There were 10 games on Friday night and loads of breakout performances to talk about. The Pistons starting unit went to town against Brooklyn while Steve Nash finally looked like his old self. With plenty to cover, let’s get right to the action.
Hill buries the Blazers
George Hill, mired in a season-long funk, broke out in a big way Friday night against Portland, notching a career-high 37 points on 12-19 shooting with nine boards, eight assists, two steals, and a block. The fact that his near triple-double came against All-Star Damian Lillard makes the showing even more impressive and Hill owners had to be pleased given the fact that he’s averaging just 11 points and 3.5 assists overall this year.
Unfortunately this line comes with a disclaimer and that’s the absence of Lance Stephenson, who missed the game with a sore back. Stephenson isn’t expected to be out long so it will be interesting to see if Hill can build on his floor general performance once Stephenson returns to the backcourt. Another factor in Hill’s breakout was the poor performance of Paul George, who shot just 5-23 from the field but still salvaged 17 points, six rebounds, and seven assists.
One of the many things that Hill had going that he can certainly build upon is his chemistry with David West. The big man dropped 30 points and 10 boards on 10-13 shooting and was in a good rhythm throughout the game. Unfortunately for Hill owners this is probably the best that Hill will be all year and even if he gains some confidence and improves, his value will never be higher than it is today so if you’re looking to move him, now is the time.
Lillard does his thing
While George Hill was making the headlines and getting the win for his team, Damian Lillard was showing people why he’s an All-Star. The point guard hit 15-26 shots including four triples on his way to 38 points and 11 assists. It was just his fourth double-double of the season but it was a big one. Lillard was aggressive and got to the basket quite a bit which was nice to see after his timid game against New York on Wednesday. Lillard is rewarding owners with second round value in most leagues and is one of the top point guards in the game.
Pistons trio sinks Nets
Detroit dominated Brooklyn on Friday night behind a huge showing from the starting unit, most notably Josh Smith, Andre Drummond, and Brandon Jennings. Smith, who has been the subject of recent trade rumors, was terrific in notching 23 points, eight boards, seven assists, and four blocks. He also showed discipline from the field, knocking down 9-16 shots overall including 1-4 from deep.
While Smith looked like his versatile self, teammate Andre Drummond was busy owning the paint. The big man put up 16 points and 22 rebounds, adding one steal and one block for good measure. He did shoot 2-8 from the free throw line but that’s par for the course. The second year man is rewarding owners on a nightly basis with his huge defensive numbers and it’s worth noting that this was the second time this season in which he’s grabbed over 20 rebounds.
Then there’s Brandon Jennings, who had one of his best games of the season with 26 points, 10 boards, nine assists, and five three-pointers. He nearly notched a dubious quadruple-double thanks to his eight turnovers but alas Jennings was mostly fantastic. Coming off a brutal 5-23 shooting game on Wednesday, his 8-13 performance was good to see. Having said that he’s only shot over 50% from the field eight times this season so don’t get used to the efficiency. Jennings is providing good mid-round value thanks to his solid point, assist, and three-point shooting numbers but his field-goal shooting and turnovers will always temper his value.
Nash turns back the clock
Steve Nash looked pretty healthy on Friday night, handing out five assists to go along with a season-high 19 points. It was the most points he’d scored since March of 2013 and he looked good smooth doing it. The Sixers aren’t a very good defensive team and pretty much everyone on the Lakers played well but Nash’s performance was encouraging nonetheless. His nagging injuries make him a constant risk to sit out games but he’s certainly worth owning in most leagues given his strong play when he’s on the floor.
On the other side of the floor Michael Carter-Williams wasn’t looking so hot. The dynamic rookie shot just 4-12 from the field for 10 points, seven assists, and four turnovers. It appears that he may have hit the rookie wall and the All-Star break couldn’t come soon enough for fantasy owners. Over his last five games MCW is averaging 13.8 points, 5.8 assists, and four turnovers while shooting under 40% from the field. If you’re looking to buy low, the window is officially open.
Kyrie gets back on track
After reportedly being benched during Wednesday’s game against the Lakers, the Cavaliers star guard bounced back on Friday with a nice game. Helping the Cavs end a six game drought, Kyrie Irving had a double-double with 23 points and 12 assists. He was a perfect 13-13 from the line and looked sharp in the Cavaliers offense. The franchise fired GM Chris Grant on Thursday and replaced him with current VP of operations David Griffin so it’s clear that the team is in a state of flux as a whole. As a first round draft pick in most fantasy leagues Irving has been mildly disappointing but he’s still elite and hopefully he’ll use Friday night’s performance as a stepping stone.
Miles making noise
Luol Deng was a late scratch on Friday due to an undisclosed illness, making way for C.J. Miles to start in his place. Miles responded with 18 points, four rebounds, and two steals on 7-11 shooting. He added two triples and would be worth an immediate pick-up if Deng went down for a long period of time but the starting small forward isn’t expected to miss a significant amount of time. As it stands Milles is coming off three straight games of double-digit scoring and is worth a look in deep leagues for his three-point production.
DeRozan takes flight
In the last game of the night DeMar DeRozan combatted a superior Clippers squad with a feisty performance. The shooting guard put up 36 points including 17-19 from the charity stripe, adding five boards, eight assists, two steals, and one block. DeRozan has been a revelation this season thanks to his high-scoring numbers and volume shooting from the line. The departure of Rudy Gay paired alongside his chemistry with Kyle Lowry has made DeRozan a fantasy gem. He’s come a long way and owners should just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Clippers tandem on fire
While DeRozan did his best to keep Toronto in the game, the Clippers were just too much thanks to a stellar group effort. Blake Griffin led the way with 36 points and eight boards while Jamal Crawford dropped in 21 with six boards and six assists. DeAndre Jordan wrapped things up with 18 points, 13 boards, and two blocks. He did shoot 10-22 from the free throw line which likely buried some fantasy teams in weekly leagues.
With Chris Paul set to return on Sunday, the machine known as the Clippers will only get better in real life. In the fantasy world Darren Collison will take a major hit while Crawford could see a slight dip once J.J. Redick returns. Owners of Collison may want to see what kind of value he can withstand in 20-25 minutes a night but he’ll likely be a plug and play guy the rest of the way.
Sullinger has career night
Jared Sullinger led the Celtics to a victory on Friday night against the Kings, dropping a career-high 31 points to go along with 16 rebounds. He shot 14-24 from the field, adding one steal, one block, and a triple. The big man is on fire right now, averaging nearly 24 points and 14 rebounds per contest. He’s anchoring the squad right now and while some owners will want to sell high his outlook for success is very high for the rest of the season.