Bobcats at Knicks
Highs: Gerald Henderson freaked out with 35 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in 46 minutes, as he sank 9-of-16 FGs and 15-of-17 FTs in a tough road loss. J.R. Smith almost single-handedly caused the Bobcats' defeat, as he also blew up for 37 points on 12-of-18 FGs and 11-of-12 FTs, with two 3-pointers, a steal and a block. Mike Woodson is strangely adamant that he won't start J.R., but it hardly matters for fantasy purposes. Carmelo Anthony added 32 points with 11 rebounds, combining with Smith to overcome their teammate's offensive sluggishness (see below).
Lows: Raymond Felton scored 18 points, but all other Knicks not named J.R. or Melo combined for a mere 24 points on 8-of-20 shooting. It was enough to beat a defenseless Bobcats team in New York tonight, but that sort of top-heavy offense won't get it done against elite defenses in a seven-game playoff series. Josh McRoberts fouled out with just six points and four boards in 28 minutes, and with Byron Mullens (ankle) unavailable the Bobcats deployed a few more small lineups than usual.
Tidbits: Tyson Chandler (neck) sat out once again tonight, and his return date is still up in the air. Mike Woodson said he expects Chandler to play before the postseason, for what that is worth. Amare Stoudemire (knee surgery) is also vaguely planning to return for the playoffs, but personally I'd be shocked to see him on the court again this year. Former Sonic Kurt Thomas (foot) is also considered “50-50” to return this season. I was a bit surprised that Jeff Adrien never got off the bench despite McBob's foul problems -- with the final year of Adrien's contract fully unguaranteed, it seems the Bobcats may be ready to move on.
Rockets at Grizzlies
Highs: Memphis had all five starters and sixth-man Jerryd Bayless in double-figures, led by 21 points apiece for Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Gasol's surprise return from a partially torn abdominal muscle remains one of the most shocking developments of the late season -- I only drafted him in one league this year and I still own him, though admittedly I may have cut him if I'd been paying more attention to that league when the news was at its most dire. For the Rockets, Donatas Motiejunas and Chandler Parsons tied for the team-high with 16 points, though Motie played just 22 minutes and Parsons 27 minutes.
Lows: Kevin McHale played his second unit for long stretches, and none of the Rockets played more than Carlos Delfino, who had 15 points, two 3-pointers and two steals in 28 minutes. James Harden had seven points and four dimes in 27 minutes, Jeremy Lin had eight points and three assists, and Omer Asik had six points and four boards.
Tidbits: Jerry Bayless scored 12 points and now has double-figures in nine straight games. He won't give you many assists or steals, but he's one-stop shopping for anyone in need of points, 3-pointers and FT percentage. As for the Rockets...Jeremy Lin now has single-digit points in four consecutive games, averaging a mere 23 minutes during that span. McHale has also been willing to bench Asik and Motie at a moment's notice, and even Harden and Parsons may fall to his whims as the season draws to a close. Buckle up.
Heat at Hornets
Highs: The Heat had lost two of their past three games, but things went according to script on Friday as LeBron James scored 36 points with a full line, Dwyane Wade added 17 points, nine assists and four steals, and Miami left New Orleans with another victory. Keep an eye on Wade, as he's been laboring in recent games and could get some rest in the coming weeks, if not an outright DNP-CD.
Lows: Greivis Vasquez missed another game with his ankle injury, and fill-in starter Brian Roberts scored 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting with five assists and one steal, further proof that his 18-assist game won't be replicated in the near future. Chris Bosh picked up a few quick fouls and never got on track, scoring 10 points with four boards and three turnovers in just 22 minutes.
Tidbits: Mario Chalmers was out with an ankle injury, so Mike Miller played 22 minutes in a start alongside Dwyane Wade, while Norris Cole added 12 points and two assists in 27 reserve minutes. The second unit got a boost from Ray Allen’s six points, four assists and two steals. Fellow former-Sonic Rashard Lewis once again played a negligible role, scoring three points in three minutes. The Hornets only play one more back-to-back set, on April 9-10, which is great news for anyone relying on Eric Gordon (17 points, two steals on Friday).
Thunder at Wolves
Highs: Nikola Pekovic kept up his recent surge with 22 points and 15 boards, including seven on the offensive glass. He made 10-of-16 from the field, making light work of OKC's interior defense, though he only had one assist with zero steals or blocks. The high point from a fantasy perspective, as usual, was the Sonics’ No. 2 pick of the 2007 draft, Kevin Durant. He had 36 points, one 3-pointer, seven boards, three assists, one steal, two blocks, while making 13-of-19 FGs and 9-of-9 FTs in a disappointing road loss.
Lows: Kendrick Perkins got bulldozed before fouling out in 22 minutes, former Sonic Nick Collison went scoreless in 16 minutes off the bench, and even Serge Ibaka (12 points, 11 boards and five blocks) couldn’t staunch the bleeding defensively.
Tidbits: Andrei Kirilenko showed signs of life with 12 points, one 3-pointer, four boards, three assists, two steals and one block. It's late in the season and the Wolves aren't going anywhere, but so far Rick Adelman continues to play J.J. Barea (six points in 23 minutes) and former Sonic Luke Ridnour (11 points in 28 minutes) ahead of promising rookie Alexey Shved (10 minutes). Presumably Shved will be turned loose for the final handful of games, at least, though it will come too late to help most owners. The Thunder, meanwhile, suffered a disappointing loss due partly to a lousy bench effort, as Kevin Martin (four points on 1-of-9 FGs) led a second unit that shot 28 percent from the field.
Clippers at Spurs
Highs: Tim Duncan! The Big Fundamental remains an absolute pleasure to watch, using his intelligence, craftiness, and a soft touch from the field to rack up a season-high 34 points and 11 rebounds in Friday's thrilling home win over the Clippers. On the Spurs' final possession, Duncan knocked down a tough mid-range jumper while drawing a foul, and then he knocked down the free throw for a two-point lead. Tony Parker (finger) added 24 points and eight assists, and for now it looks like both of the Spurs' veteran stars will play on Sunday.
Lows: Manu Ginobili pulled his hamstring after two minutes of action and he did not return. We'll pass along more information once available, but presumably the veteran SG will be out a while, as the first-place Spurs will be sure to rest him until he's 100 percent. A few other Spurs missed out on the fun tonight, including Danny Green (six points on 2-of-3 shooting from downtown) and Kawhi Leonard (four points, six rebounds, four assists). Chris Paul had 14 points and 12 assists, while Blake Griffin scored 18 points with seven boards, but neither guy shot very well. On the whole it was a mediocre evening for most Clippers players, made worse by the fact that they missed a few chances to steal a rare road win in San Antonio.
Tidbits: Tony Parker got clobbered with 31 seconds remaining, as DeAndre Jordan's elbow hit him (incidentally) while Jordan fell to the ground. The good news is that he avoided a concussion and he didn't even leave the ball game, even deflecting the Clippers' final shot attempt to preserve a two-point win. The bad news is that he may have strained or bruised his neck during the play, and we'll watch for updates on Saturday as a precaution. Blake Griffin also tweaked his calf during the game, though he played through it and there were no signs of concern after the game.
Nets at Nuggets
Highs: With Ty Lawson resting the torn fascia in his heel, Evan Fournier joined the rotation and wound up with a season-high 19 points on 6-of-9 FGs and 6-of-6 FTs. The rookie SG also had two rebounds, two assists and two steals, while hitting one 3-pointer, but this line has all the makings of a one-off fluke. The Nets were led by former Sonics bruiser Reggie Evans, who grabbed his usual 16 rebounds but also scored 15 points on 5-of-7 FGs and 5-of-9 FTs. As usual, he didn’t have any steals or blocks.
Lows: Joe Johnson (heel) sat out again and remains questionable for Saturday. With a healthy Wilson Chandler once again poaching his minutes, Kenneth Faried finished with just four points and two rebounds in 19 minutes.
Tidbits: Things won't get any easier for the Nets, as they play the second of back-to-back games in Utah on Saturday, against a Jazz team which is 26-9 at home, has won three straight games, and is fighting to keep a narrow lead for a playoff spot.
Jazz at Blazers
Highs: Mo Williams turned up the intensity in the fourth quarter, propelling a late comeback which snapped Utah's nine-game skid on the road and bumped the Jazz ahead of the Lakers into the eighth seed out West. Mo finished with 28 points (one shy of his season-high), hitting 10-of-16 FGs with two 3s, five boards and five assists. Paul Millsap also had a huge effort in the victory, scoring 25 points (10-of-14 shooting) and grabbing 10 rebounds. You could hear a pin drop after the Blazers' awful fourth quarter, but all five starters reached double-digits, including Damian Lillard (team-high 24 points), Meyers Leonard (12 points in a start for Aldridge), and J.J. Hickson (17 points and 14 rebounds).
Lows: LaMarcus Aldridge was ruled out due to a sprained ankle and he will not travel with the Blazers for their upcoming two-game trip, which rules him out for Saturday and Monday. The only good news for owners is that Portland plays four times next week. The only pure dud for Utah was Randy Foye, who had five points on 1-of-5 shooting, one assist, one steal and three personal fouls in 29 minutes. With Mo playing well after his thumb injury, and Jamaal Tinsley healthy, former Sonic Earl Watson racked up another DNP-CD.
Tidbits: Mercifully, Al Jefferson followed up his 25-point game with another strong effort, scoring 22 points with eight boards, four steals, two blocks, and only one turnover in 37 minutes. Enes Kanter's dislocated shoulder is a terrible thing for Utah and their playoff hopes, though it's a boon for the fantasy prospects of Big Al, Millsap and Derrick Favors (13 points, 10 rebounds and two assists before fouling out). Marvin Williams was scoreless in 12 minutes, as Gordon Hayward (40 minutes) has completely obliterated his role at SF. Williams' demotion was long overdue, sadly, even though Utah owes the former No. 2 overall draft pick a guaranteed $7.5 million next season. As for the playoffs...the Jazz lead the Lakers by percentage points with nine games left on their schedule, but they also hold the season tie-breaker against both the Lakers and the Mavericks (1.5 games back).
Random Notes for Saturday:
- Joakim Noah (foot) and Marco Belinelli (abdomen) are not expected to play on Saturday.
- O.J. Mayo (shoulder) is probable.
- Byron Mullens (ankle) is questionable.
- Francisco Garcia (illness) is questionable.
- Joe Johnson (heel) is questionable.
- Goran Dragic (perfectly healthy) may or may not be the victim of another "precautionary" DNP-CD.
- As far as I can tell, Vladimir Radmanovic (space cadet) is the only former Sonic who is active in the NBA but wasn’t playing on Friday. Gratifying knowledge, right?
- Ryan Knaus (author) can be followed on Twitter @Knaus_RW.