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Mostly NBA Notes: Al Horford blowing up, Stephen Curry on fire and Dirk Nowitzki’s reemergence

Dalton Del Don
Roto Arcade

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Al Horford is having a career year (USAT)

Previously one of the more durable players in the league, Al Horford destroyed fantasy owners last season when a torn pectoral muscle ended his year after just 11 games played. However, he’s currently averaging career highs in ppg (17.4), rpg (10.0), spg (1.0) and FG% (55.7). Horford has been a top-20 fantasy player this season despite shooting a career-low 60.7 percent at the line, which is nowhere near his career mark of 73.7, so it’s safe to expect improvement there down the stretch. Among those in the top-five in double-doubles this season, only Horford and Dwight Howard also average at least 1.0 spg and 1.0 bpg. Horford’s Usage Rate (20.59) isn’t well above league average, but it’s a career high, and his 79.3 percent shooting at the rim leads the NBA (minimum 2.0 attempts per game). A skilled passer with a low turnover rate, Horford has especially been a beast of late, averaging 23.7 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.6 spg and 1.8 bpg over his past 11 contests, shooting a scorching 63.8 percent (118-for-185) from the floor over that span. It will be interesting to see the type of production he puts up next year when/if Josh Smith leaves the team via free agency.

Here’s one of the craziest buzzer beaters of all time.

Here’s the leading candidate for dunk of the year.

While the Warriors’ defense has collapsed, making their once sure playoff berth suddenly in question, Stephen Curry’s season continues to deserve plenty of praise. While playing in 58 of the team’s 62 games is a feat in and of itself when it comes to the brittle guard, he ended February with a truly epic two-game performance in which he went 18-for-23 from downtown, scoring the third-most points (54) by a Knicks opponent at the current Madison Square Garden. Curry leads the NBA with a 91.0 free throw percentage (although in fantasy terms, Kevin Durant is the obvious king here, as he shoots just a tad lower with far more attempts), and he’s shot better on three-pointers (45.1 percent) than he has on two-point field goals (44.0). Curry leads the NBA with 3.2 3pt, with Ryan Anderson (2.8) a distant second. Curry is the only player in the league to average at least 20.0 ppg, 6.5 apg 4.0 rpg, 1.5 spg and 1.5 3pt. Over his last six games, he’s averaged 31.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 7.5 apg, 2.0 spg and 4.7 3pt, and he’s the No. 5 overall fantasy player on the year, according to Basketball Monster. And finally, here’s Curry breaking ankles.

Drive thru scary doll prank.

Speaking of drive thrus, here’s a Dunkin’ Donuts employee throwing hot coffee on a would-be robber.

Dirk Nowitzki got off to an extremely slow start after coming back from knee surgery, but he’s looked a lot more like his former self of late, as he’s been the eighth most valuable fantasy player over the past month. After never recording a single game with double-digit boards over his first 25 contests this season, he’s averaged 9.0 rpg over his past six games. When it comes to production on the glass, it’s safe to say Nowitzki has been trending the wrong way. In fact, here are his rpg over the past nine seasons, respectively (including this one): 9.7, 9.0, 8.9, 8.6, 8.4, 7.7, 7.0, 6.8 and 6.5. So it’s nice to see him capable of still contributing in the category, as he pulled down 33 boards over a two-game stretch at the end of last month. Nowitzki’s shooting percentages have remained mostly the same, and his career-low Usage Rate should continue to increase as the season goes on and the further removed he is from the injury (although the counter here is that Dallas looks like a long shot to make the playoffs at this point, so maybe more rest is in store). But the bottom line is that Nowitzki is anything but done as a major fantasy contributor, even at his advanced age.

The Lakers somehow fooled the Hornets into defending the wrong side of the court in a two-point game with 25 seconds left.

This waitress noticed a customer was using a fake ID, since it was hers that was stolen a couple of weeks back.

Tobias Harris has been a revelation since getting traded to Orlando, averaging 16.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.0 spg, 0.9 bpg and 1.0 3pt while shooting 56.0 percent from the floor (and committing just 1.3 tpg) over seven games with his new team, all of which he’s come off the bench. A top-20 pick in the 2011 draft, Harris was buried on Milwaukee’s bench, but it sure looks like the Magic may have found a gem. He’s been a top-50 fantasy player since coming to Orlando despite getting modest playing time (28:41 mpg), and he’s still quite raw at age 20, with plenty of room for further growth (one area that he really needs to address is staying out of foul trouble, which has contributed to him not seeing more time on the court). Harris has quickly become a key part of a young, rebuilding Magic team, and while it may not happen this season, he should join the starting rotation soon enough. There’s a ton of fantasy potential here moving forward.

Here’s JaVale McGee doing JaVale McGee things. And here too.

Goats yelling like humans, part two.

Kemba Walker has had essentially an ideal sophomore campaign, showing improvement in pretty much every category and facet of his game. He’s been in a massive shooting slump over the past five games, making just 29.9 percent (20-for-67) of his shots from the field. Still, Walker has countered that by averaging 7.4 apg and 2.8 spg over that span. His 1.9 spg on the season ranks fourth in the league, while Walker’s 4.9 attempts at the rim per game are the ninth most in the NBA among guards. Teammate Ramon Sessions will miss the next two-to-four weeks with a sprained MCL, which should also lead to an increased Usage Rate for Walker. After ranking as the 173rd most valuable fantasy player last year as a rookie, Walker currently comes in at No. 31, so he’s made quite a leap. It will take further development with his shaky jumper for Walker to ever reach elite status, but he’s certainly on the right path, at least when it comes to fantasy terms.

As impressive as this Larry Sanders block is, what’s even funnier is the homer Utah announcers giving props to Alec Burks on the play.

For those also into baseball or like my random links, here’s my baseball column from earlier this week.

This wasn’t Tyreke Evans’ finest moment.

Quick Hits: Nice to see Mo Williams back in action Wednesday, when he returned from a 32-game absence thanks to a thumb injury. He’s hardly an elite fantasy option, but Williams was immediately put back into the starting lineup and will be a boost to owners in need of assists down the stretch…Sticking with Utah, Enes Kantor has finally been unleashed, averaging 19.3 ppg and 13.0 rpg over the past three games. His fantasy value may be short lived with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap coming back, but with both of the big men unrestricted free agents at the end of the year, Kanter could be in store for a big breakout in 2013/14…Since the beginning of last season, John Wall has shot 4-for-58 from three-point land…What a horrible break for owners of Tony Parker, who was in the midst of the best fantasy season of his career. Manu Ginobili, meanwhile, has averaged 9.0 assists over his past three games, as it appears he’s going to see a big uptick in dimes with Parker sidelined…While Marcin Gortat’s season-ending injury hurts as well, it won’t be nearly the impact of Parker going down, as the Suns big man was in the middle of a disappointing campaign. Gortat was the 22nd most valuable fantasy player last year. He ranked 80th this season…One final injury note – it’s safe to say the return of Danny Granger isn’t going to negatively affect Paul George’s production, and the former won’t be a fantasy option until next year.

Elevator fart prank.

This “brazen” woman stole two cop cars in two states all in a day’s work.

Quick Hits Part Deux: Roy Hibbert is having a truly odd season. His 46.9 percent shooting at the rim is easily the lowest in the NBA. However, he’s countered that by being arguably the league’s top interior defender. Basically, expect a missed shot when Hibbert is involved within five feet from the rim…The Bulls are the only team in the NBA with a better record on the road than at home…Brandon Jennings has handed out an insane 48 assists over his past three games…Over his last seven games, Kobe Bryant has averaged 19.6 points after halftime. Also, this Kobe stat is pretty crazy. The Bobcats have recently done the unthinkable, surpassing the Kings as the NBA’s worst defensive team, as they have allowed 108.3 points per 100 possessions (Sacramento is at 108.2). So it’s probably not ideal Charlotte also has the second-lowest Offensive Efficiency (98.2) in the league as well…LeBron James is currently averaging 27.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg and 7.2 apg, as he’s trying to become the first player to average 27-8-7 since Michael Jordan during the 1988/89 season (and one of only five players ever to do so in NBA history)…In a bizarre sequence, the Clippers scored seven points against OKC on Sunday without ever losing possession. During a Matt Barnes three-pointer, Serge Ibaka committed this flagrant foul on Blake Griffin, who proceeded to make one of two free throws. L.A. was then awarded the ball, and Jamal Crawford buried a three. That’s a quick way to get back into a game.

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