Injuries abound as Blazers top Raptors
Wesley Matthews was a late scratch with his hip injury but is vowing to play on Thursday. There was also news that he’d have an MRI if he couldn’t play last night, so it also wouldn’t be all that surprising to see him miss more games if the results are not great. He’s a warrior though, and will do whatever he can to play Thursday. Nicolas Batum was also out for the Blazers with a back injury and is iffy for the week. Sasha Pavlovic and Victor Claver started in their place, while Luke Babbitt saw minutes off the bench. Pavlovic had 10 points, seven boards and five assists, but I’m not interested in adding him or any other Blazers’ bench player at this point. Damian Lillard hit just 2-of-14 shots and rolled his right ankle in one of his worst games ever, but played through it. He should be fine.
Andrea Bargnani went down with a right elbow injury and did not return to the game. X-rays were negative, but given his history, owners have to be worried about him missing more games. Amir Johnson got into quick foul trouble and played just 10 minutes before being ejected and throwing his mouthpiece at a referee, so expect a suspension for him. I’m guessing two games. Ed Davis got hot when Johnson left with two quick fouls and finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and a block in 24 minutes, and will be a hot pickup if Johnson is suspended and Bargs is going to miss time. Jonas Valanciunas had eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, and will also get plenty more action if Johnson and Bargs are out.
Kyle Lowry also left the game early in the second half with a right triceps injury, while he’s also apparently dealing with a sore ankle. His numbers over his last three games have been dreadful and there’s a chance he could miss time with this new injury. If it happens, Jose Calderon (12 points, six assists) will become a solid pick-and-play again, as usual. I hate to say it, but Lowry is nearing official ‘injury-prone’ status, if he’s not already there. Alan Anderson is nearing a return for the Raptors from his foot injury, where he’ll likely split time with Mickael Pietrus and Linas Kleiza at the wing positions. Pietrus returned from an ankle injury and had nine points on 3-of-13 shooting, while Kleiza sat this one out with a knee problem. Given the injury issues with these three players, they’re all probably a bigger headache than they’re worth.
Heat beat Hawks
Dwyane Wade got hot and hit 11-of-13 shots for 26 points and a full stat line in a win over the Hawks. He’s hit 20-of-25 shots over his last two games and has three 3-pointers in his last five. So much for that decline, at least until the next injury happens. LeBron James added 27 points, seven boards and six assists, while Chris Bosh added 14 points and 10 boards for his seventh double-double of the season.
Josh Smith somehow hit a career-high four 3-pointers against the Heat, but added just three rebounds and a block. He also had six assists, and the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week could be ready to put up a monstrous four-game set this week. Al Horford had his sixth straight double-double with 20 points and 11 boards in the loss.
Warriors stop Bobcats
Stephen Curry played with a wrap on his knee and says he’s no longer worried about his ankle. He finished with 27 points, four 3-pointers, seven rebounds, seven assists and a steal in a win over the Bobcats, and is turning out to be a true fantasy steal.
Ben Gordon hit 5-of-11 shots and three 3-pointers for 14 points in just 15 minutes off the Bobcats bench. He’s played 15 minutes or less in three straight games, meaning he’s no longer a must-own player now that his hot streak is over. He hit 21 3-pointers in his four games prior to having his minutes cut over his last three. Gerald Henderson is back for the Bobcats, but played just 18 minutes last night. He should bounce back, but Mike Dunlap is confusing everyone with his rotations and lineup changes, making Henderson a risky start for now. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played 34 minutes and had 17 points, seven rebounds, a steal and a block, and was a big reason why Henderson didn’t play much. MKG is always worth a close eye, but needs more nights like this one in order to be in starting lineups. Byron Mullens was back in the starting lineup and hit 6-of-14 shots and a 3-pointer for 13 points, four rebounds, two steals and a block in 29 minutes. It was good to see his minutes return to normal after getting around 15 per in each of his last three games. He’s apparently over his ankle injury, but is still not a must-start player until he gets hot. Bismack Biyombo started at center and had five points, 11 boards and three more blocks, but is only worth a look if you need blocks and can take the hit that will come in the scoring department with him in your lineup.
Sixers roll Pistons
Jrue Holiday got his four-game week off to a great start with 25 points, five rebounds, eight assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer in a win over the Pistons, and should remain in all starting lineups. The same can be said for Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner, while Jason Richardson chipped in with 13 points, seven boards and two 3-pointers. Spencer Hawes is starting to come on and played 32 minutes, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. I don’t fully trust him, but if he keeps getting minutes and producing, he’s going to demand our attention. Nick Young returned from his toe injury and had three points in 18 minutes. With Turner and Richardson playing well, Young (and Dorell Wright) are the odd men out.
Jason Maxiell has been a popular pick up in some leagues because he’s been blocking shots, and had 11 boards, a steal and two more swats last night. He was also 1-of-10 from the floor for two points, and is not exactly a dominant scorer. He’s averaging eight points, eight boards and more than two blocks per game in December, and is worth a look if scoring is not an issue and you need big-man stats. Kyle Singler played 29 minutes but scored just five points. He’s averaging 4.8 points over his last five games and I don’t have the patience to own him in any leagues. Rodney Stuckey had 19 points and five assists in 31 minutes and is finally healthy, and is worth a pick up in all leagues right now, while Tayshaun Prince quietly stayed relevant with 16 points and eight boards. Andre Drummond fell silent with two blocks and nothing else in 14 minutes against the Sixers. If Lawrence Frank ever gives him minutes, he’s going to be fun to own, but it’s starting to look like Frank might only turn him loose once a week or so.