Bucks top Lakers as Kobe & Nash limp off
The Bucks stopped the Lakers as Brandon Jennings got back into the swing of things and helped restore my faith in humanity. Jennings was benched on Wednesday, failed to score and played just 17 minutes in a loss, but had 20 points, seven assists and three 3-pointers in last night’s tough win against a hungry Lakers team. Monta Ellis had 18 points, seven boards and nine assists in 36 minutes, although his owners probably wish that Jennings were still in the doghouse. Larry Sanders had a career-high 21 points to go along with 13 rebounds and two blocks in the win, and played a great game against Dwight Howard. Sanders is one of those guys you have to love having on your fantasy team, even when he’s not feeling it.
Steve Nash hurt his knee and didn’t return after hobbling around for most of the night, reportedly shut down by back and “hip spasms.” He finished with 16 points, six assists and a 3-pointer. I’m guessing he’s OK, but the reality is that he will be listed as questionable for Saturday’s game against the Kings. With the Lakers fighting for their playoff lives, I’m expecting him to play. Kobe Bryant was also limping around due to a bone spur in his left foot and hit just 6-of-17 shots for 16 points, but also hit 18-of-20 shots from the line. His ankle is far from healthy and the newly discovered bone spur is now a huge concern, especially since he left the arena with the help of a crutch last night. He’ll see a foot specialist prior to Saturday’s game, but as long as the Lakers are in a playoff fight for their lives, I assume he’s going to play on most nights. But owners will want to follow his progress with the injury closely between now and Saturday’s tip off. Kobe’s reputation for playing through injuries is unbelievable, as nearly any other player in the league with his injuries would be a major concern. But with Bryant, we simply assume he’ll keep playing, regardless of what the problem is. The Lakers sit just a half-game ahead of the Jazz for the final playoff spot in the West.
Dwight Howard had 15 points, 15 boards and three blocks in the loss, and appeared to take his matchup against block-master Sanders as a personal challenge. I don’t think he won, especially when you consider he hit 3-of-10 free throws and the Lakers lost. Pau Gasol had 12 points, nine boards and a block, and while he’s not yet at full speed, he’s getting there. Antawn Jamison had 13 points, seven boards and a 3-pointer in 23 minutes, as he continues to fight through a wrist injury that is clearly bothering him. He might be worth adding to your team now that Metta World Peace’s season is over. Jodie Meeks started at shooting guard again and had 11 points and a 3-pointer on 4-of-12 shooting. As we’ve seen all season, the big names are the ones who produce in L.A., meaning Meeks is a marginal add, at best.
Kings trounce Suns as Thomas stays hot
The Kings crushed the tanking Suns last night as Isaiah Thomas went off again for 23 points, eight assists and three more 3-pointers. Maybe you grew tired of our constant Keith Smart bashing earlier in the season, but the simple fact is that we knew Thomas was a very good player, and Smart wasn’t using him properly. Had Smart bought into IT2 back in November, his 29-point game tonight probably wouldn’t even qualify as news, as he would have had a big year. He had seven 3-pointers in his last game and is now one of the best point guard options in the league. DeMarcus Cousins torched the Suns with a season-high 34 points to go along with 14 rebounds and a block, and hit 12-of-16 shots.
While Suns’ coach Lindsey Hunter does his best to ruin the fantasy lives of Goran Dragic owners everywhere, he’s also helping the owners of any players that happen to be facing the dysfunctional, tanking Suns from night to night. Dragic was in street clothes again, despite yesterday’s quotes about being fully healthy and simply wanting to play. Hunter had a two-game plan to sit Dragic, and we can only hope that he’s completed his sentence in solitary confinement. You can't cut him right now, but if Hunter continues to bench him going forward, that will change. Kendall Marshall started and had nine points, 10 assists, two steals and a 3-pointer. He’s shooting just 38 percent on the season, but as long as Dragic is sitting, Marshall is worth using in fantasy. Luis Scola went off for 25 points and seven boards on 10-of-13 shooting, and has been Hunter’s center of choice lately. If he’s available in your league, pick him up. P.J. Tucker had a career-high 18 points with three steals, while Wes Johnson cooled off with 14 points and three 3-pointers. But if you’re looking to pick up a Sun, Johnson and Scola look like a good place to start.
Pacers crush Mavericks as West returns
David West returned from his back injury and started, and had seven points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes as the Pacers crushed the Mavericks 103-78. Tyler Hansbrough came through for those of you (us) who had him stuck in a weekly lineup with 13 points and nine boards in just 20 minutes. Once this week is over, Hansbrough should probably not be in fantasy lineups as long as West is playing. Roy Hibbert double-doubled, Paul George had 24 points and a full stat line, and Danny Granger’s season is officially over. Granger will have another knee surgery, and this is why you don’t go out of your way to hold injured players all season. It will be interesting to see how the Pacers mix him and Paul George together next season.
The Mavericks were out of synch for this one, but Dirk Nowitzki had 21 points and seven boards, and his knee injury is no longer an issue. Mike James, who was a very hot pickup after his strong play recently, didn’t score a single point in 20 minutes last night, while Darren Collison came off the bench for 10 points and eight assists in 29 minutes. Collison has been worth owning despite playing in James’ shadow, and James has been a serviceable point guard for the last 10 days, until last night’s dud. He was a popular pickup due to his Thursday game this week, and while he let owners down, my guess is he’ll bounce back against the Bulls on Saturday. O.J. Mayo hit just 3-of-10 shots for seven points and a 3-pointer, as he continues to struggle now that Dirk is back at full strength. I benched him this week, which actually wasn’t a bad move in hindsight.
News and Notes
Ty Lawson is dealing with a lingering heel injury and “couldn’t move” during Wednesday’s game. Denver coach George Karl called him doubtful for Friday due to his injury, which means that Andre Miller is a solid start on Friday night.
Tyson Chandler is iffy for the Knicks on Friday with his neck (read: knee) injury, but may not be ready to play again before the regular season is over. I’m guessing that his knee is a bigger problem than his neck, but who knows? The fact that the Knicks can’t come up with a return date for Chandler is a concern, and he’s a drop candidate in daily lineup leagues, regardless of what his injury might be.
X-rays on the ankle of LaMarcus Aldridge were negative and he missed Thursday’s practice for the Blazers, so he’s still iffy for Friday’s game against the Jazz. If he can’t go, Meyers Leonard could be worth a spot start. Aldridge and the Blazers play back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday, and it’s possible he misses both games with his injury. J.J. Hickson is iffy for Friday after missing Thursday’s practice with an illness, but my guess is he’ll play on Friday.
Andre Drummond is expected to play on Friday after missing the past month with a back injury. I still don’t see the Pistons running him crazy minutes, but I’ve been wrong before. If you have someone to cut and want to pick up Drummond, go for it.
Tony Parker is expected to play through his finger injury for the Spurs on Friday, but we’ll have to see if Gregg Popovich agrees with that assessment.
Amir Johnson is traveling with the Raptors despite his left leg contusion, but is far from a guarantee to play against the Pistons on Friday. Traveling is a good sign, and the latest indications are that he plans on playing tonight. With or without Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas should be locked and loaded into fantasy lineups right now.
Paul Millsap is expected to play through his stomach issues on Friday, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be able to outplay Derrick Favors, or any other Jazz players tonight. However, it sounds like Enes Kanter’s season is over due to his dislocated shoulder, which should end up being good news for all three Jazz big men (Al Jefferson, Millsap and Favors). Kanter suffered a left shoulder dislocation on Wednesday and will likely miss the rest of the season. This is great news for Jefferson’s fantasy owners, and bad news for those random Kanter owners. We wish him well, but it would be shocking to see Kanter again this season, with or without surgery.
Zach Randolph said Thursday that he doesn’t have a problem with coach Lionel Hollins. “Our relationship is fine, I respect my coach,” he said after Wednesday’s disappearing act. Randolph has scored a total of 13 points with 11 rebounds and nine turnovers in his last two games, so something is not right here. And Randolph’s funk hasn’t helped Ed Davis, as he didn’t even get off the bench on Wednesday. Maybe Hollins and Hunter have been playing cards with Don Nelson in Maui lately, as their moves and protocol are a bit baffling.
There are 11 games in the NBA tonight, as many fantasy championships will be decided. Stay tuned to Rotoworld’s news page for all the latest updates. And if you have a fantasy baseball draft this weekend, make sure you buy the Baseball Draft Guide, which will give you an advantage over your competition. I love our baseball draft guide, and have spent a ton of time in there over the past 10 days as I draft my teams. And follow me on Twitter for live updates on many game nights, as well as my musings on the NBA's silly season, which can be a very bumpy ride in fantasyland.