Wednesday night marked the last big slate of games before the All Star break, with just four games on the docket tonight. There are a couple of doozies, though, with Jeremy Lin taking Linsanity to South Beach and the Lakers going to Oklahoma City to wrap up the night. Last night’s action was a mix of players mailing it in, and some guys heading into pit row on nothing but fumes, but the Dose has a full tank of gas and is ready to go.
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HAND DOWN MAN DOWN
Perhaps the worst news of the night came for Stephen Curry’s owners, who added ‘plantar fasciitis’ to their list of concerns after a 10-minute performance last night. He is diagnosed with a strained tibialis posterior tendon in his right foot, which is Latin for ‘beer me,’ but the doctors aren’t sure if it’s PF or not. He’ll get until Tuesday to rest up and he’s out of the skills competition in all likelihood, and Nate Robinson and Brandon Rush will be guys to look at if bad news hits the wire.
Ekpe Udoh was a recommended pickup in 12-team leagues for those needing a big man, though I cautioned owners about his knee heading into last night’s game, which ended up becoming a problem after he knocked knees again. I’m not really sure how much that factored into his zero-point, four-rebound, and one-block effort in 22 minutes. Surely it isn’t a step in the right direction, but the focus should have been after the All Star break, with the hope that the position battle swings in his favor. Let’s downgrade him to risky, speculative add, rather than ‘recommended,’ especially since Mark Jackson looked more erratic with his rotation than he normally does. Andris Biedrins (flu) held his starting job, as many expected, and he was predictably bad with two points and three boards in 18 minutes.
The Warriors went up big on the Suns and then let them get back in the game as Jackson played David Lee at center for stretches, allowing Marcin Gortat and Channing Frye to have their way down low. Monta Ellis bailed him out, though, draining a tough last-second game-winner to finish with 26 points and six assists. If Curry’s injury is serious than he could be in for a big second half. Dorell Wright went off for 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting (including three triples) with seven rebounds and a block, and needs to be added if he was dropped. Interestingly but not surprisingly, he found himself on the bench late despite playing one his best games of the year, while Robinson (4-of-13 FGs, three treys, five assists, three steals) offset any benefits he brought with all the negatives he’s known for.
TENDON TALK PART II
Joe Johnson’s knee MRI came back clean, and what doctors were looking for there was a tear, slight or not, of the patella tendon. This confirms that the issue is simple tendinitis, which means that we’re not looking at a long-term absence on this go-around. Surely the situation could worsen, but the All Star break is a godsend for owners and it could easily be all he needs to get right. Producing at just a late-round value in 8- and 9-cat leagues over the past month, owners probably aren’t going to get much in return with knee concerns lingering, so the play is to hold.
Willie Green started for Johnson (patella tendon) last night and put up 16 points, four rebounds, four assists, a steal, and a three. He has been a pleasant surprise over the last week or so and is well worth a look as a spot-starter tonight. Jeff Teague continued to befuddle owners with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting (including two threes), but no assists to go with his three steals and one block. I’ve fielded more drop questions about him than I thought would be possible after his reasonably strong start to the year, and like Doc said blurbing last night I think he should be held through the break.
YOU SIR, ARE NO KOBE BRYANT
Drew Gooden revealed that he has a slightly torn ligament in his shooting wrist, and he compared the injury to Kobe’s wrist, but owners can listen to that professional diagnosis at their own risk. What I do believe, though, is that the stability of his wrist is not a big problem right now and that the tear is indeed minor. The issue, similarly to Eric Gordon and Deron Williams, is how he’s going to handle the daily pounding. If you own Gooden, this article is a must-read as it illustrates the trouble he has been having, which hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. As I said yesterday, my take is a pragmatic one, if he can’t return to a full set of minutes after the All Star break I’m ready to walk, assuming he doesn’t blow it up in limited time.
Even with Gooden’s risks, I’m selling the Bucks frontcourt right now. Larry Sanders followed up his big night with a four-point, two-block yawner in just 21 minutes of action, and starter Jon Leuer scored 14 points with four boards, a steal, and a block. While we’re selling unreliable Bucks assets, the same goes for Mike Dunleavy (18 minutes, two points), who is neither guaranteed playing time nor guaranteed to do anything with it if he gets it. Carlos Delfino (38 minutes, seven points, 3-of-12 FGs, otherwise normal line) is worth owning while he’s getting burn, but if you’re counting on that to be a long-term thing you’re being optimistic. Stephen Jackson was ruled out for last night’s game due to a hamstring injury, which is code for ‘fight with coach.’
PANIC AT THE DISCO
As I settled into my seat for last night’s games, I opened my email to enough Isaiah Thomas panic to send me into a frenzy. I scurried to turn on the Kings/Wizards game and he had grabbed two quick fouls, and in moments he had the ball literally taken out of his hands while he wasn’t looking. Ugly. I had some business to attend to, and returned to see that he blew up again for 18 points, six assists, and a steal on 9-of-19 shooting. He and Marcus Thornton (22 points, full stat line) brought the Kings back after assistant Bobby Jackson said at halftime that the team had checked out for All Star weekend, in what was a candidate for ugliest game of the year.
Tyreke Evans’ early fourth foul was crucial here for both guys, as it gave them the ramp to get going. Ultimately, Evans (22 points, 8-of-10 FGs, full line) and DeMarcus Cousins (16 points, 16 rebounds, 6-of-20 FGs, multiple missed tip-ins) both stayed on the bench down the stretch. They said after the game that Thomas, Thornton, and Chuck Hayes (21 minutes, 6-2-3 line, two steals) deserved to take the Kings to the finish. Normally this would be cause for concern, but the Kings are actually gelling and playing for one another. Thornton couldn’t stop gushing about Thomas after the game, and even when Thomas was struggling Keith Smart was seen laughing and smiling with him. It’s a pretty amazing story for the No. 60 pick, and it looks like the Kings have found a keeper. My guess is that Thomas will disappear a few times with all the ball-handling scorers around him, but barring a face-plant it looks like owners got a steal.