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Fantasy Playoff Punchout

Rotoworld
Free Agency: Part 2
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Part 2 of Free Agency Frenzy is here and the Bucks offer more questions than answers, as we wait to see …

Depending on where you sat, last night had the potential to crush fantasy title hopes.  Whether it was an opponent getting a big name back unexpectedly, a random benching so a rookie could play, or a benching by dispute – there were more than enough pitfalls and an equal number of massive outings to make last night a difference maker in playoff formats.   

With a full slate, let’s dive right into Big Wednesday and get you ready for tonight.

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TEAGUE TIME

Devin Harris (foot) did not play last night in the Hawks’ easy win over the Raptors, but everybody else was present for fantasy roll call.  Jeff Teague went nuts for 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting with three treys, four rebounds, 13 assists and a steal, Al Horford went for 26 and 12, and Josh Smith scored 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting with three rebounds and three steals in the cakewalk.  Kyle Korver’s eight points, two threes, three rebounds, and two steals in 23 minutes probably has owners on edge, but his 3-point shooting is so good that he can justify a lineup slot based simply on that.  He extended his 3-pointers streak to 64 straight games. 

RUDY’S RETURN

Amir Johnson was dealing with some banged up ankles coming into last night’s game and left with a quad bruise to end his night.  It’s a worst-case scenario for the Raptors if he has to miss any time, as Jonas Valanciunas is the team’s only other serviceable big man unless you want to count Aaron Gray.  JV showed what he’s capable of if given minutes and touches with Johnson playing just 20 minutes, posting 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds and one block. 

The fantasy story on the Raps’ side of the box was Rudy Gay, though, as he returned from his back injury to put up 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting with 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals in 35 minutes.  He could end up playing a good amount of power forward in some small lineups if Johnson misses time, so the rebounding total shouldn’t be glossed over.  Then again, banging with power forwards is probably the worst thing for his back, and in general he’ll be a shutdown risk.  Still, it’s a solid turnaround for owners and he needs to be owned in all leagues, obviously. 

Kyle Lowry played through his nicked up knee, scoring three points on 1-of-5 shooting with seven rebounds, 10 assists and one steal in 34 minutes.  Our blurb said it best – he has had a strange season – and he looks bound to take a backseat scoring to Gay and DeMar DeRozan (14 points, 5-of-14 FGs, not much else).  If you’re looking for beneficiaries in all of this madness, Alan Anderson scored 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting with two threes, two assists and two steals in 31 minutes, and Terrence Ross scored 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting with five rebounds, one steal and one three in 24 minutes.  Both lines represent a decent baseline expectation for both guys, and I’d slide them both up a bit if Johnson misses time and if Gay misses time then Anderson will be a must-own player, with Ross being a stronger speculative add.  Plan accordingly. 

SPAT

Brandon Jennings (zero points) was at the top of fantasy owners’ hit list last night after he got into it with Jim Boylan and was benched after just 17 minutes.  If we’re speculating he could get suspended for conduct, but owners should tread lightly with adding J.J. Redick (eight points, 2-of-12 FGs, 35 minutes) as a speculative add.  He’s just not consistent enough right now for owners to get all that aggressive, and Monta Ellis (29 points, seven assists) is going to siphon off most of the value available if Jennings continues to slide.  I’d consider Mike Dunleavy (nine points, four rebounds, one steal, one block, one three) a better bet for upside if Jennings implodes, but his health and consistency are always a question mark. 

Ersan Ilyasova hit just 5-of-17 shots but still exploded with 13 points, 18 rebounds, a steal, a block, and a three.  Any struggles by Jennings will also be a boon to Ilyasova’s value, while Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s return from a toe injury will subtract about 20 minutes from the rotation overall. 

HAWESOME

The Sixers took the gift of infighting from the Bucks and made off with a win, which is a rare occurrence these days.  Spencer Hawes kept his foot on the gas with 15 points, 17 rebounds and four assists but didn’t have a steal or block.  He’s a must-start player right now making a big difference in fantasy leagues.  Damien Wilkins has been a sneaky value lately, and he posted 18 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and one three in 26 minutes last night.  Dorell Wright has also held standard league value lately and put up 14 points, three treys, five assists and a steal in 28 minutes off the bench.  Give both guys a look and note the Sixers’ upcoming weeks of three and four games, in that order. 

GREEN WITH ENVY

Courtney Lee (ankle) did not travel to Cleveland for last night’s game and Paul Pierce got his first start at shooting guard in six years, which turned out very good as he scored 19 points with 10 rebounds, eight assists, one steal, two blocks and a three.  As the primary ball-handler he did throw the ball away seven times, which is one reason he and his boys only won by a point against the lowly Cavs.  Jeff Green was the hero again with a last-second layup to secure the win, as he finished with 21 points, two threes, seven boards, five assists, two steals and a block over 42 minutes.  In any game with Kevin Garnett (ankle, rest) or Pierce out owners shouldn’t be surprised with results like this.  Garnett is out for the rest of this week and the following week is a question mark. 

Brandon Bass has been quietly providing low-end value, but last night he took a favorable matchup against the Cavs and cashed in with 22 points on 8-of-14 shooting, five rebounds and two assists.  He did not have a steal or block but beggars can’t be choosers and this is a win if you picked him up.  Jordan Crawford scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting with one rebound, four assists and two steals in 26 minutes off the bench, and while he’s a much better option than Jason Terry (five points, 21 minutes) and maybe even Avery Bradley (three points, 1-of-7 FGs, three assists, two steals), it’s a reminder that he isn’t going to run wild as long as Pierce is on the floor. 

LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR

The Cavs lack bodies and that has made most of their heavy-minute guys relevant in fantasy leagues, but on a bad team owners will have to take some inconsistency back in that equation.  Wayne Ellington scored 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting (including a three) with three rebounds and three steals in 33 minutes, and he has been posting serviceable, low-end value in standard formats.  Shaun Livingston (12 points, 5-of-13 FGs, five assists, one steal, one block) has been a bit better and is a must-own player in normal formats. 

Tyler Zeller (11 points, nine rebounds, one block) is still just a deep league asset, and Tristan Thompson (two points, 1-of-6 FGs, nine rebounds, no steals or blocks, 24 minutes) will bounce back in short order.  C.J. Miles is a better bet in 9-cat leagues where his 0.3 turnovers per game over the past two weeks can help out, but he’s still only a 14-team value after his 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting with three treys, four rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block in 28 minutes last night.  As you can imagine, that value wasn’t looking all that great before last night’s surge.  Despite the pedestrian results, there is a big enough opening for minutes and touches that it’s plausible that Miles can improve to standard league value. 

DR. QUINN, MEDICINE MAN

Nikola Vucevic reported improvement with his concussion and said he’s not shutting it down this year, but Kyle O’Quinn’s career-high 23 points with 11 rebounds, six assists and one steal will give the Magic a cushion with which to operate.  I think Vucevic will work on his own schedule for the most part, but if there is any doubt it helps that O’Quinn is producing.  The opposing Bobcats do tinge O’Quinn’s performance, but he’s well worth an add for owners needing a big man and is also a speculative add given the uncertain nature of concussion injuries. 

DeQuan Jones was moved into the starting lineup as the Magic have moved deep into the youth movement, and responded with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, two rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks in 31 minutes.  He’s not breaking down any doors with that performance and will have threats from E’Twaun Moore (12 minutes, three points, two assists, three steals, one block) and Beno Udrih (18 minutes, nine points, five assists, three turnovers), but he’s worth keeping tabs on while he’s starting.  In a deeper league, feel free to make the speculative add but keep expectations in check.  I’m not going off any information that I have, but it makes sense that the Magic tote their young guys out against a team like the Bobcats, and they might revert to Udrih when playing against heavies. 

Andrew Nicholson (ankle) did not travel for last night’s game, and that takes the already impressive commitment to playing Tobias Harris and Moe Harkless to a whole new level.  Harris hit 10-of-20 shots for a career-high 29 points with nine rebounds, six assists, one steal, three blocks, two threes and a 7-of-8 mark from the line in 45 minutes.  Harkless played 44 minutes and scored 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting with two threes and four rebounds but he didn’t have a steal or block, which is rare.  Congratulations are in order if you picked up either guy, but especially Tobias. 

BOBCAT BREAKOUT

Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson took advantage of their great matchup against the Magic in style, as both of them rattled off 34 points with impressive lines.  Walker hit 13-of-23 shots with two threes, seven rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two blocks, and Henderson hit 12-of-18 shots with seven rebounds, a steal, a three and a 9-of-10 mark from the charity stripe.  They have been top-30 and top-15 plays over the last two weeks in 9-cat formats, respectively. 

Bismack Biyombo got on the board with 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and three blocks, and the big outing pushed him up into low-end value over that same span.  He’s still a desperation play down low for owners in 12-14 team formats given his inconsistency.  Josh McRoberts (shoulder) was downright impossible to start in weekly formats with uncertainty about his status, but he started last night and scored six points on 3-of-4 shooting with eight rebounds, three assists and a block in 33 minutes.  It’s a fair expectation for owners to target with anything above that being icing on the cake.  Byron Mullens did Byron Mullens things with two points on 1-of-5 shooting, one rebound and three assists in 14 minutes.  With Biz playing well and McBob penciled in ahead of him, the outing is explainable but not exactly an outlier.  At this point in the season, expecting Mullens to turn the corner on consistency issues is not advisable, even if he gets hot again. 

CHEWING THE GRIZZLE

The Grizzlies are in a bit of a bind.  They’re not playing any defense and Marc Gasol’s abdominal injury may have taken some wind out of their sails.  Gasol surprised everybody by playing last night, scoring 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting with five rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in 36 minutes, but he clearly wasn’t himself and he’ll need to be watched closely going forward.  Friday and Saturday’s back-to-back set will be a good indicator of where he is.  This bumped Ed Davis into a DNP-CD and he will probably sink owners that rolled with him in weekly leagues. 

Mike Conley is now going to shoulder more offense, scoring 26 points on 6-of-16 shooting with two threes, four boards, six assists, one steal and a 12-of-14 mark from the line last night.  Zach Randolph totally disappeared with three points on 1-of-3 shooting, four rebounds, three assists and five turnovers in 25 minutes.  That’s two straight games with single-digit shot attempts, and we’ll be watching to see if an injury pops up or if there is a chemistry issue in the lineup right now. 

Jerryd Bayless has been scoring more recently, so I’d start looking there if I was hunting down any chemistry issues, and he finished with 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting, four treys, one steal, one block, four turnovers and zero assists in 32 minutes.  There’s enough to hold onto here with Bayless given Gasol’s health, but if the Grizzlies diagnose a potential chemistry issue it’s possible that Bayless goes back to his limited role off the bench.  Beyond that, it stands to reason that if/when Randolph starts scoring again, that it would come out of Bayless’ bucket before other guys. 

Tony Allen scored 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 10 rebounds and two steals, but Bayless is the guy to own here in standard leagues.  Darrell Arthur (eight minutes) is back to being irrelevant in fantasy leagues, but that could change if the frontcourt gets rested down the stretch. 

RESOLVER

I mentioned last week that it was weird to hear reports about Tyson Chandler’s neck injury possibly resolving itself quickly, as that implied it could also ‘not resolve itself’ just as easily.  The latter scenario is where we’re at and he couldn’t even ‘look up’ according to one report.  I do believe the injury could ‘resolve itself’ quickly, but this is obviously a fluid situation.  Kenyon Martin delivered a dud with just four points, three rebounds and a steal in Chandler’s place, which moves him further into deep league status while Chandler is out. 

There was an Iman Shumpert (16 points, four treys, two steals, 21 minutes) sighting, but we need to see more before getting on that ride.  Carmelo Anthony (22 points, seven rebounds) played 40 minutes and it looks like he’s moving past the knee issue, at least for now.  Raymond Felton unhooked the piano with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, four assists and two threes, and J.R. Smith went ballistic with his second straight 30-plus point outing, scoring 35 points on 10-of-18 shooting with seven rebounds, one block, three treys and a 12-of-13 mark from the stripe.  Nice. 

HEY, WHERE DID EVERYBODY GO?

Bradley Beal (ankle), A.J. Price (groin), Nene (knee), Martell Webster (abdomen) and Trevor Ariza (flu) did not play last night.  Beal’s injury is still cloudy, Price has been out a while, Nene is banged up and on the shutdown watch list, Webster is probably more day-to-day than week-to-week if I had to guess, and Ariza’s flu has to end soon.  With all of those guys out John Wall fell into the trappings of carrying too much load, hitting just 3-of-18 shots (12-of-15 FTs) for 18 points, four rebounds, 12 assists and a steal, and that obviously won’t pay the bills in reality basketball against the Thunder. 

Kevin Seraphin (12 points, 6-of-14 FGs, eight boards, no steals or blocks, 31 minutes) and Trevor Booker (10 points, eight rebounds, one steal, one block, 27 minutes) were beneficiaries, but both still need injury assistance before they’ll be worth anything but a very speculative add in standard leagues.  Of course, such injury assistance isn’t out of the question at this stage of the season.  Garrett Temple posted his customary 13 points, two threes, and two assists but he did add four steals to spice things up.  He has low-end value in 12-14 team formats with a currently heavy minute role, but it will be tenuous as guys get healthy.

R.O.C.K. IN THE OKC

The Thunder got to tap the brakes in their 23-point win, so it was a quietly strong night for the usual suspects.  Russell Westbrook scored 21 points with four boards, four assists, a three and a 10-of-11 mark from the foul line, and Kevin Durant scored 20 points with six rebounds, six assists, a block, a 2-of-2 mark from deep and a 10-of-10 mark from the line.  Serge Ibaka hit just 2-of-8 shots for seven points to go with seven boards, one steal and four blocks, and Kevin Martin scored 18 points with three treys to stay off the side of a milk carton.  Thabo Sefolosha has moved off the fantasy radar as quietly as he moved onto it, but he had a decent night with eight points, two threes, one steal and one block in 19 minutes.  He’s hovering in the 18-22 team range over the past two weeks.   

PAU, HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW

News rolled in on Metta World Peace’s knee injury and he’s going to miss at least six weeks.  This hasn’t generated a real fantasy winner, as the beneficiary last night in Antawn Jamison (18 points, two threes, five rebounds, one block, 26 minutes) is visibly dealing with a shooting wrist injury.  Jodie Meeks drew the start and also the short end of the stick with five points on 2-of-7 shooting, four rebounds, three assists, one steal and one three in 35 minutes.  Unless Meeks gets hot on any given night, he’ll look a lot like this.  Go into that ownership equation with a willingness to deal with the roller coaster, or don’t go into it at all. 

Dwight Howard went off for 25 and 16 with five steals and five blocks.  He may be peaking at the right time.  Kobe Bryant got his crooked shooting number from the last outing straight, hitting 12-of-21 shots for 31 points and a full line.  He could be hit and miss in that regard, but last night was a good sign that his ankle is getting healthy.  Pau Gasol rewarded owners for their patience and trust after a bumpy return to game action, scoring 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting with nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.  Get him back in all lineups after an explosion like that, and don’t get too caught up in whether or not he starts.  He’s going to get as many minutes as he can handle.  Earl Clark played 13 minutes and can be ignored for now.  Just be ready to move if the injury bug hits even harder. 

FOUL PLAY

Nikola Pekovic led the box score on the Wolves’ side, scoring 19 points with 16 rebounds, two steals and a block, but the talk after the game was a controversial no-call when Kobe Bryant appeared to foul Ricky Rubio (13 points, seven assists, three steals) on a game-tying 3-point shot attempt.  I couldn’t tell from the replays that I saw, for whatever that’s worth (not much).  Andrei Kirilenko scored 11 points on 3-of-8 shooting with two rebounds, three assists, and three steals in 27 minutes, which isn’t winning any titles but is heading toward a serviceable four-game week. 

Chase Budinger scored 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting with one three, nine rebounds, two steals and one block in 24 minutes off the bench.  The 120-117 score certainly enhanced his production, but he’s worth a look after that type of effort even if he’s still a better fit for deeper leagues.  J.J. Barea got back on the board with 11 points and seven assists, but I expect inconsistency from the wing guys and none of them are must-own players in standard leagues.  Just keep in mind that the Wolves’ favorable schedule gives them a boost.  Derrick Williams bounced back from a dud to score 15 points with six rebounds, a three, and his usual goose eggs elsewhere.  I put him in the same boat as the wings. 

REDEMPTION IS STILL SPELLED R-O-Y

David West (back) and Danny Granger (knee) did not play last night and that left the door open for Roy Hibbert (28 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks) to cash in.  Props to him for turning it around.  George Hill (two points, 1-of-11 FGs, four boards, five assists, two steals) wasn’t the only Pacer to struggle last night, but he returned from his groin injury to play 38 minutes and that is a small victory.  Owners will want to watch his status for the tail-end of the back-to-back tonight. 

Paul George hit just 4-of-17 shots for 16 points and an otherwise reasonable line, and may have been preoccupied with his assignment on James Harden.  Tyler Hansbrough is a decent bet to go for something like his 16 and eight when filling in for West, and he’s worth owning until West can get back on the court.  Lance Stephenson also returned from a groin injury, and he fared much better than Hill with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting, five rebounds, three assists and one steal in 35 minutes.  Owners should take a season-long view of his value and account for both his teammates’ struggles and the uptempo matchup against the Rockets. 

I NEED A VACATION

James Harden (22 points, 6-of-24 FGs, eight assists, three treys) and Chandler Parsons (11 points, 5-of-14 FGs, two boards, three assists) are potential rest candidates according to a recent report, and both of them struggled shooting the ball last night to add a small amount of fuel to the fire.  Still, the Rockets are battling for a playoff spot and rest doesn’t seem all that likely for either of them, at least for now.  Greg Smith came out of nowhere as he tends to do once every few months, scoring 18 points with 19 rebounds and not much else in 32 minutes, but he needs to do it again before owners in most formats consider an add.  Just take a look at his game log if you need further convincing. 

CLIPPERS CRUISING

The Clippers cruised to an easy win over the Hornets on the road last night, with no real surprises in the box score.  Chris Paul (16 points, six rebounds, nine assists, four steals) and Blake Griffin (19 points, five boards, 7-of-8 FTs) led the way, and Chauncey Billups aggravated his groin injury and didn’t finish the game.  Matt Barnes (eight points, six boards, two threes, no steals or blocks, 21 minutes) was quiet but he still has a nice window to produce in with Billups hurting. 

SQUEEZE THE LEMON

Eric Gordon (ankle) returned from his most recent ailment, scoring 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting with three steals, and in a bit of breaking news he grabbed a rebound.  Have fun squeezing the juice out of that lemon.  Anthony Davis hit 9-of-13 shots for 19 points, nine boards and a steal, but he didn’t get a block in an otherwise strong outing.  Good Robin Lopez (13 points, eight boards, one block, 29 minutes) showed up, while bad Greivis Vasquez returned from his ankle injury and went scoreless on just two shot attempts.  Vasquez logged 28 minutes but with just two boards and four assists it was pretty clear that he’s not yet healthy. 

Brian Roberts played 28 minutes himself, scoring 10 points with three rebounds, three assists and two threes, and if Vasquez’s ankle doesn’t chill out then he will likely be used to spell the starter.  Roberts is still a deep-league asset unless you’re gambling on injuries to help him out.  Al-Farouq Aminu pulled his disappearing act with five points and four rebounds in 19 minutes, and Ryan Anderson crashed after a solid outing on Monday with just eight points, five boards, a block and no threes in just 21 minutes.  As usual, I’m not worried about Anderson. 

THE STREAK IS OVER

I said in a chat that the Heat wouldn’t break the Lakers’ streak and I was starting to get a bit worried, but as it usually goes a team that doesn’t appear to have a chance is able to pull off the unthinkable.  The Bulls were banged up but their home crowd came ready to go, and the Heat didn’t have enough defense or role player contributions to extend their streak to 28 games. 

LeBron James scored 32 points with seven rebounds, two steals, four blocks and two threes, and the immediate concern is that he will get some time off now that the streak is done.  The same could be said for Dwyane Wade (18 points, 7-of-13 FGs, seven rebounds, four steals, one block) and his minor knee ailment, and I’d even extend that to Chris Bosh (21 points, four rebounds, one steal, four blocks, one three).  Erik Spoelstra will likely rotate any rest between those guys, but I wouldn’t mind seeing what it would look like if all three were out, just for fits of giggles. 

BULLS ON PARADE

Derrick Rose (knee) did not play and only God knows when he will, so perhaps it’s time for owners to say a prayer.  Marco Belinelli (abdomen) and Joakim Noah (foot) were both game-time decisions that didn’t end up going, and owners can safely evaluate them as if they’re day-to-day.  It was behind that backdrop that the Bulls ended the Heat’s massive winning streak, powered by Luol Deng’s team-high 28 points, seven rebounds, five assists, four treys and two steals over 44 minutes.  

Jimmy Butler got into the action with 17 points, two threes, four rebounds, five assists and two steals, but he needs this type of injury help to be worth an add after serious inconsistency issues.  Kirk Hinrich (seven points, five rebounds, six assists, one steal, one three) played 32 minutes and brought the point guard position back to its early season form, as Nate Robinson scored 14 points with three assists in 21 minutes.  I wouldn’t give up on Robinson in the general sense, but he can obviously be dropped for an average to above average free agent.  Taj Gibson (six points, five rebounds, five assists, one block, 31 minutes) is worth a look as a spot-play if Noah misses more time, while Carlos Boozer went off for 21 and 17 to go with a steal and block in the win.

UNLEASH THE KRACKEN

Ty Lawson is probably out for Friday’s game after struggling to the tune of two points on 1-of-7 shooting and not much else in 20 minutes.  Of course, that means Andre Miller (14 points, five rebounds, eight assists) and Andre Iguodala (10 points, seven assists) will be well-positioned to pick up the slack. 

This was one of those games in which George Karl runs heavy with his second unit, and JaVale McGee was the star of that show with 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting, 11 rebounds, two steals and three blocks in 26 minutes.  We’ve seen what can happen when Karl decides to let the erratic big man loose (see playoffs, last year).  Maybe Karl will decide that now is the time to prep in that manner for the playoffs, so give McGee strong consideration as a stash if he is on your league’s wire. 

Wilson Chandler scored 15 points with five rebounds, three assists and a block in 34 minutes off the bench, and it looks like he has survived his shoulder scare.  I’d peg him as a deep league asset when the Nuggets are at full strength, but with Lawson hurting he’s worth a look in standard formats.  Just keep in mind that the Nuggets finish the year out with three-game weeks. 

AGELESS

Tony Parker suffered a right middle finger sprain last night but played through it and finished with 18 points and 11 assists.  It obviously didn’t limit him, but it does give Pop another reason to get his point guard some rest, as if he needed any added motivation in that department.  Danny Green scored 20 points with six treys, a steal and a block, and the ageless one Tim Duncan put up 23 points, 14 boards, a steal and five blocks in their one-point win over the Nuggets. 

TRAGIC

I don’t know if it was Lindsey Hunter’s call or if it came from above, but resting Goran Dragic to play Kendall Marshall was a slap in the face of both fantasy owners and competitive basketball.  Marshall will need to take the Jason Kidd route to playing point guard in the NBA, but the glaring problem is that he’s not Jason Kidd.  The Suns are desperately trying to make something of their lottery pick, but doing it at the expense of whatever continuity they have is a team-killer.  Yes, they could be tanking, but even when tanking it’s wise to try and build chemistry.  Losing in embarrassing fashion every night doesn’t do that.   

They got crushed by a struggling Jazz team last night, and while I’ve bagged on Marshall a lot he will have value if Hunter is going to toss him the ball with heavy minutes.  He scored seven points on 2-of-7 shooting with three rebounds, 13 assists, a steal and five turnovers in 34 ticks, but defenses aren’t going to respect his shot and the problems will continue to mount in Phoenix.  As for his fantasy value, it’s tied to Dragic’s status and owners need some unexpected news before making an add there. 

If there was any consolation on the Suns’ side, it’s that the production was somewhat consolidated last night.  Wes Johnson scored a season-high 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting with four treys and three steals in 40 minutes, and Luis Scola scored 20 points with seven rebounds in 33 minutes.  Markieff Morris scored 10 points with six rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks, and Jared Dudley scored 10 points with two threes.  The only consistent value here is Johnson and everybody else is a crapshoot in any normal format.  Jermaine O’Neal played through his sore calf and managed just three points on 1-of-7 shooting with four rebounds and a block in 16 minutes.  He might get it back together at some point, but betting on it is another story. 

FINALLY

The Jazz did this really amazing thing last night that (sarcasm alert) nobody could have ever thought of.  They didn’t repeatedly pound the ball into Al Jefferson with no regard for balance, and for once the vibe out of the locker room was good.  Yes, the Suns can make anybody feel good, but this is a big development for the Jazz as a whole and it might even mark a philosophical shift.  They’re running Big Al (25 points, 12-of-23 shooting, nine rebounds, two steals, two blocks) toward the end of the shot clock, including more pick-and-roll options to get guys involved. 

Mo Williams got back into the swing of things with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting and 10 assists, and Gordon Hayward continued his surge with 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting, three treys, five boards, and six assists in 42 minutes. 

Enes Kanter dislocated his shoulder and will get an MRI today, making him a pretty good bet to miss the season.  Paul Millsap (12 points, 6-of-9 FGs, four rebounds, two steals, one block) didn’t win any awards in the box score last night, but both he and Derrick Favors (nine points, 13 rebounds, two steals, two blocks, 25 minutes) get some breathing room with the development.  If Favors is on your wire, now is a good time to make the grab and I think he should be owned in most cases, regardless.  Especially if the Jazz fall out of contention, it’s possible that Jefferson gets some late season rest and Favors taps that upside, after all. 

THE PIZZA GUY DELIVERS

It finally feels like Kings fans and analysts are understanding how good Isaiah Thomas is, but man alive it has taken forever.  Thomas scorched the nets with 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting, seven treys, three rebounds, seven assists and a steal, but still managed to get benched until the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter for Toney Douglas (five points, 16 minutes), who turned the ball over on two straight plays in a critical stretch.  Keith Smart, everybody. 

The Kings almost lost the game during that time, but Thomas got back in the game and promptly drilled a three to get things under control.  Tyreke Evans played despite a stomach ailment, scoring 12 points with three rebounds and five assists, so he’s right where he should be in the fantasy sense.  DeMarcus Cousins was also benched but more severely, finishing with 14 points, six rebounds, two steals and five turnovers in 23 minutes.  No, he was not happy about it. 

WARRIORS WOBBLING

My concerns about the Warriors when everybody was crowning them the ‘We Belong’ team and handing out Coach of the Year awards have come true, as they lost at home to the lowly Kings and kept the chance of falling out of the playoff picture alive.  They’ll make the playoffs unless the Jazz’s new ‘pass the ball’ theory changes their fortunes, but they’re limping as badly as any team in the West. 

Stephen Curry was bothered by Isaiah Thomas’ defense and hit just 5-of-18 shots, but still scored 17 points with 12 assists, five boards, and four steals.  Klay Thompson had perhaps the worst night of his career, hitting just 1-of-13 shots for four points, three rebounds and four assists.  Andrew Bogut put up serviceable big man numbers yet again with 12 points, nine rebounds, a steal and four blocks in 27 minutes, and he has quietly morphed into a reliable fantasy option.  David Lee went for 20 and 10 with four assists and six turnovers, and Jarrett Jack scored 16 points with seven assists in the loss.  Carl Landry scored 16 points with seven boards, but he needs to do it again before owners in most normal formats start to bite. 

THE HUSTLER

Joe Johnson (heel) did not play and he questioned whether or not he’d play on this road trip, so that makes him questionable for the next three games.  Keith Bogans (11 points, three treys) started in his place and is worth a look if you need a 3-point specialist, while C.J. Watson (four points, 17 minutes) is officially off my mention list until he can show something. 

The story of last night was Reggie Evans, though, as the Hustler had a career-best night with 22 points and 26 boards.  The Blazers handed the scoring output to Evans on a platter, and the takeaway is the same as usual – give him a look if you’re trying to make up ground on the glass.  Brook Lopez scored 28 points, Deron Williams was quiet with six points on 3-of-11 shooting to go with 10 assists, and Gerald Wallace scored 12 points with six rebounds, five assists, and two steals in a turn-back-the-clock effort.  We’ll wait until Crash isn’t returning to play his old squad before we even think about declaring him ‘back.’ 

BLAZED

The Blazers did not show up to play in a national TV game at home, which was probably the last gasp for playoff life.  LaMarcus Aldridge suffered a right ankle injury and played through it in the first half, but left during the fourth quarter with the game already decided.  He still had 24 points, four boards and a block in 32 minutes, and he’ll be evaluated today to determine his status for Friday.  I’ve long been concerned about his various dings impacting him down the stretch, and while it’s probably a bit too soon for the Blazers to wave the white flag owners should keep an eye on Meyers Leonard (11 points, nine rebounds, no steals or blocks, 26 minutes).  If you’re desperate for a big man and ready to gamble, he could be worth a very speculative add. 

Everybody else struggled last night, and it’s possible the heavy utilization among the starters will start to take its toll in the box score.  You’re not dropping any of the Blazers’ key guys though, so owners will just have to hope that they can gut the rest of the season out. 

NEWS AND NOTES

Will Bynum (hand) will be sidelined for the near future, so give the proper bump to the wing crew in Detroit. 

THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

LAL @ MIL:  Pau Gasol was “tired and sore” and owners should be ready for some slippage, but I’ll have him in lineups after his solid outing yesterday.  We’ll be on the lookout for news on Brandon Jennings after last night’s drama.  If you’re looking to stream somebody give J.J. Redick and Mike Dunleavy a look, especially if Jennings is suspended. 


IND @ DAL:  David West (back) and Danny Granger (knee) are questionable.  We’ll be watching Mike James to see if he can keep up his wily ways.  O.J. Mayo dinged up his shoulder on Monday, and while there has been no report owners will want to make sure he’s playing tonight.  From there, the question will be if he can get back on track.


SAC @ PHO:  The Kings have a sweet matchup against the Suns so John Salmons is a potential streaming option, as is Patrick Patterson and Jason Thompson.  Marcus Thornton also fits the bill.  Goran Dragic’s owners will be waiting by the computer with fists clenched, and grabbing Kendall Marshall as insurance isn’t the craziest idea if you have that type of roster flexibility. 

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