NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Daily Dose: Dirk is Lurking
It was a big 12-game night so we’re going to jump right into things. To follow me on Twitter for real-time news and information, click here.
The Blazers traveled into Toronto and left their game stateside, losing by 23 points with fantasy casualties to J.J. Hickson (two points, seven boards) and Nicolas Batum (10 points, four boards, four assists, 0-for-6 3PTs). Damian Lillard still put up 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting with a relatively full line, and LaMarcus Aldridge went for 14 and 10 with three assists. Wesley Matthews (hip) scored 12 points with two threes, a steal, and four turnovers, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him put up startable numbers the next time out.
It’s Better To Give
As beat writer Ryan Wolstat said during the game, Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry combining for 22 assists and zero points has to be some sort of NBA record. They combined to miss three shot attempts and yet at the same time they did whatever they wanted to the Blazers, so we’re definitely filing this right next to the new Five Hour Energy guy in the weird column. Ed Davis (19 points, seven rebounds, 9-of-12 FGs) and Amir Johnson (17 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block) both did their things, and both should be owned in most formats.
Terrence Ross had the best game of his short career, setting bests in scoring (26 points) and 3-pointers (six) in 25 minutes off the bench. There are plenty of caveats here, including the fact that Linas Kleiza (knee) did not play and that the rotation is getting a bit more crowded with Lowry and Landry Fields (seven points, seven boards, 20 minutes) back. There is also the fact that Ross himself has not been consistent, but I will offer that Wolstat and others have been reporting about one flash of his potential per game. He will be a hot commodity if he does anything similar the next time out, so consider your options in 12-14 team leagues and if you have any dead weight jumping the gun isn’t out of the question here.
Life Without Noah
Joakim Noah (illness) did not play but the Bulls were able to squeeze out a road win in Orlando. Kirk Hinrich (knee) returned from his 232nd ailment this season, scoring seven points on 2-of-9 shooting (including a three) with eight assists, three steals, and one block in a high-water mark sort of night. Taj Gibson started for Noah and went nuts for 21 and 11 with four blocks in 45 minutes, but he’ll go back to being mostly irrelevant when Noah returns any time now. Carlos Boozer also enjoyed life without Noah, scoring 31 points with 11 rebounds and two steals, and Luol Deng posted a workmanlike 23 points with two threes and a steal in the win.
The Full Nelson
Jameer Nelson (hip) returned after a one-game absence and got right back to work, scoring 32 points on 11-of-20 shooting with six 3-pointers, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Arron Afflalo scored 19 points with two threes, Nikola Vucevic backed up his massive Monday with 20 and 12 to go with a steal and block, and J.J. Redick went cold with just seven points on 3-of-12 shooting. Anywhere from 2-4 members of this group are putting up startable numbers on any given night with Big Baby out. Hedo Turkoglu (zero points, five rebounds, one assist, 18 minutes) and Gustavo Ayon (14 minutes, four points) are on the outside looking in for most formats and I wouldn’t expect any huge change of values for either of them going forward.
The Wizards dropped to 4-26 with a loss to the Pacers, with Jordan Crawford’s 20 points, four rebounds, and seven assists pacing them. Crawford is back to the form he showed before the Wiz brought in Garrett Temple (zero points, seven assists, two blocks, 22 minutes, six fouls) and Shelvin Mack (four points, four assists, two steals) to split minutes at point guard. Neither Temple or Mack should be held in lieu of a hot free agent in most formats, as they’re likely to look a lot like this until the plan changes or John Wall returns.
Emeka Okafor reverted back to his typical form, scoring four points on 2-of-6 shooting with nine rebounds, one steal, and one block in his 22 minutes, and it didn’t help that Kevin Seraphin scored 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting with nine rebounds and one block in 31 minutes. I’ve managed to hang onto Seraphin in all but one 10-team league, but his leash is still relatively short and Trevor Booker’s January 12 target for return isn’t helping matters.
George Hill (thigh) was a game-time decision and did not go, so D.J. Augustin got another start and went right back to work with 18 points, four rebounds, six assists, one steal, one three, and a 9-of-10 mark from the foul line. It’s interesting if anything for what it says about the team’s second unit, as Augustin could barely crack the box score in backup duty and even lost his rotation spot for about a week. Paul George continued his assault on fantasy leagues, scoring 29 points on 9-of-19 shooting (3-of-8 3PTs, 8-of-8 FTs) with 14 rebounds, three assists, and two steals. He has moved into a second round value on the year after a very slow start.
Danny Granger (knee) is shooting around these days and looks like he’s targeting a February 4 return, but it would be pretty surprising if that date is set in stone. It would be an upset if he returned to lead dog duties, but a moderately productive role with mid-to-late round value in a best case scenario sounds about right. It would also ding the entire roster just a little bit, but I wouldn’t work overtime to deal away any of the usual suspects.
The Grind-Father Returns to Boston
Jerryd Bayless left last night’s win over the Celtics due to an ankle injury, and all of a sudden the shooting guard slot is wide open for the Grizzlies. I started “Grind-Father” Tony Allen because of his four-game week and the absence of Quincy Pondexter, and he scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting with five rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 30 minutes. He had a similar low-end effort on Monday and at this rate he should eke out enough value to justify the plug-and-play.
Marc Gasol played hot potato with the basketball, passing up shots en route to a five-point, seven-rebound, four-assist, and four-steal night that included a 1-of-7 shooting mark. Rudy Gay was infuriating in the opposite way, hitting just 6-of-15 ill-conceived shots, but he finished with 19 points, six boards, five assists, one steal, and one block so owners will deal with it and hope for a regression toward his career shooting marks. Mike Conley righted the ship with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting (3-of-6 3PTs, 4-of-4 FTs), three rebounds, nine assists, and one steal. The cold streak was annoying but as I mentioned a few times I wasn’t worried one bit.
The Writing on the Wall
The Celtics are going to struggle with depth even with Rajon Rondo (hip) on the court, but when he’s at less than 100 percent they are really going to struggle, and apparently that was the case last night. He scored 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting with 10 assists, but he didn’t record a steal and that alone is a sign that he’s not all the way back. Avery Bradley (shoulders) returned to action in the starting lineup and had four points with one steal and that’s it, highlighting why owners shouldn’t really be breaking their necks to look at him outside of massive formats. Jason Terry scored eight points on 3-of-5 shooting with two treys, two boards, two assists, and one steal in 27 minutes off the bench, while Courtney Lee saw 12 minutes in what could be an accurate snapshot of the rotation going forward. Terry’s writing may already be on the wall, and while another game or two of holding is likely in order I wouldn’t pass up on a mid-to-late round upside guy to find out how this ends.
The One-Legged Man
The Mavs and Heat relived their Finals matchup with a vintage one-legged bucket by Dirk Nowitzki to force overtime, but the Mavs didn’t have enough firepower during the extra session and they eventually gave way. The big fantasy story was O.J. Mayo’s 30 points on 12-of-21 shooting with four treys, three rebounds, six assists, and two steals. He did have six turnovers and a crucial one in overtime, but as we’ve been mentioning around here we’re not too worried about Mayo’s overall value. Nowitzki scored 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting (including two threes) with six rebounds and no steals or blocks in 29 minutes, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Mavs play it safe with him on Saturday against the Hornets. Yes, there are two full days off, but you could see Rick Carlisle gritting his teeth having to play Dirk sparingly in the extra frame tonight.
Vince Carter started again and while he hit just 5-of-16 shots, he scored 15 points with nine rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block in his 36 minutes. Ride him until the wheels fall off. Chris Kaman joined the party going for 14 and 10 with three blocks, and Darren Collison (11 points, four rebounds, three assists) and Shawn Marion (six points, nine rebounds) were mostly held in check. There was an interesting note from beat writer Eddie Sefko talking about the sudden disappearance of Dominique Jones (DNP). Sefko believes it was his published comments from Jones about his teammates needing to look in the mirror that got him benched, which is noteworthy because Jones was coming on strong and appeared to be a threat to Collison’s value. Both Collison and Kaman are two guys that owners should be willing to move if they can get anything of ongoing value in return.
Repeat the Heat
Ray Allen (15 points, three treys, seven rebounds) played after running into Hedo Turkoglu in Monday’s game, and other than a continuance of Dwyane Wade’s recent surge there is very little that’s new to report in Miami. Wade scored 27 points on 9-of-21 shooting with a season-high 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals, two blocks, and one 3-pointer, while LeBron James came one assist short of a triple-double with 32 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, three steals, and one block. Chris Bosh had another light rebounding night with four boards, but added 17 points, three blocks, and one trey in the win.
Only In Sacramento
Aaron Brooks gave up 20 points last night on defense against the Cavs according to Synergy, but he did manage 13 points in a mediocre effort at best. Naturally, this qualified him to steal another 29 minutes of action away from Isaiah Thomas (eight points, four assists, 19 minutes), who initiated the offense just twice during his first quarter shift and played a reasonable game given the conditions he plays under nightly. The real problem for Thomas' fantasy value, though, is that Brooks made a few fancy plays and along with a late bucket and road win – this is the type of thing that buys Keith Smart at least a few more weeks of jerking Thomas around. The situation has been written about extensively in this space since late last season, and since then Sports Illustrated and Grantland have both written pieces in the last few weeks about how crazy it is.
Sadly, the Sacramento media are the only ones that don’t write about how bad this decision is, and they’re the ones (along with their fans) that need local sponsors to stay excited about the team so the NBA will force a sale to Sacramento owners. I cover the Kings’ arena saga for ProBasketballTalk and it’s a bit sad to see them work so hard to keep their team, yet they can’t get out of their own way in their coverage of the Smart debacle. That or they’re mesmerized by the degree of difficulty on Brooks’ most recent underhanded, falling-down hook shot.
So this means that there will be no changes in the random rotations, because there is no real local pressure to do anything. Even Jimmer (six points, 15 minutes) gets no love these days, which is scary considering the massive campaign the team and local paper have been staging to get him minutes. With Geoff Petrie apparently a lame duck, Smart on the prowl, and the Maloofs running from city to city with their hats in their hands – a mediocre veteran movement has somehow been allowed to happen. John Salmons (seven points, three rebounds, three assists) and Francisco Garcia (14 points, two steals, two blocks, two threes, six boards) put up cheap stats in garbage-time flavored minutes, usually with a heavy dose of bad shots and ball-stoppong behavior. This theme only gets worse once Tyreke Evans returns and to a lesser degree Marcus Thornton. Evans is targeting a return on Monday from his knee injury, and Thornton is still in a walking boot after a tough-looking ankle injury. When those two return, it’s only going to get more ridiculous in Sacramento.
I’m not going to bail just yet on Thomas, but I will soon if there isn’t a positive, sustainable development. Evans should be owned, and I’m holding Thornton in most formats with a shortening leash. DeMarcus Cousins (18 points, 16 boards, six assists, two steals, one block) is beasting lately, and Thompson (19 points, 10 boards) joined him in beating up a league-worst Cavs interior. Both are worth owning and they will be safer than the perimeter group.
Anderson Varejao missed another game with his supposedly mild knee injury, and for what it’s worth he’s still within the tail-end of the second iteration of his timeline. If it starts to stretch out, conspiracy theorists can get to work wondering about the injury and/or a potential trade, but for now just hang tight. Unfortunately for Cavs fans, they might be the worst team in the league with Varejao out, but for fantasy purposes they all got a bump last night from the friendly Kings defense.
Kyrie Irving scored 22 points with five rebounds and six assists, Alonzo Gee posted a solid 16-10-6 line with one triple, Tyler Zeller went for eight and eight with two blocks, Tristan Thompson scored nine points with 13 rebounds and no steals or blocks, and Dion Waiters scored 20 points on 8-of-19 shooting (1-of-4 3PTs, 3-of-3 FTs) with two rebounds, three assists, and a steal in the loss.
Waiters was moved to a bench role as Byron Scott continues to try to motivate him to take better shots, with peg-legged defender C.J. Miles moving into the starting unit. Miles scored 12 points on 4-of-13 shots (1-of-7 3PTs) with just two rebounds and two turnovers to his stat line in 29 minutes. His defense is laughably bad, and Byron Scott will find any way to get him off the floor if possible, so it will probably take a major turn of events for me to move the needle for either guy. Waiters is still best viewed as a stash right now rather than a starting option, and Miles needs to show me a lot more before he’s worth my time in 12-14 team formats.
Big Win for Brooklyn
The Nets finally got off the schnied in more ways than one in their road win over the Thunder. Deron Williams scored 19 points on 5-of-12 shooting (3-of-4 3PTs, 6-of-6 FTs) with five steals and 13 assists, and Joe Johnson scored a season-high 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting (5-of-10 3PTs, 6-of-6 FTs) with five rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Granted, Kevin Durant did get tossed for the first time in his career in a game that wasn’t going the Thunder’s way for much of the night, but this win will go a long way toward settling some of the unease in Brooklyn about Williams’ mindset, wrist injury, and ability to produce. I’m not sure I’m buying into the turnaround just yet, and I know I am not buying into some sort of late-career revitalization for Johnson, either.
I will be watching for pace-based stats involving P.J. Carlesimo, however, as one of the things he could do to affect change would be to get the league’s slowest team up and down the court more. Back on the issue of Johnson, I'm fairly sure he can continue to provide solid scoring and 3-point shooting, but he’s not going to steal or block the ball and he’s going to be a high-volume field goal percentage drain.
Gerald Wallace (six points, four rebounds, two steals, 37 minutes) disappeared in his return from a knee injury, and owners should simply get used to inconsistency whether he’s limited or not. There are simply too many mouths to feed before Crash gets his dinner. Kris Humphries (11 points, seven boards, one steal, one block, 25 minutes) left the game late due to an ankle injury, and while it didn’t look too bad there was a report that it was serious after the game so Andray Blatche (10 points, five rebounds, one block, 18 minutes) is worth a look as a speculative, short-term add.
Lightning in a Bottle
The ejection of Kevin Durant (27 points, 11-of-17 FGs, five rebounds, five assists, two steals) for the first time in his career will get all the attention, but Scott Brooks got more local criticism for his late-game rotation when he leaned on Kendrick Perkins (three points, 11 rebounds, one block) instead of sticking with his smaller lineup that was working. None of this is shocking, but it’s a reminder to Thunder fans that the organization’s decision to install Perkins as their heart and soul no matter how bad he is has already disqualified two otherwise eligible championship runs.
Russell Westbrook had one of his best 8-cat nights of the year with 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting (including a three) with 10 assists and three steals, though the six turnovers are a buzz-kill in 9-cat leagues. Serge Ibaka scored 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting with eight rebounds and five blocks, and anybody recommending him for Most Improved Player is the sucker at the table. Nothing material has changed about his game this season except for the green light and the added minutes.
There will be a clash of ideals on the issue of Kawhi Leonard, who scored four points on 2-of-6 shooting (no threes) with five rebounds and one steal in just under 24 minutes last night. He’s a third- and fifth-round value in 9- and 8-cat leagues on average when he’s on the court this season, but with just 9.4 points, 1.0 threes, 5.3 rebounds, 2.1 steals, and 0.3 blocks owners are left to have faith in scoring systems like BasketballMonster that have him ranked so highly. He is shooting 49 percent from the field and 91 percent from the foul line, though the latter number is probably about 10 points too high. Regardless, those shooting numbers, steals, and to a lesser degree rebounds and threes and all enough to move him up the list, speaking to the impact shooting can have under various systems. If owners don't agree with that valuation method, they might be quick to pitch a guy like Kawhi to the wire.
With minutes and production that will likely be spotty, owners will want to look toward last season when Leonard posted mid round value in 8- and 9-cat formats if you just rode the ups and downs. There will be panic on the downswings, and maybe there is even a chance he goes all Ersan Ilyasova on everybody, but the blueprint for his success is in place and he theoretically he should improve.
Of course, the ageless one Tim Duncan (owner of the league’s longest streak of 20 games with a block) couldn’t be slowed down by Larry Sanders (owner of the league’s second longest streak of 17 games with a block). Duncan scored 28 points with 13 rebounds, six assists, one steal, and three blocks, and it’s probably well past time to assume that his current production is to be expected on a per-minute basis going forward. I’m sure most of you have already made that assumption, but I don’t know that I’ve said it outright like that so there it is. Yes, he will have his minutes clipped eventually and the DNPs will come later on in the year, but the overall maturation of the Spurs’ offense has created a dynamic in which Duncan is a stat machine. Tony Parker added 23 points with 11 assists, Danny Green hit three treys for nine points, and Manu Ginobili had 16 points, two threes, and six assists to round out the rest of the standard league assets.
I tweeted out a supposed interview with Ersan Ilyasova yesterday, and the only reason I say ‘supposed’ is that I haven’t had the time to vet it out. It’s translated so it’s possible something got lost in translation, but he basically talks about how the lack of playing time has impacted his consistency. I wouldn’t call it the worst bit of complaining I’ve ever seen, and maybe he has the right to complain – it’s hard to say whether his season is the chicken or the egg. In a touchy situation I can say with confidence that this sort of thing will not help matters with drill sergeant Scott Skiles, and neither will ‘bad Ilyasova’ showing up with three points on 1-of-5 shooting, 10 boards, one block, and one three as it did last night. Yes, there are redeeming qualities to this line if you squint real hard, but with John Henson hitting 10-of-11 shots for 20 points, nine boards, one steal, and one block it’s not time to claim moral victories if you’re Ilyasova. Larry Sanders is still beasting, too, so the margin for error is small for the Bucks’ big offseason transaction. I’m still holding in my 12-team leagues, but this could be the weekend that I drop him before FAAB deadlines hit late Sunday night.
Brandon Jennings scored 31 points on 13-of-26 shooting with five assists, one steal, and two blocks, and he’s still a top 20-30 player in 8- and 9-cat leagues despite shooting just a hair over 40 percent so far on the year. Mike Dunleavy scored 19 points off the bench with three treys and a steal, and the inconsistent and injury-prone bench player is a mid-to-late round value in those formats on the season. Give him a look but don’t get too attached.
I’m not going to move on Henson at all unless he strings together a few good outings, and to string together a totally unrelated idea I’m going to express disappointment that Sanders (six points, nine boards, four blocks) isn’t getting Defensive Player of the Year consideration. I don’t even know that the race is close right now, and though it’s early and he is an unknown playing in Packer town, I’d think that equates to him being on the short list at least.
Take a Seat
It didn’t take long for Eric Gordon and/or the Hornets to institute the two-game showoff plan, as Gordon sat out the second game of the back-to-back last night against the Rockets. I say this tongue-in-cheek because of talk that he may want out of New Orleans and is eligible to be traded on January 15, but that still seems like an unlikely scenario so I’m mostly kidding. I think. Monty Williams made comments to the effect that this was a unique game on the schedule and an opportunity to rest, so we’ll give him this one before raising a ton of red flags.
Try as they might the Hornets didn’t have the firepower to match up with the 18-14 Rockets, though Greivis Vasquez (15 points, 14 assists) was able to keep his turnovers (two) down and Ryan Anderson scored an inefficient 18 points on 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting with a full stat line by his standards. Anthony Davis scored eight points on 4-of-11 shooting with seven rebounds and one block in 27 minutes. It’s an interesting light workload, but any panic involving Davis should be a welcome sight for competing owners. He’s a stud right now and is only going to get better. There was an Al-Farouq Aminu (eight points, eight rebounds, 31 minutes) sighting, but let’s wait and see him do it again before paying him much attention.
The Rockets are a fun fantasy team right now with James Harden (31 points, seven assists), Jeremy Lin (nine points, six rebounds, seven assists), and Chandler Parsons (10 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block) each producing at their respective valuations on most nights. Patrick Patterson made some noise with 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 10 rebounds, two assists, and one triple in 23 minutes off the bench, while starter Marcus Morris had just five points on 2-of-7 shooting (including a three) with four rebounds and one steal in 21 minutes.
Patterson is definitely the guy to own between the two, and I’d give him a look in standard leagues but I’m not yet cutting a player with solid late-round value to get him. Omer Asik scored 21 points with eight rebounds and a block, and as long as you’re punting in his deficient areas he’s a useful player. If not, you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. Carlos Delfino backed up his season-high 22 points from Monday with two points on 1-of-6 shooting last night, which is the life of a streaky bench shooter in a nutshell. If he can finish his four-game week with the average of those two nights then it’ll be a win for owners spot-starting him.
Did Somebody Call a Shot Doctor?
The Wolves landed in Utah with Ricky Rubio (back) out and Kevin Love struggling mightily with his shot. At this point, I’m not ruling out that his issues could be mental, as an issue of this duration would likely be cured with extended rest if his hand was truly bothering him. He also looks tentative and teams are sagging off of him big time now, which can also get into a struggling player’s head, too. Love hit just 4-of-14 shots for 13 points last night, but did add 10 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two blocks. I don’t think owners should sell here, as he is all but guaranteed to bounce back eventually. In the meantime, even if you wanted to get out of the Love business there would be better times to make the pitch.
Change the Song
The Mo Williams (thumb) news came right before the game and he is going to be out indefinitely with a splint on it for at least six weeks. I discussed this in yesterday’s Dose, and while there wasn’t a transformational moment the entire Jazz offense got involved in a cohesive effort that wasn’t just pounding the ball into Al Jefferson (12 points, five boards, four blocks). That methodology had led to a lot of slumping players, and last night at a minimum the offense got loose. Jamaal Tinsley scored 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting with six rebounds and three assists, Paul Millsap scored 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting with three assists, three steals, and one block. Earl Watson handed out nine assists to go with two points and four boards in 24 minutes off the bench, and Gordon Hayward scored 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting with three treys and three rebounds.
There were some fluky peripherals such as Millsap’s zero rebounds, Hayward’s lack of anything put points, threes, and boards, and Tinsley’s low assist-count to name a few, but the Jazz needed a game in which everybody got involved and that happened tonight. Randy Foye hit just 1-of-4 shot attempts for four points, as he is the player the Jazz use to space the floor for Big Al. Derrick Favors scored eight points on 4-of-6 shooting with six rebounds and three blocks in just 16 minutes, and the entire frontcourt could see a few extra minutes if Enes Kanter (15 points, eight assists, 20 minutes) misses any time with his ankle injury.
Overall, nobody’s fantasy story changed too much tonight, but an expansion of offensive creativity could be good for the team across the board. Tinsley is worth a hard look if you need a point guard, Hayward should be held in most instances, Favors is a must-own player in most formats in my book, and Foye is worth watching at a minimum with Williams out long-term.
The Sixers certainly aren’t the team they were last season, and last night it showed as they lost to a Suns squad that changes its offensive philosophy every night and has problems up and down the roster. Of course, it was letdown central after beating the Lakers the night before. Jrue Holiday had his first triple-double of the year with 16 points on 6-of-16 shooting, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and two blocks, but the six turnovers were a blast from the recent past and the overall inefficiency contributed to the loss. Jason Richardson (back) still isn’t right, as he put up just four points on 2-of-4 shooting, and I’d probably hold through the rest of the week, at least. If you’re in a shallow league staring at a solid free agent, though, go ahead and make the move.
Evan Turner slowed down after Tuesday’s bounceback game, scoring 13 points on 6-of-16 shooting with just two rebounds and one assist to go with his two steals. Dorell Wright scored 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting (including two threes) with three rebounds and two assists in just under 30 minutes off the bench, and while he is playing well I’m not falling all over myself to grab a guy with some question marks that could easily operate in a timeshare. Spencer Hawes scored six points on 3-of-11 shooting with seven rebounds, three assists, and one block in 24 minutes off the bench, but if this is how his bad nights are going to go then owners looking for low-end production will likely come away happy. For this edition of ‘Today in Andrew Bynum,’ general manager Tony DiLeo said “there really is no update” on his return. Good luck with that, Philly.
Sunny Side Up
P.J. Tucker (10 points, six rebounds, 30 minutes) started for Shannon Brown (12 points, no threes, 6-of-12 FGs) for the second straight night, but at least Brown was able to give owners something after a goose egg on Monday. It’s unclear how the arrangement will work going forward, which is part of the flavor of owning Suns players these days. Goran Dragic had a nice night with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting with four rebounds, six assists, one steal, three blocks, and one 3-pointer, as did Marcin Gortat with 11 points, 14 boards, three assists, two steals, and one block.
Luis Scola has been hot lately, and he scored another 21 points last night to go with four rebounds, nine assists, two steals, and one block. I’m not going to sit here and tell you he’s in the clear, but he’s worth owning after his recent stretch. Jared Dudley (eight points, 3-of-8 FGs, 35 minutes) has slipped back into his invisible role, and it’s just plain weird how Alvin Gentry can’t insist upon an offensive strategy that yields any sort of consistency. As long as Dudley is getting those minutes, and unless this type of production doesn’t become a prolonged issue, I’m holding pretty tight.
Running Out of Fuel
The Clippers saw their 17-game winning streak end on Tuesday night, and they had to travel from Denver to the Bay for a game the Warriors were treating like a Super Bowl last night. I thought that getting a loss out of their system might help the Clippers last night, but they looked like a team that was physically and emotionally spent right from the jump. To add to that sentiment, Caron Butler (personal) did not play, Lamar Odom played through a foot injury, and Eric Bledsoe continues to get right after dealing with a hip ailment.
Chris Paul scored 23 points on 6-of-12 shooting with four rebounds, six assists, and two steals, but he looked tentative at times as did his teammates. DeAndre Jordan scored four points with four rebounds and one block in 22 minutes, and Blake Griffin hit just 2-of-11 shots for 10 points, six boards, two assists, three steals, and two blocks. Matt Barnes started for Butler and had a nice return home to Oracle with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting, two threes, seven boards, and three assists as his solid season continues. Jamal Crawford scored 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting with four treys, five assists, and two steals, and Odom had four points, nine boards, four assists, two steals, and one block. Odom has been putting up borderline value in 12-14 team formats over the past two weeks, and is worth a look in 14-16 team formats while that is the case.
There was a throwaway report from Ric Bucher last night that Chauncey Billups (foot) and Grant Hill (knee) could return at any time if they wished, but because the Clippers were winning and because both players are being saved for the stretch run that they’re just taking time off. The Clips get the Lakers on Friday in a battle for Los Angeles, and a rematch with the Warriors there the following night, which will be their fifth game in seven nights.
The Schedule Gods
The schedule gods certainly favor the Warriors, as they got to tear through an easy schedule to start the season and now they’re catching tough teams in good spots. Still though, it’s hard not to get excited as a Warriors fan. I said I’d weigh in at the end of this stretch of about 10-12 more games, but being honest I still haven’t seen that signature win yet. Their win over the Heat was sullied by lackadaisical play from the champs, and I could go on and on but the point is that they need to be in a dogfight with a top team and come away on top before I’ll guarantee their playoff spot.
Stephen Curry was spectacular with 31 points on 11-of-16 shooting, six threes, six rebounds, eight assists, and two steals, Klay Thompson hit five treys and put up 19 points, David Lee scored 24 points with 13 rebounds, seven assists, and two steals, Jarrett Jack posted an 11-5-5 line off the bench, Harrison Barnes scored 13 points with nine boards, four assists, one steal, and one block, and Carl Landry saw 28 minutes with seven points, seven boards, and two steals to show for it. This was a game in which everything went Golden State’s way, so make your evaluations appropriately. When the Warriors need defense, these solidifying rotations could get all shook up, which is just about the only thing I worry about when it comes to the core players’ fantasy values these days.
Thursday Night Lights
SA @ NYK: Amare Stoudemire is looking at the same 15-18 minutes he got in his debut on Monday, and it appears he’ll be on a minute limit for at least a week. I’m not going to cut him too much slack here, but for now if you added him you should be giving him at least this week and probably the next one, too.
MIN @ DEN: Ty Lawson’s owners got some good news when it was reported that his Achilles’ injury wasn’t overly serious. He is a game-time decision for tonight’s game, and the trio of Andre Miller, Andre Iguodala, and Corey Brewer all stand to benefit if he can’t go. Ricky Rubio won’t play so that’ll ease things up for Luke Ridnour, Alexey Shved, and J.J. Barea. Kevin Love’s shooting slump will be on display for all the world to see on national TV, so maybe we’ll get some more information about how and why it is happening.
I’ll be chatting later tonight so see you guys there!
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