I think we’ve griped about the silly season enough around here, but hot damn the silly season is on fire right now. Though it’s nowhere near this simple, it feels like I could write ‘the studs might sit and the scrubs might hit’ on every write-up.
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I don’t know about you guys but the illness that sidelined Ersan Ilyasova last night has been a gut-punch for me. The Bucks are locked into the No. 8 seed and have no incentive to rush anybody back, so your guess is as good as mine with regard to Ilyasova’s future. You can throw Larry Sanders into the same bucket after he left last night’s game after a hard fall onto his back, which of course cost him games just a few weeks back. And while we’re at it let’s add Brandon Jennings to the list as he left after just six minutes of action due to a sore Achilles’ tendon. That leagues are actually getting decided based on this garbage is beyond me.
Mike Dunleavy scored 17 points with six rebounds, six assists, a block and three treys in 37 minutes, and he’s well worth a look with guys dropping like flies in Milwaukee. John Henson went ballistic for 17 points, 25 rebounds, three assists, and seven blocks in 41 minutes against the lowly Magic. Is Henson worth a flier? Sure. But he needs at least one of Ilyasova and Sanders to miss time in order to mitigate a sizable helping of risk. J.J. Redick is looking like a must-add player after playing 42 minutes on his way to 16 points, though he didn’t add much else and his value could be sapped by a return of Jennings or the guys in the frontcourt. Consider Marquis Daniels (14 points, seven boards, three steals, two threes) a step or two down in value from Redick, but he’s also on the radar.
A common component on winning fantasy teams will be Nikola Vucevic (30 points, 20 rebounds, five assists, one steal, two blocks) and Tobias Harris (30 points, 19 rebounds, five assists, three treys). There really isn’t much to say beyond that. Maurice Harkless (knee) played 51 minutes in the overtime win, scoring 14 points with four rebounds, a steal and a block, which makes him a regular Andre from The League compared to Taco and Ruxin.
Jameer Nelson (ankle) did not play last night and with no timetable for return his regular season is easily in doubt. Beno Udrih rolled along with 13 points, four rebounds, 11 assists and two steals, but a 6-of-22 shooting line and five turnovers were a downer. Doron Lamb saw 35 minutes against his old team, scoring 16 points with four treys in 35 minutes. He’s a guy to watch and not add in normal sized leagues, but in a much deeper league I don’t have any problems with a speculative add at this time of year.
CROSS YOUR FINGERS
Kyle Korver returned from sitting out Saturday’s game and hit a 3-pointer to keep his consecutive games streak alive (71), but played just 18 minutes and scored only six points. It looks like he’s sputtering to the finish and while some big games can’t be ruled out, owners can move onto the plethora of fantasy options that are available right now. Al Horford played through his hamstring injury to the tune of 16 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes, and Josh Smith played through his sore knee with 28 points, 12 rebounds, a steal, a block and a three. Both guys should be monitored at this time of season, but for now they’re on the right track.
Devin Harris (foot) returned to action and scored eight points with eight assists in 18 minutes, and he’d be nothing but a desperation play if the Hawks rest guys. John Jenkins (21 points, six assists, three treys) fits the profile of a guy that the Hawks could lean on down the stretch, but owners will be playing with fire while the main cogs are on the court. Mike Scott is in the same boat and had a solid 17-point, eight-rebound night in the team’s win over Philly.
THREE CARD MONTE
The Sixers went small against the Hawks last night and that doomed Spencer Hawes to just five points and six rebounds in less than 25 minutes on the floor. Thaddeus Young bounced back from a bad outing to post 28 points and eight boards, and Nick Young scored 19 points with three treys in 26 minutes off the bench. Dorell Wright scored 15 points with a pair of steals and threes, but Damien Wilkins continued his freefall with six points on free throws, four assists, two steals and an 0-for-7 mark from the field. It’s a situation to avoid without a doubt, but if you’re riding the hot hand you’d go with them in the order I listed.
GO AHEAD AND HAVE A SEAT
LeBron James (hamstring), Udonis Haslem (ankle), Dwyane Wade (ankle) and Chris Bosh (illness) all did not play last night, and they’re going to be day-to-day for the rest of the season (as is almost anybody on the team). Mario Chalmers scored 13 points with four rebounds, eight assists, a steal and three treys, and he’s worth a look while the Heat sit guys out. Mike Miller was a hot pickup and finally delivered with 14 points, eight boards and four treys. All owners can do is plug him in and hope for the best, as the minutes and opportunities pencil out in his direction. Rashard Lewis (17 points, five rebounds, three treys) is also worth a look. Ray Allen made an appearance with 23 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and even dunked the ball, but owners should keep him on their DNP watch list.
PLEASE SIR I WANT SOME MORE
Trevor Ariza is feeling pain his knee and didn’t play last night, with a shutdown a distinct possibility. Martell Webster joined him on the injured list halfway through the game due to his abdominal injury, as the NBA silly season isn’t missing a beat. John Wall just missed a triple-double with 17 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists as the good times roll along for owners. A.J. Price came out of nowhere with 23 points and five treys, and he could be the guy to fill in for Ariza and Webster if they miss time.
ANDRE THE GIANT
Rodney Stuckey saw a full boat of minutes and responded with 18 points and seven assists, but Andre Drummond was the star of the show with a career-high 29 points on 10-of-11 shooting and 11 rebounds. Drummond didn’t block a shot and probably wasn’t in too many lineups for the two-game week, but this goes a long way toward assuaging Roto owners’ fears about using him in the final two-game slate. Will Bynum stepped into the void of time created by Jose Calderon’s injury, scoring 16 points with three assists and a pair of triples. He’s worth a look given Calderon’s status and the fact that Brandon Knight (seven points, 2-of-11 FGs) is pretty beat up.
There were no problems for Kyrie Irving (27 points, nine assists, 12-of-13 FTs) playing in the second night of a back-to-back set, so perhaps owners will get his full use down the stretch. Dion Waiters (knee) returned to action and played 15 minutes, scoring 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting with not much else. He’s worth a look in standards but is a much better look in deeper formats, since he could stay on a minute limit and his production isn’t guaranteed to be stellar with Irving on the floor next to him.
Gerald Wallace’s season has been a total bust and he may have been put out of his misery with a heel injury that knocked him out of last night’s game. He shouldn’t be anywhere near fantasy rosters with his season probably in doubt. Deron Williams scored 29 points with four rebounds and 12 assists as the late season resurgence continues. Congratulations if you saw that coming, as you’re in the minority on that call. Reggie Evans scored just one point but had his normal assortment of 14 boards and a steal, but after some massive outings owners should be able to cut him some slack. Joe Johnson scored 20 points and just having him on the floor is a win for owners at this point.
Jeff Green couldn’t find the range as he hit just 4-of-17 shots for 11 points with four rebounds and two treys. He could be getting used to having Kevin Garnett (11 points, eight rebounds, four assists) and Paul Pierce (23 points) back, but it would be fairly surprising if he didn’t get back on track.
Goran Dragic was let loose again last night and put up 21 points, four rebounds, 13 assists, two steals and a block, and some version of that has been available to the Suns all season long if they wanted it. P.J. Tucker scored 17 points with 10 rebounds, two steals, and three treys, but betting on a repeat is not advisable given his history. Markieff Morris stayed on the right track with 12 points, seven rebounds, a block and two threes, while Wes Johnson got back on the right side of the ledger with 17 points and three 3-pointers.
Jared Dudley scored 18 points but one look at his game log should deter owners, and Michael Beasley will not rejoin the team until Saturday and is questionable for that night’s game against the Wolves. Luis Scola backed up a solid Tuesday with 11 points and 15 rebounds. He’s a risky play any way you slice it, but the recent returns at least give owners a premise to justify starting him with. Jermaine O’Neal atoned for his faux pas on Tuesday with four points, six rebounds and seven blocks, and he’ll continue to be worth a look for owners seeking big man stats.
O.J. Mayo couldn’t shake off the struggles and hit just 2-of-10 shots for six points, five rebounds and six assists. I thought he wouldn’t take a huge hit when Dirk Nowitzki returned but that obviously hasn’t been the case. Dirk played through his foot injury and posted 21 points with eight boards, but tonight’s loss knocked the Mavs out of the playoffs and he should be on the DNP watch list. Chris Kaman followed up his big 26-point, 11-rebound outing with a two-point, eight-rebound dud, which isn’t all that surprising. Shawn Marion went big with 22 points, nine boards, three steals and a block, and Vince Carter scored 18 points with six rebounds, a steal and a block to go with three treys. Both guys are also on the DNP watch list. Elton Brand (calf) was in uniform but did not play last night.
MORE IN LATE SEASON INJURIES
I was up close and personal at Sleep Train last night when Anthony Davis went down with a knee injury and it didn’t look good at first. He left the court under his own power and the Hornets are talking somewhat optimistically, as Davis will get evaluated today.
Robin Lopez is now worth a look given Davis’ injury after he posted 20 points, five rebounds and a block, and Brian Roberts scored 20 points with six rebounds, five assists, two steals, a block and two triples in 33 minutes.
Greivis Vasquez looked like he shouldn’t have played last night given his ankle injuries, and he finished with just four points, one rebound and two assists in 25 minutes. Garbage time could have been a factor for his low minute total, but clearly he didn’t look right and owners shouldn’t be surprised by missed time. He gets a day of rest before Friday’s game, but I wouldn’t hesitate to add Roberts given the likelihood that Vasquez and Eric Gordon (23 points, three boards, seven assists, two steals, one block, three treys) miss time. That said, Gordon played in his first back-to-back set and both he and the Hornets would love for him to pump up his trade value heading into the summer.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE
The Kings were destined to win in their second-to-last home game of this season, playing behind a raucous home crowd and against a Hornet team coming off a game at Staples the night before. Marcus Thornton got hot and scored 20 points with four threes, five boards, a steal and a block, and Jason Thompson scored 20 points with eight boards, a steal and two blocks in the Kings’ blowout win. John Salmons scored 22 points with three rebounds, three assists and two treys, but more so than the previously mentioned Kings he can’t be trusted by owners in normal formats.
DeMarcus Cousins fouled out after 25 minutes of action, scoring 11 points with four rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. He’s going to finish the year one step away from forced time off, but for now owners can continue to use him. Patrick Patterson (back) did not play last night, and before Kings fans get thoroughly excited about a good player that happens to run to the right spaces on the floor they should realize that Patterson has a bit of a nagging injury history.
KOBE THE GREAT
I’m running out of superlatives to describe Kobe Bryant with, as he played all 48 minutes and led his beleaguered Laker team to a much-needed win in Portland last night. He scored a season-high 47 points on 14-of-27 shooting with eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and four blocks while setting the Rose Garden single-game scoring record.
Pau Gasol paid off owners once again with 23 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and two blocks, though it should be noted that the Blazers were extremely weak up front last night. Antawn Jamison aggravated his pesky shooting wrist injury, playing just 15 minutes with five points and three rebounds on the night.
Steve Nash did not play last night, as expected, and he added that he has nerve issues with his injured hamstring. He’s questionable at best for Friday’s game against the Warriors. Steve Blake filled in with eight points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and two triples, in an effort that owners may be able to pencil in for the rest of the year. Dwight Howard went for 20 and 10 with three blocks, and the rest of the squad bottomed out with fantasy lines so ugly they aren’t worth mentioning. The Lakers moved a full game ahead of the Jazz for the only undecided playoff slot in the land.
Nicolas Batum (shoulder) did not play last night but he made comments to the effect that he wants to play again this season, which is enough to hold him unless you’re in a must-win situation. J.J. Hickson (back) was added to the injury list and did not play last night, with reports that he won’t be playing in Portland next season an interesting backdrop, unless of course like me you had him in a weekly lineup.
LaMarcus Aldridge (migraine) played and put up 17 and 16 with three steals, while Damian Lillard scored a season-high 38 points on 12-of-25 shooting with five 3-pointers, nine assists, three steals and a perfect 9-of-9 mark from the foul line. Lillard has been looking a bit hobbled and run down at times, and a game against the Lakers might have been tempting enough to run the tank a bit empty, so keep an eye out for any reports that he might get a game off. I don’t think it will happen since the Blazers could really struggle without him, but anything is possible at this time of the season.
Will Barton didn’t live up to the hype last night, scoring nine points on 4-of-12 shooting with one rebound, two assists and two steals in 29 minutes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he improves on that now that the Lakers are off the slate. Victor Claver also left last night’s game due to an ankle injury, subtracting yet another option from Terry Stott’s rotation.
PAIN IN THE NECK
Tony Parker (neck) did not play last night despite being a game-time call, but you know the drill by now with Pop and the end of the year. Tim Duncan didn’t exactly pick up the slack on a 17-point night that included just three rebounds and one block, but it helps his cause that he’s the only member of the Big Three that is on the floor. Gary Neal scored 17 points off the bench, hitting 6-of-15 shots with three treys and two steals. He’s a guy to look at if you’re scraping the barrel on a deeper league.
Ty Lawson (heel) did not play last night, as expected, and while George Karl put a 15-20 minute outlook on Lawson’s return there are no guarantees that he returns before the playoffs. This freed up Andre Iguodala (12 points, 13 boards, 10 assists, three steals, seven turnovers) to triple-double, Andre Miller scored 12 points with five assists, and Wilson Chandler went gadzooks with 29 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block, and three triples. Corey Brewer got in on the fun with 28 points on 12-of-25 shooting with two threes and a steal, and with Lawson and Danilo Gallinari out right now this core is poised to do some damage.
Ricky Rubio has hit the wall hard and fast this week, and last night he handed owners another slow six-point, seven-assist night that included a 2-of-8 mark from the field. He is dealing with a shoulder injury but it’s also possible that he carried too much load coming off knee surgery. Regardless, owners should be weary of a shutdown and hope for the best. The rest of the box score was tepid outside of Nikola Pekovic (20 points, five boards), though Derrick Williams did put up 13 points, 10 rebounds, three steals, a block and a three despite a 3-of-12 mark from the field. Dante Cunningham (hamstring) was a late scratch, though his absence was absorbed in a rotation that included seven guys playing between 19-26 minutes.
SLICED (AND DICED)
Chris Paul made easy work of Ricky Rubio and Co. with 19 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists, four steals, two blocks and two threes while shooting 7-of-11 from the field. DeAndre Jordan scored 10 points with five blocks, Blake Griffin scored 19 points with eight rebounds, seven assists and a steal, and Matt Barnes spoke up with 14 points, seven rebounds and a steal.
NEWS AND NOTES
Jonas Valanciunas suffered what is being called a “flexion extension injury” to his neck and will be reevaluated in Toronto today. Our blurbs have been pretty forceful about him missing Friday’s game, but I keep hearing beat writers report things like JV “joking around” while getting strapped to a gurney and yesterday that he is “fine other than an uncomfortable neck brace.” Of course, the Raps will treat him with kid gloves and there is no incentive to rush him back, but I personally can’t rule him out with reporters saying things like that. Therefore, I’ll be holding him until we get further clarification on the matter.
Chandler Parsons (calf) said he overdid things in rehab and now his regular season is in doubt.
THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
NY @ CHI: Tyson Chandler (neck) and Kenyon Martin (ankle) will miss tonight’s game and one more after that, but if it’s any consolation Chandler said he could play if it were the playoffs. Now that you’ve thrown something at the wall, start sacrificing things with the hopes Chandler can return before the playoffs. Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) was ruled out early yesterday for tonight’s game and his season is in doubt. Taj Gibson was called “day-to-day,” as was Luol Deng (hip), and both guys fit that designation to a T. Richard Hamilton (back) said he felt good after Tuesday’s game but owners shouldn’t expect much as he ramps up for the playoffs. This leaves Jimmy Butler in a prime position to succeed, and Nazr Mohammed is worth a look as a low-end boards and blocks play.
OKC @ GSW: Oklahoma City comes into the game healthy and fighting for the No. 1 seed in the West, while Golden State comes into tonight riding a tsunami of celebration having clinched a playoff spot on Tuesday. The national TV game and opponent should keep the Warriors from having a letdown, assuming they all didn’t strain an oblique patting each other on the back. In related news, I can’t wait to watch the playoffs as a fan and not an analyst (at least for the most part).