Two things you can't deny: the Pacers desperately need his production and he's got some ability. His season per-game rank is 127th, so he's been worth carrying in standard leagues through the ups-and-downs (per-game averages include 10.9 points, 49% FG, 5.9 boards, and 1.7 blocks). His current ownership level of 55 percent will (and should) spike a bit after Tuesday's performance - a hypothetical scenario where he shows gradual improvements as the season progresses shouldn't be thought of as impossible. Over the past five games, he's averaged 19.4 points, 7.4 boards, 3.6 assists, 2 turnovers, and 2 blocks in 29 minutes.
• The Pacers got it done with defense against the Magic, who shot just 43 percent and had 12 assists versus 19 turnovers. That made up for another poor offensive night for Mike Dunleavy (4-of-13 FG, 1-of-5 3PT) and Earl Watson(notes) (6 points, 4 assists). Luther Head(notes) scored 18 points in 31 minutes (averaging 21.8 over the past four games), while Brandon Rush(notes) was strong as a reserve (33 minutes, 12 points, 2 threes, 7 boards, 4 steals). It may be a coincidence, but the team is now 2-1 in three games since deactivating T.J. Ford(notes).
• Maybe it would have been a better idea for Vince Carter(notes) to sit out Tuesday's game and let his ankle sprain heal. He went 2-for-15 in his 24 minutes and was a -14 in the 97-90 loss to the Pacers.
• The Kirk Hinrich(notes)/John Salmons role swap has been a mixed bag for fantasy purposes. Hinrich's shot was off Tuesday (4-of-13) but the couting stats were good (35 minutes, 12 points, 2 threes, 7 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 steal), while Salmons had a nice overall line (30 minutes, 19 points, 3 threes, 7 boards, 3 assists, 3 turnovers, 1 steal). That's been the story for Hinrich in general in six games since the switch, while Salmons has sacrificed an overall line for a spike in his shooting percentage.
Hinrich: 34 minutes, 10.8 pts (38% FG), 1.8 3pt, 4.3 reb, 5.7 ast, 1.2 to, 1.3 stl
Salmons: 26 minutes, 12.3 pts (48% FG), 1.8 3pt, 2.3 reb, 2 ast, 1 to, 0.7 stl, 0.2 blk
Salmons isn't likely to top 30 minutes often as a reserve, with Derrick Rose(notes) and Luol Deng(notes) locked in at the one and three. It's not an ideal situation, but he's still going to be useful for fantasy and a Hinrich trade isn't out of the question as the trade deadline approaches. Of course, a trade would have to not net a starting shooting guard for Salmons to be positively affected.• I'm fine with Boris Diaw(notes) only scoring five points when he supports it with four boards, six assists, two steals, and five blocks, but Tuesday's performance has quite clearly been the exception since Stephen Jackson(notes) arrived. Diaw had a recent six-game stretch where he didn't record a steal or block, he failed to score in 38 minutes on Sunday, and hasn't reached double-figures since December 11 (13 games).
• Meanwhile, Raymond Felton(notes) continues to be an absolute fantasy monster, and Tuesday's stellar line (17 points, 2 threes, 4 boards, 6 assists, 4 turnovers, 2 steals) was par for the recent course. He's posted a top-20 impact over his past 20 games, averaging 14.8 points on 54-percent shooting, 1 three, 86-percent foul shooting, 3.4 boards, 5.3 assists, 2.1 turnovers, and 2.2 steals in 35 minutes. Clearly S-Jax is creating turnover situations on defense and better looks for Felton, a career 41-percent shooter (32% 3PT).
• Gilbert Arenas(notes) won the battle of the NBA headline generators Tuesday, scoring 19 points and dishing a season-high 14 assists in the 104-97 win over Allen Iverson(notes) and the 76ers. Iverson went 2-for-6 from the floor (4 points) and had seven turnovers in 34 minutes. Not much new to report on the Arenas suspension-or-not front other than that he pretended to shoot his teammates during pregame festivities Tuesday and said David "Stern is mean" after the game.
• As for other notable Wizards, Mike Miller(notes) wasn't quite ready to return Tuesday and Brendan Haywood(notes) missed the game because of is thought to be a stomach flu. He should recover fairly quickly. Andray Blatche(notes) made his second consecutive start (38 points, 12 points, 3 boards, 3 assists, 5 turnovers, 1 steal, 2 blocks) but will likely give way to Miller in the starting five in fairly short order.
• Samuel Dalembert(notes) took full advantage of Hawood's absence, but was not in an active roster spot in rougly half of Yahoo! leagues for his 20-point, 20-rebound performance Tuesday. He entered the contest having averaged 5.2 points and 7.3 boards in 19 minutes over his previous nine games. As you might expect, Elton Brand(notes) (24 minutes, 9 points, 1 board, 1 block) and Marreese Speights(notes) (12 minutes, 5 points, 5 boards) were largely spectators as Eddie Jordan deferred to the hot hand. Speights has been consistently marginalized of late, averaging just 16 minutes over the past seven games (7.1 points, 2.7 boards).
• Milwaukee's bench did the heavy lifting in the 98-76 win over the Nets, as the starters averaged 21 minutes and scored 45 total points. Carlos Delfino(notes) showed his first signs of life in a few weeks, scoring 17 points and adding five boards, three assists, and three steals in 37 minutes. Luke Ridnour(notes) reached double figures for the fifth consecutive game (24 minutes, 11 points, 1 three, 5 assists, 2 steals).
• Yi Jianlian(notes) was the lone bright spot for the Nets, making seven of 12 shots (58%) while his teammates combined to make 18 of 54 (33%). In six games since returning from injury, Yi has averaged 20.5 points on 49-percent shooting, 0.8 threes, 7.2 free throws, 6.3 boards, 1.3 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 37 minutes. He's also totaled just one assist (10 turnovers) in the six games, something of a trend for the Nets in general.• Charlie Villanueva(notes) played significantly more minutes than Jonas Jerebko(notes) for the second consecutive night, scoring 17 points (4 threes) and grabbing nine boards in 28 minutes against the Mavs. If Charlie V can get and stay healthy, he's going to produce fantasy numbers, and this game is certainly a good sign.The same can't be said for the Pistons in general, as they've now dropped 10 games in a row.
• Drew Gooden(notes) had 10 points and a season-high 18 boards in 33 minutes, his second consecutive start in place of the injured Erick Dampier(notes). Damp has been sidelined by left knee inflammation, although the injury is not considered serious.
• It's hard to find a more fantasy-friendly box score than the one that resulted from Denver's 123-122 win over the Warriors. Andris Biedrins'(notes) fantasy owners might disagree, but they need to keep in mind that it's an uphill battle coming back from his type of injury (osteitis pubis). A bit more patience in the present should be rewarded over the long term.
• This just in: Ty Lawson(notes) can play. Over his past six starts, he's averaged 18.5 points on 58-percent shooting, 1 three, 6.8 assists, 1.8 turnovers, and 1.3 steals. Chauncey Billups(notes) is currently questionable for Friday (as is Carmelo Anthony(notes)). Lawson sprained his left ankle Tuesday and is day-to-day. Chris Andersen(notes) (ankle) is likely out for a few more games.
• O.J. Mayo(notes) put the fallout from his stint at USC behind him Tuesday, going for 27 points and four threes in the 109-105 win over the Blazers. His scoring has been trending upward, and he's averaged 20.1 points and 1.9 threes over the past month.
• Andre Miller(notes) has been logging heavy minutes since Steve Blake(notes) went down with pneumonia, and the production has followed suit. He went for another double-double Tuesday (16 points, 10 boards, 4 assists, 4 turnovers) and has averaged 20.3 points, 6 boards, 8.7 assists, 4 turnovers, and 1.3 steals in 39 minutes over the past three games. Martell Webster(notes) has been filling it up from long range in Blake's absence - he made five of 11 threes Tuesday (21 points) and has averaged 22.3 points on 56-percent shooting, 4.7 threes, 6.7 boards, 1.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks in 42 minutes over the past three games.
• Juwan Howard(notes) has at least been useful since Joel Przybilla(notes) was lost to injury. Over the past eight games, he's averaged 10.4 points on 59-percent shooting, 7 boards, and 1.1 steals-plus-blocks. The specifics regarding the Blazers' plans around the trade deadline (trade Andre Miller? acquire a center?) remain a mystery, however.
• The Kings got big games from Tyreke Evans(notes) (27 points, 11 boards, 7 assists, 2 steals, 1 block), Omir Casspi (24 points, 3 threes, 7 boards), and Jason Thompson(notes) (14 points, 10 boards, 2 steals, 2 blocks) but fell just short against the Suns (113-109).• Francisco Garcia(notes) practiced for the first time since breaking his wrist Monday, although he's still not slated to return to game action until late January at the earliest. Things won't be huge bench minutes available at the 2/3 for the Kings and the damage was to his shooting wrist, so I'm not overly-confident that he's going to make a substantial impact this season, but his status is absolutely worth monitoring.
• Jason Richardson(notes) scored 20 points (2 threes) and added nine boards in 33 minutes against the Kings. He's been losing playing time and scoring opportunities to the Suns' deep bench in recent weeks, but he's also been dealing with a hand injury that has limited his effectiveness. I have faith in his showing a bit more consistency once he gets back to 100 percent.
• There weren't a lot of pretty numbers in the Lakers' 88-79 win over the Rockets, but a few nice lines can be found in the rough. The highlights were Lamar Odom(notes) nearly notching for a triple-double (17 points, 19 boards, 9 assists), Andrew Bynum(notes) having a big game in Pau Gasol's(notes) absence (24 points, 8 boards, 2 steal, 1 block), and Carl Landry(notes) delivering his usual level of production (31 minutes, 19 points, 6 boards, 1 steal, 1 block). Gasol is almost certainly out Wednesday, as well.
• Celtics updates: Paul Pierce(notes) (knee) was a participant in most of Tuesday's practice and, barring a setback, should be in the lineup Wednesday. Rajon Rondo(notes) (hamstring) is "merely possible" for the game. Kevin Garnett(notes) (knee) remains out.
• Jermaine O'Neal(notes) missed Monday's game with nagging groin and hip flexor issues that have been bothering him the last couple of weeks. He was undergoing treatments Tuesday with the hope that he'd be back in the lineup Wednesday, but his status won't be known until closer to game time.
• Deron Williams(notes) will be a game-time decision Wednesday after suffering a bruised and sprained right wrist on Monday night. X-rays were negative but he missed Tuesday's practice and was scheduled to undergo an MRI. Look for updates Wednesday - Ronnie Price(notes) would likely get the start if Deron can't go.
• Jose Calderon(notes) practiced Tuesday and will return to the Raptors' active roster Wednesday as a reserve. Jay Triano said he'll stick with Jarrett Jack(notes) as the starter for now and monitor Calderon to "see where he's at" before considering any changes to the current starting five. Jack averaged just over 25 minutes in his 22 games as a reserve, a pretty good estimate for Calderon's initial role.
• Rafer Alston(notes) has been bought out by the Nets and will sign with the Heat, where it is assumed he will take over as the starter (at least eventually). Although he won't be able to sign until Thursday (after he clears waivers), we could get a clearer picture of the Heat's plans at point guard before that, as Carlos Arroyo's(notes) contract will become guaranteed for the remainder of the season if he is not released by 5pm Wednesday. Alston certainly deserves immediate deep-league consideration, but standard leaguers should take note that he's a career 38-percent shooter and is down to 34 percent so far this season. He should provide some threes, assists, and steals with steady minutes for the Heat, but efficiency has never been a strong point for the 33-year-old.
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