THE BABY FACED ASSASSIN
David Lee’s return to New York was spoiled by his one-game suspension for Tuesday’s brouhaha, and it reeked of the league knowing Lee was injured and finding him to be a convenient target. His part in that mild altercation was minor, and David West was the secondary guy I thought would get a game. Again, the league probably wanted to ding one guy from each team, if I’m guessing.
That left Stephen Curry free to make Tuesday's 38-point effort look mild, as he lit Madison Square Garden on fire with a career-high 54 points on 18-of-28 shooting (11-of-13 from deep, 7-of-7 from the line), six rebounds, seven assists and three steals while playing the entire game. I said yesterday that there were only a handful of guys I’d want on my fantasy team ahead of him right now, and their names are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and James Harden. Curry and Chris Paul share similarly bad schedules, but nobody in the first round is going to touch their value as long as both guys stay upright, and Curry will be needed to secure a playoff berth and positioning. Just wow.
Jarrett Jack (14 points, two assists, two threes) and Carl Landry (15 points, 3-of-4 FGs, 9-of-10 FTs, three rebounds, three assists, five turnovers) were the only other GSW players to show up, as Klay Thompson hit just 3-of-13 shots for six points, four boards, a steal and a block, and everybody else should have just stayed at the hotel. Landry is worth a look in deep leagues for his recent play, and from there owners should simply evaluate whether or not Lee’s shoulder will keep him out longer.
Carmelo Anthony (35 points, eight assists, 10-of-26 FGs, 13-of-15 FTs, two threes) and J.R. Smith (26 points, six threes, five boards) were enough to put the Knicks over the top against the Warriors, especially with Tyson Chandler taking names. Chandler roasted the Dubs’ marshmallow interior to the tune of 16 points and a career-high 28 rebounds, while Amare Stoudemire didn’t take a step forward in line with his reported minute increase, scoring 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting with four rebounds in 20 minutes. Raymond Felton (10 points, four boards, four assists, four steals, one block, 39 minutes) was seen grimacing due to a heel injury, but we’re guessing he plays on Friday for now. Rasheed Wallace (foot) will likely miss the rest of the season after scheduling surgery.
THE FULL MONTA
What a difference a week makes, as the Bucks have been effectively turned over to Monta Ellis, who went nuts and hit an amazing game-winning three with time expiring. Ellis scored 27 points on 9-of-24 shooting with two threes, six rebounds, 13 assists, and six steals, while Brandon Jennings (eight points, 3-of-8 FGs, four rebounds, six assists, zero steals, 30 minutes) found himself losing time to J.J. Redick (21 minutes, 14 points, two threes, not much else) once again.
It sure doesn’t look like Jim Boylan is going to run with a small ball lineup based on the early returns, which means that one of the starters is going to lose their once impenetrable workload. Now seems like a good time to buy low on Jennings since owners are probably in a panic, but owners should tread lightly because this could be a case of an unhappy player spiraling to a less valuable place. Ersan Ilyasova woke up a bit with a 20 and 10 night with a block, three, and 8-of-13 shooting line. Mike Dunleavy stayed on the radar with 16 points, six rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and two threes in 31 minutes, so give him a look if he has been dropped. Ekpe Udoh left last night’s game with a sprained ankle and did not return, and if he misses time it will add a handful of minutes back to the rotation.
For all of Omer Asik’s shortcomings, the man sure knows how to double-double, as he posted 16 points with 22 rebounds without a steal or block. He is what he is, and if you can build your team around that you’re doing it right. I was chatting with Doc last night and telling him how tempted I was to put Donatas Motiejunas ahead of Thomas Robinson in order of value, but a quiet season slowed my roll and of course it bit me in the butt. Motie scored 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting with seven rebounds, five assists, one steal and one three over 26 minutes in his first start, and that’s worth a hard look in a 12-14 team league given Houston’s run-and-gun approach. He’d tend to fit that blueprint as a stretch four, and while he’ll need to hold off Robinson nothing is a given for the sloppy No. 5 pick.
As I mentioned yesterday, last night was not a night to be overly critical of Robinson (two points, one rebound, eight minutes) in his debut. He has to learn the system and then convince Kevin McHale that he scrubbed the Keith Smart stink off and is ready to play the game right. If he does, he also profiles well as a guy that can get up and down the floor. From there, everything is a crapshoot, and with Motie showing well I think owners can look elsewhere for stash candidates in 12-14 team formats right now. Carlos Delfino (12 points, 5-of-14 FGs, one rebound, one steal) was feasting as the team’s power forward, but it looks like he’ll go back to his previous gunner off the bench role, and his elbow is still bothering him. Owners should plan accordingly.
James Harden knocked knees with Monta Ellis and rolled around in pain, staying in the game, but his effectiveness was temporarily sapped despite the normal looking 25-point, seven-assist outing that included seven turnovers. We’ll be watching to see if there is any post-game fallout.
DUMPY IN DALLAS
The Mavs’ box score was a wasteland and it’s fitting since they gave up a big lead and lost to the Grizzlies last night. Shawn Marion paced the team with 16 points, eight boards, a steal and block on 8-of-12 shooting, Dirk Nowitzki was quiet with 10 points, four boards, and two blocks, O.J. Mayo hit 5-of-13 shots for 11 points and not much else, Vince Carter stayed cold with six points on 3-of-8 shooting in an empty performance, and Elton Brand kept up the good work with 12 points, six boards, two steals and two blocks. Chris Kaman followed up a DNP-CD with a start at center and put up six points, four rebounds, three assists and one block in 22 minutes, which should put him on the radar, but we need to see more before advising a pickup unless you’re Billy Hunter desperate for a big man.
SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE
You’ll notice a theme that certain big-time efforts from last night go unnoticed given all the craziness, and the Grizzlies’ 25-point comeback win to tie a franchise record is definitely in that category. Powered by a 24-0 run, and big nights from Zach Randolph (22 points, 10 boards, four assists, three steals) and Marc Gasol (21 points, 12 boards, five assists, one steal), the Grizzlies were able to overcome shoddy shooting from their teammates to pull out an unlikely win. Mike Conley (2-of-13 FGs, five points, four boards, six assists, three steals) hasn’t met his lofty ADP in some circles (read: mine), but he is still a top-30 play on the year on a per-game basis and this is a nice buy low moment. The Grizz have a solid schedule down the stretch and he’s bound to bounce back.
PRESENTED WITH COMMENT
I’m going to try to present the following without comment (we’ll see how I do). Anthony Davis (left shoulder sprain) missed last night’s game despite being deemed able to return in Tuesday’s game (he didn’t). The Hornets have been less than forthcoming about injuries under Monty Williams and the current regime. Williams said last year that he doesn’t ask his players about their injuries, and weeks would go by at a time without updates on injured players.
Okay, filter off, this is just a mess. Is he hurt seriously? Probably not. Is the totality of all of his absences starting to get a bit weird? Yes. I have no idea how this is going to play out, and my only advice for owners is to stay on your toes. A healthy Davis down the stretch could be huge, but we haven’t seen much for owners to hang their hat on this season in terms of fantasy dominance.
Considering the Hornets got blown out by a vastly superior Thunder squad, it’s probably not the best time to take measurements, but owners can’t be thrilled with Ryan Anderson’s goose egg on the glass. He still scored 14 points with three treys and I’m not worried at all. Al-Farouq Aminu dealt with foul trouble and had seven points, seven boards, one steal and one block in 23 minutes, which is good enough to keep him held during this string of low-end production. Robin Lopez (seven points, two boards) struggled with Davis out, which he simply can’t do if he’s going to retain owners’ confidence.
IF A TRIPLE-DOUBLE HAPPENS IN A FOREST
Kevin Durant’s (18 points, 11 boards, 10 assists) triple-double will get overshadowed on such a huge night of basketball, as will Russell Westbrook’s 29 points and perfect 12-of-12 mark from the line. Serge Ibaka has been quiet recently so his 18 points, seven boards and three blocks with 9-of-11 shooting was a welcoming sight.