Hawks @ Bobcats: Al Horford continues to break out, finishing Friday's victory with 26 points (13-of-17 FGs) and 13 rebounds, while blocking three shots. Josh Smith posted his second consecutive solid game on Friday with 10 points, four rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks. He shot poorly at 4-of-12, but the beauty of his versatility is that an off night from the field typically won't ruin his value. Lou Williams scored just six points in 26 minutes, and his slow start is seriously frustrating for owners. The move to Atlanta looked like it would provide a breakout opportunity, but thus far he's been more of a bust. Kyle Korver moved back into the starting five at SG and provided sneaky value with 16 points, four 3s, six rebounds, one steal and two blocks in 30 minutes, while former starter Devin Harris struggled to eight points and one assist in 18 reserve minutes.
Ramon Sessions scored 22 points off the bench to lead the Bobcats, adding four rebounds, and four assists, ensuring that Ben Gordon remains an afterthought (four points on 1-of-8 FGs). Byron Mullens had a bit of a strange line with 12 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and a career-high six steals. I have no idea where the swipes came from, but his owners will take it, and it's nice to see a few blocks as well. He keeps jacking up 3-pointers despite shooting around 28 percent from downtown, and is worth owning as long as he's logging heavy minutes, which he is. Jeff Taylor scored 16 points (a career-high), including four 3-pointers, while adding three steals. Unfortunately for Taylor, Gerald Henderson is expected to return this week, so his run as a starter won't last much longer. Kemba Walker shows no signs of slowing down (16 points, four rebounds, nine assists, two steals) and his 44 percent shooting has been an absolute delight for Charlotte. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is also giving the Bobcats reason to smile -- he finished Friday with 11 points, seven rebounds, two steals and four blocks, and has been steadily producing after a slow start to the year. Elsewhere, Bismack Biyombo bruised his leg and is listed as day-to-day, but he shouldn't be owned outside of the deepest leagues anyway.
Thunder @ Celtics: Boston got a huge win behind big games from the usual suspects -- Rajon Rondo dropped 16 assists, Paul Pierce scored 27 points with four 3s and 7-of-7 FT shooting, and Kevin Garnett scored 18 points with nine boards and four assists. Even Jeff Green chipped in 17 efficient points off the bench, and he seems to finally be warming up.
Kevin Martin finally crashed to earth in a loss to Boston, scoring a mere three points on 1-of-7 shooting, with zero rebounds or assists and three turnovers. Ouch. He's been on fire lately, however, and one off game from a designated-gunner reserve player doesn't give me much pause. Kevin Durant did his thing with 29 points, while Russell Westbrook did his thing with 26 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, two steals and one block. Don't look now, but WB is nailing 1.4 threes per game, easily a career-high.
Raptors @ Pistons: Andrea Bargnani erupted for a season-high 34 points on 13-of-20 shooting vs. the Pistons, draining 3-of-5 from downtown. He even chipped in five rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block, and he's now scored at least 22 points in three straight games. Sadly for Toronto, his big night couldn't prevent yet another heart-breaking loss, this time a one-point defeat to the lowly Pistons. Jose Calderon disappeared into the bench with just five points and three assists in 16 minutes -- I recommended trying to hang onto him in my live chat on Friday, but I may have spoken too soon. If he's stuck as a strict backup PG he's not going to return sufficient value in 12-team leagues.
For Detroit, Andre Drummond had a mini-breakout with 13 points (6-of-11 FGs), 13 rebounds (eight offensive) and two steals in 24 minutes. This comes on the heels of Lawrence Frank saying he'd try to play Drummond more, and he looks like a nice stash in case the playing time becomes a trend. Just beware his awful FT shooting -- he made 1-of-6 from the stripe on Friday and that's not a fluke. The rest of team went pretty much by-the-book, though Jason Maxiell vanished with six points and six rebounds in 20 minutes, and Rodney Stuckey (eight points in 22 minutes) shows no signs of retaking the starting SG job from Kyle Singler (six points in 29 minutes). Brandon Knight had just three assists vs. five turnovers, but he scored 16 points with three 3-pointers, and gained major confidence by hitting the game-winning layup.
Clippers @ Nets: The Clippers' starters combined for 52 points in a lackluster game, while Lamar Odom went scoreless in five minutes and Matt Barnes (who played 44 minutes on Wednesday) had just one point in 16 minutes. Caron Butler was very quiet in his return from a strained shoulder, and this was a game most Clippers fans would like to forget.
Meanwhile, Brook Lopez carried the Nets' offensive load with 26 points on 13-of-24 shooting, with three more blocks. His lack of rebounding remains conspicuous -- he grabbed just five boards tonight -- but that's easier to overlook when he's putting up 20+ points and multiple blocks every night. Kris Humphries' slide into oblivion got a bit of extra grease on Friday, as he posted two points and three rebounds in 24 minutes.
Knicks @ Rockets: For the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony dropped 37 points in a losing effort, making 14-of-24 FGs, including 7-of-12 from downtown. He also coughed up seven turnovers, however, and the Knicks' typically stalwart defense yielded 131 points to the Rockets. Ronnie Brewer was invisible in 15 minutes, J.R. Smith finally cooled off with a 2-of-13 shooting performance, and Jason Kidd chipped in another understated across-the-board line of seven points, one 3-pointer, five rebounds, five assists, one steal and two blocks.
James Harden made 16-of-16 FTs to highlight his 33 point outburst vs. New York, adding four rebounds and nine assists, but it was Chandler Parsons who opened the eyes of most fantasy owners. Parsons erupted for 31 points on 13-of-17 shooting, including four 3s, while grabbing five rebounds, handing out four assists, swiping four steals and blocking a shot, all without a single turnover in 34 minutes. He's been awesome lately and although he may cool off, I like him to retain serious season-long value. Even Omer Asik got in on the fun, posting 18 & 14 with three assists, and the Rockets used an avalanche of scoring to bury the hype around Jeremy Lin vs. the Knicks.
Spurs @ Pacers: Tony Parker's tear continued vs. the Pacers with 33 points, 10 assists and two steals, as he torched George Hill and co. for 15-of-23 shooting. I still can't believe how dominant Tim Duncan has been in the early going, and he notched another 22 & 17 on Friday. Eventual DNP-CDs feel like a pretty vague concern in the face of this elite production. The Spurs' third veteran cog, Manu Ginobili, finally got going with 19 points, three assists, two steals and two blocks in 28 minutes.
The Pacers out-rebounded the Spurs 49-37, but they shot just 41 percent as a team to fall to 6-8. Roy Hibbert (10 points, 11 boards) and Paul George (15 points) both cooled off after a crazy Wednesday, but that was to be expected, and both guys are trending upward.