The Nuggets held off the Magic in Arron Afflalo’s return to Denver, with Kenneth Faried ordering his box score Manimal Style to the tune of 19 points, 19 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. He needs to keep up the defensive production to offset his poor foul shooting, so hopefully this will get him going in that department. Ty Lawson (19 points, eight assists) and Andre Iguodala (11 points, 4-of-13 FGs, four rebounds, five assists) continued their see-saw act, while Danilo Gallinari (15 points, eight boards, four assists, two threes), Andre Miller (18 points, four rebounds, four assists), and Corey Brewer (16 points, four rebounds, one block) all put up productive lines.
The Mavs struggles continued in their loss to the Clippers last night, which is somewhat explainable with the re-integration of Dirk Nowitzki (15 points, 5-of-13 FGs, six rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block) into the lineup. Darren Collison scored 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting with two threes, four rebounds, and six assists, which gives him some extra rope with owners for the next time he struggles. O.J. Mayo isn’t producing the gaudy lines he was earlier in the year, and scored 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting with one rebound, three assists, and three steals last night, but let’s give him a week before we attribute more than an incremental decrease to his value now that Dirk is back.
Chris Kaman scored nine points with just four rebounds and one steal in his 24 minutes, and he’s going to be inconsistent permanently now it appears. Elton Brand scored eight points with four rebounds, one steal, and one block. If he can do that every night he’ll be a decent deep-league asset, but he needs to be consistent to make it work out. Vince Carter played 29 minutes but had just six points on 3-of-9 shooting (no threes) with five rebounds and one block. He can be tossed to the waiver wire for a hot free agent in 12-14 team formats now that Dirk is back.
Born in a Barnes
As a Warriors fan, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Matt Barnes, who is admittedly a hard guy to root for if you’re not a We Believer. He showed his skill-set during that season, and has flashed it over time, but he never quite lived up to what I thought he was capable of doing. Now, in a great situation with a great group of teammates, he is taking things to the next level and had another great night with 19 points, five treys, seven rebounds, one steal, and three blocks. Yes, things could get crowded and now is a great time to test his market value, but this isn’t some fluke. He’s simply better positioned to do the things he’s capable of doing.
Lamar Odom played 27 minutes but had just four points, two rebounds, three assists, and one steal, highlighting why he’s better suited for deep leagues, and Jamal Crawford returned from his foot injury to post 11 points, two threes, one steal, and one block in 26 minutes. Crawford will definitely improve over that line and it remains to be seen if he will be impacted by the overall roster crunch. Chris Paul went for 19 and 16 and Blake Griffin went for 15 and 13 with three steals and a block in the win.
The Grizzlies are finding their rhythm on the west coast right now, with matchups against the Kings and the soft interior of the Warriors defense on the docket last night. Mike Conley had five turnovers, but posted a tidy 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting with four assists, three steals, and one three, and Zach Randolph made David Lee look silly all night to the tune of 19 points and 12 rebounds. Tony Allen put up a pedestrian 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting with four rebounds, two assists, and one steal, while Rudy Gay had 18 points with five rebounds and six assists but no steals, blocks, or threes. Gay’s efficiency is down and it seems like he is forcing the issue on many nights, with trade rumors swirling around endlessly.
My Warriors are struggling with the difficult portion of their schedule and lost to the Grizzlies last night at home, which regular readers know is something I’ve been chirping about. Stephen Curry scored 24 points with a solid stat line, and Klay Thompson scored 20 points with seven rebounds, seven assists, a steal, and two threes to go with a perfect six attempts from the foul line. With the Warriors needing better athletes and defenders (right on cue), Carl Landry (13 points, nine boards) and Harrison Barnes (seven points, three rebounds, one three, one steal, one block) both saw 25-27 minutes. Jarrett Jack struggled with either his elbow or the Grizzlies’ suffocating defense, scoring just three points on 1-of-4 shooting with five assists, and it’s possible that he slows down as the Warriors face these better teams. I wouldn’t panic just yet, but it’s something to watch out for.
David Lee cooled off according to script, scoring 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting with 10 rebounds, four assists, and one steal, and being worked over by Zach Randolph most of the night should be a reminder to the suddenly gushing Warriors analysts out there that All Stars (theoretically) should play both sides of the floor.
In general, while I’m happy for the Warriors’ overall success and am thankful for the new management (in particular GM Bob Myers), it’s going to be funny watching everybody walk back their early and overcooked praise if this tough stretch knocks them down a peg. I get asked why I am so down on my own team all the time, and frankly it’s because the organizational culture is one to overhype their guys. Some of the players don’t get affected by it, but guys like Lee start to read their own press clippings and don’t work to improve their defense. Despite the many reports telling you otherwise and outlier stats not telling the complete story, they are still a very bad defensive team and they’ll need to play their core less minutes to change that. Unless, of course, they are motivated by realistic evaluations that bring about schematic changes and a real commitment to learning defensive principles.
John Wall (knee) practiced in full yesterday and reported no pain or soreness afterward, so he looks good to go for Saturday’s game. Of course, he is a must-own player. Trevor Booker (knee) wrote on his Twitter account that he can’t wait to play Saturday, which will do more to hurt others’ fantasy value than to enhance his own.
Thursday Night Lights
NY @ IND: J.R. Smith (face) did not practice yesterday, but he is expected to play tonight. Carmelo Anthony won’t play, however, after getting suspended for his drama with Kevin Garnett the other night. This normally wouldn’t have warranted a suspension, but fan video of the incident hit the Net and player confrontations have been on the rise. Amare Stoudemire (knee) is going to be put on a 20-minute plan due to soreness he felt after Monday’s game, and while there’s speculation that this is a way to manage his general ineffectiveness, I think owners have to give him the benefit of the doubt if they’ve made the add. I personally lost any belief that I had that he is in great shape as many reported in New York, but judging a player coming off a major absence in his first week isn’t really fair. If you believe in him, give him a chance for another game or so.
George Hill has bronchitis and is questionable, so give D.J. Augustin a hard look if you’re in the market for a spot-play. If you’re looking to watch just one game and one player to see if you’re onto the next big thing, I’ve been calling Paul George a poor man’s Kevin Durant for a long time now but he might officially be middle class. He’s never going to catch up to KD, but if he can stay remotely consistent he has first round potential in fantasy leagues and he will be the Pacers’ clear No. 1 player in no time.
DAL @ SAC: If you follow me on Twitter you know I spent all of yesterday reporting on the Kings relocation story for ProBasketballTalk, which hit a critical mass after Woj reported that the team was going to imminently be sold. Sources of mine close to negotiations immediately refuted the immediacy of the report and indicated that Sacramento will have a chance to make an offer to keep the team, and that appeared to pan out as the day went on. It’s good to know that my sources are hitting their marks, but nobody thinks that Sacramento has an easy go of it to keep their team right now. It’s a blood match between two cities being raked over the coals, though in Seattle’s case their gripe is with both the NBA for their general underhandedness and also their own politicians for not doing what they needed to do to keep the Sonics. On the other hand, Sacramento has done everything imaginable to keep their team by everybody’s measure and I get double-digit emails per day from fans begging me for good news. These are families who have bonded over Kings basketball, people with jobs at the arena, and frankly it’s impossible for me to turn my back on them. If any of you wonder why I’m so passionate about it on Twitter and elsewhere, it’s because of that. If your city was about to get pillaged and I have a way I can help I would do the same for all of you.
It’s hard to say how the Kings fans are going to react. The attendance has understandably been down as the Maloofs have tortured the poor city, but there could very well be an organized (or disorganized) sellout just 24 hours after all these relocation bombs dropped. If anybody can fill the building under such circumstances the Kings fans can. Many of the players have special bonds with the city, too, and they have always come out and played extremely well in games that are relevant to the relocation issue. Unless the arena somehow turns out to be a ghost town, don’t be surprised if the Mavs run into a buzz-saw.
Marcus Thornton (ankle) is a game-time decision after feeling soreness following Wednesday’s practice session, and Tyreke Evans should theoretically be unleashed tonight. Isaiah Thomas is always under the microscope for fantasy owners trying to tap into his upside, and Keith Smart better not mess things up too badly with hockey style line rotations because the Kings fans might riot. John Salmons’ value will be tested once again, and DeMarcus Cousins might swallow the Mavs’ frontcourt whole if the emotion of the situation doesn’t get the best of him.
MIA @ POR: LaMarcus Aldridge (shooting wrist) went through a full practice yesterday and is probable for tonight, and for more on that injury check out the section I wrote on him in yesterdays’ Dose. I’m not calling for panic but I want owners to stay up to date on shooting wrist injuries in general. Shane Battier (hamstring) missed yesterday’s practice and is questionable to suit up tonight, but that’s not shifting much value around in the Heat’s rotation. Dwyane Wade has been heating up, while LeBron James is a bit banged up and could use a blowout to get some much-needed rest.