With five games on Christmas Day that were all pretty bad, and uniforms that were even worse, it truly was a good day to get away and catch your breath in the midst of a long season.
So I hope you had a great time during the holidays and we’re going to jump right in. For all of your real-time news and fantasy information you can click here to follow me on Twitter.
TIMESHARE IN CHICAGO
I was feeling bad for the Bulls the other day and that should tell you everything you need to know about the Nets, as the Bulls went into Barclay’s Center and extracted a Christmas Day win. Jimmy Butler returned to action and scored 15 points on 4-of-10 shooting with two threes, five boards, four assists and a steal, but perhaps the most consequential fantasy news on their side of the box was the timeshare at point guard between Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin.
Hinrich started and logged 20 minutes on his way to six points, three rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block, and Augustin continued to look good with 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting, two rebounds, five assists and two steals in 33 minutes off the bench. Hinrich is getting the veteran benefit of the doubt right now, but Augustin is definitely the player to own considering we haven’t heard any bad news about his durability and he has a legit shot of outplaying Captain Kirk.
Mike Dunleavy scored 13 points with seven rebounds, one steal and one three with Luol Deng out, and Taj Gibson took advantage of the Nets’ weak interior to the tune of 20 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 28 minutes. If Gibson had been dropped in standard leagues he’s been a near must-stash player all season, so do what you can to make the add.
BROKEN IN BROOKLYN
It’s hard to know what’s really going on in Brooklyn, as the GM has a bad enough record to lose his job, the owner has spent amazing amounts of money, and if that last point wasn’t the case the team would probably decide to tank the rest of the season away. Everything looks like it should be falling apart, but with that much money on the line I wouldn’t count on the Nets simply going away. Now they may decide to try hard and fail, but I just have a hard time summarily dismissing them even as they lose at home to a broken-down Bulls team on Christmas Day.
The box score was ugly after the 17-point loss. Deron Williams hit 6-of-10 shots for 18 points but had just two threes, four assists and one steal to show for his effort. Joe Johnson scored 12 points and as usual didn’t do much else, Alan Anderson started and scored two points, Kevin Garnett went for six and seven with two steals in his 19 minutes, and Andray Blatche hit just 1-of-11 shots for seven points and five boards in 26 minutes.
Paul Pierce hit just 1-of-8 shots for six points, four rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes, and Jason Terry was given 24 minutes of playing time for some reason and returned one point and one assist. Terry is Derek Fisher-level bad these days. Despite their struggles I’d simply bench Pierce and I’d probably keep Blatche in lineups given a better than 50-percent chance he will produce the next time out.
Mirza Teletovic scored 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting with three treys, two boards and two blocks, and he deserves a hard look in standard leagues for his Andrea Bargnani-like production.
EVERYBODY THROW A PARTY THE THUNDER BEAT A DEEPLY FLAWED BASKETBALL TEAM
The Knicks are a terrible basketball team and the Thunder rolled right over them, which kept things pretty simple from a fantasy point of view. Russell Westbrook triple-doubled with 14 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, one steal and one block, Kevin Durant scored 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting with four treys, seven boards, six assists and two steals, Serge Ibaka hit 10-of-14 shots for 24 points, three rebounds, one steal, one block and one three, and Reggie Jackson scored 18 points with three treys, two boards, two assists and one steal in the blowout win.
TODAY IN KNICKS BASKETBALL
Carmelo Anthony did not play because of his ankle injury and though it’s unfair to peg this on him, but one has to wonder how badly he wanted to be associated with the Knicks on this marquee day. Raymond Felton was also out, which meant it was Beno time for the Knicks. Beno hit 1-of-6 shots for two points, four boards and six assists and looked awful in the process, while Toure Murry scored six points on 2-of-5 shooting with four rebounds and three assists in his 15 minutes. I think we’d have seen Murry sooner if he really had the goods, but Mike Woodson isn’t exactly the fastest guy at figuring things out and I’d keep a close eye on Murry over the next few weeks.
Iman Shumpert scored eight points on 3-of-8 shooting (including a three) with seven rebounds, four assists and two steals in his 27 minutes, which proves that he does indeed have a pulse, and J.R. Smith was free to make just 8-of-22 shots for 20 points, six rebounds, three treys, three assists and a steal. Andrea Bargnani played just 16 minutes and finished with nine points and two boards, while Amare Stoudemire scored 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting with two rebounds and one block in 27 minutes. I doubt Stoudemire can keep it going and I’d so my best to make sure that Bargnani is really going to disappear before dropping him, just knowing that the Knicks don’t have any real options to replace him with on most nights.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 points in 38 minutes off the bench last night, and he’s the guy everybody wants to get more touches and minutes for the Knicks. It’s unclear what he can do in either fantasy or reality, but he’s worth a look in deep leagues right now and standard league owners should keep a close eye on him.
THE HEAT IS ON (ON THE STREETS)
The Heat took a little bit long than they should have to dispatch the Lakers, but eventually knocked out a 101-95 win. Dwyane Wade continued to impress with 23 points, six rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a three, LeBron James was quiet with 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists, and Chris Bosh had his way with 23 and 11 with a steal in the win. Mario Chalmers added seven points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals and he continues to rebound from a slow stretch a few weeks back.
FARMAR BACK IN THE FOLD
The Lakers got Jordan Farmar back to start at point guard and that actually brought minimal disruption to the fantasy equation, though there are still significant issues for owners to overcome. Farmar hit 1-of-7 shots for three points, five rebounds, two assists and four turnovers, but he’s likely to be better as he gets his legs back underneath him. Jodie Meeks kept his foot on the gas with 17 points, four treys, four boards, three assists and two steals, and this is definitely as good as it gets for the 3-point specialist.
Wesley Johnson hit four treys to finish with 12 points, two boards and two assists, highlighting the eclectic yet solid upside he has in a significant role. Nick Young scored 20 points on 7-of-18 shooting with four treys and an otherwise swaggy line of just two rebounds and one assist, and Xavier Henry was moved back to the reserve unit and had a tepid 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting (4-of-7 FTs) with five boards, two assists, four turnovers and two steals in 26 minutes. I wasn’t on the Henry train to begin with and he can be dropped in almost any format.
Jordan Hill showed how quickly he can rise in the ranks with nine points on 2-of-6 shooting (5-of-9 FTs) with 10 rebounds, three steals and three blocks, which means he should be added if he was dropped anywhere. Chris Kaman was a DNP-CD, highlighting the tenuous grip he has on a rotation spot let alone fantasy value.
The Rockets rolled with their A-team in yesterday’s win on the road against the Spurs, with each of their starters playing 33-43 minutes. James Harden scored 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting with three treys, six rebounds, six assists and two blocks despite his ankle injury, Jeremy Lin rounded out the inconsistency with his last performance and scored 13 points with eight assists, one steal, two blocks and a three, and Terrence Jones went nuts for 21 points, 14 rebounds, one steal and three blocks. Performances like that will go a long way toward deterring Houston from breaking their neck to get a power forward.
The crew of five-game fantasy stop-gaps didn’t have such a swell night, as Aaron Brooks scored just six points with two threes in 14 minutes, Omri Casspi had just seven points, two assists and a three, and Francisco Garcia managed just two assists and one steal in his 14 minutes.
In typical Spurs fashion, they lost a nationally televised game against a big-name team and chances are they could care less about it. Tony Parker scored six points with three rebounds, four assists and one steal in 31 minutes, Marco Belinelli scored nine points with not much else in another 22-minute start, Tiago Splitter had one steal and two blocks to go with six and four, and Tim Duncan had a big night with 11 and 14 with five assists, one steal and six blocks.
Kawhi Leonard scored 13 points with seven boards and Manu Ginobili continued his impressive season with 22 points, three treys and three boards in 25 minutes off the bench.
BATTLE OF THE JOKERS
The Clippers are easily one of the most hated teams in the league, which comes from their win-at-all-costs attitude regarding flopping, the aloofness, and over-celebrating after dunks. So of course they’d have a rivalry with my Warriors, who also have generated a reputation around the league as prima donnas. There were plenty of fireworks all night, and it was easily the best game of the night, and also the one with the worst officiating. As far as selling the NBA and maintaining its monopoly on Christmas Day, it was a total swing and miss for the association with the god awful uniforms and pointless game following Blake Griffin’s ejection.
Griffin was essentially flagrantly fouled by Andrew Bogut in the second half and was ejected because the refs not only looked at the monitor but still decided to assess a double-technical foul, which was Griffin’s second tech and therefore he had to go. Blake finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in 32 minutes, and the Clippers lost by two points in a game that saw both teams talking trash well into the night.
Chris Paul went for 26 and 11, Jamal Crawford scored 19 points, and DeAndre Jordan went big for 13 and 13 with a steal and six blocks.
There weren’t too many surprises on the Warriors’ side of the box, as Stephen Curry hit 5-of-17 shots for 15 points, six rebounds and 11 assists, Klay Thompson got hot for 23 points on 10-of-22 shooting with five rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks, Andre Iguodala picked up the pace with nine points, three treys, four rebounds, four assists and two steals, David Lee went for 23 and 13 with three assists and a block, and Harrison Barnes continued to be mostly pedestrian with 14 points on 3-of-13 shooting, one three, five boards and one block in 25 minutes off the bench.