By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Posted Mar 25 2011 5:47PM
The hopes of the New Orleans Hornets to be a factor in the upcoming playoffs were dealt a severe blow Friday when the team announced that forward David West would miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. West suffered the injury during the Hornets 121-117 victory over Utah Thursday.
An MRI of West's left knee Friday confirmed the tear, which occurred when West landed awkwardly after dunking in the fourth quarter of a game New Orleans won in overtime. He was carried off the court in a wheelchair and was screaming in agony as he was tended to. The 30-year-old West, who is under contract for $7.53 million next season and has an early termination option at the end of the season, likely would have been one of the league's most coveted free agents when and if the likely work stoppage ends. The injury, obviously, could affect his decision on whether or not to opt out of that final year.
West leads the Hornets in scoring (18.9 per game) and rebounds (7.6), and has proven, despite being relatively undersized, to be one of the league's most consistent power forwards, with his ability to square up and shoot the ball making him very difficult to guard.
At 41-31, New Orleans is hanging on to seventh place in the Western Conference playoff chase, a game ahead of Memphis -- which lost one of its stars, forward Rudy Gay, for the season earlier this week when it was determined Gay would need shoulder surgery. The Hornets are three games ahead of ninth-place Houston and four ahead of 10th place Phoenix. But New Orleans still has two games remaining with the Suns, including Friday night's game in Phoenix.
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