More bad news: Barbosa hyperextends left knee

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Leandro Barbosa

PHOENIX – Just when things were starting to look just a little brighter on Planet Orange, you knew the next piece of bad news had to be right around the corner.

Although we don’t know the severity of the left knee Leandro Barbosa hyperextended in the first quarter of Wednesday’s win over the 76ers beyond the fact that X-rays were negative, it sure didn’t look good the way LB writhed in pain after landing awkwardly on the knee as he was falling out of bounds following a missed driving layup.

Barbosa stayed on the ground for a few minutes as his teammates stopped by to offer words of encouragement before heading to the locker room with the help of trainers without putting much pressure on his injured leg.

The stoppage of play occurred with 26.3 seconds left in the first after LB had scored two points in two minutes. He was replaced in the lineup by Alando Tucker.

“I am sure it is going to be a little stiff right now, but there was no damage in there from the X-ray, so that is a big plus,” said Suns head coach Alvin Gentry. “We will just have to see how it is in the morning, and I am sure they will take a closer look at it, but the big thing for us and the plus was there was no damage in there when they took the X-ray.”

It’s tough to evaluate how long LB will be out without knowing more about the severity of the injury.

Kobe Bryant hyperextended his right knee on Oct. 22 and still managed to return to the floor in time to score 23 points in the season opener less than a week later.

Desmond Mason, on the other hand, hyperextended his knee in late January and is out for the season.

I’m not a doctor, but the way LB hobbled off I would be shocked if he missed anything less than a week. Best-case scenario would be getting him back Monday against the Nuggets, missing only Saturday’s game against Washington, but at this point that is all conjecture.

If the Suns lose LB for anything longer than a couple games, it would likely be the final blow that fells the 2008-09 Phoenix Suns at a time when they have no margin for error.

The Blur had scored at least 20 points in four of his last six games and has averaged right around 20 points since Amare went down and his role increased, both as a starter and off the bench.

He was the one consistent weapon you could count on off the bench for a good 15-20 points, the kind of player who can get hot in a hurry to win you a game like he did Saturday against Oklahoma City.

In Wednesday’s victory, the Suns played the entire starting lineup between 38-39 minutes and Jared Dudley was the only bench player to log double-figure minutes.

Grant Hill said that was OK since the players will have two full days to rest before Saturday’s game against Washington and entered this one off two days of rest, but what’s going to happen when they start playing back-to-backs again?

The Suns have also been able to rely on Barbosa as a primary ballhandler with Nash out at times this season, so any time he misses would put added pressure on Goran Dragic, and we know that’s not a good thing.

Planet Orange now must hold its collective breath before finding out if this season just took another turn for the worse.

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