Knicks drill Lakers in first quarter
The Knicks spanked the Lakers 41-27 in the first quarter Thursday night and held on to win 116-107 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score might suggest. Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points in the first quarter and later went down with a sprained ankle and sore knee last night, and didn’t return. He finished with 30 points before limping to the locker room under his own power after an awkward fall, and my guess is that the Knicks are going to play it safe with him for the weekend. He should rest the ankle from now until Saturday’s game against the Cavaliers, but I’m getting the sense he’s not going to play in that one. If I’m right, look for Steve Novak to be sporting the Discount Double Check belt on Saturday night. J.R. Smith played through a sore back and had 18 points and two 3-pointers on 7-of-14 shooting. He’s as streaky as they come and this could be a sign that he’s about ready to go off for the next 10 days or so – especially if Melo misses a few games with his injury. The Knicks improved to 9-0 at home and have 17 wins, trailing only OKC and the Spurs, who have both won 18 games this season.
As if things weren’t bad enough for the Lakers, they got absolutely mauled by the Knicks last night. Things got so bad that Mike D’Antoni started Devin Ebanks over Antawn Jamison to start the second half, which Ebanks parlayed into a career-best 15 points in 34 minutes. I have been so down on Jamison that I cut him across the board on Sunday, and apparently Mike D is right there with me. Jamison’s not playing defense and looks like he’s lost his confidence on the court. And with Pau Gasol eventually making his way back to the court from his balky knees, Jamison’s fantasy life could be about over. And no, you shouldn’t be picking up Ebanks unless you’re in my 30-team league.
Despite the disastrous night in reality, Dwight Howard finally gave his owners a break at the free throw line by hitting 4-of-6 shots. Yay Dwight! He also hit 8-of-11 shots for 20 points, seven boards and a block, but his owners can’t be thrilled right now. I don’t want to wake a sleeping giant, as I’m playing against Howard in League Freak this week, but he’s blocked a grand total of four shots in his last four games, and just one in his last two. Add in the poor shooting from the line, the mediocre shooting from the field (25-of-47 over his last four), and the 16 turnovers, and he’s not doing much to help fantasy teams lately outside of scoring and rebounding. He’s due for an explosion soon, but it’s also becoming pretty clear that he’s not near 100 percent after last season’s back surgery. But at least the Lakers have Dwight instead of Andrew “peg leg” Bynum, right?
Kobe Bryant stayed hot with 31 points and 10 boards, while Metta World Peace chipped in with 23 points and a full stat line, but the Lakers are now 9-14 on the season and losers of four straight. They get a break tonight against the Wizards, but the game is in Washington and the Wiz are coming off a great win against the Heat on Tuesday night. If they happen to stun the Lakers tonight, the L.A. media and fans are going to be calling for Mike D’s head on a platter. Steve Nash is eventually going to walk through that door for D’Antoni, but I’m not expecting any miracles.
If you're interested in reading some great Twitter humor on D'Antoni, T.J. Simers and Phil Jackson, check out @Netw3rk. His timeline from yesterday is hilarious, in my opinion. And you can follow me by hitting this link, although I'm not quite as creative as he is.
Bobcats fall in Atlanta
Ramon Sessions had 16 points, four assists and two 3-pointers in 22 minutes in a loss to the Hawks, but has been very inconsistent lately. Kemba Walker is having a fantastic season (surprisingly), which has really hurt Sessions. He’s still worth a look in many leagues, but will only truly have value if Walker goes down. Speaking of going down, Byron Mullens racked up -0.3 fantasy points in one of my leagues last night, as in negative .3. He played just 14 minutes, scored three points on 1-of-8 shooting and committed two turnovers. Look, I get that he was drafted late in most leagues and should be cut some slack, but the fact of the matter is that he hasn’t played well in December, is shooting less than 40 percent on the season, and has played less than 20 minutes in four of his last six games. The bottom line is that he’s going to be inconsistent all season long, but simply has to get minutes because of a lack of options at power forward in Charlotte. I traded him for Patrick Patterson on Thursday, and slept like a baby last night.
Kyle Korver started for the Hawks and had 13 points and two 3-pointers. If you’re team is hurting for threes, Korver looks like a very solid pick up to me, especially given that the Hawks’ schedule is loaded with four-game weeks from here on out. If you’re sitting on Carlos Delfino, drop him for Korver. Josh Smith played well in the win over the Bobcats and is averaging 20.6 points, 8.4 boards, 1.6 steals, 1.4 blocks and 1.4 3-pointers over his last five games. Jeff Teague and Al Horford basically took the night off for the Hawks, while Devin Harris came through with 20 points, four assists and four 3-pointers. He’s been on the fringe of having fantasy value all season, but he didn’t exactly tear it up while Korver was out, and this looks like a fluke more than anything else.
Blazers beat slumping Spurs
The Spurs fell to the Blazers to lose their third straight game as starting shooting guard Gary Neal sputtered with six points on 2-of-10 shooting. The guy is up and down like a yo-yo, and trying to figure out when he’s going to have a big game is impossible to predict. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili played well, but the rest of the Spurs are just too unpredictable. Danny Green played 29 minutes, but finished with just five points in the loss. He’ll also likely take a hit once Kawhi Leonard is back, which should happen soon.
The Blazers got a whopper from a slumping Damian Lillard with a career-high 29 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two 3-pointers, as his ankle injury appears to be behind him. J.J. Hickson had his fourth straight double-double and 12th of the season, and I still have no idea why he was ever dropped from fantasy teams. Nicolas Batum played through his sore back and had 11 points, eight assists, two blocks and a 3-pointer, but hit just 4-of-11 shots. The fact he played a whopping 38 minutes is a good sign and I’m just hopeful that his back problem will quietly go away. Wesley Matthews sat this one out with his hip injury and will be questionable for Sunday against the Hornets. Victor Claver started, but failed to score last night, while Luke Babbitt scored 12 points off the bench. Owners of Matthews looking for a spot starter would be better served picking up a player off waivers who doesn’t play for the Blazers.