season when the San Antonio Spurs face the Charlotte Bobcats for the first time.
San Antonio got a big scare in its latest game, with Duncan hyperextending his left knee in a collision during the second quarter of Thursday’s 103-91 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Duncan immediately grabbed at his knee with both hands—obviously in great pain—but returned to play in the third quarter before sitting out the final 15 1/2 minutes.
“Very scary, very scary,” Tony Parker said. “He’s our star. That’s the main guy for us.”
Four days off since that game may have been enough time for Duncan to recover, but the Spurs could keep him out of the lineup against the expansion Bobcats, especially considering they play the following night in Washington. Duncan was held out of the contact portion of the Spurs’ practice Sunday.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News. “He’s getting better every day, but we want to be real careful with that.”
San Antonio could be getting Malone to help relieve some of the pressure on Duncan.
According to Malone’s agent, the future Hall of Famer will decide by the All-Star break if he is going to play again, and that would likely only be for the Spurs. Malone, who hasn’t played since undergoing offseason knee surgery, met with Duncan and Popovich on Saturday.
“He’s got to decide if he wants to play, if the juice is there,” Popovich said.
“He’s somebody we’ve been interested in for a couple of years. He’s a leader—he’s got the whole package.”
One of Duncan’s current backups, Malik Rose, stepped up to post season highs with 19 points and 11 rebounds in Thursday’s victory.
The Spurs have won four straight and seven of eight, though they now head to the East Coast with just a 7-6 road record since Dec. 8. They’re 15-0 at home in that span.
While San Antonio is unsure if its top scorer and rebounder will be available, the Bobcats will definitely be without theirs.
Charlotte is 1-2 since Emeka Okafor went on the injured list with a sprained ankle. He’s scheduled to return Friday against Miami.
The Bobcats lost 113-99 to Seattle on Saturday despite Melvin Ely’s career-high 22 points. Ely has averaged 14.7 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocks starting in place of Okafor the last three games.