Leandro Barbosa Injury: Updates on Suns Guard's Hand and Recovery

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIMarch 5, 2014

Feb 8, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Leandro Barbosa (10) reacts during the second quarter against the Golden State Warriors at US Airways Center. The Suns won 122-109. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Phoenix Suns guard Leandro Barbosa left the floor during the first half of Tuesday's 104-96 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, and will now miss an extended period of time with a fractured left hand.

Paul Coro of AZCentral.com reports that Barbosa will be out at least four weeks with the injury, while the Suns have set a timeline of six weeks:

The Suns had official details as well:

ESPN analyst Amin Elhassan feels that Barbosa's injury is a significant setback as the Suns prepare for the final stretch of the regular season, still seeking a playoff spot in the loaded Western Conference:

Tuesday's defeat dropped Phoenix to 35-25 for the 2013-14 campaign, which is good for eighth in the West and just a half-game ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies for the final postseason seed. The playoff picture should continue to experience a shakeup, but this Suns team that has defied expectations all year may be coming down to earth and fall just a bit short.

Barbosa has always been a fleet-footed energy player off the bench whose athleticism and deceptive length can create matchup problems at both ends of the court. However, the 31-year-old veteran is prone to health issues, as he tore his left ACL playing for the Boston Celtics last season.

It was impressive enough that Barbosa was able to play a decent contributing role thus far for Phoenix this season after that major injury. Prior to Tuesday's contest, Barbosa was averaging 18.8 minutes and a proficient 7.8 points per contest in 19 games.

A reasonable expectation would have been for Barbosa to continue playing at a high level and becoming even more of a fixture in Phoenix's rotation. This injury unfortunately derails those hopes, and it takes away valuable depth for the Suns as they continue battling down the stretch of the regular season.