I mentioned yesterday that the fantasy landscape was a bit dull, and though there weren’t wholesale adds to be found after last night’s flurry of injuries there was quite a bit of value shifting. With Kobe Bryant going down to a bad ankle injury and Tyson Chandler getting helped off the floor during a short stretch, it had the feel of chaos for a bit. Let’s get right into a busy 11-game night.
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THE FULL MONTA
The Bucks strolled into Washington and the tail-end of a back-to-back and couldn’t convert on a win, and Brandon Jennings continued to struggle scoring the ball. He hit just 2-of-8 shots for eight points but he did hand out 10 assists and steal the ball twice, which isn’t helping assuage owners fears about consistency but part of his output was linked to big nights from Monta Ellis and Ersan Ilyasova. Ellis hit 12-of-19 shots for 26 points, four boards, eight assists, two steals and a three, and Ilyasova was aggressive on his way to 21 points, 12 boards, two threes and two steals.
Ilyasova’s performance was extremely gratifying for owners as his knee issue was a question and he responded after a slow night on Tuesday. Compared to early in the year, his confidence is night and day and last night he was jab-stepping into fadeaway jumpers like it was nobody’s business. It also didn’t help Jennings’ cause that J.J. Redick was productive with 16 points and three treys. If you need a 3-point shooter, give Redick a look.
Mike Dunleavy might have been picked up by some of you with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (toe) not traveling with the team, but unfortunately he burned owners with a zero-point, four-rebound effort in which he missed all six of his field goal attempts. As has been the case for a while now, he can be dropped when he’s not producing.
You gotta give credit to Randy Wittman, who looked to be presiding over a mad house early in the year, as the Wizards are not an easy out anymore. Having John Wall (23 points, six rebounds, 10 assists, four steals, one three) around has certainly helped, but sticking with his veterans and going against conventional ‘play the youth’ wisdom has paid off. Emeka Okafor (six points, five boards) wasn’t great, but Nene (13 points, 13 boards, six assists, three steals, 6-of-15 FGs) was all over the place and Martell Webster (20 points, four treys, four boards, one steal) continued to produce.
Trevor Ariza (knee) wasn’t going to play until he changed his mind late, and he responded with 14 points, three treys, two boards and three assists in 30 minutes. Give him a look if he was dropped, but keep in mind that Bradley Beal’s eventual return could throw a monkey wrench into things. I mentioned Trevor Booker as a guy to watch if Ariza was going to miss time, but he did me one better by producing with Ariza around to the tune of 13 points and 12 boards in 22 minutes. I don’t know if he can keep it up, but when healthy he brings an athletic element to the equation and has been productive in the past. A.J. Price (groin) missed last night’s game, leaving Garrett Temple free to score 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting with three rebounds and four assists. If guys remain out, he could be worth spot-action in very deep formats, but otherwise it’s time to wait and see what happens with both Booker and Temple.
I mentioned yesterday that the struggling Sixers would put up a fight against the Heat and their 19-game winning streak, and that’s going to be the case going forward for the Heat as they won their 20th straight game last night. Dwyane Wade scored 21 points with eight rebounds, three assists and a block, but it was his first game without a steal since January 23. He has been an absolute beast lately, and having him fall to me in some drafts this year I’m finally getting paid off. He ranks as the No. 9 fantasy player on a per-game basis this season, which after a month or two of being a mid-round value is all owners could have asked for.
LeBron James provided his normal barrage of stats with 27 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, two steals and one block, while Chris Bosh was light on the glass once again with five rebounds, but stole the ball twice and blocked three shots to go with 10 points. The Heat are tied with the ’70-71 Bucks right now and next up is the ‘07-08 Rockets at 22 straight. The ’71-72 Lakers hold the record with 33 straight wins, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet.
TOO HOT TO HANDLE
As mentioned, the Sixers gave the Heat everything they could handle, powered by Jrue Holiday’s 21 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, three steal, one block and three treys, and Thaddeus Young’s 24 points, 15 rebounds and one block. Spencer Hawes was disappointing given the state of the Heat’s interior, managing just six points, five rebounds and no steals or blocks in 23 foul-plagued minutes. Nick Young (ankle) returned and played just five minutes, so Damien Wilkins’ pedestrian five points, five assists and one steal over 30 minutes cannot be explained away, but Dorell Wright (13 points, three treys, three steals, one block) more or less gave owners what they should have been hoping for. Unless there is an above-average free agent lurking, I wouldn’t give up on Wright just yet even if his productive days might be numbered with Young getting healthy.
RUBIO RED HOT
Andrei Kirilenko (calf) and Nikola Pekovic (abdominal strain) did not travel for last night’s game in Indy, but it’s possible that they could meet up with the team in Houston for Friday’s game. The good news is that there will almost certainly be a report soon if if they actually go, and if they go there’s a very good chance that they play. The bad news is that all that running around doesn’t make a ton of sense with nothing to play for if you’re the Wolves.
Also on the injury front Kevin Love’s hand is healing well but he wasn’t cleared for contact and he’ll be re-evaluated in 2-3 weeks. This is beginning to head toward a last week tune-up before the summer at best for Love, and that’s just too shady for owners to count on unless you’re truly stacked or desperately gambling.
As for last night’s game against Indy, Ricky Rubio went gangbusters again to the tune of 21 points, six rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, two threes and a 7-of-8 mark from the line. Run Ricky, run. Luke Ridnour also retained low-end producer status with 17 points, but he managed just one three and did not have an assist. Derrick Williams was a bit more pedestrian with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, five boards, a block and a three, but with the Wolves’ schedule down the stretch owners should be holding tight, especially given the news on Love.
Alexey Shved had seven rebounds but he fell back into the poor shooting routine with a 2-of-8 mark for seven points to go with two assists. As mentioned yesterday, it’s still time to watch in normal formats. J.J. Barea was quiet with five points on 2-of-9 shooting and six assists, but it should be pointed out that Indy plays good defense so everybody deserves a little bit of a break. Greg Stiemsma scored 13 points with nine rebounds, one steal and two blocks, and he’s worth a short-term look as he has averaged 10 points, eight boards and a block over his last three games.
REDEMPTION IS SPELLED R-O-Y
While Greg Stiemsma blocks shots and isn’t exactly a slouch on defense, he can still be exploited next to Derrick Williams and that’s exactly what Roy Hibbert did. Hibbert scored a season-high 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting with 12 rebounds and four blocks, and maybe he’s going to turn the page right when owners need it the most.
Danny Granger (knee) will not return to game action right away after missing the remainder of this week. That should be all she wrote in standard formats and he’s not a must-own player in standard 14-teamers, either.
PUT OUT TO PASTURE
In news that wasn’t surprising, Andrea Bargnani was ruled out for the season due to a right elbow injury, which isn’t actually the original elbow injury that sidelined him. Either way we may actually be looking at a loosened leash for Jonas Valanciunas, who played 34 minutes on his way to an uninspiring nine points on 4-of-7 shooting with seven rebounds and no steals or blocks. The steals and blocks can’t be excused here, but on a night in which the Celtics knocked their heads off it isn’t shocking. The larger problem for the Raptors, which has been written about endlessly in this space, is that adding Rudy Gay has resulted in an uneven offense.
Gay returned from his back injury and hit just 7-of-19 shots for 19 points, seven boards and four assists, while Kyle Lowry stood and watched with just five points on 2-of-7 shooting, four boards, three assists, a three and a steal. DeMar DeRozan (17 points, 5-of-13 FGs, 7-of-7 FTs) still gets his looks, but beyond this trio nobody else is touching the ball. Terrence Ross scored 13 points in 24 minutes off the bench, adding a three, three steals and a block, but as long as Gay is healthy he’s a hard guy to trust as anything but a lukewarm stash. After going 6-2 following the Gay trade, the Raptors are 3-8 since (2-7 in games he has played).
BOUNCE BACK IN BOSTON
A veteran team like the Celtics is usually going to bounce back big after a loss like they had against the Bobcats on Tuesday, which is exactly what happened last night. Paul Pierce returned from his one-game rest to score 15 points on 3-of-6 shooting (9-of-11 FTs) with four rebounds, four assists and a block in just 24 minutes, Kevin Garnett righted the ship with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, seven rebounds and three steals, and Jeff Green provided 20 points off the bench on 7-of-14 shooting with six rebounds, three assists, two steals, a block and a three in 31 minutes. Green is going to have off-nights but he looks like a must-start player with a trio of four-game weeks ahead.
Courtney Lee scored 11 points with four rebounds, four assists, three steals and a trey, and Avery Bradley was quiet with five points, two rebounds, three assists, a steal and no threes. Jason Terry added 12 points, seven assists, a block and three treys in his 23 minutes, and the trio of guards are all worth owning with that schedule ahead. Jordan Crawford saw more garbage time minutes (24) and put up 12 points, two boards, three assists, a steal, a block and a three, but the best I can say for him is that he is giving Doc Rivers an alternative if the players in front of him start to slip. Brandon Bass scored 11 points with six rebounds, one steal and two blocks, and if he can do it again I might consider recommending him as an add in normal formats.
LAKER LIFE FLASHING BEFORE OUR EYES
I had this thought watching Kobe Bryant go down with an ankle injury on the game’s final play last night. What if one night he suffered a Derrick Rose-style knee injury and we were suddenly robbed of watching the Mamba every night. Of course, he’d probably come back twice as fast as the next guy and like Chauncey Billups, he wouldn’t go out on those terms – but love or hate the guy the league just wouldn’t be the same.
X-rays taken on Bryant’s ankle were negative and he’s heading toward an MRI today. He said (in addition to calling Dahntay Jones dirty for sliding his foot underneath him) that it was the worst ankle injury he has suffered since the 2000 playoffs. He’s out “indefinitely” and while his warrior status is unquestioned, it does look like he could indeed miss some time. How much is anybody’s guess and Jodie Meeks (three points, 1-of-4 shooting) and Antawn Jamison (seven points, 3-of-6 FGs, four rebounds, one three) are both worth picking up. The Lakers will need to find scoring from their entire unit to replace what the Mamba provides. Look for Steve Nash (11 points, seven assists) to get going, as well as Metta World Peace (20 points, eight boards, two threes, two steals). If there was any time for Dwight Howard (10 points, 16 boards, one block) to carry the team it is now.
Pau Gasol (foot) said in a radio interview that he wants to practice next week, and the timing on that is actually pretty good since owners likely wouldn’t be starting him during the Lakers’ two-game week. I’m calling him a must-stash player even if the minutes will come slowly at first, and with struggling Earl Clark getting knocked out of the game last night due to an ankle injury he isn’t exactly positioned to stave off Gasol. That said, if you want to gamble that Clark’s injury is minor he could also be called upon to pick up some slack if Bryant misses time, so he can be considered a speculative add despite his struggles.
WHY THEY PLAY THE GAMES
Jeff Teague (ankle) did not play last night in a big game against the Lakers, but the surprise was Josh Smith missing the game due to a sprained left knee. I wrote yesterday that the Lakers should go into Atlanta and trounce the Hawks if Teague couldn’t go, but that it’s hard to bet heavy on them this season. Exhibit ‘A’ for that concept came into play last night as the Hawks inexplicably stole a win playing the game with mostly spare parts.
Devin Harris started at point guard and scored 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting with three rebounds, seven assists and a three, and he’s worth a short-term look with upside in the event Teague’s ankle is worse than it seemed on Tuesday when he was “available to return” but didn’t. Anthony Tolliver started for Smith and scored nine points on 3-of-7 shooting with six rebounds and one three in 24 minutes. There’s enough recent data on Tolliver to keep him on the wire until he shows consistent production. Kyle Korver bounced back as expected with 15 points, six rebounds, two threes and two blocks in 34 minutes off the bench. He shouldn’t have hit the wire in standard formats, but if he did go run and pick him up.
SCORCHING HOT MESS
The Suns are a hot mess which is nothing new, and finding the silver linings there is an exercise in frustration. Wes Johnson scored 15 points with a three, steal, block and three assists in 31 minutes, and he’s been a low-end value for the past two weeks. He seems to be getting along as well as anybody there, and he’s a recommended pickup as long as expectations are in check. With plenty to work on, Johnson has athleticism that the Suns would be crazy not to at least try to develop.
In the 30-point loss to the Rockets the borderline guys were abhorrent. Luis Scola scored four points with four rebounds in 14 minutes, Markieff Morris scored four points on 2-of-8 shooting, five boards, a steal and a block in 22 minutes, his brother Marcus managed just five points, one steal, one block and nothing else in his 19 minutes, and aside from Johnson no starter played more than 22 minutes.
Jared Dudley played just 19 minutes and finished with five points and one three. Michael Beasley scored 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting with five rebounds, two steals and a block, and I won’t touch him with a ten-foot pole. Yuck. Alvin Gentry was a mess and Lindsey Hunter is making him look like Red Auerbach, and Robert Sarver’s penny pinching ways are starting to smell mighty Maloofian. We can’t discount every game the Suns get blasted because it still hurts fantasy owners the same way, but try to minimize the impact this one game has on your thinking. And take a shower to get the Sarver stank off.
Hamed Haddadi admitted to not being in ‘basketball shape,’ and any hope that he could retain value with Jermaine O’Neal back was dashed in a two-point, one-rebound effort over 13 minutes that at least included a steal and block. The matchup was horrible here against the run-and-gun Rockets anchored by Omer Asik, so both Haddadi and O’Neal (six points, three boards, one steal, two blocks, 23 minutes) were at a disadvantage to start. O’Neal looked winded to me and that was to be expected, as well as some struggles against Asik. I’m holding O’Neal where I need a big man with the hopes he can rediscover the recent magic, while Haddadi was a flier pickup at best that needed to prove himself last night and he didn’t.
Kendall Marshall scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting (including two threes) with six assists and two steals aided by garbage time, and though the Suns have been eager to get something out of their lottery pick I can’t shake the image of Andre Miller literally daring the rookie to shoot without defending him the other night. Marshall does look like he’s taking the Jason Kidd route to NBA bricklaying, but as a point guard that’s just not going to work. The kid can pass, but that’s about it right now.
The Rockets exacted their revenge after a loss to the Suns last week with few surprises. James Harden played through a sore foot and finished with 18 points on 4-of-7 shooting, three treys, two rebounds and four assists. It was a good spot for him to let others do the work, and his 32 minutes were the most any starter played with everybody else playing less than Donatas Motiejunas’ 28 minutes. Motie scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting (including two threes) with five rebounds, two threes and a block, and he looked aggressive in doing so against a lost Suns defense. Greg Smith made a ripple with six points, 12 boards and two blocks in his 22 minutes, but he’d only be worth a look if Omer Asik went down.
Asik brushed off a groin injury suffered in practice the day before and put up 14 points with seven rebounds and a block, and Thomas Robinson got on the board with 12 points, seven boards, a steal and his customary four turnovers in 20 minutes. Feel free to give Motie a look since he has some upside, but one look at his game log will show that expectations should be held in check. Carlos Delfino played just 15 minutes with five points, three rebounds, a steal and a three, but this was a good spot for the Rockets to get him some rest so owners shouldn’t use this game as a decision-maker.
TODAY IN HEAD-DRIVEN WALL BANGING
Boy do the Jazz have problems, and while I wouldn’t use a game against the Thunder on the road as a big measuring stick it was the same old story. Al Jefferson saw the majority of touches when the game was close, but hit just 4-of-13 shots for eight points, seven boards and one block against Kendrick Perkins, who enjoyed a matchup against one of the few centers he matches up with well. Mo Williams hit just 2-of-7 shots for five points, three assists, two steals, and a triple, and Paul Millsap (knee) returned to action quietly with seven points on 1-of-5 shooting, seven boards and three steals in 19 minutes.
None of the starters played more than 24 minutes, and when the bench was turned to Gordon Hayward was finally given touches and finished with 20 points, three assists, a steal, a three and a 7-of-8 mark from the foul line. It’s hard to watch them struggle pounding the ball into Jefferson at the expense of a balanced attack. Derrick Favors had one of his patented what-if nights with five blocks to go with an otherwise dull six points and three boards in 24 minutes. He’s still a hold for his low-end numbers and what-if numbers down the road. Enes Kanter scored 12 points with five boards and a steal in his 23 minutes, and barring an injury ahead of him it could be time to let go if you’ve been holding him. What if.
WRITE IT IN INK
The Thunder had this game wrapped up early with no real surprises in the box score. Russell Westbrook scored 19 points and a full line, Kevin Durant scored 23 points with 10 boards, a pair of blocks and an unsightly eight turnovers, and Kevin Martin scored 15 points with a three and steal to keep owners bearish. Serge Ibaka had just 10 points, three boards, and a steal and block, but there’s nothing to see there in the blowout win.
It’s sort-of funny to see how everybody reacts when a bad team blows out a good team on their home floor, but it’s not surprising to the home crowd because they constantly see those good teams bring their ‘F’ game to the table. That’s what happened when the Bulls got rung by the Kings last night, and for all intents and purposes this game should simply be erased from owners’ memories. Marco Belinelli owners were treated to a zero-point outing that included nine missed field goals, one rebound and two assists in 22 minutes, Nate Robinson scored 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting with three assists, Joakim Noah managed just six points and nine boards with no steals or blocks, and Carlos Boozer did his thing with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, seven rebounds and four assists. It wasn’t so much what the Bulls did to themselves on offense as it was what they didn’t do on defense – allowing the Kings to shoot a blistering 54 percent from the field.
I was borderline shocked when I heard Sam Amick’s report that DeMarcus Cousins didn’t get suspended by the league, as the running joke whenever somebody does something wrong in the NBA is that Cousins just got suspended for two games – a reference to the fact that his reputation has made him an easy target. Still, he missed the game due to a left quad contusion he suffered when Mike Dunleavy lunged into him to aggressively box him out on Sunday, which was what catalyzed all of the drama to follow. With the Kings off until Sunday, he stands a decent chance of playing in that game, but naturally after his teammates absolutely demolished the Bulls everybody will be pointing toward Big Cuz’s absence as the uniting factor.
And there may be some truth to that. I know from conversations with sources deep inside the Kings locker room that players are fed up with Cousins’ act, which isn’t exactly inside knowledge, and last night was a way for all of them to show their bratty brother that the antics have to stop. Tyreke Evans went nuts with 26 points on 11-of-13 shooting, five rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block, and I feel for Kings fans for (among other reasons) the fact that this type of game gets the locals all riled up thinking Evans is a guy to plan around. Until he learns how to play the game he’s simply not that. Isaiah Thomas scored 22 points with three assists and a perfect 4-of-4 mark from the foul line. The dude has hit 87 of his last 90 free throws, making him a top-40 play over the last month and a top 20-25 play over the past two weeks. And that’s with a coach that refuses to deploy him as the team’s primary ball-handler despite more proof than a bottle of 151 that it’s the one and only thing the Kings should be doing.
Marcus Thornton played just 12 minutes with seven points and one three, and this was one case where the minutes can be explained considering the Kings won by 42 points. Jason Thompson (12 points, three boards, 25 minutes) and Patrick Patterson (14 points, nine boards, two threes) both started with Cousins out and both will be inconsistent when the big man returns, though I do think the Kings will lean on Patterson a lot given the fact he isn’t ruined by years of poor development in Sacramento. John Salmons hit 2-of-10 shots for five points and this is my shocked face. Lottery pick Jimmer Fredette played 12 minutes so journeyman Toney Douglas could be developed for 20 minutes, naturally.
STUCK ON YOU
Brandon Knight (ankle) is off crutches and was spotted doing rehab drills, which is a good sign that the ankle isn’t too swollen to start moving on the stretching and strengthening part of the process. It’s also a decent sign that he wants to return before the end of the year, but we’re still in dark waters and owners that can’t afford a stash need to move on. He was playing well before the injury, but has a year’s worth of inconsistency under his belt, which should be the tiebreaker for owners trying to plan for the playoffs.
Knight’s absence has opened the door for Rodney Stuckey, and as I intimated yesterday the Pistons are now forced to go back to sets that Stuckey likes, whereas up to this point he has been forced into an ancillary role on offense. Stuckey scored 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting with three rebounds, five assists and a steal in 38 minutes, and because of that strategic shift Jose Calderon was limited to just six points and six assists in 29 minutes. The Pistons kept things close tonight against a struggling Warriors squad, and after Stuckey proved competent I’d guess they try it again when the Pistons play in Portland on Saturday. He’s worth strong consideration as a pickup in all formats and is as close to must-add status as one can get with an unfavorable schedule being a sticking point.
Jason Maxiell (ankle) returned to action and took advantage of the Warriors’ weak interior to the tune of eight points, 14 rebounds, three assists and no steals or blocks in 32 minutes, which steals any momentum away from Jonas Jerebko (11 points, four rebounds, one three, 24 minutes), who is only worth consideration in much deeper formats. Will Bynum scored 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting with four assists in 28 minutes off the bench, and he’s worth a look in deeper formats but consistency is going to be the question. Kyle Singler scored 17 points and the Warriors’ defense should be noted on the Pistons’ side of the box, so a guy like Singler definitely needs to follow this up before we pay him any attention.
Andre Drummond (back) said that “your guess is as good as mine” when asked about when he would return, and I finally dropped him in the last league I was stashing him. Just be ready to move if or when the ‘he’s coming back’ report hits the wire.
I HAVE A SOFT SPOT
The Warriors haven’t been playing good basketball lately but they have a soft spot in their schedule and that will likely float them into the playoffs. They didn’t exactly put away a bad Pistons team at home last night, but they still got big-time fantasy performances out of Stephen Curry (31 points, eight assists, five treys) and David Lee (20 points, 15 boards, five assists). Andrew Bogut locked in his fantasy credentials as a guy to be owned across all formats with seven points, 10 boards, four assists, two steals and three blocks, and Jarrett Jack bounced back from a down week or so with 19 points, two threes and five assists.
RETURN TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
It wasn’t a pretty scene for the Knicks last night. Carmelo Anthony played through his knee injury as many of us intimated he probably shouldn’t have done, but it was his big return game to Denver and he eventually tapped out of the game when things got out of hand. He’s going back to New York to get his knee drained now, which has been an option on the table over the past few days, and that puts him out for tonight and questionable for the future. A draining doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll miss time, but it would be stupid for the Knicks to push Anthony (or let him push himself) into action with the playoffs around the corner.
If the Anthony news wasn’t bad enough, hearts were in throats when Tyson Chandler went down in a heap with a left knee injury. There was speculation that he hyper-extended the knee and though the final report has him probable for tonight’s game, it’s a knee he has had problems with dating back to last year -- followed by a bone bruise to start the year that caused him to miss time. If there was any truth to the hyper-extension reports, I’ll be watching to see if it enters bone bruise territory, which is common with hyper-extensions. It isn’t so much the contact with the player as a contusion implies, but the internal bone-on-bone action which sometimes causes cartilage regeneration problems. I’m not saying this is what it is, just something I’ll be keeping an eye on. Again, a probable status is great news after watching him get helped off the court.
Iman Shumpert made his presence known for the first time this year with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and four threes to go with one steal and one assist in 33 minutes. With Jason Kidd petering out in a nine-minute effort and potential downtime for Anthony, he’s a guy to watch very closely right now and if you want to take a flier on him be my guest. Yes, his game log is atrocious but it makes sense that a young guy like Shumpert starts to carry some load, again, if Melo is out. The Knicks have a great schedule to supplement everybody’s value. On that same level but with a lot more risk, Kenyon Martin put up two steals and four blocks over 21 minutes in his return to Denver, and it wouldn’t be a return to Denver without mentioning J.R. Smith’s 15 points, three treys, five boards, eight assists and one steal. Chris Copeland went quiet with seven points, six assists and one block in 20 minutes and he can be left on the wire in most formats even with Amare Stoudemire out and Chandler hurting.
YOU CAN HAVE THEM
As many of us expected the Nuggets played with the type of pride befitting a team that had Carmelo Anthony’s nose turned up at it. There were no real surprises in the balanced effort, with Wilson Chandler’s 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting, four rebounds, three steals and one block getting the most fantasy attention in the blowout win. Kosta Koufos played just 18 minutes with six points, 10 boards and no steals or blocks, but I wouldn’t make this game the referendum on his value. Andre Iguodala scored 14 points with a full stat line and Ty Lawson did the same with 13 points in the win.
ONE AND DONE DAVIS
The Grizzlies went into L.A. and ripped off a win against the Clippers, stifling them with their trademark defense in a 96-85 win. Mike Conley turned up the heat with 17 points, 11 assists, two threes, one steal and one block, Zach Randolph scored 13 points with eight rebounds and a steal, and Marc Gasol scored 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting with four rebounds, two assists and five steals. There was a Tayshaun Prince sighting as he scored 18 points on 9-of-15 shooting with six rebounds and a steal, but he needs to do it again before anybody in normal formats pays him much attention.
Ed Davis was the fantasy story on their side of the box score, as he played just 14 minutes with two points, one rebound and a block. I took a flier on Davis in one spot after he played solid minutes on Tuesday, but it’s clear he carried over no momentum from that night and Lionel Hollins still views him as a situational player. Jerryd Bayless scored seven points with three assists in 17 minutes, and besides the Grizzlies’ trio of four-game weeks in front of us there’s not much to like.
CLIPPED BY EDDIE WINSLOW
The Clippers faltered down the stretch and outside of Chris Paul (24 points, nine assists) and Blake Griffin (22 points, 8-of-15 FGs, six rebounds, five assists, one block) everybody else went cold. Matt Barnes hit just 5-of-15 shots but still put up 14 points, seven boards, three assists, a steal, a block, and two threes, and with both Caron Butler (elbow) and Eric Bledsoe (calf) out there’s a lot to like about his short-term potential. He’s well worth owning in standard formats. Jamal Crawford returned from his ankle injury but hit just 1-of-10 shots for two points and not much else in a healthy 33 minutes, but he should get on track sooner or later.
NEWS AND NOTES
Joe Johnson (heel) expects to return to action on Sunday and the rest couldn’t have come at a better time.
THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
DAL @ SA: I’m willing to give Darren Collison the benefit of the doubt when he says he was seeing “two Monta (Ellises)” in Monday’s game that saw him cede time to starter Mike James. I might have a bit shorter rope with him if the trend continues, but for now I’m evaluating him as I was before that game. He’s a low-end asset worth owning for the chance he can retake the starter’s minutes, but as of right now we have him questionable for tonight until we get an update.
Apparently Shawn Marion (calf) isn’t as close to returning as some made it seem, as he was all-but ruled out for tonight and Rick Carlisle called him doubtful for Friday, too. Vince Carter should be owned in all formats right now, but let’s make the fringe guys like Jae Crowder do it again after they all got hot on Tuesday.
We’re still waiting on updates for Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard after they were rested on Tuesday, and given the hullabaloo about resting guys during TNT matchups you’d have to think they’ll go tonight, but this is Pop we’re talking about here.
NY @ POR: LaMarcus Aldridge has been hit with minor dings all season, and now he’s getting them in threes. He’s apparently dealing with an ankle injury, a bruised right hand, and he missed yesterday’s practice with a migraine headache. Coach Terry Stotts said he expects Aldridge to play tonight, so owners can be cautiously optimistic here.
Stotts also said he wants Nicolas Batum to be more aggressive shooting the ball, which I thought was interesting since Batum said there’s not much more he can do besides rebounding and passing. Maybe there’s a disconnect between the two, or maybe it’s just coach saying that if you’re going to hurt your wrist you might as well go down shooting. This didn’t qualify as needle moving news, but rather some color to add to the situation. I think it’s fair to put Batum on the list of shutdown candidates if the Blazers fall out of playoff contention.
Victor Claver (ankle) and Sasha Pavlovic (leg) both missed practice and that leaves more than enough bench minutes for Eric Maynor, who along with his teammates enjoys a five-game week next week. It might be a good time to pick him up before he gets national exposure tonight if you’re thinking about doing it.
Programming Note: I will be chatting tonight at 9 p.m. ET. See you there.