• Gerald Wallace packed a lot of production into 21 minutes (17 points, 6 boards, 2 assists, 0 turnovers, 4 steals) before leaving with an ankle injury thanks to a completely unnecessary foul by Baron Davis(notes). From the AP recap:
Wallace was driving for a fast-break layup after a steal when Davis grabbed him around the waist and knocked him to the floor with 1.5 seconds remaining. Wallace - who was unavailable for comment after the game - laid there for several minutes, holding his head as team medical personnel worked on him, but he returned to hit a free throw and stake the Bobcats to a 16-point halftime lead.
"He was going so fast to the hole that I was just trying to cut him off," Davis said. "I had no intentions of trying to hurt him or flagrant foul somebody, especially when they're fighting for a playoff position ... I was just trying to give a foul to stop a basket. I guess his momentum was just carrying him too fast, and I kind of misjudged it."
X-rays were negative but Larry Brown said that the team will "see what happens tomorrow" before making any comments about his availability. Wallace's fantasy owners should just keep their fingers crossed (or pray, as Stephen Jackson(notes) suggested) - Tyrus Thomas(notes) and D.J. Augustin(notes) would see a bump in minutes if Wallace were to miss any length of time.
• Chris Paul(notes) was cleared Friday to begin participating in drills with teammates at 75 percent. No news has not been good news in Paul's case, so it's definitely a positive, even if he remains on an indefinite timetable. He missed his 20th consecutive game Friday and a look at the Hornets' schedule shows two sets of back-to-backs (on the road) over the next six days, which doesn't leave much time for Paul to fit in the "with teammates" portion of this latest step in his rehabilitation.
His owners shouldn't anticipate his returning the active roster before that string of games end, and that also means that Darren Collison(notes) should be huge during at least the first week of the h2h playoffs. Conspiracy theorists may just see this as just another carrot by the Hornets to keep the fans interested, as they are in a hopeless position in terms of the playoffs, but I'm still not convinced that is the case. The Hornets' upcoming off days (Saturday, Tuesday, Friday, next Sunday) should be when we find out how much progress Paul is making, or if he has any setbacks.
• Julian Wright's(notes) Friday production (37 minutes, 13 points, 8 boards, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 5 steals) represents a best-case scenario for his line while Peja Stojakovic(notes) sits for another 10 days or so, but the talent to deliver some defensive stats is definitely there. The fact that he's seen 37 minutes in back-to-back games at least illustrates that he's going to get plenty of run in the interim.
• Jason Terry(notes) returned to practice with the Mavs Friday, wearing a mask in the wake of his March 5 facial surgery. He won't play Saturday but is "definitely" targeting one of the Mavs' two games next week (Wednesday CHI, Friday BOS) for a return. He wasn't a fan of the mask Friday, saying "he couldn't see the basket," he'll have a number of practices over the next week during which he can adjust.
• LeBron James(notes) called his downtime over the past week a blessing that allowed him to regenerate with rest and treatment, and he certainly didn't miss a beat upon his return Friday (23 points, 3 treys, 6 boards, 10 assists, 1 turnover, 1 steal, 3 blocks) ... Delonte West(notes) scored in double figures for the sixth consecutive game (31 minutes, 17 points) and his averages in those games include 17 points on 52-percent shooting, 0.3 threes, 3.3 boards, 4.5 assists, 1.5 turnovers, and 1 steal in 30 minutes.
• Antawn Jamison(notes) (knee) missed Friday's game, as was largely expected, but he said previously that he won't miss Sunday's matchup with the Celtics. Leon Powe(notes) got the start Friday but did very little (15 minutes, 0 points, 3 boards), while Anderson Varejao(notes) was once again big-time off the bench (33 minutes, 12 points, 12 boards, 3 assists, 1 turnover).
• Eric Gordon(notes) missed his fourth consecutive game with a "sore right leg", and the continued lack of substantive updates doesn't bode well for his playing Saturday, either. Steve Blake(notes) returned to the bench and gave way to Travis Outlaw(notes) on Friday, who started at small forward and pushed Rasual Butler(notes) to shooting guard. Outlaw was effective (38 minutes, 16 points, 4 threes, 1 steal, 1 block) and certainly has value with starters' minutes, but his playing time is obviously directly tied to Gordon's availability.
• Derrick Rose(notes) missed the Bulls' game on Friday because of a sprained left wrist, and he's currently listed as day-to-day. An MRI of the wrist showed no fracture or ligament damage and the hope is that he'll be back in the lineup for the Bulls' next game Tuesday at Memphis. Jannero Pargo(notes) started in Rose's place (37 minutes, 20 points, 2 threes, 1 steal) ... James Johnson(notes) had another productive game in Luol Deng's(notes) stead, going for 20 points, two threes, six boards and two blocks in 43 minutes. Deng (calf) is currently expected to be back for Tuesday's game, however.
• Quentin Richardson(notes) hit seven threes (34 minutes, 23 points, 7 boards) for the third time this season and the second time in just over a week. Q-Rich is suddenly consistent from a relative perspective in that he only went two games without reaching double figures. His averages over the past six games include 16.7 points on 54-percent shooting, 4.2 threes (on 8.3 attempts), 6.3 boards, and 1.3 steals in 34 minutes. Dorell Wright(notes) isn't doing himself any favors, which at least bodes well for Q-Rich to maintain that level of playing time ... Michael Beasley(notes) missed the game with a bruised left thigh and is day-to-day.
• Mario Chalmers(notes) had his shot falling for a second consecutive game (29 minutes, 17 points, 5 threes) and easily out-produced Carlos Arroyo(notes) (36 minutes, 5 points, 2-of-10 FG). There's no indication that he'll push Arroyo for the starting gig in the near future, and it's unwise to expect consistency in minutes or production as a reserve.
• Another reasonably productive game for Terrence Williams(notes) (14 points, 6 boards, 3 assists, 2 turnovers, 1 block), with the most important number being 32 minutes played. Trenton Hassell(notes) started once again at small forward but played only 18 minutes.
• James Harden(notes) will miss the next two to four weeks with a strained right hamstring, effectively ending his fantasy season. The No.3 overall pick had his fantasy impact limited while playing behind Thabo Sefolosha(notes), but has showed good signs overall - his per-36 minute averages on the season include 15.6 points, 1.9 threes, 5 free throws, 5.1 boards, 3.1 assists, 2.2 turnovers, 1.6 steals, and 0.4 blocks. Sefolosha and Eric Maynor(notes) will see surplus minutes while Harden is out.
• Tim Duncan(notes) played just 25 minutes in the easy win over the T-Wolves Friday, which could improve his chances to stay in the active lineup Saturday in the second game of the team's back-to-back, but keep an eye out for game-day updates ... Richard Jefferson(notes) was back in the starting five for the Spurs and took advantage of the favorable matchup (34 minutes, 19 points, 1 three, 9 boards, 3 assists, 0 turnovers, 1 steal, 2 blocks). R-Jeff has clearly struggled to this point, but perhaps he's ready to step up and help fill the void that Tony Parker's(notes) injury has created on offense.
• The JaVale McGee(notes) roller coaster ride continued Friday. He followed up Thursday's 20 points and nine boards in 38 minutes with four points and four boards in 23 minutes. He's also failed to block a shot in three games following a five-game stretch during which he averaged 3.8 blocks. The advice here is to continue to roll with it, as his role isn't going to change and averages of 10/6/1.5 are certainly useful, particularly with the Wizards playing four games in each of the next three weeks.
• It's hard to beat the short-term boost that Will Bynum(notes) is providing while Rodney Stuckey(notes) is sidelined, particularly in light of Friday's gem (5 points, 3 boards, 20 assists, 3 turnovers, 2 steals, 1 block). Stuckey has done some light drills with the team but has yet to return to practice on a full basis and remains out indefinitely. The Pistons [schedule] travel to Atlanta Saturday and then have another back-to-back on Monday/Tuesday, and it's certainly difficult to envision Stuckey being active for either of those games at this point ... Jason Maxiell(notes) has very quietly put together a string of nice games while filling in for Ben Wallace(notes). Friday was his second consecutve double-double (12/10) and he's averaged 9.4 points on 51-percent shooting, 10.6 boards, 0.8 steals, and 0.6 blocks in 31 inutes over the past five games. Wallace (knee) may not be too far from returning - John Kuester said that he's moving around better - but there's still no specific timetable for a return.
• Another start for Tracy McGrady(notes) produced another poor line (24 minutes, -25, 4 points, 1 of 5 FG, 4 assists, 3 turnovers), while Bill Walker(notes) (33 minutes, 21 points, 2 threes, 4 boards, 4 assists, 1 turnover, 2 steals) and Toney Douglas(notes) (26 minutes, 19 points, 2 threes, 6 boards, 1 steal) were effective off the bench for the Knicks. Sergio Rodriguez(notes) put up some numbers (11 points, 1 three, 4 assists, 1 turnover) relative to his playing time (17 minutes), but it wouldn't be a shock to see roles change for any of the four players on Saturday. Nor would it be a shock if nothing changed at all.
• The Bucks continued their serious roll Friday, beating the Jazz for their 11th win in 12 games. During that stretch, their opponents are averaging 87 points per game. Brandon Jennings(notes) has put together three straight solid performances (20.3 points, 45% FG, 3 treys, 5.3 assists, 2.7 turnovers, 1 steal), Andrew Bogut(notes) is beasting on everyone (16.9 points, 53% FG, 77% FT, 11.1 boards, 3.6 blocks since the ASB), and John Salmons(notes) has proven to be a tremendous acquisition (19.3 points, 1.5 threes, 86% FT, 1.2 steals as a Buck).
• Andrei Kirilenko(notes) left Friday's game with a strained left calf and is questionable for Sunday's game. C.J. Miles(notes) (31 minutes, 17 points, 4 steals) stands to benefit if AK ends up missing any length of time.
• Another stinker for Robin Lopez(notes) Friday (18 minutes, 6 points, 0 boards), and he's now averaged 6 points on 42-percent shooting, 5.2 boards, and 1.7 blocks in 21 minutes in six games since his 30-point, 12-rebound effort against the Clippers. His starting role is most certainly not in jeopardy, but he's a pretty shaky fantasy option these days ... Friday marked one of those occasions where Louis Amundson(notes) has a really productive game (28 minutes, 11 points, 10 boards, 1 steal, 4 blocks), as Channing Frye(notes) was serving a one-game suspension.
• Now that we've got a bit more of a sample size, let's take a look at Nicolas Batum's(notes) numbers as a starter: in 11 games, he's averaged 11.2 points on 54-percent shooting, 1.6 threes, 3.1 boards, 0.7 steals, and 0.7 blocks in 24 minutes. Those are certainly useful numbers but not huge. The Blazers have a number of options on the wing, so he's only going to play so much if he's not established as a hot hand early.
• Friday's line is exactly the kind of production that makes Francisco Garcia(notes) so appealing for fantasy purposes (30 minutes, 17 points, 3 treys, 2 steals, 1 block) and he's getting fairly settled in the Kings' rotation (27 minutes per game during March). With both Donte Greene(notes) and Omri Casspi(notes) floundering these days, it's getting easier to make a case for Garcia to be rostered by the game ... Jason Thompson(notes) once again played more minutes (26) than Spencer Hawes(notes) (17), but neither turned in a line that was a significant help to fantasy owners and this timeshare isn't going anywhere any time soon.
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