News and notes from Monday night's seven-game schedule.• The Orlando Magic got some desperately needed reinforcements in the form of Dwight Howard(notes) (14 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 6 turnovers), J.J. Redick(notes) (23 minutes) and Mickael Pietrus(notes) (14 minutes) on Monday night, but it still wasn’t enough to stave off the surging Hawks. Atlanta has not been successful against the Magic in recent years (11 losses in the last 12 meetings heading in to Monday’s game), but took advantage of the fact that Orlando was missing Jameer Nelson(notes) and had two rotation players and a starter working their way back into game shape. Chris Duhon(notes) got the start in place of Nelson, but is not even really worthy of consideration for a plug-and-play start at this point. Orlando was in this game down the stretch and might have had a real shot if Rashard Lewis(notes) hadn’t blown the open gimme in the final seconds. It’s pretty amazing to take a step back and realize how far Rashard Lewis has fallen (10 points, 3-11 FG, 2-7 3PT, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block). Lewis’ confidence appears to be nearing rock bottom at this point and would make a good buy low candidate if you have any faith that he will turn it around this season.
• Jason Collins(notes) moved into the starting lineup for matchup purposes for the Hawks, sending Maurice Evans(notes) back to the bench. However, Collins was really only good for four fouls against Dwight Howard and provided absolutely no fantasy value. Mike Bibby(notes) hit a big three at the end of the fourth quarter, and ended up with 13 points, three threes, seven assists and only one turnover. Games like this explain why Jeff Teague(notes) wasn’t able to overtake Bibby for the starting point guard spot in Atlanta. Big men Al Horford(notes) (16 points, 7-14 FG, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks, 4 turnovers) and Josh Smith(notes) (19 points, 9-17 FG, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 4 blocks, 3 turnovers) were key contributors for Atlanta as well. Notably, Marvin Williams(notes) stumbled (21 minutes, 2 points, 1-6 FG, 1 rebound, 1 turnover) after playing fairly well so far in Joe Johnson’s(notes) absence.
• Suddenly, the Raptors are looking fairly deep on the wing, which can actually have a negative impact in terms of fantasy values. Jerryd Bayless(notes) (18 minutes, 5 points, 2-10 FG, 1 three, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers) cooled down for the Toronto Raptors, who lost to the Indiana Pacers, who have been playing excellent basketball in the last couple of weeks. Amir Johnson(notes) continued to play well (12 points, 9 rebounds) and notably only picked up three fouls. For the Raptors faithful, that is truly a cause for celebration. Leandro Barbosa(notes) played 31 minutes off the bench, compiling 12 points, two threes, six rebounds, three assists and four turnovers. Peja Stojakovic(notes) registered his fifth straight DNP-CD. Linas Kleiza(notes) even got in the mix, leading to the conclusion that the wing players will probably trade off useful games.
• Brandon Rush(notes) was demoted to the bench against the Raptors and responded with an offensive onslaught (26 points, 10-18 FG, 6-8 3PT, 4 rebounds, 2 steals). Talk about making a case to start. Mike Dunleavy played decently as well (11 points, 5-7 FG, 1 three, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block) but was overshadowed by Rush’s performance. Also lost in the shuffle was Josh McRoberts’(notes) quality game, who put together a versatile line (12 points, 4-11 FG, 1 three, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 2 turnovers) that was only slightly sullied by his poor shooting from the field. Darren Collison(notes) also had a good offensive night (19 points, 6-7 FG, 5-5 FT) but only registered one assist and left the game with an apparent leg or foot injury late in the game. If Collison misses any significant time T.J. Ford(notes) will become a hot pickup and makes for a solid speculative add if you have the space to gamble.
• The Minnesota Timberwolves were thin in the middle heading into Monday’s game against the New York Knicks. This lack of depth in the middle was exacerbated by the loss of Darko Milicic(notes) early on, who suffered a quad contusion and did not return to the game. As a result, Kevin Love(notes) (42 minutes, 33 points, 10-18 FG, 10-10 FT, 3 threes, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers) and Michael Beasley(notes) (44 minutes, 25 points, 10-18 FG, 4-4 FT, 1 three, 6 rebounds, 1 block, 3 turnovers) were called to play big minutes and responded admirably. Nikola Pekovic(notes) may see extra run if Milicic misses any serious time, but the onus for front court production will fall squarely on Beasley and Love. Wes Johnson(notes) battled through the ubiquitous flu, but was relatively ineffective (5 points, 2-6 FG, 1-4 3PT, 2 rebounds, 3 assists). Luke Ridnour(notes) had a solid offensive game (16 points, 6-9 FG, 3-4 3PT, 1-1 FT) but registered only four assists compared to five turnovers. Corey Brewer(notes) also saw big minutes off the bench but failed to translate that into fantasy production.• What else can you say about Raymond Felton(notes) at this point in the season? The dude has been the floor general that Mike D’Antoni has been searching for since parting ways with Steve Nash(notes), and is helping the Knicks win games. Most impressively, Felton is posting first round per game value. Felton is joined by his teammate Amar’e Stoudemire(notes) in the first round, who has played as well as anyone in the league over the past the past five games and averaged 34.2 points during that same stretch. As someone who completely doubted Stoudemire’s ability to post premier fantasy value without Nash, I can definitely eat crow and admit that Amar’e is playing like an absolute fantasy beast. Congratulations if you had the guts to grab this guy in fantasy drafts this season.
• Besides New York’s two stars, Ronny Turiaf(notes) and Shawne Williams(notes) had performances of interest on Monday night. Turiaf returned to action after sitting out four games as a result of a knee re-injury. Williams should be on almost every fantasy managers’ radar at this point for two reasons. Number one, his minutes have climbed to the point that he has now strung together three performances of over 20 minutes in a row. Second, Williams plays for Mike D’Antoni, who can turn average players into fantasy gold (see Felton, Raymond). Williams is an excellent deep league addition based on his performance Monday night (13 points, 5-9 FG, 3-4 3PT, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks) and definitely merits watching in standard formats as well.
• The Bulls definitely like having Carlos Boozer(notes) healthy. Boozer had his best game in a red and white uniform (29 points, 12 rebounds) on Monday night. The result: Chicago knocked off Kevin Durant(notes) the Oklahoma City Thunder. Interestingly, Joakim Noah(notes) pulled down the same number of boards as Boozer, but also tallied six assists. Derrick Rose’s(notes) shot attempts came down from his season average of 21.5 to 13 against Oklahoma City, which should probably be expected going forward with Boozer asserting himself in Chicago’s lineup. We are also starting to get a feel for how many minutes Taj Gibson(notes) (26 minutes, 4 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks) will be seeing, so be prepared to adjust expectations accordingly. Luol Deng(notes) also played well (19 points, 9-16 FG, 1 three, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 turnovers) for Chicago in this one.
• Kevin Durant had an excellent game but continued to struggle with his three point shot (29 points, 7-18 FG, 1-5 3PT, 14-14 FT, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers). If there is one thing that is sure it’s that Durant has no problem launching threes so far this season. Converting them has been the tricky part for KD. Russell Westbrook’s(notes) fantasy line was pulled down by his assist-to-turnover rate (7:6) on Monday night. The Thunder also got solid contributions from starter Nenad Krstic(notes) (18 points, 8-12 FG, 6 rebounds) and sixth man James Harden(notes) (13 points). Serge Ibaka’s(notes) line was pedestrian in only 19 minutes, with Nenad’s strong contributions being partly to blame.
• Carlos Arroyo(notes) was the x-factor in Miami’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Dwyane Wade(notes) (25 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 turnovers), LeBron James(notes) (17 points, 1 three, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 block) and Chris Bosh(notes) (16 points, 12 rebounds) all played as expected. However, Arroyo played a nearly flawless game (18 points, 6-6 FG, 2-2 3PT, 4-4 FT, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover) for Miami. To satisfy our meaningless stat quota of the night, I’ll throw this one out there. The Heat are now 2-0 when Arroyo scores more than 17 points. Perhaps Arroyo’s strong game was a reaction to the recent signs of life from Mario Chalmers(notes). If so, mission accomplished, as Arroyo played 32 minutes to Mario’s 16 minutes. Games like this will make coach Eric Spolestra think twice about benching Arroyo.
• The Utah Jazz controlled Monday night’s game against the Grizzlies, and walked away with the win as a result. Deron Williams(notes) played well (27 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 turnovers) while Paul Millsap(notes) (7 points, 3-11 FG, 1-2 FT, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks) and Andrei Kirilenko(notes) struggled. Al Jefferson(notes) also dealt with foul trouble (12 points, 10 rebounds, 5 fouls) but finished with a double-double anyway. Raja Bell(notes) got hot in this one (14 points, 5-7 FG, 4-5 3PT, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal) and might be regaining his three-point specialist status in fantasy basketball. Keep an eye on Bell if you need threes. C.J. Miles(notes) (20 points, 7-14 FG, 3-7 3PT, 3-3 FT, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks) had another very solid game, which means he is probably due for a dud in is next game. The only consistent element to Miles’ fantasy production this season has been his inconsistency.• At some point soon, it seems like Lionel Hollins is going to wise up and promote O.J. Mayo(notes) back into the starting lineup. The initial experiment worked early, but Mayo has really struggled settling into his bench role, with Monday night being no exception (6 points, 3-9 FG, 0-2 3PT, 0-1 FT, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal). Mayo can be bought very, very low right now and it actually feels like the right time to do so. It truly is hard to imagine Mayo playing any worse than he currently is. On a side note, remember when Memphis traded Kevin Love for O.J. Mayo? Mike Conley(notes) (19 points, 5-10 FG, 9-10 FT, 2 rebounds, five assists, three turnovers) and Zach Randolph(notes) (17 points, 14 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks) led the Grizzlies, but they ultimately couldn’t muster a win against the Jazz.
• As a result of Sunday evening’s fracas during the Clippers-Trail Blazers game, a couple of suspensions were handed out. Andre Miller(notes) received a one game suspension for leveling Blake Griffin(notes) (no, seriously) while Brian cook(notes) received a two game suspension for pushing Joel Przybilla(notes) to the ground. Patty Mills should start in Andre Miller’s place on Tuesday night against the Suns, and is a solid plug-and-play option for one game. With Mills being a relative unknown quantity in the NBA so far in his career (80 minutes logged total), Tuesday night should give us a chance to scout Mills’ potential were he to receive starter minutes as a result of an injury or trade. Other fantasy news that resulted from Sunday’s Clippers game was the news that Chris Kaman(notes) aggravated his ankle injury, and should miss at least the Clippers’ next few games.
• In terms of Monday’s Clippers game, it was all Eric Gordon(notes) for L.A. (29 points, 10-17 FG, 2-3 3PT, 7-7 FT, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals). Gordon was huge in the clutch and basically won this one for L.A with his offensive and defensive contributions. Blake Griffin also flashed his multi-cat production (13 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 5 turnovers) and is turning out to be a better passer than advertised at Oklahoma. Eric Bledsoe(notes) continued to start despite Baron Davis(notes) being available and there is no indication how long Vinny Del Negro plans to keep Beldsoe in the starting unit. Definitely keep an eye on this situation, as Bledsoe has been on the receiving end of a lot of cuts lately. Ryan Gomes(notes) also got hot (17 points, 7-12 FG, 1 three, 9 rebounds) and played 29 minutes off the bench for the Clippers.
• Paul Westphal confirmed (again) why he is the most frustrating coach in the NBA in terms of his rotations. Samuel Dalembert(notes), Carl Landry(notes), Francisco Garcia(notes) and Omri Casspi(notes) all came off the bench in this one despite the fact that all four players are certainly starter caliber in the NBA. Casspi had the best game of the bunch (21 points, 8-11 FG, 2-4 3PT, 3-3 FT, 10 rebounds) followed by Carl Landry (15 points, 4-9 FG, 7-8 FT, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks). Hopefully this is enough to talk Carl’s owners away from the ledge. DeMarcus Cousins(notes) had another strong game (15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) as a starter while Beno Udrih(notes) struggled mightily in the starting five (2 points, 1-10 FG, 0-3 3PT). Luther Head(notes) also registered a DNP-CD. Feel free to pickup a hot Sacramento player, like Casspi, but acknowledge the fact that it is a short-term pickup and that Westphal will tire of him and send him back to fantasy irrelevance as soon as you do so.
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