NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Dose: Injury Fest In Portland
Injuries abound as Blazers top Raptors
Wesley Matthews was a late scratch with his hip injury but is vowing to play on Thursday. There was also news that he’d have an MRI if he couldn’t play last night, so it also wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him miss more games if the results are not great. He’s a warrior though, and will do whatever he can to play Thursday. Nicolas Batum was also out for the Blazers with a back injury and is iffy for the week. Sasha Pavlovic and Victor Claver started in their place, while Luke Babbitt saw minutes off the bench. Pavlovic had 10 points, seven boards and five assists, but I’m not interested in adding him or any other Blazers’ bench player at this point. Damian Lillard hit just 2-of-14 shots and rolled his right ankle in one of his worst games ever, but played through it. He should be fine.
Andrea Bargnani went down with a right elbow injury and did not return to the game. X-rays were negative, but given his history, owners have to be worried about him missing more games. Amir Johnson got into quick foul trouble and played just 10 minutes before being ejected and throwing his mouthpiece at a referee, so expect a suspension for him. I’m guessing two games. Ed Davis got hot when Johnson left with two quick fouls and finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and a block in 24 minutes, and will be a hot pickup if Johnson is suspended and Bargs is going to miss time. Jonas Valanciunas had eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, and will also get plenty more action if Johnson and Bargs are out.
Kyle Lowry also left the game early in the second half with a right triceps injury, while he’s also apparently dealing with a sore ankle. His numbers over his last three games have been dreadful and there’s a chance he could miss time with this new injury. If it happens, Jose Calderon (12 points, six assists) will become a solid pick-and-play again, as usual. I hate to say it, but Lowry is nearing official ‘injury-prone’ status, if he’s not already there. Alan Anderson is nearing a return for the Raptors from his foot injury, where he’ll likely split time with Mickael Pietrus and Linas Kleiza at the wing positions. Pietrus returned from an ankle injury and had nine points on 3-of-13 shooting, while Kleiza sat this one out with a knee problem. Given the injury issues with these three players, they’re all probably a bigger headache than they’re worth.
Heat beat Hawks
Dwyane Wade got hot and hit 11-of-13 shots for 26 points and a full stat line in a win over the Hawks. He’s hit 20-of-25 shots over his last two games and has three 3-pointers in his last five. So much for that decline, at least until the next injury happens. LeBron James added 27 points, seven boards and six assists, while Chris Bosh added 14 points and 10 boards for his seventh double-double of the season.
Josh Smith somehow hit a career-high four 3-pointers against the Heat, but added just three rebounds and a block. He also had six assists, and the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week could be ready to put up a monstrous four-game set this week. Al Horford had his sixth straight double-double with 20 points and 11 boards in the loss.
Warriors stop Bobcats
Stephen Curry played with a wrap on his knee and says he’s no longer worried about his ankle. He finished with 27 points, four 3-pointers, seven rebounds, seven assists and a steal in a win over the Bobcats, and is turning out to be a true fantasy steal.
Ben Gordon hit 5-of-11 shots and three 3-pointers for 14 points in just 15 minutes off the Bobcats bench. He’s played 15 minutes or less in three straight games, meaning he’s no longer a must-own player now that his hot streak is over. He hit 21 3-pointers in his four games prior to having his minutes cut over his last three. Gerald Henderson is back for the Bobcats, but played just 18 minutes last night. He should bounce back, but Mike Dunlap is confusing everyone with his rotations and lineup changes, making Henderson a risky start for now. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played 34 minutes and had 17 points, seven rebounds, a steal and a block, and was a big reason why Henderson didn’t play much. MKG is always worth a close eye, but needs more nights like this one in order to be in starting lineups. Byron Mullens was back in the starting lineup and hit 6-of-14 shots and a 3-pointer for 13 points, four rebounds, two steals and a block in 29 minutes. It was good to see his minutes return to normal after getting around 15 per in each of his last three games. He’s apparently over his ankle injury, but is still not a must-start player until he gets hot. Bismack Biyombo started at center and had five points, 11 boards and three more blocks, but is only worth a look if you need blocks and can take the hit that will come in the scoring department with him in your lineup.
Sixers roll Pistons
Jrue Holiday got his four-game week off to a great start with 25 points, five rebounds, eight assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer in a win over the Pistons, and should remain in all starting lineups. The same can be said for Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner, while Jason Richardson chipped in with 13 points, seven boards and two 3-pointers. Spencer Hawes is starting to come on and played 32 minutes, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. I don’t fully trust him, but if he keeps getting minutes and producing, he’s going to demand our attention. Nick Young returned from his toe injury and had three points in 18 minutes. With Turner and Richardson playing well, Young (and Dorell Wright) are the odd men out.
Jason Maxiell has been a popular pick up in some leagues because he’s been blocking shots, and had 11 boards, a steal and two more swats last night. He was also 1-of-10 from the floor for two points, and is not exactly a dominant scorer. He’s averaging eight points, eight boards and more than two blocks per game in December, and is worth a look if scoring is not an issue and you need big-man stats. Kyle Singler played 29 minutes but scored just five points. He’s averaging 4.8 points over his last five games and I don’t have the patience to own him in any leagues. Rodney Stuckey had 19 points and five assists in 31 minutes and is finally healthy, and is worth a pick up in all leagues right now, while Tayshaun Prince quietly stayed relevant with 16 points and eight boards. Andre Drummond fell silent with two blocks and nothing else in 14 minutes against the Sixers. If Lawrence Frank ever gives him minutes, he’s going to be fun to own, but it’s starting to look like Frank might only turn him loose once a week or so.
Spurs down Rockets in overtime
Jeremy Lin caught fire and brought back the Linsanity with James Harden out with a sprained ankle, finishing with a career-high tying 38 points to go along with seven assists, two steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers in an overtime loss to the Spurs. Unfortunately, after stinking it up and flirting with losing his job to Toney Douglas (who had 17 points tonight), Lin was likely on more than a few benches last night. He’s not going to lose his starting job anytime soon, but he’s also not likely to play this well again any time soon. Especially with Harden likely back in the next one. Omer Asik also had a career high with 21 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in the loss. He also might have been on benches after averaging just three points over his last two games. Patrick Patterson had just eight points and two rebounds in 21 minutes of an overtime win, and is officially slumping, averaging just nine points and three rebounds over his last four games. He’ll get hot again, but we just don’t know when. Carlos Delfino, who I picked up and started in several leagues this week, played a season-high 38 minutes, but hit just 2-of-12 shots on an off night. I liked the minutes and am holding out hope that he’ll get hot again from downtown over his last three games of the week.
Tony Parker had his first career triple-double in an overtime win against the Rockets, finishing with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. Maybe he’s a sell-high candidate, but as long as he’s healthy, he’s going to put up big numbers for the Spurs. Gary Neal, who I used in some leagues last week to mixed results, caught fire with a career-high 29 points and seven 3-pointers last night. He’s scored in double figures in seven of his last eight games and deserves a close look for as long as Kawhi Leonard is out with his quad injury. It would be surprising if Leonard plays this week. Danny Green stayed relevant with 14 points, six boards, five assists, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers, and is worth an add for as long as Leonard is out. Manu Ginobili added a season-high 22 points and a full stat line in the win.
Dallas rolls over Kings
Francisco Garcia exploded for a season-high 25 points, a career-high seven 3-pointers and three blocks in another start for Tyreke Evans and the Kings. Evans has missed five the his last six games with a knee injury that supposedly isn’t serious, while coach Keith Smart keeps labeling him as ‘probable.’ I wish I had left Garcia in my 30-team lineup, but I replaced him with Kirk Hinrich at the last minute. Oops. Garcia might hold some value for as long as Evans is out, but he’s a tough guy to own in most leagues due to inconsistency. Garcia’s explosion limited John Salmons, who had just five points and seven assists after playing well last week. DeMarcus Cousins had 25 points and six boards, while also taking at shot at the crotch of O.J. Mayo during the game, drawing the ire of the Mavericks after the game. I doubt he gets suspended, but you never know. Cousins is out of his funk, scoring between 17 and 25 points in each of his last four games.
Shawn Marion was out again for Dallas with a groin injury, while Chris Kaman played through his “purple ankle” and had 18 points and three rebounds on 9-of-13 shooting. Congratulations if you rolled the dice on him. O.J. Mayo had another big game in a blowout with 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists, a steal and three 3-pointers on 6-of-9 shooting, and I think he’s going to stay very relevant even when Dirk Nowitzki returns.
Steve Nash’s return has been delayed by nerve damage to his leg and he’s now targeting the end of December for his return to the Lakers. So much for that early one-week timeframe on the injury. He’s already missed 19 games, and counting.
Derrick Favors is hoping to return on Wednesday against the Spurs from his bout with plantar fasciitis.
Brook Lopez went through a full practice on Monday and is a game-time decision for Tuesday against the Knicks. He’s missed five straight games with his foot injury, but I’m guessing he’ll play limited minutes tonight.
Anthony Davis (ankle) practiced on Monday and is officially questionable for Tuesday’s game against the Wizards. I went ahead and started him in weekly leagues, hoping that the most games he’ll miss is one. He’s been out for 11 straight.
Kyrie Irving was expected to practice on Monday and then play on Tuesday against the Lakers. He’s missed 11 straight games with his broken finger and his return should end any relevance Jeremy Pargo had. Dion Waiters missed another practice with his sprained ankle, which means I’d be surprised to see him tonight against the Lakers. He’s now missed four straight games with the injury.
Ricky Rubio is getting closer to a return, but my guess is he won’t see him until next week as he continues to work his way back from knee surgery. If you own Rubio, just watch for the daily updates. Nikola Pekovic’s bothersome ankle was fine during Monday’s practice so it looks like he’s good to go this week.
Andrew Bynum says that his right knee feels good, but his left knee still hurts when he walks. He also said that his worst-case scenario is a return a month from now, and that his best-case scenario is a return before then. But if he still can’t run, I’m not going to hold my breath that we’ll see him anytime soon. He also talked about the arthritis in his knee and a lack of cartilage. I’m not an actual doctor, but in my opinion it feels more and more like he may just be shut down for the whole season.
Kevin Seraphin missed Monday’s practice with the flu and will likely be a game-time decision for tonight’s game against the Hornets. Randy Wittman let it slip yesterday that John Wall is still “weeks from…” and then stopped short of finishing his sentence. I’m guessing the missing word was “practicing,” and Wall’s return before the end of December (or any month) doesn’t exactly appear guaranteed at this point.
Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich is expected to play on Tuesday against the Clippers after suffering a minor elbow injury in his last game.
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