It was a busy night with 24 teams in action so I’m just going to cover the major fantasy stories. For the entire story of Wednesday night, be sure to browse through the player news today.
Chicago beats Orlando in triple-OT – Joakim Noah threw down 26 points, 19 boards, six assists, two steals and two blocks in the triple overtime thriller, having his way with Glen Davis and anyone else who got in his way last night. Jimmy Butler played 60 minutes and scored 21, Tony Snell came out of his shell with 15 points and a full stat line, while Mike Dunleavy and D.J. Augustin both played well. Carlos Boozer powered through a bout with the flu for 23 points, but had just one rebound, while Taj Gibson was quiet despite getting 43 minutes for the Bulls.
The Magic were once again without Nikola Vucevic (concussion) and Arron Afflalo (foot), which helped clear the way for Victor Oladipo to go nuts with a career-high 35 to go along with four boards, eight assists, a block, three steals and a 3-pointer. It wasn’t that long ago I was fielding questions about dropping him, which feels like a bad dream at this point. Tobias Harris made use of the extra clock with 22 point and 16 rebounds, while Jameer Nelson had another big night with 31 points, six boards, 10 assists and three 3-pointers. He cramped up near the end of the game, but should be fine.
Charlotte loses at Philadelphia – Kemba Walker was great again with 26 points, five boards, eight assists, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers in the loss, and Al Jefferson added 24 points, eight boards and a block. Things were relatively quiet for the Bobcats, except for the fact Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played just 17 minutes and scored one point. I don’t see many reasons to own him in standard leagues.
The Sixers saw big lines from Michael Carter-Williams, Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner, and it was nice to see Turner return to form with his first 20-point game in over a week. Hawes has hit double digits in scoring in three straight now, while MCW is finally starting to look like pre-knee infection MCW. Thaddeus Young has really cooled off and had 11 points and five boards last night, meaning the sell-high window has officially closed, while James Anderson started, but scored just six points. He should bounce back soon. Nerlens Noel has been cleared for b-ball activity, but there's still no guarantee he plays this season. I'm ignoring him.
Miami drops third straight at Washington – The Heat got 25 points and a full line from LeBron James, but he hit just 8-of-18 shots, which isn’t great for Bron’s high standards. Chris Bosh delivered with 26 points and seven rebounds, while Mario Chalmers (Achilles) sat out again, pushing Norris Cole into another start. Cole had 15 points, seven dimes and three steals, but the Heat lost again. That makes three straight L’s to the Knicks, the Nets and the Wizards, which isn’t exactly murderer’s row in the NBA. And while it doesn’t mean much in fantasy, from an NBA and human perspective, it was great to see Greg Oden back on the court last night, even if he had just six points and two rebounds in eight minutes. This was his first game since December of 2009 and word on the street is that he’s going to have to be able to do more than this, or he may be replaced by Andrew Bynum sooner than later.
The Wizards got nice games out of Nene (he’s red-hot), Bradley Beal (he needs more than 29 minutes) and John Wall (who played very well), and also got a fluke double-double from Trevor Booker, who hit all five of his shots and played 29 minutes. He’d been rendered useless by Nene’s return to form, so I wouldn’t get too excited about Booker’s 13 points and 11 boards last night.
Toronto beaten at Boston – The Raptors got the standard goods from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, while Jonas Valanciunas had an off night. Patrick Patterson crashed back to earth with two points and four boards on 1-of-3 shooting, which could signal the end of his hot run. John Salmons quietly had 13 points and a fat stat line, and is challenging Terrence Ross for playing time and production.
Boston got a whopper from Jared Sullinger, who went nuts with 25 points, a career-high 20 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a 3-pointer. It was impossible to see this coming a week ago when he had two points and three rebounds in 12 minutes, which came after a couple weeks' worth of struggles. But he’s back in the starting lineup and killing it again for the Celtics. Jeff Green struggled again, but can’t play much worse, Avery Bradley survived a right hand injury to score 20 points on 8-of-21 shooting, and Phil Pressey somehow had zero points and 10 assists in a start after the Jordan Crawford trade. Pressey’s run will be short-lived, as Rajon Rondo is expected to make his season debut on Friday. Jerryd Bayless crashed hard with one point and missed all his shots. He’ll be better than this on most nights, but this one stung owners who were looking for a monster line after Crawford was sent packing. And I was one of them.
Memphis beats Bucks – Marc Gasol is back, but in name only. He didn’t even score, marking just the second time in his career he’s gone without a point. He did play on the second night of a back-to-back, which is awful encouraging, and now looks like a good time to try to steal him from another owner. Zach Randolph and Courtney Lee, who were both very hot, were invisible last night, and both should bounce back soon. On the other hand, Ed Davis (14 points, 9 rebounds) and James Johnson (15 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 6 blocks, 1 3-pointer) posted one of those lines that makes you say “wow.” Of course, given how quiet he’s been lately, it was likely wasted on a ton of fantasy benches with so many other options last night.
Oh, the Bucks. Where do I begin? Or should I even start? Larry Sanders played 37 minutes but managed just 10 points and 12 boards, which is better, but still not good enough. John Henson had eight points, 13 rebounds and a block, which is OK, but not good enough. Luke Ridnour started at shooting guard, which is not OK. Khris Middleton was limited by his sprained ankle and played just 12 minutes, which is not OK. Giannis Antetokounmpo had six points, one rebound and one assists, which is not OK. Ersan Ilyasova hit 2-of-11 shots for four points, which is not OK after teasing us with 29 points on Monday. O.J. Mayo played seven minutes and didn’t score, which is not OK. As you can see from this highly analytical paragraph, the Bucks are not OK and I can’t really advise you to start any of them on your fantasy team, with the exception of Brandon Knight, who actually played well, or should I say, was OK last night.
Kings crown Wolves – Rudy Gay went nuts with 33 points and a great line, and is now averaging 24 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0, 1.4 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.8 3-pointers over his last five games. And while he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn in Toronto, he’s shooting 60 percent from the floor, 56 percent from downtown and 100 percent from the line over that stretch. DeMarcus Cousins double-doubled for the 12th straight game and Isaiah Thomas bounced back from Tuesday’s disaster with 26 points and seven assists as the Kings have won four of their last five games. They may not make enough of a run to make the playoffs in the tough West, but no one in the NBA is going to want to face this team when healthy.
Kevin Love had 27 points, 11 boards, five dimes, a steal and four more 3-pointers in the loss, but the rest of his mates were a pretty lackluster bunch.
Rockets sneak by Pelicans in New Orleans – Terrence Jones blew up for a career-high 25 points, eight rebounds and six blocks, and I still don’t understand why he’s not owned in more leagues. Chandler Parsons also looked good despite his sore knee, while Omri Casspi disappeared and didn’t score, which might have some deep-league meaning for a few of you.
Eric Gordon had season highs of six 3-pointers and 35 points and is now averaging 23.4 points, 3.8 assists, 1.4 steals and 2.6 3-pointers over his last five games, while shooting lights out from everywhere. Anthony Davis had a big game and Al-Farouq Aminu hit just 1-of-5 shots, but still managed seven points, eight boards, two dimes, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer. And with Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday all out until further notice, AFA should have some nice games coming.
Utah falls at San Antonio – Gordon Hayward sat out again with his hip injury, allowing Richard Jefferson to stay hot with 15 points and a full stat line, which is basically what he’s been doing for five games now with Hayward in street clothes. Hayward will be iffy again for Friday and has missed three straight. Derrick Favors double-doubled for the second straight game, Alec Burks backed up his 34-point game with 20 last night, and Trey Burke posted his third career double-double with 17 points and 11 assists. But it was Enes Kanter who really caught my eye with 25 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and no blocks on 12-of-15 shooting. He’s quietly scored in double figures in five straight games and has double-doubled in three of those. Meanwhile, “starting power forward” Marvin Williams failed to score in 21 minutes. I think it’s about time to pull the plug on Marvin, slide Favors to power forward and reinstate Kanter as the starting center. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? C’mon, let’s do it!
It was another ho-hum win for the Spurs, who got nice games out of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, another sterling performance from Kawhi Leonard (who is finally living up to the hype) and nice production out of Manu Ginobili and Marco Belinelli. They’re quietly so good they can lull you to sleep with the best of them, night after night. Manu’s hamstring injury still bugs me if I own him, but it’s nice to see Gregg Popovich is actually letting him play through it, and starting him to keep it warm.
Lakers losers at Phoenix – Pau Gasol surprised me and started despite his toe injury, going off for 24 points and nine boards in the process. I guess he’s fine. Wes Johnson stayed hot, while Jordan Hill was able to sneak his way into the starting unit and grab 10 boards. But it was Mr. Swaggy P himself, Nick Young, who stole all the thunder in this one. He got clocked on a dunk attempt, lost his mind and started swinging. It looked to me like he caught Goran Dragic with a right cross and I’m guessing that at least a two-game suspension is coming his way. And that should help guys like Jodie Meeks and Johnson. Kendall Marshall also stayed hot with another double-double of 10 points and 13 dimes, making for an excellent pickup.
Dragic stayed white-hot with a near triple-double, Gerald Green bounced back from Monday’s disaster with 28 points on 12-of-18 shooting, and was probably helped by the fact that Leandro Barbosa sat this one out with a shoulder injury. But I’m still in Green’s corner. Channing Frye stayed hot with 20, P.J. Tucker had 15 as he remains relevant and Markieff Morris kept up his act of teasing us with 24 points and seven boards on 9-of-14 shooting. Talk about a player who runs hot and cold.
Cleveland comes up short in Portland – My man C.J. Miles disappeared again with five points in 12 minutes and just like with Jarrett Jack, I’m moving on. Luol Deng is a beast again and had 25 points and a full stat line, and looks like he’s loving life in Cleveland. Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving both played well, but not well enough to beat the Blazers in Portland.
Damian Lillard torched the Cavs for 28 points and another full stat line that included five 3-pointers, proving once again that little dudes are going to have big lines against Kyrie and company. LaMarcus Aldridge was a beast with 32 & 18, as the Blazers continue to have one of the most potent starting fives in the league.
Nuggets surprise Warriors – Randy Foye bounced back from his 10-point game with 21 points and four 3-pointers, and has now hit double digits in scoring in 10 straight games. Pick him up. Nate Robinson hit 9-of-12 shots and three 3-pointers for 24 points, but was simply feeling it. He’d scored a total of 14 points over his previous three games, so pardon me if I’m not knocking people over to pick him up. Wilson Chandler was rock-solid and J.J. Hickson blasted the Dubs for 13 points and a season-high 24 boards. Kenneth Faried was in foul trouble and played just 17 minutes, but it’s nothing to panic about. Oh, and Ty Lawson did his usual number with 22 & 11 in the tough win.
David Lee went off, as power forwards are apt to do against the Nuggets, with 28 & 11, Andrew Bogut had 10 points, 10 boards and two blocks, and Andre Iguodala disappeared with three points on 1-of-7 shooting, but did have some noteworthy assists and steals. Iguodala has scored three or fewer points in two of his last three games, making him a tough start, despite the great D and solid 9-cat numbers.
Dallas drops close one at Clippers – Samuel Dalembert came out of nowhere to hit 9-of-13 shots and score 20 points, but had just seven rebounds and zero blocks. He’s the center to own in Dallas, but had scored a grand total of 18 points in his previous four games. Monta Ellis did a little bit of everything, Shawn Marion returned from a four-game absence for 14 points and six boards, and Dirk Nowitzki fought through a sore shooting arm with 27 points, eight boards and three 3-pointers. Brandan Wright hit 6-of-7 shots for 13 points and seven boards, but it’s hard to trust a guy who is lucky to play 15 minutes on any given night.
Darren Collison double-doubled with 13 points and 10 assists, and has been a nice grab for those of you lucky enough to get him. Blake Griffin had 23 points and a big stat line, and even hit 13-of-16 free throws. I think he has officially become a decent shot from the stripe, which gives him a big bump in fantasy value. Matt Barnes came out of nowhere for 25 points, seven boards and five 3-pointers, but it’s impossible to get a feel for when he’s going to do something like it again. J.J. Redick went off for a career-high 33 points, five assists, two steals and seven 3-pointers, making it worth the wait while he was out. Jamal Crawford had 16 points, seven dimes and two 3-pointers, but isn’t quite as exciting to own as he was when JJR was down and out.