Hawks vs. Pistons
Lou Williams continues to be predictably excellent in an expanded role as the Hawks' starting SG, and he finished Friday's one-point loss with 17 points, five 3-pointers, three rebounds, eight assists and one steal. Jeff Teague had just five points but handed out nine assists with two more steals, while topping 40 minutes for the third time in four games. As long as he's getting such heavy playing time, I'm not hitting the panic button. Al Horford posted 18 & 15 but continued his bizarre struggles from the FT line, going 0-of-3 to lower his season average to 56.7 percent. He's a career 75 percent shooter from the charity stripe, and his FG shooting is unaffected this season, so I assume his problems are all mental. Josh Smith had 20 points, two steals and two blocks -- he also tweaked his hip flexor, so keep an eye on his status for Saturday's game.
The Pistons eked out their sixth win in seven games, benefiting from Austin Daye's 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting off the bench, which included two 3-pointers. Daye's 20-25 minute role isn't reliable enough for value in standard leagues, but he's quickly becoming a deep league option. It doesn't hurt that rookie Kyle Singer (two points in 16 minutes) appears to have run headlong into the rookie wall before reaching the halfway point of the season. Andre Drummond played under 20 minutes but it's worth noting that he was on the court down the stretch, and he even partially blocked Lou Williams' attempt at the buzzer. He has the potential to explode if he gets enough minutes later in the season.
Kings vs. Raptors
DeMarcus Cousins bullied the Raptors' thinned-out frontcourt all night on Friday, earning his team a victory while piling up 31 points (a season high) and 20 rebounds (tying his career high). He's quickly raising his mid-round value in roto leagues, and I can't recommend 'selling high' on a guy who's returning first-round value in the past two weeks. In other news...John Salmons had 20 points, one 3-pointer, four assists and a steal to keep up his low-end value, but Francisco Garcia flopped with three points on 1-of-7 shooting in 23 minutes. Marcus Thornton (left ankle) missed a third straight game, but once he and Tyreke Evans (knee) return there will be precious little upside for Cisco and Salmons. In the PG battle of attrition, Isaiah Thomas started and scored 11 points with six assists in 31 minutes, while Aaron Brooks played just 17 minutes. Thomas is still worth owning, if you have the stomach for Keith Smart's rotations.
Ed Davis had a nice line (11 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, one steal, three blocks in 41 minutes) which looks even nicer after Dwane Casey suggested he could start at PF even after Andrea Bargnani (elbow) returns. Keep your waiver wire gem locked into active lineups. Amir Johnson's foul troubles (the reason for Aaron Gray's in-name-only starting job) reached a whole new level on Friday, as he fouled out in under 10 minutes. It's an impressive feat that burned many fantasy owners on the heels of his recent play -- 11.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in his previous five games. This is an inherent risk with Amir, who is averaging a whopping 7.9 fouls per 48 minutes, the highest rate among players logging 20+ minutes per game (Larry Sanders is next closest with 7.5 fouls per 48 minutes).
Cavaliers vs. Bobcats
Ben Gordon's 27 points brought the Bobcats to the brink of a two-game win streak, but Kyrie Irving spoiled Charlotte's evening by scoring 16 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, including a game-winning jumper from the key with one second left. He made 10-of-10 FTs and padded his dominant line with three 3-pointers, five rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks. C.J. Miles also shined in a start at SG, hitting four 3s and finishing with 18 points, three rebounds, two steals and one block. His ascendency has reduced Dion Waiters (nine points in 18 minutes) to an inefficient rookie backup, and I'd have no qualms about cutting Waiters for another FA (including Miles). Tristan Thompson continues to thrive in Anderson Varejao's absence, notching 19 & 13 on Friday, on 8-of-10 FGs and 3-of-4 FTs. He could maintain basic double-double averages all season and he's currently returning sixth- or seventh-round value in roto leagues.
Gordon's futile bench scoring was nearly matched by Ramon Sessions, scored 20 points with 12-of-12 FT shooting, five rebounds, six assists, one steal and zero turnovers in 35 minutes. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist returned from an eye injury but logged just 21 minutes off the bench, scoring seven points with nine rebounds and two assists. I wouldn't cut him loose yet, but I will if he's not starting during Charlotte's upcoming three-game week. The man who replaced him at SF, Jeff Taylor, scored 11 points and played his customary solid defense, but he remains an uninspiring fantasy player.
Nets vs. Wizards
The Nets needed double-OT to knock off the Wizards, but fantasy owners won't complain: Brook Lopez scored 27 points with 13 rebounds (it is possible!) and three blocks, though he turned the ball over seven times. Deron Williams made just 9-of-23 FGs and I'm not convinced he's healthy, but he finished with 24 points, three 3s, seven boards and 10 assists. Kris Humphries (ankle) was unavailable so Reggie Evans started at PF, but the biggest beneficiary was Andray Blatche (13 points, 12 rebounds, four steals in just 19 minutes). For deep league owners, Keith Bogans did very little in nearly 37 minutes (eight points, five boards), while MarShon Brooks (six points in eight minutes) remains an afterthought under P.J. Carlesimo.
Kevin Seraphin was abysmal on Friday, shooting 1-of-9 from the field in 18 minutes, but Nene picked up the slack with 20 points, six boards, four assists and three steals in over 36 minutes. We'll see how his feet react to the heavy workload, but for the moment he's a must-start option. Washington's backcourt was the real story, as they nearly carried the team to an upset win. Bradley Beal scored 24 points and is averaging 20.0 points, 2.7 threes, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals in three January games. Jordan Crawford pitched in 23 points with four 3-pointers (and six turnovers) in 43 reserve minutes, while pleasant surprise Garrett Temple had eight points, seven boards and 11 assists as the starting PG. A.J. Price and John Wall should both return before the end of the month, however, so the fun won't last forever.
Here are a few pertinent injury updates:
- Kenneth Faried (flu) is a game-time decision on Saturday. He didn't participate in the Nuggets' shootaround.
- Josh Smith (hip) is questionable for Saturday, though he did re-enter Friday's game after tweaking his hip flexor. Anthony Morrow (hip) and Devin Harris (foot) are also questionable.
- Kris Humphries (ankle) is iffy for Saturday.
- Jarrett Jack hurt his elbow weight-lifting and is iffy to play on Saturday. It sounds like he avoided anything serious, but stay tuned.
- Kevin Love (sprained hand) has been ruled out for Saturday. He is day-to-day.
- Ricky Rubio (back) has been ruled out for Saturday.
- Eric Gordon (rest) will play on Saturday and his minute-limit will be raised.
- Stephen Jackson (sprained ankle) has been ruled out for Saturday.
Come back next week for another Saturday Dose, but in the meantime you can follow me on Twitter after reading Matt Stroup’s Roundball Stew and availing yourself of the columns and resources in Rotoworld’s NBA Season Pass.