February 29, 2012
"We played guys that wanted to play defense in the second half. I went with guys who I knew were going to go out there and bust their rear ends and try to do things the right way in the second half ... I'm done with young guys (as an excuse). If they don't want to play the right way, young guys aren't going to play. It does us no good. They're not going to learn anything when they want to play the way they want to play. All they're developing are bad habits."
McGee's last contribution to the game was his three-shot foul of Drew Gooden to end the first half, which left Wittman incredulous. He finished with four points, six boards, and a block in 17 minutes, having entered the game on a string of strong performances (16.6 points, 9.3 boards, 1.7 blocks over his past seven games). Young played five minutes in the second half and finished with seven points on three-of-11 shooting in 20 minutes. Wittman went with a small lineup that featured Trevor Booker at center (31 minutes, 20 points, 11 boards), Chris Singleton at power forward (40 minutes, 16 points, 4-14 FG, 2 threes, 9 boards, 1 steal, 2 blocks), with surplus minutes going to reserves Maurice Evans (20 minutes, 15 points, 3 threes) and Roger Mason (17 minutes, 14 points, 4 threes). This is a wait-and-see situation for fantasy owners. Was Tuesday's game the message or will Wittman keep McGee in his doghouse moving forward? The Wizards get the Magic on Wednesday and Dwight Howard is a near-impossible matchup for Booker and Kevin Seraphin, so it's a good initial test of Wittman's resolve.
• Tuesday's numbers for Brandon Bass (35 minutes, 12 points, 7 boards, 2 steals, 1 block) and Chris Wilcox (23 minutes, 5 points, 11 boards) are particularly notable because Jermaine O'Neal is away from the team and meeting with a specialist regarding his left wrist. O'Neal is dealing with an injury that first occurred during the 2010 preseason and has never had a chance to fully heal. A worst-case here is surgery, and that would almost certainly cost him the remainder of the current season. Bass (52% owned) goes from useful to warranting universal ownership if O'Neal ends up with a long-term timeline - he's averaged 11.6 points, 6.2 boards, 0.5 steals, and 0.7 blocks in 29 minutes on the season, but could see an additional five-to-seven minutes of playing time on most nights. Wilcox would gain some deep-league relevance, as well - he's averaged 6.6 points on 59-percent shooting and 5.1 boards in 20 minutes over the past month, with both O'Neal and Bass in and out of the lineup. It would be nice to recommend Greg Stiemsma because of his positive per-36s (9.6 boards, 4 blocks), but his 7.6 fouls per 36 minutes make it nearly impossible to project any meaningful minutes.
• Tristan Thompson notched his third double-double in four games on Tuesday (27 minutes, 13 points, 10 boards, 2 blocks) and has averaged 10.9 points, 8.3 boards, and 1.8 blocks in the eight games where he's seen at least 20 minutes of playing time on the season. Thompson's size (6-9, 227) will prevent him from moving ahead of Semih Erden in the starting five, but Byron Scott will give him as much playing time as possible while Anderson Varejao remains sidelined (another three weeks or so). Just be sure to note Thompson's negatives (44% FG, 46% FT, 1:6 AST:TO) while considering his positives.
• Brook Lopez is back. Tuesday's line included 38 points on 17-of-28 shooting (9-10 FG at the rim) and his requisite six boards in 36 minutes. In a nutshell, this is why you were advised to stash Lopez from the outset - combine his offensive skill with Deron Williams' abilities (12 assists) and you can't help but end up with good numbers. MarShon Brooks played 34 minutes but was an offensive afterthought on this night (2-4 FG, 0-1 3PT, 3 assists, 2 steals). Lopez's return will remove some of the offensive burden from Brooks, but not this much on most nights - the tradeoff here should largely be usage quantity for quality, so this game isn't a reason to drop Brooks to waivers. And Gerald Green followed up a successful D-League stint with some efficient offense in his first appearance (19 minutes, 10 points, 4-6 FG, 2 3PT). He's someone for deep league Watch Lists in the event that knee problems catch up with DeShawn Stevenson yet again.
• Status updates: Kobe Bryant's outlook has improved but he's headed for a game-time decision .. Nuggets on Wednesday: Ty Lawson will play; Nene Hilario, Rudy Fernandez, and Danilo Gallinari are out. Gallinari appears to be close to a return .. Hawks on Wednesday: Joe Johnson (knee) practiced Tuesday but his official status has yet to be announced. Zaza Pachulia (calf) did not practice but hopes to play .. Bobcats on Wednesday: Gerald Henderson (hamstring) and Corey Maggette (knee) both practiced on Tuesday and are expected to play .. Stephen Curry (leg) will try to play Wednesday but is officially a game-time decision .. Tyson Chandler's wrist remains an issue, but he'll play Wednesday and will only sit if the situation degrades further .. Paul Millsap has a severe left heel bruise and is doubtful for Wednesday .. Scott Skiles said that Drew Gooden (back) could have returned to Tuesday's game, which bodes well for his to-be-announced Wednesday status .. Jameer Nelson (knee) is expected to play on Wednesday .. Hornets on Wednesday: Emeka Okafor, Jason Smith, and Carl Landry all remain out .. Spurs on Wednesday: Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter both were light participants in shootaround but remain out. Kawhi Leonard and Gary Neal are both out Wednesday, as well .. Jordan Farmar (groin) expects to return to the active roster on Friday.
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: Derrick Williams was fantastic Tuesday (28 minutes, 27 points, 9-10 FG, 4-4 3PT, 5-5 FT) but his surplus minutes came while Kevin Love rested some bruised ribs and his February averages include 8 points and 18 minutes. The opportunity to regularly contribute at a level that warrants 40-percent ownership simply isn't there .. The Jazz are floundering (3-11 over their past 14) but Devin Harris' numbers have been improving a bit, and they've been downright respectable over the past five games (12.8 points, 62% FG, 1.4 threes, 6.4 assists, 1.8 steals). He's already rostered in 50 percent of leagues, however, and that's well past the downside threshold .. James Johnson is settling in as a starter and has now averaged 11.4 points on 47-percent shooting, 5.1 boards, 2.3 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.3 blocks over his past nine games. There's a lot to like here for the second half with the prospect of continued improvement under Dwane Casey .. Richard Hamilton returned to Bulls' lineup on Tuesday (17 minutes, 5 points, 5 assists) but will take his time getting back to 30ish minutes. Rip can provide a bit of offense but you should be careful not to overstate his true fantasy ceiling .. That Ramon Sessions to-the-Lakers trade did not materialize over the All-Star break as rumored but still makes all kinds of sense for both teams. I'm holding Sessions where possible, with the trade deadline just over two weeks away (Mach 15).