Although only nine games took place on Friday, there were still plenty of huge performances and storylines to cover. Michael Carter-Williams and Danny Granger returned to the court while a pair of backcourt mates in Dallas lit up the scoreboard. But perhaps the biggest story of the night was Charlotte’s trio of stacked lines.
UPDATE: Brook Lopez has been ruled out for the season with a broken foot. Stop what you're doing and make sure Andray Blatche isn't available in your league.
1. Bobcats running wild
The Bobcats got a win on Friday as they made a huge fourth quarter comeback to defeat the Pistons 116-106. Al Jefferson scored 15 of his 24 points in the final quarter, finishing with 14 rebounds and a block for good measure. Teammate Kemba Walker led the team with 34 points on 12-17 shooting with seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals while Gerald Henderson pitched in a stout line of 22 points, eight boards, and three assists. Jefferson tied his season high in points while Walker set his with the 34-point explosion. The trio looked great tonight and with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist still out, all three should share big nights going forward.
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2. Mavericks backcourt goes nuts
While the Bobcats had three big showings on Friday, a certain Texas duo showed a lot of spunk in a losing effort. Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis combined for 44 points, 20 assists, and six steals as the Mavericks fell to the Raptors in overtime. The two have been clicking as of late, especially Calderon, who hit seven triples on Friday. Usually Calderon and Ellis take turns posting big lines but on Friday night, owners were treated to a pair of fine performances. Both guards are providing fantasy owners with top-50 value.
3. MCW Returns…again
In an injury plagued season, rookie sensation Michael Carter-Williams returned from a knee infection on Friday night against Brooklyn. The Rookie of the Year candidate looked good, posting a double-double of 15 points and 10 assists, with three steals for good measure. Carter-Williams had missed the previous seven games and 11 total contests on the year. It was great to see him play over 35 minutes and there didn’t appear to be any restrictions as he looked very quick on both offense and defense. Some owners may be nervous about his health going forward and look to move him now that he’s back but that’s a tough situation to manage. When he’s in the line-up, MCW is fantastic and the late round draft pick that you likely spent on him is providing tremendous production. However, if you’re looking to make a deal of any kind for the Sixers standout, today is a good day to start negotiations.
4. Granger makes a quiet season debut
While MCW made a loud return, Danny Granger’s return wasn’t as impactful. The swingman missed the first 25 games of this season and hadn’t played a meaningful NBA game since March. Granger was noticeably rusty in his 22 minutes, hitting just 1-7 shots, including a three-pointer, for five points. He also turned the ball over five times and was definitely hidden on offense. It should take a few games before Granger gets back into a groove but he should be a great source of three-pointers and boards going forward. If he’s still available in your league, think about picking him up.
One of the bigger questions surrounding the return of Granger was the impact he’d have on Lance Stephenson. For his part, Stephenson looked great, scoring 16 points with six boards and six assists in 35 minutes. It doesn’t appear that his starting spot is in jeopardy and that is for a number of reasons. Paul George and Danny Granger play the same position. In addition, with the amount of ball-handling Stephenson is responsible for, the Pacers really can’t afford to lose him in the starting unit. As always things can change and maybe George will shift to the shooting guard spot to accommodate Granger but with the Pacers currently sitting atop the Eastern Conference, a lineup change seems unlikely right now.
5. Harden’s three-point shooting woes continue
James Harden had one of his worst shooting nights of the season as the Rockets were blown out by the Pacers on Friday. Harden shot 3-14 from the field and just 1-5 from downtown, finishing with 12 points, three steals, and five turnovers. Harden now has 12 turnovers in his last two games and is shooting a paltry 30% from deep this season. For a guy who’s taken 147 triples already this season, that percentage is alarming, especially since he shot nearly 37% from three-point range last season. While Harden has been great this season, his numbers are slightly down across the board. However, his ability to get to the line and propensity for huge scoring outputs should keep owners happy as he works out his long-range shooting kinks.
6. Terrence Jones is losing ground
The Rockets power forward was a popular pick-up last month when he overtook the starting job from Omer Asik. Jones was providing nice late round value for owners looking for boards and blocks but the 23-year-old is in a bit of a rut lately. Over his last four games he’s averaging six points, six rebounds, and not much else. His minutes are also down and on Friday night Jones played more garbage time than meaningful minutes. While it’s tempting to cut Jones for a hot free agent, owners who can afford to should be patient. Jones is still the starter for the Rockets and looks to have good chemistry with Dwight Howard. Hopefully he breaks out of the funk sooner rather than later.
7. Teletovic goes hard in his starting role
With both Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson out of the lineup, Mirza Teletovic got the start on Friday night against Philadelphia. The Bosnian sharpshooter basically kept the Nets alive in the first half with his long-range shooting and finished with 18 points on 6-11 from deep. He chipped in four rebounds, two assists, and a block but this line comes with a grain of salt. He’s coming off a 0-3 performance in just nine minutes on Wednesday and will have a tough time carving out a role on this particular Nets squad. If he continues to be a three-point weapon for Brooklyn going forward, then he should be considered in deeper leagues. However, that’s clearly a stretch given his fluctuation in minutes over the last 10 games.
8. Pierce finding his groove
Speaking of streaky Nets, Paul Pierce has been getting it going lately. After starting off slow and picking up a hand injury, Pierce is finally starting to look like himself. He had 24 points and 10 boards on Friday with four three-pointers. Coming off a 27-point performance on Wednesday against Washington, Pierce is suddenly hot. Obviously he won’t average 25 points per game going forward but if he can get up into that 16 or 17 point range with a few triples per contest, owners will be very happy with their investment. Last night’s showing is a good sign that Pierce is on his way.
9. Knight busting out for the depleted Bucks
The Bucks are having an awful year. Sitting at just 5-21 after a heartbreaking overtime loss to Cleveland on Friday, the team is obviously in a lottery race at this point. But for fantasy owners, one asset has emerged recently. Aside from John Henson’s breakout, Brandon Knight has been turning it on. The point guard nearly logged a triple-double on Friday, posting 17 points, 14 rebounds, and eight rebounds. His shooting was an awful 6-20 from the field but he did add three steals and a block. Over his last three games, Knight is averaging 23 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. While he won’t be this hot all year, it looks like Knight will benefit from the dearth of talent in Milwaukee.
10. Burke falls back to earth
Coming off a 30-point performance on Wednesday, owners had high expectations for Trey Burke heading into Friday’s game against Atlanta. What followed was a disaster as Burke shot just 1-8 for three points and four assists in 20 minutes. The Jazz got blown out so this line is slightly tainted. However, Burke’s been very erratic this season. His last five scoring outputs are 2, 30, 3, 10, and 11. He’s a rookie so owners should expect some growing pains and the bottom line is that Utah is rebuilding and Burke looks to be a big part of that process. Keep trotting him out there and hope for the best.