The Pacers and Suns adjusted their respective starting lineups Friday, and the results were mixed.• Jim O'Brien went looking for a spark Friday by way of adjusting his starting five, a familiar course of action in Indy. Tyler Hansbrough(notes) came close to providing it in his 36 minutes against the Spurs, but his 23 points, 12 boards, and two blocks weren't quite enough as the Spurs rallied from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to win 90-87. Hansbrough immediately becomes a player of interest, with the caveats being that O'Brien is pulling the strings and Friday was the 52nd game of his NBA career. I feel obliged to mention his career per-36s here, because 16.1 points, 7.2 free throw attempts, and 9.6 boards are absolutely notable. Hansbrough has the knack for finding himself around the ball, but a tendency to have his shot blocked affects his field goal percentage. He's improved on that in his limited time this season, but is still well above the league average.
Hansbrough's big game ensures at least a trial run over the next few weeks, but nothing is a given here. Josh McRoberts(notes) has been officially doghoused and was a DNP-CD Friday, and he'll remain out of the rotation if Hansbrough goes on a run. Jeff Foster(notes) played only 12 minutes because Roy Hibbert(notes) was a +6 in his 36 minutes (10 points, 14 boards, 2 blocks), but the entire situation remains fluid. What would be ideal is that Hibbert and Hansbrough find the pairing mutually beneficial, and both players help spark the offensively-challenged Pacers. I'd be comfortable dropping Taj Gibson(notes) or Amir Johnson(notes) to take a chance on Hansbrough after this performance.
• Take Hansbrough's 10-of-19 out of the mix and the remaining Pacers shot just 33 percent in the loss, and the team made just one of 15 shots during their fourth quarter collapse. Hibbert made five of 17 shots overall, Danny Granger(notes) had another forgettable night (15 points, 6-14 FG, 3 treys, 4 boards, 3 turnovers), and Darren Collison(notes) was three-of-11 (12 points, 6-6 FT, 6 assists). The organization may reach panic mode if the current slide continues - they team is now 5-12 since December 1, averaging 90 points on offense during the slump. While they have amazingly remained in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings, only 3.5 games now separates them from 12th-place Detroit.
• The Spurs got just enough for the win by way of the usual suspects, namely Manu Ginobili(notes) (25 points, 3 treys, 4 assists, 3 steals) and Tim Duncan(notes) (15 points, 15 boards, 5 blocks). George Hill(notes) continued his strong play (16 points, 4 assists, 1 block) and played 37 minutes while Richard Jefferson(notes) dealt with foul trouble (20 minutes, 4 points, 4 fouls). DeJuan Blair(notes) struggled on offense in this one but provided other numbers (4 points, 2-7 FG, 9 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block).
• The Sixers' backcourt stole the show in their 105-99 win over the Bulls. Jrue Holiday(notes) continued his strong play with 19 points on eight-of-14 shooting, six assists, a steal, and a block in 39 minutes, although he also had six turnovers. Louis Williams(notes) scored 20 points in his 26 minutes (2 threes, 3 assists), and Jodie Meeks(notes) had one of his best offensive performances (42 minutes, 24 points, 8-11 FG, 4 threes, 3 assists). Meeks has been good for a big game every so often but has failed to make an impact as a starter in general. He'll return to the bench sometime next week, once Andre Iguodala(notes) is able to return from resting his Achilles.
• The Bulls lost despite the best efforts of Carlos Boozer(notes), who scored 31 points and added 13 rebounds, a steal, and a block. Derrick Rose(notes) also did his part (27 points, 10-10 FT, 9 assists, 3 steals) and Luol Deng(notes) added 22 points, but the rest of the team totaled just 19 points in 134 minutes.• Rashard Lewis(notes) came up big for the Wizards in their comfortable win over the Nets, logging a second straight double-double (16 points, 3 threes, 13 boards, 6 assists, 3 steals, 1 block). That's one of his best lines in recent memory, and he's now averaged 39 minutes, 14.2 points, 1.7 threes, 8.3 boards, 4 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.8 blocks over the past six games. Lewis may have downgraded from a standpoint of playoff position, but he's a veteran presence for the Wizards (he was preaching defense after the game) and is in a much better position when it comes to delivering fantasy stats.
• The Wizards won despite a poor shooting night from John Wall(notes) (5 points, 2-8 FG), and they did benefit from his nine assists and zero turnovers. That makes 23 assists and just one turnover in two games for Wall. Nick Young(notes) added 16 points, JaVale McGee(notes) had a very big game (34 minutes, 15 points, 7 boards, 6 blocks, 5 turnovers), and Andray Blatche(notes) added 14 points, seven boards, and two blocks … In the event that you are in a really, really deep league: Josh Howard(notes) will have his knee re-evaluated Monday.
• The Nets scored 77 points on 35-percent shooting, so the fantasy-related details are grim. Devin Harris(notes), Travis Outlaw(notes), and Sasha Vujacic(notes) combined to make three of 29 shots (10%). Harris played only 20 minutes because of a quad strain but he thinks he'll be ready to play Saturday. Derrick Favors(notes) had two fouls but played only 25 minutes (12 points, 6 boards, 2 blocks) as the Nets went deep into their bench in the blowout. The Wizards opened the game with a 21-3 run and led 30-13 at the end of the first quarter.
• The Celtics were never really threatened during their 122-102 win over the Raptors, so their vets to get some rest and Luke Harangody(notes) saw his first extended playing time of the season. Harangody scored 17 points in 27 minutes (8-11 FG, 1-1 3PT) and added 11 points and two blocks. Harangody was a hugely-successful college player and, while he lacks ideal size for the pros, it would not be a surprise if he is a rotation regular at some point in his career. The Celtics got good numbers from their key players despite the rest, including Paul Pierce(notes) (28 minutes, 20 points, 2 threes, 2 steals), Ray Allen(notes) (30 minutes, 17 points, 3 threes, 4 assists), and Rajon Rondo(notes) (26 minutes, 9 points, 1 three, 7 assists, 6 turnovers, 2 steals).
• Celtics' injury updates: an optimistic timeline for Kevin Garnett's(notes) return from his calf injury is this coming Monday or Wednesday … Kendrick Perkins(notes) expects to return within three weeks, but he's going to need time to get back to game speed and also will be in a platoon situation. It's very doubtful that he'll end up as relevant in standard leagues … Delonte West(notes) had his cast removed earlier in the week and is still a few weeks away from consideration for the C's active roster.
• DeMar DeRozan(notes) continues to see big minutes for the shorthanded Raptors, and he once again delivered offensive numbers (42 minutes, 20 points, 8-15 FG). DeRozan has averaged 18.3 points on 48-percent shooting in 35 minutes over the past 13 games, but middling supporting stats (0 threes, 78% FT, 3.5 boards, 1.8 assists, 2.3 turnovers, 1.1 steals, 0.6 blocks) have kept his overall impact in check. The expanded offensive impact is a good sign for this 21-year-old, but he'll need to expand the rest of his game to have more of an influence on the standings in fantasy leagues.
• The Raptors actually got solid production from most of their rotation regulars, seeing that they did score 102 points on 51-percent shooting. Notables included Jose Calderon(notes) (11 points, 4-6 FG, 9 assists, 2 steals), Andrea Bargnani(notes) (17 points, 2 steals, 2 blocks), Linas Kleiza(notes) (17 points, 2 threes, 6 boards), and Leandro Barbosa(notes) (26 minutes, 15 points, 3 treys, 7 assists). Amir Johnson (22 minutes, 10 points, 4-6 FG, 5 boards, 4 fouls) has now accumulated at least four fouls in five of the past six games and in 14 of 20 starts overall.• The Grizzlies totaled 17 steals and forced the Jazz into a season-high 23 turnovers in the 110-99 win Friday, with Tony Allen(notes) and Rudy Gay(notes) grabbing four each. Allen only played 23 minutes overall but has now averaged 3.5 steals, and 0.7 blocks in 26 minutes over the past six games, with the Grizz winning four of six. Allen's defensive impact is making it less likely by the game that Xavier Henry(notes) will return to the starting five, so Allen should get some more fantasy consideration, albeit as a true steals specialist. In 87 career starts, he's averaged 10.9 points on 49-percent shooting and 1.7 steals in 27 minutes.
• Memphis got its offense from Rudy Gay (28 points, 8-14 FG, 9-10 FT, 3 threes, 9 boards, 4 assists, 5 turnovers) and Zach Randolph(notes) (26 points, 10-18 FG, 11 boards). Marc Gasol(notes) (12 points, 4 boards, 4 blocks) and O.J. Mayo(notes) (29 minutes, 13 points, 2 steals) also contributed. Mike Conley(notes) was efficient (10 points, 4-8 FG, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 2 steals) but split minutes with Greivis Vasquez(notes) (24 minutes, 6 points, 7 assists, 2 steals).
• Deron Williams(notes) set the tone for the Jazz in the loss with some good (19 points, 8-8 FT, 3 treys, 6 assists, 2 steals) and some bad (4-13 FG, 5 turnovers). Al Jefferson(notes) actually turned in an excellent game (16 points, 13 boards, 4 assists, 5 blocks), while Paul Millsap(notes) was reasonably productive while still dealing with his bruised hip (20 points, 8 boards, 2 blocks).
• Wesley Matthews(notes) hasn't been struggling from the field lately but found Friday's matchup with the Timberwolves to be the tonic that was needed. Matthews had made just 33 percent of his shots over his previous six games, but hit seven of 10 threes and 10 of 18 shots overall en route to a career-high 36 points. He also added five rebounds and a steal, while making all nine of his foul shots. LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) continued his strong run of games, as well, scoring 28 points and grabbing 10 boards in 39 minutes, and Andre Miller(notes) double-doubled (16 points, 10 assists, 3 steals). On the down side, Nicolas Batum(notes) made just four of his 15 shots, while Rudy Fernandez(notes) was limited to 12 minutes because of illness (3 points, 1-5 FG).
• The T-Wolves got their production from typical sources: Kevin Love(notes) was massive (30 points, 10-15 FG, 7-7 FT, 3 treys, 19 boards), Luke Ridnour(notes) was solid (34 minutes, 10 points, 11 assists, 2 steals), and Michael Beasley(notes) did some things (17 points, 2 blocks). Darko Milicic(notes) dealt with foul trouble (17 minutes, 2 points, 2 boards, 4 fouls) and Wes Johnson(notes) was largely invisible (19 minutes, 0-3 FG). Anthony Tolliver(notes) returned after missing 14 games with a knee sprain, didn't show much rust (21 minutes, 10 points, 4-5 FG, 1 three, 1 steal, 1 block), and will immediately be in the mix for reserve forward minutes.
• The Magic are cruising and their 110-95 victory over the Rockets Friday was their eighth win in a row. Dwight Howard’s(notes) contributions were somewhat limited because of foul trouble (27 minutes, 13 points, 11 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 5 fouls), but five other players scored in double figures and the Magic shot 52 percent and made eight of 20 threes (40%) as a team. Jason Richardson(notes) and Brandon Bass(notes) each had 18 points, Ryan Anderson(notes) had 16 in 25 minutes (3 treys, 7 boards), Hedo Turkoglu(notes) had 12 and six assists, and Jameer Nelson(notes) had 10 and eight assists.
• The Rockets were doomed against the Magic by poor play at point guard and center. Kyle Lowry(notes), Courtney Lee(notes), and Ishmael Smith(notes) combined to miss all ten of their shot attempts in 50 minutes, while Jordan Hill(notes) and Brad Miller(notes) combined for eight points on three-of-11 shooting in 31 minutes. Kevin Martin(notes) had another big offensive game (27 points, 8-15 FG, 9-11 FT, 2 threes), but that was the extent of the real highlights. We did have a Terrence Williams(notes) sighting on this night – T-Will played 22 minutes and scored 11 points on four-of-11 shooting and hit a three.
• The Heat’s overtime win over the Bucks Friday wasn’t the prettiest – they shot 39 percent from the field and had 20 assists to 16 turnovers – but every win counts. The big three combined to make 18 of 58 shots (31%), but there were still counting stats to be had for LeBron James(notes) (26 points, 9-11 FT, 10 boards, 5 assists, 5 turnovers, 6 steals, 1 block), Dwyane Wade(notes) (14 points, 7 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals), and Chris Bosh(notes) (16 points, 12 boards). Carlos Arroyo(notes) reached double figures (36 minutes, 15 points) for the 11th time in 37 starts.• Chris Douglas-Roberts(notes) was the headliner for the Bucks in the tough loss – he scored 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting and added two threes, two steals, and four blocks in 41 minutes. CDR is not without his talents but I’m as optimistic about his chances for consistency as I am Corey Maggette’s.(notes) Maggette followed up 21 points on Wednesday with two points in seven minutes Friday. The Bucks got a huge hustle board effort from Andrew Bogut(notes) (27 boards, 3 steals, 2 blocks), but his offensive woes continued (12 points, 4-17 FG, 4-8 FT) and he desperately needs Brandon Jennings(notes) to return. Jennings is likely to be another week away, while Carlos Delfino(notes) could return to the active roster in two weeks.
• Alvin Gentry’s starting lineup Friday consisted of Steve Nash(notes), Vince Carter(notes), Mickael Pietrus(notes), Josh Childress(notes), and Grant Hill(notes). No, I’m not sure what Gentry was thinking, either. He played Marcin Gortat(notes) and Robin Lopez(notes) a total of 20 minutes, so it should not be a surprise that the Suns were an easy matchup on both ends of the court for the ever-assertive Knicks. We now know that starting a 38-year-old small forward at center isn’t the answer, but it’s the nightly overhaul of roles that seems like a bad idea in general. Gentry is working with a different kind of team than he’s used to and is clearly very far removed from his comfort zone. Something has got to give, as the Suns are now 3-11 over the past 14 games.
• The Knicks shot 50 percent from the field, made 52 percent of their threes (17-33), and outrebounded the Suns by 15 (59-34) in the 121-96 beatdown. Raymond Felton(notes) produced the first triple-double of his career (23 points, 10 boards, 11 assists) and hit five threes; Amar’e Stoudemire(notes) added 23 points, nine boards, and two blocks; Landry Fields(notes) didn’t miss a shot (6-6 FG, 2-2 3PT) and double-doubled (14 points, 10 boards); and Shawne Williams(notes) made a splash off the bench (26 minutes, 15 points, 4 threes, 3 steals, 2 blocks). Toney Douglas(notes) was a surprise starter on this night (22 minutes, 11 points, 3 treys), but it’s Williams who should continue to see the benefits while Danilo Gallinari(notes) misses some more games with a knee sprain.
• The Lakers appear to be settling in with their new rotation and got good production from all of their notables in the 101-97 win over the Hornets. Kobe Bryant(notes) led the way with 25 points, Pau Gasol(notes) filled it up all over (21 points, 13 boards, 7 assists, 2 steals), Andrew Bynum(notes) was in double figures once again (17 points, 3 blocks), and Lamar Odom(notes) double-doubled off the bench (31 minutes, 17 points, 13 boards, 2 blocks) … The Hornets leaned heavily on their starters, with the five players averaging 37 minutes. Trevor Ariza(notes) had a big game against his former team (17 points, 3 treys, 7 boards, 6 assists, 2 steals), while three players had double-doubles: David West(notes) (23 points, 12 boards), Emeka Okafor(notes) (13 points, 13 boards, 2 blocks), and Chris Paul(notes) (12 points, 10 assists). Paul matched his season low with six field goal attempts and failed to record a steal for just the fifth time in 37 games.
• The Warriors cruised to a comfortable 116-98 win over the hapless Cavs, getting big games from Monta Ellis(notes) (32 points, 8-8 FT, 4 threes, 10 assists, 6 turnovers, 3 steals), David Lee(notes) (22 points, 10-16 FG, 14 boards, 5 assists, 2 blocks), and Dorell Wright(notes) (20 points, 3 treys). Stephen Curry(notes) had 15 points in 25 minutes but didn’t play much in the second half after a hard fall on his left hip. There were no initial signs that the injury was serious, but he’ll be re-evaluated on Saturday.
• Cleveland’s loss was it’s 19th in 20 games. Anderson Varejao(notes) (ankle), Daniel Gibson(notes) (ankle), and Anthony Parker(notes) (back) were inactive, so the starting five included Manny Harris(notes) (36 minutes, 16 points, 10 boards, 3 steals), Alonzo Gee(notes) (25 minutes, 0-3 FG, 3 steals), and Ryan Hollins(notes) (16 minutes, 6 points). Bench production came by way of J.J. Hickson(notes) (32 minutes, 17 points, 5-13 FG, 9 boards, 0 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 steals, 1 block) and Ramon Sessions(notes) (28 minutes, 13 points, 5 assists, 1 steal). Varejao is out indefinitely, meaning that Hickson could be in for some steady minutes in the short-term.
• Looking ahead to Saturday: Dirk Nowitzki(notes) tested his ankle Thursday and didn’t like how it felt, so he’ll sit out another game … Gerald Wallace(notes) (ankle) will once again be out of the lineup for the Bobcats. Stephen Jackson(notes) (knee) is hoping to play but was limited in practice, while Tyrus Thomas(notes) missed practice Friday with a stomach illness and will have his status determined on Saturday.
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