There's not much else left to say about Raymond Felton's offensive game at this point. Thursday produced yet another "Felton-esque" line (24 minutes, 0 points, 0-7 FG, 2 assists, 5 turnovers), and after the game he let it be known that we should blame his poor performance on a lack of confidence from Nate McMillan:
"I know I'm struggling, but it's hard to perform the way you know how when you know they don't have confidence in you. Never in my days playing basketball, have I felt like a coach wasn't confident in my abilities. It's hard to play knowing that. Coming in and out of games is throwing my rhythm off, but it's something that I'll get through."
Of course, McMillan has stuck with Felton despite continued cries to turn to Jamal Crawford and despite Felton being one of the worst offensive performers in the league by any available metric. Crawford (30 minutes, 19 points) did play more than Felton on Thursday, but it's been a rarity to this point, and Crawford's ideal role is clearly as sixth man. McMillan would like nothing more than to not have to install Crawford as the starter, but at this point he may have no choice. Through all of his troubles, Felton is somehow still rostered in 89 percent of leagues, and that needs to change. To put his terrible fantasy impact in context, via Basketball Monster: if you punt FG%, scoring, and turnovers, he's still only delivered a seventh-round impact.
• Brook Lopez has been upgraded to questionable by the Nets for Saturday's matchup with the Bulls. Lopez says he's ready to play, but the team figures to handle him carefully if he is activated, given that they are entering a back-to-back-to-back set (Sat @CHI, Sun MIL, Mon @NYK). In any case, Lopez should get back on rosters wherever he's available (74% owned), and we should see him start rounding back into shape after the All-Star break, heading into March. Say what you want about Lopez's rebounding numbers in 2010-11 - he did manage to average 20.4 points (49% FG, 79% FT) and 1.5 blocks and will have Deron Williams setting up his looks the rest of the way in the current season.
• Scott Skiles has moved Ersan Ilyasova from the bench to the starting five with some trepidation, saying that he's hoping it doesn't affect the productive rhythm he's established as a reserve. Ilyasova has become more effective as the season has gone on, and his averages over his past five games include 15.2 points on 49-percent shooting, 1 three, 9.4 boards, and 1.4 blocks in 31 minutes. Skiles has grown unhappy with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's energy and production as a starter, and there don't figure to be many reasons to turn away from Ilyasova moving forward. Ilyasova checks in at 72nd in per-game rank over the past month, despite just 26 minutes per game (10.9 points, 9.3 boards, 0.7 steals, 0.9 blocks, 45% owned).
• MarShon Brooks played a surprising 36 minutes on Thursday(14 points, 6-16 FG, 1-6 3PT, 5 boards, 4 assists, 4 turnovers), his fourth game since returning from a broken toe. Jordan Farmar was active but played only two minutes due to the lingering effects of a groin injury, while Avery Johnson played Anthony Morrow for on 23 minutes off the bench. Brooks' quick recovery from his foot problems and Johnson's willingness to play him this much looks good for numbers potential, and he's a good end-of-the-rotation option in standard leagues (48% owned), but keep expectations of playing time around 30 minutes - at 8-23 and falling, the Nets will look to stick to the plan to monitor his minutes over the remainder of the season, at least whenever possible.
• Status updates: Kevin Durant left Friday's shootaround early with stomach pain but is expected to play. Keep an eye out for a late update in any case .. Derrick Rose (back) increased his activity a bit on Friday and is headed for a game-time decision on Saturday. The Bulls have three games remaining before the All-Star break (Sat NJN, Mon ATL, Wed MIL) and aren't pushing Rose to return before his ready .. Carmelo Anthony (groin) is not expected to play on Friday .. DeMarcus Cousins is out Friday with back spasms .. Mario Chalmers (hand) practiced fully on Thursday and is expected to play Friday .. Nene Hilario (heel) will be in a walking boot for the next few days .. Rodrigue Beaubois (personal) will probably be away from the Mavs through the All-Star break. Dominique Jones will see a short-term boost .. Drew Gooden (wrist, knee) is out Friday and likely Sunday, as well. Jon Leuer will start in his place .. Jarrett Jack (knee) will return but play limited minutes on Friday .. LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) says he feels a lot better and plans to test his ankle in practice on Friday .. Raptors on Friday: Linas Kleiza (knee) is out, Jerryd Bayless (ankle) is a game-time decision .. D.J. Augustin will come off the bench for one more game before returning to his starting point guard spot.
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: Wilson Chandler appears to be headed back to the Nuggets within the next few weeks, but how exactly he fits into the Nuggets depth chart and to what extent he'll play is not easy to establish .. Zaza Pachulia has been fairly unimpressive in his 16 starts overall, and that was expected, but a recent spike in defensive stats has his fantasy impact peaking. His averages over the past six games include 8.2 points on 50-percent shooting, 8 boards, 2.2 steals, and 1 block in 33 minutes. Guarantees of minutes in any case make it a bit easier to pick him up and see if he can keep the good numbers coming .. Markieff Morris is showing some signs of life as a reserve again. His averages over the past eight games include 9.9 points, 1 threes, 5 boards, 1.3 steals, and 1.4 blocks in 21 minutes. Channing Frye is locked in as the starter, but Morris' role has also once again been entrenched by the removal of Hakim Warrick from the rotation .. Iman Shumpert figures to be the biggest loser in the J.R. Smith signing. He'll get some backup minutes behind Jeremy Lin but the time he's been seeing at shooting guard and small forward will no longer be available on most nights.