Before speeding through a recap of Friday's 12-game slate, let's stop to check out next week's schedules:
Four games: Hawks, Bulls, Mavericks, Pistons, Warriors, Pacers, Clippers, Magic, 76ers, Kings, Raptors, Wizards
Two games: Celtics, Blazers
The other 16 teams each play three games, of course, and I've excluded them in the hopes that fewer teams will make it easier to find the one(s) you are looking for...or not find them, in which case that team is middle-of-the-pack in games played. Moving on.
Rudy Gay was shooting 69-of-182 from the field (37.9 percent) in his first nine games with the Raptors, but he went off on Friday with 32 points on 11-of-23 FGs and 9-of-11 FTs, with seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Gay's points per game (21.4) and shot attempts (20.5) have jumped noticeably since joining the Raptors, but he's also averaging more threes (1.2) and rebounds (6.8) with a ridiculous amount of steals (2.6). Even his playing time has increased, and he's notched a few buzzer-beating game-winners for Toronto in just a few weeks. The only thing that has suffered is his aforementioned field goal percentage, mired at 39.0 percent. He's been hovering above 40 percent all season, so miracles aren't forthcoming, but any uptick in accuracy would send his value surging into the early rounds.
Andrea Bargnani was booed by fans in Toronto during an atrocious 13-minute stint off the bench, going scoreless with zero rebounds or blocks. He made a nice stash before the trade deadline, and was worth holding to see how he'd be deployed with the roster settling down for a final playoff run, but the early returns prove that he belongs on your waiver wire. This was his second straight scoreless game and he's failed to cracked double-digits in five straight. Amir Johnson (12 points, six boards in 32 minutes) and Jonas Valanciunas (three points, 10 rebounds, two blocks) are both part of the Raptors' long-term plans, not to mention outplaying Bargnani, and you're doing yourself a disservice if you still own him.
J.R. Smith was ejected from New York's last game and it's no surprise to hear that he's been grating the Knicks' coaching staff, even getting into a confrontation with assistant coach Herb Williams. The good news is that none of those distractions seemed to bother him on Friday, when he dropped 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting with three 3-pointers, four rebounds and four assists off the bench. He made a few puzzling decisions, as usual, but he was poised and focused as he helped New York temporarily erase a big lead in the fourth quarter. Owners looking for a homerun can justify cutting J.R. for a guy like Moe Harkless, but in general he's worth owning despite horrible 38.2 percent FGs and 64.7 percent FTs in his past 13 games.
Elsewhere for the Knicks, Jason Kidd racked up his usual across-the-board numbers in 32 minutes, Raymond Felton had 10 points, six rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes, and Iman Shumpert started but was scoreless in just 15 minutes of action. Mike Woodson recently threatened changes to his lineup, and the loss to Toronto was the Knicks' fifth straight, so keep an eye on guys like JR, Steve Novak and Chris Copeland.
Random Question: Which rookie leads the NBA in 3-point percentage?
Answer: Pablo Prigioni at 41.3 percent. He's 33-of-80 from downtown, while shooting 46.1 percent from the field overall, numbers which defy his reputation as a brilliant passer who becomes a liability when asked to knock down jumpers.
Orlando Johnson led the Pacers' reserves with 14 points in Friday's blowout vs. the Pistons -- he made all five of his field goals, including three 3-pointers, with three rebounds and three assists. OJ has carved out a solid 10-minute role in recent weeks, but he's chum for deep leagues even with Danny Granger sidelined. Granger, by the way, is expected to make his season debut on Saturday. He'll play limited minutes and his conditioning will take a while to return, so I wouldn't gamble on him in weekly leagues even if he looks good in an adrenaline-fueled return this weekend.
On the other side of the blowout, Rodney Stuckey was the only Pistons' scorer with double-digit points (11) and the entire starting five combined to shoot 11-of-40 from the field in limited minutes. Stuckey started at SG with Brandon Knight (knee) unavailable, and reserve guard Will Bynum also stepped into a bigger role with 17 points and four dimes in 22 minutes. Most eye-catching for fantasy owners was center Viacheslav Kravtsov, who gave a passable impression of Andre Drummond with 14 points on 6-of-7 FGs and 2-of-10 FTs, with 10 rebounds. The Pistons are inevitably tilting toward developing players, so Kravtsov may stick in the rotation for the duration of the season, but his value is scuttled by the combination of his lousy FT shooting (a combined 5-of-21 this season) and Drummond's return as soon as early- or mid-March. Nothing else noteworthy came out of this lopsided affair.