• Carlos Boozer's calf strain has been designated as moderate – there is a slight tear in the muscle, but all things considered it's "not as bad as it could have been." He missed Friday's game and will be re-evaluated on Monday, at which time the team should have a better read on how quickly things might heal and how much longer he's expected to be sidelined. Paul Millsap got the start Friday and went off, posting a line that included 32 points, 14 boards and seven assists in 43 minutes.
Jerry Sloan heaped the praise on Millsap after the game and added that "He needs to get more minutes." There won't be a shortage of minutes while Boozer is out and he's been effective as a sub this season (26 minutes, 10.4 points, 55% FG, 6.0 boards, 1.7 steals-plus-blocks as a reserve), but fantasy owners are very likely to have to wait until next season before Millsap is pushing starters' minutes. Boozer's departure from the Jazz is close to inevitable, but his current injury and likelihood to test free agent waters, with or without a change of address at the trade deadline, makes it much more likely that it will happen this off-season.
• Brandon Roy's(notes) return from his hamstring injury has been pushed back yet again. He's already been ruled out through the weekend, and Nate McMillan said it would be a surprise if he were available Monday. His new targets are now either Wednesday (@UTH) or Thursday (SAS). … Rudy Fernandez(notes) took his turn in attempting to pick up the slack for Roy on Friday, scoring 25 points in his 25 minutes of playing time (5 threes, 5 boards, 1 steal, 1 block).
• Nicolas Batum(notes) had another solid showing Friday (28 minutes, 12 points, 1 three, 9 boards, 5 assists, 1 steal) and outplayed starter Martell Webster(notes) (21 minutes, 2 points, 1-of-7 FG). Although he was the expected starter before a shoulder injury cost him roughly three months of action, Nate McMillan isn't in a hurry to swap out Webster and Batum. Although there figures to be fewer minutes available for all parties when Roy is back, there is another lineup possibility that could help Batum deliver some consistent fantasy impact, via The Oregonian:
McMillan has batted around the idea of playing Batum at power forward, so it’s at least a possibility that McMillan could start Webster and Batum at forward and slide LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) over to center — particularly against a team with a small front court like the Rockets. But McMillan resisted the idea on Friday. He said he likes Batum’s production off the bench, particularly as he continues to search for consistent play from both first and second units.
• Chris Kaman(notes) missed Friday's game with an ankle injury that is not considered serious. He felt good enough to test it in warmups but wasn't happy with how strong it felt. He hopes to be back in the lineup Monday.
• Welcome back, Kevin Martin(notes). After having made just one field goal in three consecutive games, K-Mart delivered a more expected line Friday (33 points, 4 threes, 9-of-9 FT, 7 boards, 2 steals). His production did not limit Tyreke Evans(notes) (25 points, 13-of-15 FT, 6 assists, 2 steals), but the backcourt pair got little help from their teammates in the 101-94 loss.
• Francisco Garcia(notes) suffered a setback Thursday when he fell on his right wrist in practice. While he technically didn't suffer any futher injury, the fall compounded soreness that he has been feeling while he's been practicing with the team and has forced him and the team to re-focus on a cautious approach regarding his return. While there was optimism in recent weeks that he'd be able to return around Feb. 1, there is no specific timetable and Paul Westphal simply said "He'll be ready when he's ready." The small forward position remains in flux for the Kings, but standard-leaguers who recently rostered Garcia won't be faulted if they make a move here and look for more immediate help.
• Brandon Rush's(notes) solid production in big minutes continued Friday (12 points, 2 threes, 6 boards, 1 steal, 2 blocks). Over the past nine games, he's averaged 13 points on 52-percent shooting, 2.1 threes, 4.9 boards, and 1.4 steals-plus-blocks in 33 minutes. … Troy Murphy(notes) has been starting at center for the Pacers in recent games, but was pushed to the bench for the matchup with Shaquille O'Neal(notes) and the Cavs, who proceeded to trounce the Pacers 94-73.
• Marcus Thornton(notes) hit five threes Friday (20 points, 5 boards, 1 steal) and his averages in three games since joining the Hornets' starting five include 19 points on 54-percent shooting, 3 treys, 89-percent foul shooting, and 1 steal in 40 minutes.
• Maybe a stern talking-to was exactly what J.R. Smith(notes) needed to turn things around. He hit 5-of-10 threes Friday (18 points, 2 steals) and has averaged 17.3 points, 3.3 threes, 4.7 boards, and 2.3 steals in 32 minutes over the past three games. … Carmelo Anthony(notes) (ankle) missed his third straight game Friday and his status for Sunday should be established sometime on Saturday.
• George Hill(notes) was effective while filling in for Tony Parker(notes) on Friday (18 points, 5 assists, 2 turnovers, 3 steals, 1 block) and should be running the point for at least a few more games. Over his past six games (all starts), Hill has averaged 15.5 points on 49-percent shooting, 1.3 threes, 2.7 assists, 1.2 turnovers, and 1 steal in 33 minutes.
• Anthony Tolliver(notes) was back in the starting lineup Friday and delivered exactly the kind of line (27 minutes, 13 points, 1 three, 6 boards, 1 steal, 1 block) that could make him a sneaky-good roster add moving forward. Of course, the Warriors were beaten handily by the Bobcats in the contest (121-110) and Don Nelson's opinion of Vladimir Radmanovic(notes) seems to change by the day. As it stands, Tolliver is a good "system" fit is the team's best option at power forward, a move that would allow Corey Maggette(notes) to continue his high-level production at small forward, his "natural" position.
Photos via Getty Images