I spent the evening with my pal Rick Kamla watching all seven games in his living room, which has been transformed into a man cave. We debated important things like how many straight games Khris Middleton had scored in double figures, whether or not anyone in the city of Atlanta actually cared about Kyle Korver’s 3-point streak, and whether or not the Heat were going to win it all (consensus: 4, no, yes). We also discussed Stephen Malkmus’ song about Brandon Jennings and Scott Skiles, whether Lance Stephenson or Gerald Green are the waiver-wire pick up of the year in fantasy (Basketballmonster.com says it’s Green, by a lot), the Disco Biscuits, Jeff Teague’s shortcomings, and the glory days of the fantasy show on NBA TV when Kamla was “in the fantasy flat, wearing a hoodie.” But we saved the best for last, as we both needed good things out of Matt Barnes, for various reasons. He was never called ‘Barnes’ or ‘Matt.’ The only way we referred to him was as ‘Matt Barnes!,’ and every time Matt Barnes! would do something, good or bad, we would either celebrate him or curse him. I’m glad there is no video of us exploding after a Matt Barnes! 3-pointer, or cursing a Matt Barnes! missed free throw, but it was a blast. If it’s been a while since you’ve gotten together with any of the guys in your leagues to watch hoops and drink a couple beers, you should probably think about reversing that trend.
Clippers Down Suns
The Clippers, propelled by Blake Griffin, crushed the Suns. You can go ahead and put Blake’s name in the hat for MVP, and while he’s still got a lot of ground to make up to catch the other two guys, he is rolling right now. He may or may not have been “elbow punched” by P.J. Tucker, causing Tucker to be ejected. We watched the replay several times in slow motion, but I still am not sure if the elbow made contact. What I do know is that Tucker could be facing a one-game suspension, and that Griffin went nuts for 37 points on 14-of-16 shooting before fouling out. He didn’t do a whole lot of anything else, but he did keep his strong free throw shooting on display, knocking down 9-of-10. As I’ve been saying all year, he’s a much better free throw shooter these days, which is a key reason for why his fantasy value is so much stronger than it used to be. He also had six turnovers, but I think we can give him a pass on that one. The Clippers have won eight straight games and Griffin is averaging 25.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.0 steals in March, shooting 61 percent from the floor and nearly 70 percent from the line. And if he keeps it up, and the Clippers keep winning, you’ll start hearing him thrown into the discussion for MVP, along with LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Chris Paul double-doubled, DeAndre Jordan had 17 rebounds, Darren Collison stayed hot with 20 points and the Clippers beat a good Suns team pretty easily. Jamal Crawford suffered a setback with his injury, apparently trying to come back too early to face his former team (the Hawks) on Saturday. As long as he’s out, Collison is a strong play in any format.
The Suns saw all five starters and seven players score in double figures, not surprisingly led by Goran Dragic’s 23 points and 16 from Gerald Green. Eric Bledsoe was hoping to play last night, but it looks like he should be in action on Wednesday after missing all of January, February and March due to knee surgery.
Hawks Get Win Over Jazz
The Hawks stopped a six-game skid with a win over the Jazz, as Kyle Korver scored 26 points and hit three 3-pointers, and Paul Millsap came through against his former team with 23 points, eight rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers. It’s too bad these guys can’t face their former team every night. The game was closer than it should have been down the stretch, as Jeff Teague missed a couple free throws that could have iced the game. He’s been anything but clutch this season and has been just as frustrating in real life as he has to fantasy owners. Late turnovers, a lack of confidence, missing clutch free throws and being outplayed by Shelvin Mack are just a few of the things Teague has struggled with all year. The Hawks are going to have to decide if it’s time to move on and find a new point guard (Kyle Lowry, anyone?) or continue to give the car keys to Teague. All five Hawks starters hit double digits in the win.
The Jazz also put all five starters in double figures, led by Trey Burke’s 23 points and five 3-pointers, while Marvin Williams, Richard Jefferson, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward all put up decent lines last night. Enes Kanter also managed to stay hot off the bench with 11 points, nine boards and a block in another loss.
Bobcats 105, Nuggets 98
The Bobcats have somehow won seven straight at home and are 18-14 in the house that Jordan built this season. As expected, Al Jefferson dismantled the Nuggets for 26 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block, while Kemba Walker hit 6-of-15 shots and 12-of-12 free throws for 24 points, six boards and seven assists. Chris Douglas-Roberts stayed relevant with nine points and a bunch of goodies in another start for Gerald Henderson, who remains questionable for Wednesday with a calf injury. Gary Neal scored 19 off the bench and remains a guy to keep an eye on as long as Henderson is out.
The Nuggets got 24 points and a full stat line from Ty Lawson, but Wilson Chandler and Randy Foye were just too quiet for Denver last night.
Nets Nip Raptors
The Nets are 20-11 at home after beating Toronto last night as Shaun Livingston and Deron Williams each scored 18 points. Paul Pierce bounced back with 15 points and Joe Johnson scored 14 in the win. We got more shenanigans from Marcus Thornton, who remains the most inconsistent performer in professional sports right after scoring five points on 2-of-6 shooting. He’s scored 5, 27, 4, 20, 3, 25 and 10 points in each of his last six games, so he should be ready for another explosion against the Heat on Wednesday. But that’s far from a guarantee and if you roll the dice on him in that one, you’re doing so at your own risk (or reward).
For the Raptors, Amir Johnson came through with 16 points, five rebounds, two steals and four blocks on 8-of-14 shooting. With Patrick Patterson out indefinitely with an elbow injury, and a great schedule the rest of the way, Johnson should now be owned in all leagues. Kyle Lowry led the way with 21 points and another flirtation with a triple-double, while DeMar DeRozan cooled off with 14 points on 3-of-9 shooting. He’s played very well all season, so this just looks like an off night to me. Tyler Hansbrough added 16 points and four boards off the bench, and is going to get some run with Pat-Pat down and out.
Heat Beat Wiz
Dwyane Wade graced us with his presence in a back-to-back game for just the second time all season and played well, finishing with 22 points, five rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block on 8-of-17 shooting. If you played him this week, cross your fingers that you might finally get a full four-gamer from Wade. LeBron James isn’t nearly as fun to own when Wade is playing, but still hit 10-of-15 shots and three 3-pointers for 23 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals. Chris Bosh hit 10-of-14 shots and two more 3-pointers for 22 points, seven boards, two steals and a block, and is averaging just under one 3-pointer per game on the season. Over his last five, he’s hit seven of them, good for a 1.4 average. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the champs.
The Wizards got 14 points and 18 rebounds from Marcin Gortat, who continues to be one of the most underrated centers in the NBA. But Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker and John Wall combined to hit just 7-of-27 shots, which is the reason they weren’t able to give the Heat another L. Drew Gooden, who I wrote about in this week’s Waiver Wired column, had 15 points and three rebounds off the bench, while Martell Webster was able to help fill the hole left by Ariza with 17 points and four 3-pointers. I still don’t think they’re worth picking up in most leagues, but just keep an eye on both bench players for the Wizards.
Knicks Kick Sixers
Amare Stoudemire stayed hot with 23 points, six rebounds and a block, and was a very strong play last night with Tyson Chandler out for personal reasons. The Knicks also got 22 a piece from Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, while Tim Hardaway Jr. finally put it all together for 28 points and five 3-pointers on 9-of-13 shooting off the bench. He doesn’t do much beside hit threes and score some points, but would be worth owning if he played that well more often.
Michael Carter-Williams looked like a strong play against the Knicks, as he’s just too fast and too good to be stopped by Raymond Felton. If you used him, you probably had a good night after his 23-13-10 triple-double explosion. Thaddeus Young posted another big stat line, Henry Sims came through with 10 points, three rebounds, a steal and a block, while James Anderson (17) and Tony Wroten (23) both stayed for the struggling Sixers.
Bucks Bounce Magic
Lost in all the Blake Griffin hoopla last night was the big line Khris Middleton posted, going off for 21 points, six rebounds, seven assists, two steals, a block and five 3-pointers on 5-of-13 shooting. That’s a great start to a five-game week, so I hope you had him in your lineup. Brandon Knight had 24 points, despite hitting just 1-of-9 3-pointers, and Ersan Ilyasova added 16 points, 11 rebounds and a 3-pointer in the win. Ramon Sessions paid off if you gambled on him for five games, finishing with 16 points and eight assists, while John Henson continues to show signs of life with 10 points and eight boards, but didn’t block a shot. Jeff Adrien, who I reluctantly threw in a weekly lineup, completely disappeared with zero points and one rebound in five minutes. I haven’t heard of an injury, and am now just praying he bounces back. Even with last night’s black hole, Adrien is still averaging 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks over his last five games, which tells you how hot he had been before Monday’s disaster. And good ol’ O.J. Mayo continues to bottom out for Larry Drew, getting just four minutes off the bench, missing his only shot and committing a turnover. I really thought he was going to have a good season, but I’m not sure things could be going any worse for him in Milwaukee.
The Magic saw all five starters in double-digit scoring, led by Moe Harkless’ 14 points, four rebounds and three 3-pointers. Victor Oladipo was back in action off the bench last night and had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting in just 19 minutes. He’ll eventually eat into the playing time of Harkless, but he got 34 minutes last night. Harkless has been on a hot streak, but now that Arron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson and Oladipo are all healthy, his run could slow down to a trot. Kyle O’Quinn started at power forward, pushing Tobias Harris to the bench again, and had 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, while Nikola Vucevic double-doubled in the middle for the Magic. Harris still got 26 minutes off the bench for 11 points and eight boards, but I was hoping for more against his former team. Hopefully his stint off the bench is just a temporary thing, but it may not be.
There are seven games on Tuesday night, featuring Boston @ Indiana, Sacramento @ Detroit, San Antonio @ Chicago, Portland @ Memphis, Milwaukee @ Minnesota, Houston @ Oklahoma City and Dallas @ Golden State.
I’d generally try to avoid Celtics, Spurs and Bulls in daily leagues, as all three teams are facing stout defenses, but that Spurs-Bulls game should be fun to watch.
I’m expecting big things from DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay against the Pistons, Zach Randolph, Monta Ellis and James Harden have revenge games against their former teams, and Kevin Love and the regular Timberwolves should have some fun stat lines against the Bucks tonight. I also expect Stephen Curry to run circles around Jose Calderon and the Mavericks tonight, while Dirk Nowitzki shouldn’t have much trouble abusing David Lee.
Good luck on Tuesday night!