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Phil Londen

Court Report: Boiling Point

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Monday night’s four games featured interesting storylines and some truly rowdy moments. There were also a few developments involving players that had the night off, or, in a couple of cases, the season off.

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If you had to select one adjective to describe Washington’s matchup with the Heat before Monday night’s game started I guarantee you would not have chosen the word rowdy. But rowdy it was. Hilton Armstrong(notes) got ejected (flagrant-two foul) for pushing Joel Anthony(notes) to prevent an uncontested layup a la Elton Brand(notes) on JaVale McGee(notes). Juwan Howard(notes) received his second technical foul, and the corresponding trip to the locker room, for pushing Armstrong as he attempted to rush over and help Joel Anthony up. Kirk Hinrich(notes) and James Jones(notes) exchanged words in the third quarter, with both players getting T-ed up as a result. Trevor Booker(notes) got hit with a flagrant-one foul in the last four minutes of the game, while it appeared Alonzo Gee(notes) actually deserved the flagrant foul instead of Booker. This game teetered on the precipice of pandemonium for portions of the second half and certainly made for some entertaining basketball.

For the Wizards, McGee played despite back and neck soreness, but came off the bench allowing Hilton Armstrong to start. Armstrong contributed next to nothing in terms of fantasy production (4 rebounds, 1 steal) but did provide aforementioned excitement for the basketball community. For that Hilton, we thank you. Andray Blatche(notes) (26 points, 9 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block) and McGee (10 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks) handled most of the heavy lifting for the Wizards in the paint.

The unsung hero for Washington this season, however, has really been the play of Gilbert Arenas(notes), who scored 23 points, three threes, five rebounds and seven assists against Miami Monday night. Agent Zero’s ADP was about 65th overall this season, making his per game production on the season (66th overall) pretty much a wash. However, Arenas has been good for 44th overall in per game value over the past two weeks and 21st in per game value over the past week. For the amount of heat Gilbert took during the gun scandal and through his various knee injuries, it is really nice to see Arenas sharing the spotlight with John Wall(notes) and playing well. His contract might not be unmovable after all.

It is pretty much the same old story out of Miami in this one. The Heat beat up on a bad Eastern Conference team on strong play from their triumvirate of superstars, while receiving lackluster production elsewhere. Apparently filling out almost your entire roster with veteran minimum contracts leaves something to be desired when it comes to the production from role players. Dwyane Wade(notes) (26 points, 10-10 FT, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 2 turnovers), LeBron James(notes) (30 points, 10-18 FG, 1-1 3PT, 9-11 FT, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 7 turnovers) and Chris Bosh(notes) (20 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 4 turnovers) all played well while virtually all other Heat players played poorly.

The main storyline of the Thunder-Hornets game was the return of the team that used to play in Oklahoma City for a while to the Ford Center to face the team that recently resettled there. For the Thunder, Nenad Krstic(notes) returned to action after missing two games with back spasms, forcing Serge Ibaka(notes) a-back-a to the bench. However, Nenad only saw 17 minutes of action compared to Ibaka’s 31 minutes of action, although you wouldn’t necessarily know it by comparing their scoring totals (three points for Krstic compared to zero points for Serge). Nick Collison(notes) actually outscored both players combined with seven points in 18 minutes of action.

Thabo Sefolosha(notes) stayed extremely hot for the Thunder, as he was flawless from the field (4-4 FG), three-point range (2-2 3PT) and the line (3-3 FT) on his way to 13 points. Sefolosha’s recent production has actually been useful in most formats.

The New Orleans Hornets played as expected against the Thunder, with all five starters scoring in double figures. Chris Paul’s(notes) five steals were a nice bonus to compliment his 17 points and 14 assists. David West(notes) contributed 20 points and 7 rebounds despite getting poked in the eye towards the end of the fourth quarter and getting shut down by the Durantula on defense. West missed both free throws with one eye closed and headed to the locker room. West eventually finished the game on the bench.

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Jarrett Jack’s(notes) fantasy run is officially and definitely over (13 minutes, 3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists), unless Chris Paul goes down for an extended period of time. However, nostalgic owners (38 percent owned) are still clinging to Jack, hoping he might somehow emerge from the trade out of Toronto with some semblance of fantasy value. Time to cut bait.

Despite a final score of 101 to 91 in the Mavericks’ favor, Dallas’ victory over the Houston Rockets was lopsided thanks to a third quarter run, leading to plenty of garbage time that featured both teams going 12 deep with their rotations. As always, don’t read too much into production derived from garbage time.

Luis Scola(notes) picked up two quick fouls but ended up narrowly avoiding a disastrous game (15 points, 5 rebounds). Kevin Martin(notes) scored 17 points without contributing much else. The remaining starters all played poorly, extending Houston’s nightmare season to 5-12 and legitimately bringing Daryl Morey’s and Rick Adelman’s jobs into question. Brad Miller(notes) (11 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks), Jordan Hill(notes) (10 points, 8 rebounds) and Courtney Lee(notes) (13 points, 3 threes, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers) were the primary contributors off of the bench but cannot be counted on for consistent production moving forward.

Caron Butler(notes) followed up a 23-point performance on Saturday night with 19 points against the Rockets, including a stretch where Tough Juice scored 11 straight points in the third quarter. While the scoring is returning, the supporting stats in the last two games leave something to be desired (2 threes, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal). Butler’s season has been disappointing through the first five weeks, making him either a bust or a solid buy-low target. Butler is feeling more like a bust than buy-low target on this stacked Dallas squad.

Seeing Dirk Nowitzki(notes) tally 20 points in a game is not uncommon at all. However, Dirk cruised to the 20-point mark without attempting even a single free throw on Monday night. He also rejected three shots and collected ten boards in less than 30 minutes of court time. Not a bad line from the fantasy stalwart.

Shawn Marion(notes) also double doubled off the bench (14 points, 10 rebounds) for Rick Carlisle, but the Matrix failed to provide the across-the-board production that used to be his calling card.

Brandon Jennings(notes) led the Bucks in scoring on Monday night with 27 points, but couldn’t will his team to victory over the Utah Jazz. The Bucks were without Andrew Bogut(notes), Drew Gooden(notes), Carlos Delfino(notes) and Corey Maggette(notes). Frankly, the Bucks struggled from the floor (shot 35 percent as a team), with no player shooting worse than John Salmons(notes) (1-11 FG). For those who have forgotten, Salmons started last season extremely slowly but really turned it on down the stretch. Check out his pre-All-Star break splits (12.8 points, 42 FG%, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists) compared to his post-All-Star break splits (19.6 points, 47 FG%, 3.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists) from last season. Salmons can be bought for next to nothing right now, and could replicate his awesome post-All-Star break boost.

Besides Jennings, there were two other bright spots in this loss for Milwaukee: Chris Douglas-Roberts(notes) and Ersan Ilyasova(notes). CDR’s second game of the season was solid offensively (19 points, 5-12 FG, 3-5 3PT, 6-9 FT, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 2 turnovers), which is exactly what Milwaukee needs. Ilyasova also put up another useful line (18 points, 6-10 FG, 2-4 3PT, 4-4 FT, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 turnovers). CDR, Ilyasova and Jennings combined for nearly three-quarters of Milwaukee’s point total.

Deron Williams(notes) (22 points, 10 assists) and Al Jefferson(notes) (22 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks) both double-doubled while C.J. Miles(notes) cooled, scoring only six points. Paul Millsap(notes) also had a quiet night, ending with eight points, nine rebounds and four assists. Utah’s fantasy situation remains relatively static, with Williams, Jefferson, Millsap and Andrei Kirilenko(notes) deserving universal ownership, and Miles being on the fringe of fantasy relevance with his inconsistent play.

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In former Utah Jazz news, Carlos Boozer’s(notes) first practice session on Monday can only be labeled an unqualified success at this point. So much so, in fact, that the Boozer is now considered a gametime decision for Wednesday’s matchup against the Orlando Magic. Whether or not Boozer sees court time on Wednesday will depend upon how his hand feels on Wednesday, leaving the final decision in Boozer’s hands.

There was a decent amount of turmoil in Sacramento over the past 24 hours. Hassan Whiteside(notes) was assigned to the D-League. Antoine Wright(notes) was waived. DeMarcus Cousins(notes) was tossed out of practice. And most notably for fantasy purposes, Jason Thompson(notes) was promoted into the starting lineup at the expense of Carl Landry(notes). Paul Westphal is officially the most frustrating coach in the NBA with Don Nelson no longer gainfully employed. Just hope Westphal becomes one of the casualties of all of this upheaval.

The latest news out of Los Angeles puts Andrew Bynum’s(notes) return to action earlier than expected, at two-and-a-half weeks from now instead of three weeks as originally announced this weekend. However, this feels like complete spin since the timeline went from being three weeks later than initially expected (Thanksgiving) to two-and-a-half weeks later than initially expected. Consider Bynum’s return less overdue than we thought it would be this weekend, but still overdue.

Joel Przybilla(notes) is likely to make his season debut for the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday against the Washington Wizards. This could not come at a better time for the demoralized and battered Blazers.

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