Eric Gordon will start in his place in the huge, ABC tilt against the Oklahoma City Thunder and will presumptively continue to do so in Anderson’s absence. D’Antoni will fully embrace a lineup with Trevor Ariza as the nominal power forward and the 6-foot-4 Gordon as the small forward.
Anderson left Friday night’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans after he landed on DeMarcus Cousins. Before that, Cousins elbowed Anderson in the face over and over for the first 28 minutes of action, so all around, it hasn’t been the greatest of weekends for the stretch four.
"I felt a pop, it's definitely swollen," Ryan Anderson said of his ankle after the game on Friday. "But I can walk on a little bit and put some pressure on it, which is good."
While this is disheartening news, he did not leave the locker room on crutches or in a walking boot, nor did he need his ankle wrapped. Anderson did have a slight limp, but overall he seemed to be in good sprits.
To this point, even though it seems like more, Anderson has only missed four games this season. He’s played in 68, already the second-most in his career. His durability concerns haven’t reared their head, until now. But this appears to be nothing to be troubled by.
The good news for the Rockets is that they are pretty much locked into the three seed with a sizable lead over the fourth seeded Utah Jazz.
The Rockets are in the position where they can wait for Anderson to get back fully healthy for the playoffs. Coming back too soon could lead to potential re-injury, and D’Antoni stressed that caution Sunday afternoon.
It might not do so well for some ancillary storylines, however, like the Rockets chasing close to a franchise record in wins, James Harden, Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey’s award races and Rockets’ fans psyches with some big games still left to play, including against the Warriors.
But the Rockets have bigger goals than individual awards or regular season bragging rights. Here’s hoping Anderson is healthy enough to help with those when the time comes. Two weeks means he’ll have about a week to shake off the rust before the playoffs start.