I was going for it in some daily leagues last night, trying to cash in on last week’s '$1' success story that put some funds in my account to play with, but whether it was Trevor Ariza or LeBron James, it just wasn’t meant to be. And speaking of LeBron, while he still had a productive night, the Heat are finding it harder to win games than ever, even against teams like the Nets, who took them down in a thriller last night. And in fantasyland, LaMarcus Aldridge’s back/tailbone injury was the story of the night.
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Nets Shock Heat
Paul Pierce turned back the clock for 29 points, four rebounds, a steal and five 3-pointers on 9-of-12 shooting in a dramatic one-point win over the Heat. Shaun Livingston added 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block, as the Nets played solid defense down the stretch to stop LeBron and company. Speaking of Livingston, I will say this. When I saw him go down with a gruesome knee injury in the early stages of my career at Rotoworld, I never imagined he’d play in the NBA again. When he did return and put on a uniform, I thought it was a great story. But I have to say, if you’ve seen him play this year, he looks like a legitimate starting NBA guard, and I think it’s one of the greatest comeback stories ever. We don’t hear much about what happened and what he went through to get where he is, but I’m guessing it will make for an epic 30-for-30 one day. Marcus Thornton disappeared for the second straight games, messing up his every-other-game streak of goodness, while Mirza Teletovic took over his role with 17 points, three 3-pointers and three blocks. Good luck trying to figure out which night either of those guys is going to show up. And if you played “all-star” Joe Johnson last night, I’m sorry, as he hit 2-of-10 shots for eight points and five turnovers in 34 minutes. Despite Joe and his ridiculous contract, the Nets somehow prevailed.
Chris Bosh had 24 points, seven rebounds and two more 3-pointers, but also threw an errant pass to LeBron with the game on the line, resulting in the loss. “King James,” as his jersey read on ‘nickname night,’ had 19 points, five rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a 3-pointer, and hit 6-of-9 free throws. And in case you missed it, those were his first free-throw attempts in three games. Dwyane Wade played in his second game of the week and is actually on pace to play four times for his owners, which is a rare occasion that should be celebrated. He had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, and since the Heat don’t go back-to-back again this week, it looks like he’s on pace to put in a full one (for once). The Heat have lost four of their last five, but I'm still not concerned.
Spurs Stop Blazers
The Heat loss was the talk of the NBA last night, along with Kobe Bryant officially being done for the season (old news) and Phil Jackson joining the Knicks (bizarre news). But in fantasyland, there is no bigger story than the ugly fall that LaMarcus Aldridge took last night. X-rays were apparently negative, but if you saw him walk gingerly (snail’s pace) to the locker room, supported by two teammates, it doesn’t look promising. It’s being called a back contusion and there’s a chance that Aldridge will be fine. But after seeing his slow parade to the bowels of the arena, I ran out and grabbed Thomas Robinson and Dorell Wright, who both happen to play five games the week after next. Nicolas Batum double-doubled, Damian Lillard scored 23, Wright scored 10 and Robinson played 11 uneventful minutes as the Blazers got rocked by the Spurs. If you have room to add either of them, do it.
For the Spurs, Patty Mills, who wasn’t in any starting fantasy lineups last night, led the way with 15 points, which tells you all you need to know about starting Gregg Popovich’s boys on most nights. Tim Duncan scored 10, giving him a total of 14 points over his last two games, Tiago Splitter double-doubled with 12 points and 10 boards, and Kawhi Leonard came through with another solid line of 12 points, nine rebounds, two steals and a block on 6-of-8 shooting. Danny Green played through his wrist injury and had 14 points, six boards, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers, and despite his inconsistent season, is worth holding in all leagues right now. As for Splitter, this was his first double-double since Nov. 20, so forgive me if I’m not doing cartwheels. If I’m the Clippers, Thunder or any other contender in the West, I do not want these guys in the playoffs.
Clippers Clip Warriors
Stephen Curry aggravated a quad injury last night and left the game early, and the timing couldn’t be worse in terms of the fantasy playoffs. He’s been limited for about a week now and simply isn’t usable in daily money leagues, despite last night’s 13 points, 11 assists and two 3-pointers. Owners will have to wait patiently for an update on his status, but we shouldn’t have to wait long as the Dubs play the Cavaliers on Friday. I’m not a real doctor, but it would seem to make sense to give him the night off in that one so that he can get healthy, assuming he’s not more injured than he looks. If he does miss time, Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford would be the beneficiaries, but they combined to go 0-ofr-11 last night off the bench. Klay Thompson hit 10-of-19 shots and four 3-pointers for 26 points to give me some daily success, but WILL MISS FRIDAY’S GAME due to the death of his grandfather. Best wishes to Klay and his family, while Blake, Crawford and possibly Draymond Green are probably going to be popular cheap options on Friday.
For the Clips, Blake Griffin stayed hot with 30 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and three steals on 13-of-28 shooting in their ninth straight win. They also stopped the Warriors’ four-game winning streak, as Danny Granger got loose for 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but it came on a night when Jamal Crawford was out with a calf injury and Darren Collison was a dud with 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting. Granger is worth a look, but will take a hit once Crawford is back in action. Matt Barnes was quiet with 11 points, DeAndre Jordan had 10 points, 11 boards and six blocks, and Chris Paul hit just 5-of-15 shots for 16 points, eight boards and 12 dimes in the win. Griffin put on another highlight show and you can expect his name to be dropped by the talking heads in all MVP discussions right now. Simply put, the guy is ballin’ out. Jared Dudley returned from back spasms, but failed to score in less than a minute of action. Cut him and move on.
Suns Fall to Cavs in Bledsoe’s return
Eric Bledsoe made some noise in his return from knee surgery with 15 points, nine assists and two steals, but hit just 5-of-16 shots off the bench. As expected, Gerald Green took a hit, hitting 4-of-14 shots for eight points in 31 minutes. Green’s playing time was fine, but he simply won’t be as good as he has been with Bledsoe on the court. Channing Frye had 17 points, six boards and four 3-pointers, Markieff Morris had 18 points and 10 boards off the bench, and Marcus Morris added 14 points, three boards and three 3-pointers in a start for P.J. Tucker, who sat out with a one-game suspension.
Spencer Hawes suffered an ankle injury, but played through it and finished with 19 points, six rebounds and three 3-pointers in the win. Kyrie Irving played through a stomach virus and had 23 points, nine boards, six assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers for the Cavs, while Luol Deng was actually solid with 18 points, nine boards and three 3-pointers. Deng’s been a mess, but played well last night. Owners of Hawes will want to watch for updates on his status for the next one. Anderson Varejao finally returned from his back injury, but had just six points and seven boards in 15 minutes. He’s probably going to be tough to own or start the rest of the way, as Hawes and Tristan Thompson (13 & 7) seem to have the big-man spots under lock and key.
Conley Hits Game-Winner as Grizzlies Top Pelicans
Courtney Lee hit just 1-of- 6 shots for four points in 23 minutes on Wednesday, while Tony Allen had 13 points, three steals and a block in 25 minutes of the Grizzlies win. The timeshare is a buzzkill for Lee, while Mike Conley hit the game-winner and finished with 16 points and one assist.
Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon were both out with an illness, giving Anthony Morrow a start. He hit just 2-of-12 shots for 10 points, while Al-Farouq Aminu also started and had eight points and eight rebounds. Anthony Davis stole the show with 29 points, 10 rebounds, a steal and four blocks, but the Pelicans couldn’t get by the Grizzlies.
Mavericks Beat the Jazz
Dirk Nowitzki bounced back to hit 12-of-14 shots for 31 points, eight boards and four 3-pointers in a win over the Jazz, while Devin Harris played through an Achilles injury and had 12 points, three rebounds, three assists and a 3-pointer in 20 minutes. He’s an interesting daily play as long as he’s healthy. Shawn Marion’s struggles continued to the tune of four points on 2-of-6 shooting, but he should be about ready to break out of his funk.
Trey Burke hit 8-of-18 shots and three 3-pointers for 20 points and six dimes in Wednesday’s loss, Alec Burks came off the bench for 13 points, four rebounds, a career-high eight assists and three steals, and Enes Kanter stayed relevant with 18 points, 11 rebounds and a block in 28 minutes. He’s hurting Derrick Favors, who had 15 points, five rebounds, a steal and a block in 28 minutes.
Knicks Beat Boston
Tim Hardaway hit 7-of-11 shots and three 3-pointers for 22 points off the bench and remains an interesting fantasy option. Cole Aldrich started at center and had 12 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes, but Tyson Chandler (personal) and Amare Stoudemire (rest) should be back soon. Carmelo Anthony had 34 points on the day he found out he may, or may not be, working for Phil Jackson next year.
Phil Pressey had nine points, nine rebounds, five assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in a start for Rajon Rondo, and came through for owners looking for a cheap option in daily leagues. Rondo should be back for the next one. The Celtics have three sets of back-to-back games remaining, and owners of Rondo will want to take a close look at the weekly schedule before starting him the rest of the way. Jeff Green had 27 points, two rebounds, and two 3-pointers on 10-of-21 shooting, as he continues to be a hit-or-miss prospect. Kris Humphries and Jared Sullinger were both solid, while Kelly Olynyk had four points in just 18 minutes off the bench.
Toronto Tops Detroit
Amir Johnson hit 8-of-14 shots for 20 points, nine boards, two steals and a block in a win over the Pistons and should be owned in all leagues. DeMar DeRozan bounced back with 25 points and Kyle Lowry played well in the win.
Brandon Jennings broke out of a funk to hit 10-of-15 shots and four 3-pointers for 24 points, four boards, two assists and a steal in a loss, while Rodney Stuckey, who had 23 points on Tuesday, crawled back into his hole with zero points (0-for-6) and three assists in 26 minutes. Andre Drummond’s finger is OK, and he had 16 points, nine boards, two steals and a block in 34 minutes.
Kings Crown Sixers
If you followed my lead and played the Kings’ ‘Big 3’ last night, it paid off. Rudy Gay hit 16-of-19 free throws for 27 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and a 3-pointer, Isaiah Thomas had 20 points, six dimes and four steals, and DeMarcus Cousins added 19 points, 12 rebounds and zero technical fouls in the win. Ben McLemore scored 15 with three 3-pointers, and might be ready to turn it on.
James Anderson hit five 3-pointers for 17 points and three dimes, and MCW and Thaddeus Young played fairly well (if you don’t count MCW’s seven TOs), but it was center Henry Sims who stole the show. He had a career-high 20 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks in the loss. Pick him up if you need a center, but my guess is this is was best game of the season.
Nuggets Drop Magic
Randy Foye hit just 1-of-6 shots (a 3-pointer) for three points in 26 minutes, and he’s killing me in a playoff lineup. Kenneth Faried had 26 points and nine rebounds, Wilson Chandler bounced back with 21 points, 10 boards and three 3-pointers, and Ty Lawson was in his normal stud mode with 17 points, 12 dimes and two 3-pointers. J.J. Hickson added 20 points and nine boards off the bench, but is hard to trust right now.
Nikola Vucevic had 20 points, 16 rebounds, three assists and a block in 38 minutes, as opposing big men continue to abuse the Nuggets. Tobias Harris had 11 points and four steals in just 19 minutes off the bench, and isn’t startable until he gets back in the good graces of coach Jacque Vaughn. Kyle O’Quinn started over him and had 10 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, while Moe Harkless cooled off with just two points in 29 minutes, and will continue to struggle for consistency with the Magic back at full strength. Victor Oladipo had 15 points, four rebounds and three assists in the loss, but appears to be fully healthy again. Jameer Nelson had 19 points, nine assists and four 3-pointers, and Arron Afflalo had 24 points and two 3-pointers in the loss.
Bobcats Best Wizards
Al Jefferson had 26 & 10 as the Bobcats rattled off another win, this time on the road at Washington. Yep, they are probably going to the playoffs behind Big Al. Gerald Henderson returned from a calf injury with 13 points and two blocks, while Chris Douglas-Roberts was back on the bench for 10 points and two 3-pointers in 21 minutes. Neither player is a great fantasy option at this point.
Trevor Ariza was probably the fantasy bust of the night, hitting just 3-of-9 shots for seven points. He killed one of my teams last night, and I’m guessing I’m not alone, but he will bounce back after scoring just 13 points over his last two games. John Wall hit 10-of-19 for 23 points and three 3-pointers last night for 23 points and four assists, but the Wizards just didn’t have it.