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What’s trending this week in the NBA: Kawhi’s quad, Sacramento protest and Pelicans playoff push

A look at what’s trending this week in the NBA:

Kawhi quad quandary

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich observed in January how strange it was that Tony Parker had “the same injury” last year that Spurs star Kawhi Leonard has faced this season, “but even worse.”

That theme continued Friday, when Parker contrasted his quadriceps injury with the one that has kept Leonard out for all but nine games this season.

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“I’ve been through it,” Parker told the San Antonio Express-News. “It was a rehab for me for eight months. Same kind of injury but mine was a hundred times worse. But the same kind of injury. You just stay positive.”

Parker, 35, ruptured his left quadriceps tendon in last year’s playoffs, underwent surgery two days later with a Spurs doctor and returned to action in late November.

Leonard was sidelined at the start of the season with right quadriceps tendinopathy, returned for nine games, but has not played since Jan. 13, when he sought second opinions.

“I could have gone anywhere but I trust my Spurs doctors,” Parker told the Express-News. “They have been with me my whole career. They know my body better than anybody .… I feel like we have the best medical team in the world.”

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The Spurs’ playoff standing is firmer now that they have six consecutive wins, all at home. They play Sunday at Milwaukee.

Kings owner pledges to unite people

Before the Hawks-Kings game in Sacramento on Thursday, protesters blocked entrances to Golden 1 Center in Sacramento by locking arms and forming a human chain around the arena in protest of Sacramento police officers’ fatal shooting of an unarmed 22-year-old black man in his backyard.

Only 2,400 fans made it inside for tipoff, which was delayed 20 minutes, while other ticket holders were offered refunds. Those who remained after the game heard Kings owner Vivek Ranadive speak to them respectfully and thoughtfully from center court with the Kings players by his side during some somber moments.

“We here at the Kings recognize that we have a big platform,” Ranadive said in an unscripted, two-minute speech that was greeted with light applause by players and fans. “It’s a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s a responsibility that we take very seriously, and we stand here before you — old, young, black, white, brown — and we are all united in our commitment.

“We recognize that it’s not just business as usual, and we are going to work really hard to bring everybody together to make the world a better place, starting with our own community, and we’re going to work really hard to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.”

Back to back to back

New Orleans had a baseball-style homestand last week.

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The Pelicans won home games on three consecutive nights — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — because Wednesday’s game against Indiana was rescheduled from Feb. 7 because of a leak in the roof at Smoothie King Center.

New Orleans also had back-to-back home games last Saturday and Sunday, giving the team five home games in six days. The Pelicans went 4-1 to keep alive their hopes of hosting a first-round playoff series.

Number-crunching

— In the 41 seasons that turnovers have been tracked, no NBA player had posted at least 35 points and 15 assists without a turnover in a game until Cleveland’s LeBron James did so when the Cavaliers beat Toronto on Wednesday.

— Golden State made a three-point shot in a game Friday for the 1,125th consecutive time, but the Warriors have been unable to catch the NBA record because Phoenix keeps extending it. The Suns stretched their run of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 1,131 games, dating to shortly after Mike D’Antoni became coach during the 2003-04 season.

— Charlotte is not playoff-bound, but it still had a heck of a week. Dwight Howard became the first player since Moses Malone in 1982 to post 32 points and 30 rebounds in a game. Kemba Walker scored 46 points in 28 minutes the next night, part of the Hornets trouncing Memphis by 61, the largest NBA margin of victory since 1998.

— Among major pro sports, only the New York Yankees have a longer active streak of consecutive winning seasons (25) than the San Antonio Spurs (21). This Spurs run is an NBA record.

LOOKING AHEAD

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Denver at Philadelphia

Monday at 4 p.m. PDT. TV: NBATV.

In the Western Conference’s tight playoff race, the Nuggets’ dismal road play was about to cost them a postseason chance until they pulled out wins at Chicago and Washington on Wednesday and Friday, respectively, to lift their away record to 13-23 (ranked 18th in the NBA). Denver is 2-2 on a seven-game road trip that could decide its fate, without guard Gary Harris to a knee injury 10 days ago. The game is no less important to the 76ers, who are in similar scrap for home-court advantage in the first round. They have been hot recently against a run of bottom-tier opponents and added a resume-boosting win Saturday against Minnesota.


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