ROCKETS DOLE OUT THE LICKS IN OAKLAND
The Rockets went into Golden State looking for blood after the Warriors whined up a storm following Houston’s dismantling of them last week. James Harden played through a sore left knee and then rolled his ankle badly during the game, but after leaving for a brief moment he returned and finished with 27 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals. He hit just 7-of-22 shots (2-of-8 3PTs, 11-of-11 FTs) and was clearly hobbled, and there are conflicting reports about his status for tonight’s game. If I had to bet I’d say he won’t go, but anything is possible with the All Star break looming. Jeremy Lin went for 14 and 10 against his old team, Omer Asik went for 13 and 15, Chandler Parsons scored 21 points with eight rebounds, nine assists, one steal, one block, and three treys, Carlos Delfino scored 10 points with two threes, a steal, and a block, and Patrick Patterson put up his typically mediocre 12 points, two rebounds, and one block. Nothing to see here, other than a team making early season hype about the Warriors look silly.
SUCKING UP TO MY WARRIORS NOT COOL ANYMORE
This is why I would not get hyped. The Warriors lost their fifth game in a row last night and this was a statement game against a team in the Rockets that the Warriors got all hot and bothered against last week. The problem is that the Warriors suck defensively and they’re too busy as an organization patting themselves on the back to realize they have significant problems on the side of the court where championships are won.
David Lee (12 points, 3-of-10 FGs, 12 rebounds, four assists, one block) is a below average player on nights in which he isn’t going for 20, 10, and five, and in a real analytical world that includes defense he’d have never made the All Star ballot let alone the team. He’s that bad. Andrew Bogut (six points, 12 rebounds, four assists, one block, 27 minutes) wasn’t much better on that side of the floor, but he decided to take his teammates to task for their bad defensive play – and that ridiculousness is sure to go over well when everybody looks at Bogut getting his hat handed to him on tape.
Stephen Curry (27 points, five rebounds, six assists) and Klay Thompson (22 points, 9-of-21 FGs, one steal, one block, one three) are great offensive players, but together they are a sieve on defense and no amount of Jarrett Jack (22 points, five assists, four threes, shoulder injury) leadership or Draymond Green (nine points, two steals, one block, 17 minutes) grit is going to change that.
Carl Landry (two points, four rebounds, 20 minutes) can help in the sense that he’s not a total zero on the defensive end of the floor, and he doesn’t shy from contact the way Lee does, but he isn’t clogging the lane. I’d like to think Bogut can regain some standing on the defensive side of the floor, but he looks slow, soft, and unsure where he should be standing. Some guys get by on their physical talents and when that goes they’re stuck. Bogut is creeping dangerously into that territory, injury or not.
LARRY SANDERS UPDATE
The second opinion that Larry Sanders got on his back was precautionary according to mysterious, oft-accurate beat writer Gery Woelfel. Sam Amick also reported a week ago that the injury wasn’t serious, though that didn’t account for the new reality that Sanders is still in pain. Second opinions are always huge red flags but the timing of the All Star break and the fact that back injuries often require specialists are mitigating factors here. Sanders doesn’t sound like he’ll be playing tonight, and while owners shouldn’t panic they should be watching the news closely. I wouldn’t discount any more than a round of his value in a sell-now deal, and owners willing to gamble have a small window here to try to poach him from a panicky owner.
DERRICK ROSE UPDATE
There seems to be a war brewing in Chicago over Derrick Rose’s return from knee surgery. On one hand, national writers have been getting interviews over local guys and laying the foundation for a return on or after March 1. The local guys are being shut out, prompting Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh and his colleagues to start floating the idea that Rose’s marketing team is holding him out longer than he should be. It’s all very interesting, but the idea for stashers of Rose has always been the same. Only do it if you can afford to do it and be ready for anything, because whoever it is – the team, the player, or his handlers – they’re all going to play it safe.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
ATL @ ORL: The Spurs expressed some degree of interest in Josh Smith, but not enough to change the dynamics of his situation. They would, however, represent one of those depth-driven scenarios I wrote about in our Trade Deadline kickoff that would be damaging to his value. The Spurs have no shortage of producers to cut into his value. Will rookies Andrew Nicholson and Mo Harkless stay on the fantasy radar? I have Nicholson stashed in one 12-team league, and if he can survive the next few weeks he profiles well in the season’s last month.
SA @ CLE: Byron Scott took up for Tyler Zeller yesterday, but one has to wonder how long the rookie’s leash will be if he keeps struggling. Stephen Jackson has been out for a personal issue and is questionable for tonight, as is Tiago Splitter after he rolled his ankle in Monday’s game (he finished it out). Tim Duncan (knee) and Manu Ginobili (hamstring) are both questionable and I’d call them doubtful until the next report. Kyrie Irving (ankle) could be moved from the injury report in advance of tonight’s game and I wouldn’t have a problem with it. We moved him there as a precaution but he was dunking and taking extra 3-point shooting practice so it would be a shock if he didn’t play tonight.
CHA @ IND: We might get to see Danny Granger’s debut tonight, and owners may want to look at other options on a busy 12-game night even if he does go. David West (eye) is expected to play but as is the case with many injuries right now owners should check back for updates. Will the Byron Mullens experience continue against a tough Indy backcourt? He’s been playing with a mean streak lately and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike Dunlap specifically tried to hammer home the message that he needs to play more down low.
TOR @ NY: Tyson Chandler (ankle) is expected to play tonight, but at this time of the year nothing is a lock. I’ll also be watching Jason Kidd to see if he can put up another Kidd-like line. Especially if Iman Shumpert continues to struggle, Kidd could carve out a few weeks of value on the other side of the All Star break.
DEN @ BKY: GM Billy King said that Deron Williams lacks explosion this year, and also that he took Clubber Lang a bit too lightly. We have him marked as sidelined so keep an eye out for his status.
CHI @ BOS: Joakim Noah says his plantar fasciitis is bothering him but there is no indication that he won’t play tonight. Noah loves himself some KG but at this time of year owners should be watching for last second DNPs. Kirk Hinrich (elbow) didn’t even travel with the team so it will be the Nate Robinson show again. Leandro Barbosa is out for the year with a torn ACL, which gives a handful of minutes to Courtney Lee, Avery Bradley and Jason Terry.
WAS @ DET: Bradley Beal said his shooting wrist felt a lot better, and after his big Monday he should be owned in all formats, even if I’ll be watching to see what happens when Jordan Crawford gets out of the doghouse. The Piston to watch is Charlie Villanueva, who fizzled after a big post-Andre Drummond injury performance. That down game was just one game, and while I’m generally not high on Villanueva the player owners should be ready to move if he puts up another big line. Somebody has to play in that third big man role for the Pistons.
PHI @ MIL: Andrew Bynum said yesterday that he didn’t know if the pain in his knee was due to a setback or general discomfort. Suhweet. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him sit out the whole year and he’s all-but certain not to play in February. Monta Ellis missed practice on Tuesday after a fender bender but we haven’t heard anything to suggest he won’t go tonight.
UTA @ MIN: Nikola Pekovic walked with trainers to the locker room after Monday’s game and Rick Adelman thought he may have been hit in the head. Nobody is treating this like a serious issue but I figured I’d throw it out there as something to watch for. Gordon Hayward (shoulder) will be held out through the All Star break, which isn’t surprising, and it sounds like he’s healing just fine. I’m adding/holding through the trade deadline. Mo Williams will have the pin removed from his shooting thumb today and will begin rehabbing, and in short I’ll say that if your situation can handle a player that won’t likely be productive until mid-March in a best case scenario then feel free to give him a look. The worst case is that he gets on the floor in April and shares the backcourt with a new acquisition at PG.
POR @ NO: Eric Gordon (back, knee) should be ready to return tonight, and if he can put up a big line then owners should already have their sell-now offers ready to go. Look for Anthony Davis to be assertive after getting benched the last time out. Monty Williams is giving the kid tough love, or his ankle is hurt more than he’s letting on – it’s one or the other – and Davis spent some extra time practicing yesterday. Williams tends to reward that sort of thing.
SAC @ DAL: Chris Kaman (concussion) is still having headaches, and the Mavs were just rumored to be interested in Brandon Jennings. Owners should actively be trying to sell Darren Collison.
HOU @ LAC: Caron Butler is hopeful to play tonight, but said his back didn’t feel any better yesterday than it did when he hurt it on Monday. It sure sounds like another day off would make sense, and Matt Barnes would be a safe play in that event. Chauncey Billups is in the same boat, but his back issue doesn’t sound as bad as Butler’s.