Monday night was a newsy sort of night and since then it feels like things have stepped up a notch. There were only five games last night, but the coaching change in Milwaukee along with some of the off-the-court drama, trade rumors, and for me the relocation rumors surrounding the Kings have kept things interesting to say the least. Add in a big Wednesday night and we have a lot to get to, so let’s get to gabbing.
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Cleaning the Glass
The Heat could sure use a guy like Reggie Evans nowadays, and Chris Andersen rumors are probably appealing to the average Heat fan right now. To that end, let’s not have a Black Friday race to the death to run and pick the Birdman up if he is signed. The Heat got murdered on the glass with a 19-rebound deficit, as Chris Bosh (14 points, five boards) continues to struggle there and LeBron James (22 points, 10 boards, four assists, seven turnovers) can only be in two or three places on the court at one time.
Dwyane Wade came out firing and finished with 30 points on 9-of-16 shooting, four treys, five boards, three assists, and a block. He has played at a second round value over the past week, so he’s taking baby steps toward his ADP but still has a ways to go to make up for his off-time and early struggles. Ray Allen was shut out for just the second time in his career, missing on five field goal attempts in 16 minutes. He had been playing well so chalk it up to old age and live to fight another day. As for James’ sore ankle, knee, and shoulder, I’m not worried about them at all and neither should you.
Paul George had owners a bit panicked after a slow start to the season, but he has really come on as of late and he starred in Indiana’s win over the Heat. He scored 29 points on 12-of-27 shooting (including four threes) with 11 rebounds and two assists in a herculean effort. He had to with George Hill (zero points, four assists, 23 minutes) leaving last night’s game halfway due to dehydration, which isn’t a big deal for Hill and after his groin issue now is probably the best time to make a run at him. David West added 14 and 11 with two steals and a rare 3-pointer, and Roy Hibbert helped the Pacers secure a 55-36 rebounding advantage with 14 boards of his own.
Hibbert still hit just 3-of-12 shots for six points and did not have a block, and talk about his right wrist injury isn’t getting a lot of play but regardless he’s one struggling big man right now. Lance Stephenson scored 13 points with three treys, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals, and was also credited with some good defense on Dwyane Wade in the second half. His bump in production was likely a function of Hill’s absence so owners should continue treating him like the deep league asset he is and nothing more. Owners should not be running to the wire to grab D.J. Augustin (four points, eight assists, 24 minutes) unless we get an unlikely report that Hill will miss more time.
Nets Win Despite Blatche Incident
Andray Blatche was questioned by police in an alleged sexual assault that took place in the hotel suite where he was staying on Monday night, which pretty much dominated the media coverage of the game. To that end, preliminary reports have found that he was not a part of the incident, but the incident isn’t going to do anything for his reputation as a bad apple off the court, especially with the date rape drug being found in his suite. As for the game itself, both he and the Nets were unfazed as they steamrolled the Sixers in their house, and Blatche himself scored 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting with seven rebounds and two assists in 22 minutes off the bench.
Reggie Evans was equally as effective with a career-high 23 rebounds in his 27 minutes of action, while Kris Humphries (two points, three rebounds) returned to action from his abdominal injury to play 10 minutes off the bench. Even if we take a small sample size of four games in which Evans has averaged 12.3 rebounds per contest, he’s still on the wrong side of 20-team value. If you’re considering him, it’s because you’re amazingly desperate for rebounds and willing to pay the price. In general, the PF slot in Brooklyn is a situation to avoid in most formats.
Over the same one-week span Deron Williams (22 points, five assists, 7-of-11 FGs) has been a top 5-6 play with much of the credit going to his 48.1 percent field goal shooting. Maybe this will mark a turning point in his season, but with the various dings and scratches he has I’d personally be testing the market to see what I can get in return. It hasn’t hurt that the Nets have played a very weak schedule since Avery Johnson was fired, either.
You can blame Andrew Bynum’s absence on the state of affairs in Philly, but they still have a talented group that hasn’t been playing up to par as a team this season. Jrue Holiday was productive with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting (3-of-3 from deep) and eight assists, but outside of Spencer Hawes (14 points, 6-of-9 FGs, two threes, four assists, two blocks) his teammates failed to show up.
It’s hard to get down on any one of the offending parties since it was a collective and connected effort, but it will be hard for Jason Richardson (six points, 3-of-9 FGs, no threes) owners to swallow his 19-minute performance. Maybe he’s not fully healthy, but I sense that there is more of a team-wide struggle that Richardson is not able to overcome on his own at this stage in his career. He looked great when things were going well earlier in the year, and so there is a context for owners to hold with, but I wouldn’t pass up an above average free agent to do it in standard 12-team formats.
Who is Robert Sacre for $500, Alex?
There are plenty of reasons to make fun of the Lakers if you’re not a Lakers fan right now, but in a game that Robert Sacre started at center I’m not going to go in hard on them for their loss to the Rockets. Dwight Howard (shoulder) apparently didn’t suffer a tear of his labrum, but a separation of the labrum from the bone, and that makes him more ‘day-to-day’ than out indefinitely. Pau Gasol (concussion) will be evaluated on Thursday and is questionable for Friday’s game.
Steve Nash dealt with his back issue mid-game but still finished with 16 points, five rebounds, and 10 assists, marking the 10,000th assist in his future Hall of Fame career. Darius Morris (12 points, two assists) started at shooting guard and is not a fantasy asset, while Sacre scored 10 points with four rebounds and three blocks. Unless you’re in a massive format, gambling on Sacre in another spot-start is risky business. Metta World Peace bounced back from some slow outings to post 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting with four threes, six boards, and four steals, and if he somehow was dropped go run and pick him up. Jodie Meeks logged 32 minutes off the bench and put up a relatively slow 12 points with three treys in 32 minutes, and he’s still a guy owners will want to view skeptically unless they’re hunting threes. Antawn Jamison didn’t live up to any of the hype, scoring seven points with not much else in 24 minutes. He could still have a good night tonight with Howard and Gasol out, but I wouldn’t pass up on a hot free agent to see if it happens as he’s a short-term play at best right now.
The Lakers aren’t a sure bet to make the playoffs this year, which would make them one of the most disappointing teams of all-time. With Kobe Bryant being closer to average than elite on defense, Nash being a league-worst defender, Pau being forced to cover power forwards and also lacking on that end, World Peace being closer to average these days, and Howard being a defensive liability for the first time in his career – they will need to figure out something schematically to change their fortunes. And Mike D’Antoni is not the guy to do it.
Thanks for the Complement
The Rockets, on the other hand, are playing like a well-oiled machine with parts that complement one another even if they’re understated next to other Western Conference playoff hopefuls. James Harden (31 points, six rebounds, nine assists) and Jeremy Lin (19 points, six rebounds, five assists, four steals, seven turnovers) continue to play well off of one another, even if the results aren’t always perfect for Lin. Harden tweaked an ankle and it wasn’t concerning enough for us to put him on the injury report, but keep your ear to the ground in advance of tonight’s game.
Omer Asik had a down night with two points, five boards, and two blocks in 22 minutes, as Kevin McHale went away from the big man last night. If you’re not punting in his deficient areas you’re doing it wrong, but this is a buy low window if you’re doing it right. Chandler Parsons got back on track despite the flu with 20 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block in 43 minutes of action, and even with the rough five-game stretch he shouldn’t have hit the wire in any formats. He’s a stud this season.
Carlos Delfino hit five treys for 19 points with six rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 23 minutes off the bench. He is a late-round value on the year in 8- and 9-cat formats and an early round value during his two-week hot streak, making him a must-own player that owners should expect late-round production from. Anything else should be considered a bonus, and likewise if he dips down feel free to drop him. Patrick Patterson (nine points, four rebounds, one blocks) played just 19 minutes as the Rockets went small, but had been playing well since returning from injury and is worth owning in 12-team formats.