The Knicks beat the Heat in Miami, Dallas won in Phoenix, and Michael Beasley could be ready to lose his job to Markieff Morris. If it happens, Morris could quickly become a must-own player.
Knicks beat struggling Heat without Carmelo Anthony
Raymond Felton exploded for a season-high 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting with six 3-pointers, four rebounds and seven assists as the Knicks stunned the Heat in Miami, despite playing without Carmelo Anthony. Anthony took six stitches in his left ring finger on Wednesday night, and just couldn’t go. He’ll be questionable for Saturday against the Bulls. Hopefully you went ahead and played Felton this week, as he was a little iffy with a thumb injury. He had 17 points and nine assist on Wednesday, but late news from Miami was that he might have aggravated the injury last night. My guess is he'll be ready to go on Saturday.
J.R. Smith backed up his game-winner on Wednesday with 13 points, six boards, four assists, a steal and three 3-pointers on Thursday, but hit just 4-of-15 shots. He’s shooting a fantasy-killing 32 percent over his last nine games, but that’s not all that surprising. When he’s hot he can be the most dominant player on your team for 10 days, but he always seems to cool off. His next hot streak is probably just around the corner. Jason Kidd returned to the starting lineup and had 11 points, two rebounds, four assists, two steals and three 3-pointers in 32 minutes. Unlike last season, I’m a fan of owning him this year, especially in points leagues. Rasheed Wallace helped fill in for Melo with 12 points, seven boards and blocked a shot in 14 minutes last night, but he’s still not worth a look in fantasy leagues. Steve Novak did his “discount double-check” move after hitting four 3-pointers and scoring 18 points against the Heat. Any time Melo is out, Novak makes for an excellent spot start, and is worth a deep-league look if you’re struggling with 3-pointers.
LeBron James just missed his second consecutive triple-double with 31 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and added three steals and three 3-pointers. Sure, the triple-double would have been a nice touch, but LeBron is on fire. Dwyane Wade struggled, hitting just 3-of-13 shots for 13 points and not a lot else in the loss. He’ll be fine. Chris Bosh had one of his worst games of the season with 12 points on 3-of-12 shooting, but there’s no reason for concern. Shane Battier (knee), Udonis Haslem (hip), Mario Chalmers (finger) and Norris Cole (hamstring) all returned from their injuries, but none of them are exactly must-own players in normal leagues. As for the Heat and these last two losses, talk to me (and LeBron) once the playoffs get here.
Injuries abound as Mavericks beat Suns
While the Heat saw all those players return to action tonight, things didn’t go as well in Phoenix. Shawn Marion (groin) and Chris Kaman (ankle) went down for the Mavs, while Jermaine O’Neal (eye) and P.J. Tucker (knee) were injured for the Suns. Obviously the Mavericks lost the more valuable players, but still won the game. Kaman didn’t look good trying to hobble to the locker room and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t miss time. Groin injuries are always tricky, so Marion could be in the same boat. Elton Brand and Jae Crowder could quickly become more relevant with this news.
The Mavs were led by O.J. Mayo’s 23 points, five boards, five assists and three 3-pointers, and while he could take a hit once Dirk Nowitzki is back, I’m not a huge fan of selling him right now. He’s still going to be a huge part of the offense, especially since Dirk isn’t likely to just breeze in and start scoring 30 points per game once he's healthy. Darren Collison had 16 points and two assists in 27 minutes, which probably stopped a lot of owners from cutting him this morning. Brandan Wright added 16 points and four boards in 23 minutes, and along with Brand, is going to see meaningful minutes if Kaman’s ankle injury is serious.
The Suns got 15 points, four assists, four steals and two 3-pointers for 15 points from Goran Dragic, but he hit just 5-of-14 shots in the loss. The surprising line of the night goes to reserve power forward Markieff Morris, who had his first double-double of the season with 15 points, 17 rebounds, two blocks and a 3-pointer in 35 minutes. Yes, I’m intrigued, but as long as Luis Scola (13 points, nine boards, 24 minutes) is in Phoenix, it’s probably going to be a roller coaster ride with Morris. Then again, if the Suns get creative and decide to start Morris at small forward over a struggling Michael Beasley, it's go time.
Beasley hit just 3-of-12 shots for nine points, and it seems like the only thing he’s doing for the Suns is shooting jumpers, and missing a lot of them. I don’t know if Morris can really play small forward, but this might have been the last straw for Alvin Gentry with Beasley. If he gets benched (and I'm guessing he will), Morris may very well be the guy to grab in his place, and dropping Beasley for Morris right now appears to be a great speculative move. My guess is we'll get more news on this front on Friday, and owners should watch for news on Beasley's benching throughout the day. Jared Dudley is another guy who could take over for Beasley if they make the move to bench him. And speaking of guys who are struggling, Marcin Gortat hit just 1-of-8 shots for three points, six boards, a steal and two blocks. Yes, he remains a decent buy-low target, but given that his confidence is shaken and his numbers have become so bad, I’m not sure I’d give up a player I’m really into in hopes that Gortat suddenly starts scoring, rebounding and blocking shots like he really cares.
News and Notes
Pau Gasol (knees) is not going to play on Friday, and while he remains day-to-day, it’s unknown when he might play again for the Lakers. They are also said to be turning down all trade offers for Gasol (Minnesota and Toronto have reportedly inquired) until they can give him a chance to play with Steve Nash under Mike D’Antoni. Pau is starting to be dropped in some leagues, and while it may be warranted in some dailies, he’s not a guy who should be sitting on many waiver wires right now. Then again, he's also not a guy I'm ready to trade a solid player for.
Nicolas Batum injured his back on Wednesday, tried to play through it and posted a dismal fantasy line. Surprisingly, that’s still all we know at this point, leaving him very questionable for Saturday against the Kings. Hopefully we’ll find out more after Friday’s practice.
Al Jefferson (back) and Derrick Favors (foot) are both likely to be game-time decisions for the Jazz on Friday. Jefferson said after Wednesday’s game that he’ll play, but I really didn’t like how he looked when he was carried to the locker room. Favors has missed three straight, and could make it four tonight. If they’re out, Paul Millsap and Enes Kanter are great options, while Jeremy Evans and Marvin Williams could also see a boost.
Kevin Love talked about his struggles with shooting after Wednesday’s poor performance. "It's just the hand being so idle, having to strengthen it. Getting the ball to feel right in my hand has been such a struggle since getting back on the court a couple weeks ago." Like I wrote in yesterday’s Dose, it’s just going to take time for his hand to heal and for him to get his shooting stroke back on track.
Dirk Nowitzki is now looking at a date later than “mid-December” for a return, and owners will just have to hope he’s back by Jan. 1. I don’t feel like there are more injuries this season than any other, but this is by far the worst year I recall of guys failing to come back in a timely matter, which may be a bad omen for players like Gasol and Brook Lopez, too.
Kyrie Irving is still a couple weeks away, so look for Jeremy Pargo and Donald Sloan to hold down the point guard job for the Cavs. The job is still Pargo’s, but keep an eye on Sloan if Pargo continues to struggle. Dion Waiters is not traveling with the Cavaliers and will miss Friday’s game with his sprained ankle, and I’d be surprised to see him on Saturday, as well. Daniel Gibson might be worth a look, but I’d still rather roll with Pargo, who appears to be being dropped like a hot potato in a lot of fantasy leagues.
Brook Lopez is out again on Friday and very iffy for Sunday with his foot injury. As long as he’s out, Andray Blatche is a must-own player, averaging 17.7 points, 9.3 boards and 1.3 steals as a starter. Reggie Evans is iffy for the Nets on Friday due to the flu. If he’s out it should mean more goodies for Andray Blatche, Kris Humphries and a suddenly hot Gerald Wallace.
Anthony Davis is getting closer to a return, but he still has to undergo testing on his ankle and doesn’t have a return date for the Hornets. Just keep him stashed and target him as a buy-low player.
John Wall’s knee remains a mystery and no one seems to have any clue when he’ll be back. Add him to the list of disappointing knee-injury victims. I really thought he’d be making his return around this time, but was wrong.
Mike Dunleavy sounds very iffy for the Bucks on Friday with a painful bone bruise in his knee, and I’m not sure he should be owned in any 12-team leagues at this point, as Marquis Daniels has been starting for Scott Skiles.
With news that Chauncey Billups will miss a couple weeks combined with his poor production in his return, I don’t recommend he be held in any leagues right now, as Jamal Crawford should continue to roll for the Clippers.
There is growing speculation that Jonas Valanciunas will come off the bench for the Raptors on Friday, which would not surprise me. I’ve answered a lot of Twitter questions about him lately (follow by clicking the link), and most of the time my answer includes the words “drop him for a hot free agent,” in some form or another. If owned Valanciunas and Andre Drummond or Larry Sanders were available, I’d make the move.
Kyle Korver missed Thursday’s practice due to his back injury, as well as the birth of a child, leaving him doubtful for Friday. Once he’s back and healthy, I think he’ll continue to be a solid and cheap source of 3-pointers in almost any format. Devin Harris missed Thursday’s practice with a sprained ankle and is always and injury risk for the Hawks.
Nick Young’s toe injury is expected to keep him out again on Friday for the Sixers, and maybe Saturday, which should mean more freedom for both Evan Turner and Jason Richardson.