THE STREAK IS OVER
I said in a chat that the Heat wouldn’t break the Lakers’ streak and I was starting to get a bit worried, but as it usually goes a team that doesn’t appear to have a chance is able to pull off the unthinkable. The Bulls were banged up but their home crowd came ready to go, and the Heat didn’t have enough defense or role player contributions to extend their streak to 28 games.
LeBron James scored 32 points with seven rebounds, two steals, four blocks and two threes, and the immediate concern is that he will get some time off now that the streak is done. The same could be said for Dwyane Wade (18 points, 7-of-13 FGs, seven rebounds, four steals, one block) and his minor knee ailment, and I’d even extend that to Chris Bosh (21 points, four rebounds, one steal, four blocks, one three). Erik Spoelstra will likely rotate any rest between those guys, but I wouldn’t mind seeing what it would look like if all three were out, just for fits of giggles.
BULLS ON PARADE
Derrick Rose (knee) did not play and only God knows when he will, so perhaps it’s time for owners to say a prayer. Marco Belinelli (abdomen) and Joakim Noah (foot) were both game-time decisions that didn’t end up going, and owners can safely evaluate them as if they’re day-to-day. It was behind that backdrop that the Bulls ended the Heat’s massive winning streak, powered by Luol Deng’s team-high 28 points, seven rebounds, five assists, four treys and two steals over 44 minutes.
Jimmy Butler got into the action with 17 points, two threes, four rebounds, five assists and two steals, but he needs this type of injury help to be worth an add after serious inconsistency issues. Kirk Hinrich (seven points, five rebounds, six assists, one steal, one three) played 32 minutes and brought the point guard position back to its early season form, as Nate Robinson scored 14 points with three assists in 21 minutes. I wouldn’t give up on Robinson in the general sense, but he can obviously be dropped for an average to above average free agent. Taj Gibson (six points, five rebounds, five assists, one block, 31 minutes) is worth a look as a spot-play if Noah misses more time, while Carlos Boozer went off for 21 and 17 to go with a steal and block in the win.
UNLEASH THE KRACKEN
Ty Lawson is probably out for Friday’s game after struggling to the tune of two points on 1-of-7 shooting and not much else in 20 minutes. Of course, that means Andre Miller (14 points, five rebounds, eight assists) and Andre Iguodala (10 points, seven assists) will be well-positioned to pick up the slack.
This was one of those games in which George Karl runs heavy with his second unit, and JaVale McGee was the star of that show with 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting, 11 rebounds, two steals and three blocks in 26 minutes. We’ve seen what can happen when Karl decides to let the erratic big man loose (see playoffs, last year). Maybe Karl will decide that now is the time to prep in that manner for the playoffs, so give McGee strong consideration as a stash if he is on your league’s wire.
Wilson Chandler scored 15 points with five rebounds, three assists and a block in 34 minutes off the bench, and it looks like he has survived his shoulder scare. I’d peg him as a deep league asset when the Nuggets are at full strength, but with Lawson hurting he’s worth a look in standard formats. Just keep in mind that the Nuggets finish the year out with three-game weeks.
Tony Parker suffered a right middle finger sprain last night but played through it and finished with 18 points and 11 assists. It obviously didn’t limit him, but it does give Pop another reason to get his point guard some rest, as if he needed any added motivation in that department. Danny Green scored 20 points with six treys, a steal and a block, and the ageless one Tim Duncan put up 23 points, 14 boards, a steal and five blocks in their one-point win over the Nuggets.
I don’t know if it was Lindsey Hunter’s call or if it came from above, but resting Goran Dragic to play Kendall Marshall was a slap in the face of both fantasy owners and competitive basketball. Marshall will need to take the Jason Kidd route to playing point guard in the NBA, but the glaring problem is that he’s not Jason Kidd. The Suns are desperately trying to make something of their lottery pick, but doing it at the expense of whatever continuity they have is a team-killer. Yes, they could be tanking, but even when tanking it’s wise to try and build chemistry. Losing in embarrassing fashion every night doesn’t do that.
They got crushed by a struggling Jazz team last night, and while I’ve bagged on Marshall a lot he will have value if Hunter is going to toss him the ball with heavy minutes. He scored seven points on 2-of-7 shooting with three rebounds, 13 assists, a steal and five turnovers in 34 ticks, but defenses aren’t going to respect his shot and the problems will continue to mount in Phoenix. As for his fantasy value, it’s tied to Dragic’s status and owners need some unexpected news before making an add there.
If there was any consolation on the Suns’ side, it’s that the production was somewhat consolidated last night. Wes Johnson scored a season-high 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting with four treys and three steals in 40 minutes, and Luis Scola scored 20 points with seven rebounds in 33 minutes. Markieff Morris scored 10 points with six rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks, and Jared Dudley scored 10 points with two threes. The only consistent value here is Johnson and everybody else is a crapshoot in any normal format. Jermaine O’Neal played through his sore calf and managed just three points on 1-of-7 shooting with four rebounds and a block in 16 minutes. He might get it back together at some point, but betting on it is another story.
The Jazz did this really amazing thing last night that (sarcasm alert) nobody could have ever thought of. They didn’t repeatedly pound the ball into Al Jefferson with no regard for balance, and for once the vibe out of the locker room was good. Yes, the Suns can make anybody feel good, but this is a big development for the Jazz as a whole and it might even mark a philosophical shift. They’re running Big Al (25 points, 12-of-23 shooting, nine rebounds, two steals, two blocks) toward the end of the shot clock, including more pick-and-roll options to get guys involved.
Mo Williams got back into the swing of things with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting and 10 assists, and Gordon Hayward continued his surge with 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting, three treys, five boards, and six assists in 42 minutes.
Enes Kanter dislocated his shoulder and will get an MRI today, making him a pretty good bet to miss the season. Paul Millsap (12 points, 6-of-9 FGs, four rebounds, two steals, one block) didn’t win any awards in the box score last night, but both he and Derrick Favors (nine points, 13 rebounds, two steals, two blocks, 25 minutes) get some breathing room with the development. If Favors is on your wire, now is a good time to make the grab and I think he should be owned in most cases, regardless. Especially if the Jazz fall out of contention, it’s possible that Jefferson gets some late season rest and Favors taps that upside, after all.
THE PIZZA GUY DELIVERS
It finally feels like Kings fans and analysts are understanding how good Isaiah Thomas is, but man alive it has taken forever. Thomas scorched the nets with 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting, seven treys, three rebounds, seven assists and a steal, but still managed to get benched until the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter for Toney Douglas (five points, 16 minutes), who turned the ball over on two straight plays in a critical stretch. Keith Smart, everybody.
The Kings almost lost the game during that time, but Thomas got back in the game and promptly drilled a three to get things under control. Tyreke Evans played despite a stomach ailment, scoring 12 points with three rebounds and five assists, so he’s right where he should be in the fantasy sense. DeMarcus Cousins was also benched but more severely, finishing with 14 points, six rebounds, two steals and five turnovers in 23 minutes. No, he was not happy about it.
My concerns about the Warriors when everybody was crowning them the ‘We Belong’ team and handing out Coach of the Year awards have come true, as they lost at home to the lowly Kings and kept the chance of falling out of the playoff picture alive. They’ll make the playoffs unless the Jazz’s new ‘pass the ball’ theory changes their fortunes, but they’re limping as badly as any team in the West.
Stephen Curry was bothered by Isaiah Thomas’ defense and hit just 5-of-18 shots, but still scored 17 points with 12 assists, five boards, and four steals. Klay Thompson had perhaps the worst night of his career, hitting just 1-of-13 shots for four points, three rebounds and four assists. Andrew Bogut put up serviceable big man numbers yet again with 12 points, nine rebounds, a steal and four blocks in 27 minutes, and he has quietly morphed into a reliable fantasy option. David Lee went for 20 and 10 with four assists and six turnovers, and Jarrett Jack scored 16 points with seven assists in the loss. Carl Landry scored 16 points with seven boards, but he needs to do it again before owners in most normal formats start to bite.
Joe Johnson (heel) did not play and he questioned whether or not he’d play on this road trip, so that makes him questionable for the next three games. Keith Bogans (11 points, three treys) started in his place and is worth a look if you need a 3-point specialist, while C.J. Watson (four points, 17 minutes) is officially off my mention list until he can show something.
The story of last night was Reggie Evans, though, as the Hustler had a career-best night with 22 points and 26 boards. The Blazers handed the scoring output to Evans on a platter, and the takeaway is the same as usual – give him a look if you’re trying to make up ground on the glass. Brook Lopez scored 28 points, Deron Williams was quiet with six points on 3-of-11 shooting to go with 10 assists, and Gerald Wallace scored 12 points with six rebounds, five assists, and two steals in a turn-back-the-clock effort. We’ll wait until Crash isn’t returning to play his old squad before we even think about declaring him ‘back.’
The Blazers did not show up to play in a national TV game at home, which was probably the last gasp for playoff life. LaMarcus Aldridge suffered a right ankle injury and played through it in the first half, but left during the fourth quarter with the game already decided. He still had 24 points, four boards and a block in 32 minutes, and he’ll be evaluated today to determine his status for Friday. I’ve long been concerned about his various dings impacting him down the stretch, and while it’s probably a bit too soon for the Blazers to wave the white flag owners should keep an eye on Meyers Leonard (11 points, nine rebounds, no steals or blocks, 26 minutes). If you’re desperate for a big man and ready to gamble, he could be worth a very speculative add.
Everybody else struggled last night, and it’s possible the heavy utilization among the starters will start to take its toll in the box score. You’re not dropping any of the Blazers’ key guys though, so owners will just have to hope that they can gut the rest of the season out.
NEWS AND NOTES
Will Bynum (hand) will be sidelined for the near future, so give the proper bump to the wing crew in Detroit.
THURSDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
LAL @ MIL: Pau Gasol was “tired and sore” and owners should be ready for some slippage, but I’ll have him in lineups after his solid outing yesterday. We’ll be on the lookout for news on Brandon Jennings after last night’s drama. If you’re looking to stream somebody give J.J. Redick and Mike Dunleavy a look, especially if Jennings is suspended.
IND @ DAL: David West (back) and Danny Granger (knee) are questionable. We’ll be watching Mike James to see if he can keep up his wily ways. O.J. Mayo dinged up his shoulder on Monday, and while there has been no report owners will want to make sure he’s playing tonight. From there, the question will be if he can get back on track.
SAC @ PHO: The Kings have a sweet matchup against the Suns so John Salmons is a potential streaming option, as is Patrick Patterson and Jason Thompson. Marcus Thornton also fits the bill. Goran Dragic’s owners will be waiting by the computer with fists clenched, and grabbing Kendall Marshall as insurance isn’t the craziest idea if you have that type of roster flexibility.