• Chauncey Billups could be out "a couple games" after suffering a strained left groin on Wednesday. He'll have an MRI Thursday to determine the extent of the injury. Anthony Carter(notes), not Ty Lawson(notes), is expected to get starts if Billups does miss time, but Lawson should play plenty and would be the preferable roster add. In 15 games where Lawson has seen at least 20 minutes of playing time, he's averaged 9.9 points on 51-percent shooting, 0.5 threes, 4.2 assists, 1.3 turnovers, and 0.9 steals. He's worth the deep-league look through the weekend (Friday @NOR, Saturday @MEM) and would gain standard league relevance in the unlikely event that Billups needs extended time off.
• Rudy Gay left Wednesday's blowout loss to the Hawks with a sprained ankle, but said that he could have returned if the score were closer. Keep tabs here but he should be good to go Friday (IND).
• A few Bulls injuries to monitor: Derrick Rose is laboring with a strained right rib cage and Joakim Noah has been playing with rotator cuff tendinitis for a couple of weeks. Both players recently received cortisone shots to help them play through the pain.
• Marreese Speights(notes) returned Wednesday after a month off to deal with a partial tear of his left MCL, turning in a fairly standard line (22 minutes, 14 points, 4 boards, 1 steal). As for the other bigs: Elton Brand(notes) got plenty of run as the team's sixth man (33 points, 11 points, 7 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block), while starter Samuel Dalembert(notes) played just 14 minutes (0 points, 8 boards, 2 blocks). The only expectation I have for this trio moving forward is inconsistency in minutes and production, as Eddie Jordan is going to continue to mix things up generally (big vs small) and specifically (as in, specific players). Their current per-game numbers are actually a pretty good guage of where I expect things to balance out overall.
• Elsewhere in Philly: Louis Williams(notes) had the wires removed from his broken jaw Wednesday and could practice with the team as soon as Thursday. Williams has been out three weeks and could be ahead of schedule, as he was expected to be out for up to two months. Williams has been projecting a Christmas return, although the team has yet to agree ... Allen Iverson will not play Friday after an MRI revealed that he has arthritis in his left knee, and he's also dealing with a bruised left shoulder. AI is expected to be in the lineup for the 76ers on Saturday, however.
• The Warriors have lost another big, as Mikki Moore will have surgery to remove bone spurs from his right heel and is out indefinitely. Valdimir Radmanovic got the start at center(!?) for the Warriors on Wednesday and managed one point (0-of-8 shooting) and one rebound in 25 minutes. Anthony Randolph(notes) had 11 points (3-of-10), four blocks, and three boards in 25 minutes off the bench. Andris Biedrins(notes) and Ronny Turiaf(notes) both seem to be another week or so away - I know, I know - and the team's upcoming matchups feature Brendan Haywood(notes), Marc Gasol(notes), and Emeka Okafor(notes) at center, so things aren't going to be easy for whoever Don Nelson annoints as his starting frontcourt over the next few games. I'd like to think that the reason Nelson continues to bring Randolph off the bench is to spare him a pounding against opposing starting centers, but that may be giving him too much credit.
• Larry Hughes(notes) could be out for a game or two with a left groin strain, but Mike D'Antoni has no plans to end Nate Robinson's(notes) run of DNP-CDs. Speculation is that Robinson's agent will issue a public trade demand in the coming days, but it's hard to see a potential deal here with the Knicks showing no interest in playing him and only wanting expiring contracts in return.
• Mario Chalmers(notes) came off the bench Tuesday after arriving late to the team's morning shootaround, but the demotion may last for more than the one game. Chalmers will be asked to earn his way back into the starting spot, with Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley both speaking of point guards needing to own something of a leadership role. It's doubtful that Carlos Arroyo(notes) will play well enough to hold Chalmers off, so you may want to give this a few games and see how he responds to the challenge before cutting him loose in your league.
• T.J. Ford(notes) notched his first double-double of the season Wednesday (15 points, 13 assists) and has been showing some signs of life lately (12.5 points on 48-percent shooting, 6.8 assists, 2 steals over the past four games). He's been a massive disappointment overall thus far, but could really be a fantasy difference-maker if he can start putting up some numbers consistently. And it'd be nice if he could do something to help get Dahntay Jones(notes) untracked - over the past seven games, Jones has averaged 7.7 points on 34-percent shooting, 3.3 boards, 1.7 assists, and 0.6 steals-plus-blocks in 29 minutes.
• Mike Dunleavy has played 26, 33, and 27 minutes over the past three games and, while he's showing no ill effects, will have his playing time monitored as the Pacers play two sets of back-to-backs over the next five days. Jim O'Brien said he'll give Dunleavy no more than 24 minutes in those games.
• Richard Hamilton(notes) did not play Wednesday after straining his right hamstring during Tuesday's game. He's currently day-to-day, as is Ben Gordon(notes), who missed his fifth straight game Wednesday because of a left ankle sprain.
• Before you get too excited about Maurice Evans'(notes) recent numbers (17 points, 3.5 threes over the past four games), be sure to consider the context. His role has also expanded while Marvin Williams(notes) has been slowed by flu-like symptoms and the Hawks have blown out four straight opponents, winning by an average of 23 points and giving Evans some tasty garbage-time looks (he's made 66% of 21 threes over the past four games).
• Still nothing new out of Toronto regarding Jose Calderon's(notes) hip flexor injury. It's very frustrating and I can't help but assume that no news is not good news in this case. At this point, he remains very questionable for Friday's game.
• Andrew Bynum's(notes) certainly has had no negative effect on Pau Gasol's(notes) numbers, and it's actually been quite the opposite. Wednesday was more of the same, as Gasol was huge (26 points, 22 boards, 4 assists, 4 blocks) and Bynum was pedestrian (8 points, 3 boards, 2 blocks). Bynum has averaged 13.1 points, 5.8 boards, and 1.6 blocks over the past 10 games, while Gasol has averaged 18 points, 12.8 boards, 4.1 assists, and 1.6 blocks over the same stretch, and their respective per-game ranks over the past month are 75th (Bynum) and sixth (Gasol).
• Omri Casspi(notes) got the start at power forward Wednesday for the Kings, pushing Jason Thompson(notes) to center and Spencer Hawes(notes) to the bench, with Paul Westphal explaining the move as a better way to match up with Antawn Jamison(notes). Jamison went for 30 in 41 minutes, but the Kings did win 112-109, so technically the move "worked". Casspi put together a solid line in 38 minutes (22 points, 2 threes, 5 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block). For what it's worth, Hawes (2 points, 2 boards) was second on the team with a +9 rating in just eight minutes of action.
But the bigger picture here is that the Kings are growing more confident in Casspi's skills by the day, while the disappointing Hawes is moving down the organization's list of priorities. Over his past 12 games, Casspi has averaged 14.2 points on 50-percent shooting, 1.5 threes, and 4.6 boards in 27 minutes - the line hasn't run much deeper than that, however, with 67-percent foul shooting, 1.3 assists, 1.3 turnovers, 0.4 steals, and 0.3 blocks. It's not news that Hawes has been up and down all season, and a move like this only serves to continue the trend (and could expedite Thompson's center eligibility).
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