This week's injury news, stats and insights are all tucked neatly into game recaps with three sections: Highs, Lows and Tidbits. Enjoy.
Bobcats vs. Raptors
Highs: Gerald Henderson scored 22 points with seven boards and three steals. He's averaging 28.5 points in his past two games, and has double-digits in seven straight. Starting PF Josh McRoberts also had a nice evening with 10 points, nine boards, three assists, three steals and two blocks in 38 minutes. Meanwhile, Rudy Gay (stiff back) had been ice cold from the field in March (36.7 percent shooting), but he lit up the Bobcats for 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting, with three rebounds, two assists and six turnovers. Dwane Casey has explicitly said that Gay could be shut down if the injury lingers, and in spite of this nice game Gay is a risky option for the Raptors' upcoming three-game week. Amir Johnson scored 12 points with three blocks and a career-high 21 rebounds. Pretty much what you'd expect vs. the Bobcats. Can you name the most recent Raptors player to grab 20+ boards in a game? He did it on April 11, 2011. The answer is below.
Lows: Kemba Walker scored 20 points with four dimes and three steals, but he made just 5-of-17 FGs and 8-of-12 FTs as his team fell to 14-51 on the season. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shot 2-of-12 from the field for four points in 28 minutes, Ben Gordon scored 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting, and Charlotte as a team hit just 32.5 percent of their field goals. Ugly stuff. DeMar DeRozan finished with nine points (1-of-5 FGs, 7-of-8 FTs), four rebounds and four assists in only 30 minutes, yielding the court to backups Terrence Ross (24 minutes) and Alan Anderson (23 minutes).
Tidbits: The Raptors return to action in a Sunday afternoon matinee vs. the visiting Heat, who have won 21 consecutive games...good luck. The answer to the rebounding Raptor question is...Joey Dorsey, one of eight players in franchise history to accomplish the feat. Take a bow if you somehow knew that.
Hornets vs. Wizards
Highs: John Wall, who said a few days ago that he is still trying to get into game shape, led the Wizards with a season-high 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting, including a career-best 3-of-3 from downtown. He also had nine assists, one dime shy of his third straight double-double, and he played with visible confidence and ease. Greivis Vasquez nearly triple-doubled with 18 points, eight boards, nine dimes and two steals. Eric Gordon also scored 20 points, the first time all season that he's scored 20+ points in consecutive games, but he added just two rebounds, zero assists, one steal and three turnovers. He also can't play in back-to-back games, and New Orleans' three-game week makes him a shaky option in most 12-team leagues.
Lows: Emeka Okafor flopped with four points and two boards in 27 minutes, while Nene had nine points and two boards. On the future-Pelican front, Ryan Anderson played through a viral infection, for which he deserves credit, but he shot just 6-of-18 from the field (1-of-10 from deep) to finish with 13 points and five boards in 36 minutes. He'll be fine for Sunday's game vs. the Wolves. Foul trouble limited Anthony Davis to just 16 minutes, yet he still racked up 16 points (8-of-8 free throws) with seven rebounds...this could just have easily have gone in the 'highs' category, as he salvaged what could have been an awful evening for fantasy owners. Unfortunately for Davis, his team lost their third straight game.
Tidbits: Emeka Okafor and Nene could lose a few minutes down the stretch to Trevor Booker, who came off the bench on Friday for two points, 13 rebounds and one block in 27 minutes. He's starting to look more comfortable after missing the bulk of the season with a knee injury and promptly hurting his ankle and wrist when he returned. The Wizards started Garrett Temple at SG again and he played a whopping 45 minutes...he only had 10 points, five assists and one steal, but he shot well and didn't turn the ball over. He's worth starting until Bradley Beal returns from his sprained ankle. Beal is day-to-day but his return date is a mystery.
Lakers vs. Pacers
Highs: The Lakers moved the ball well, shot the lights out, and finished 13-of-26 from downtown. They were led by Metta World Peace's 19 points, Antawn Jamison's 17 points and seven rebounds, and a season-best line from Steve Blake -- 18 points, five 3-pointers, six rebounds, seven assists, four steals, two blocks and one turnover. He may not top that line again in his career, so congratulations if you somehow had him active. Earl Clark (ankle) was able to play, scoring eight points with six rebounds, but he'll take a big hit with Pau Gasol due back in the near future (see below). George Hill looked for his shot against Steve Nash and it paid off quickly -- he finished with 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting, with four 3s, three assists and one steal, giving him two straight excellent games.
Lows: Kobe Bryant (sprained ankle) was able to start the game, but he didn't return after going 0-of-4 from the field in 12 minutes. His status for Sunday's game is uncertain. ''It really just continued to swell and I couldn't put any weight on it, so I called it a night,'' Bryant said after the game. David West, one of the most reliable PFs in the league this year, only scored eight points. He made up for it with eight boards, three assists, a steal and a block.
Tidbits: Mike D'Antoni said that Pau Gasol (foot) could return "as early as Monday" against the Suns. He'll retake the starting PF job once he's healthy, sending Earl Clark to the bench, but fantasy owners should temper near-term expectations. Pau is doubtful to play Sunday, he'll be out of shape when he returns, and L.A. is the only team with a two-game schedule in Week 21. Danny Granger has been ruled out through Saturday's game and we should have a substantive update early in the week. There are numerous warning flags about the condition of his knee and he was struggling during the brief time he played this season, making him fodder for the wire in all formats. He's owed a guaranteed $14 million next season, the final year of his contract, but he's probably best suited for a sixth-man role.
Suns vs. Hawks
Highs: Josh Smith (knee) returned to action with 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting, 11 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and one block. The Hawks play four games each of the next three weeks, so make sure he's in all active lineups. Jermaine O'Neal slid into the starting center spot for Phoenix, scoring 18 points with five rebounds and one block. He shot 7-of-9 from the field and 4-of-4 from the FT line, and he deserves to be owned in all leagues while he's starting. It would be heartening to J.O. finish the season healthy, especially considering the number of off-court problems that have assailed him this season, and the Suns' dire need for big men with Marcin Gortat (foot) likely done for the year.
Lows: Jeff Teague (ankle) played through his injury but he came off the bench for just eight points, four assists and four turnovers in 22 minutes. Presumably he'll move back into the starting lineup vs. the Nets on Sunday, moving either Devin Harris or Kyle Korver to the bench, and I'm viewing this as a one-game anomaly. Wes Johnson had been heating up lately, scoring 15+ points in three of the past four games, but he cooled off with just six points on 3-of-10 shooting vs. the Hawks. Most concerning is his playing time -- he logged just 20 minutes and it's impossible to tell what Lindsey Hunter will do with his rotations on a given night. Michael Beasley had 10 points in 20 minutes off the bench, Hamed Haddadi had five points and eight boards in 19 minutes, and former starter Luis Scola was reduced to six points in 13 minutes off the bench. If you're still clinging to Scola, prepare to be disappointed.
Tidbits: He's cooled off lately, but February was Josh Smith's best month of the season -- he averaged 19.6 points, 1.5 threes, 10.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.2 blocks. He struggled from the FT line, as usual, but he also shot 43.2 percent beyond the arc. Hawks fans may still groan when he winds up a long jumper, but fantasy owners will happily trade 1.5 triples for a minor hit in FG percentage. In other injury news, Zaza Pachulia (Achilles) is still out indefinitely and the Hawks called his injury a "serious concern." Hopefully he can heal up in time for the playoffs.