I was going for it in some daily leagues last night, trying to cash in on last week’s '$1' success story that put some funds in my account to play with, but whether it was Trevor Ariza or LeBron James, it just wasn’t meant to be. And speaking of LeBron, while he still had a productive night, the Heat are finding it harder to win games than ever, even against teams like the Nets, who took them down in a thriller last night. And in fantasyland, LaMarcus Aldridge’s back/tailbone injury was the story of the night.
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Nets Shock Heat
Paul Pierce turned back the clock for 29 points, four rebounds, a steal and five 3-pointers on 9-of-12 shooting in a dramatic one-point win over the Heat. Shaun Livingston added 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block, as the Nets played solid defense down the stretch to stop LeBron and company. Speaking of Livingston, I will say this. When I saw him go down with a gruesome knee injury in the early stages of my career at Rotoworld, I never imagined he’d play in the NBA again. When he did return and put on a uniform, I thought it was a great story. But I have to say, if you’ve seen him play this year, he looks like a legitimate starting NBA guard, and I think it’s one of the greatest comeback stories ever. We don’t hear much about what happened and what he went through to get where he is, but I’m guessing it will make for an epic 30-for-30 one day. Marcus Thornton disappeared for the second straight games, messing up his every-other-game streak of goodness, while Mirza Teletovic took over his role with 17 points, three 3-pointers and three blocks. Good luck trying to figure out which night either of those guys is going to show up. And if you played “all-star” Joe Johnson last night, I’m sorry, as he hit 2-of-10 shots for eight points and five turnovers in 34 minutes. Despite Joe and his ridiculous contract, the Nets somehow prevailed.
Chris Bosh had 24 points, seven rebounds and two more 3-pointers, but also threw an errant pass to LeBron with the game on the line, resulting in the loss. “King James,” as his jersey read on ‘nickname night,’ had 19 points, five rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a 3-pointer, and hit 6-of-9 free throws. And in case you missed it, those were his first free-throw attempts in three games. Dwyane Wade played in his second game of the week and is actually on pace to play four times for his owners, which is a rare occasion that should be celebrated. He had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, and since the Heat don’t go back-to-back again this week, it looks like he’s on pace to put in a full one (for once). The Heat have lost four of their last five, but I'm still not concerned.
Spurs Stop Blazers
The Heat loss was the talk of the NBA last night, along with Kobe Bryant officially being done for the season (old news) and Phil Jackson joining the Knicks (bizarre news). But in fantasyland, there is no bigger story than the ugly fall that LaMarcus Aldridge took last night. X-rays were apparently negative, but if you saw him walk gingerly (snail’s pace) to the locker room, supported by two teammates, it doesn’t look promising. It’s being called a back contusion and there’s a chance that Aldridge will be fine. But after seeing his slow parade to the bowels of the arena, I ran out and grabbed Thomas Robinson and Dorell Wright, who both happen to play five games the week after next. Nicolas Batum double-doubled, Damian Lillard scored 23, Wright scored 10 and Robinson played 11 uneventful minutes as the Blazers got rocked by the Spurs. If you have room to add either of them, do it.
For the Spurs, Patty Mills, who wasn’t in any starting fantasy lineups last night, led the way with 15 points, which tells you all you need to know about starting Gregg Popovich’s boys on most nights. Tim Duncan scored 10, giving him a total of 14 points over his last two games, Tiago Splitter double-doubled with 12 points and 10 boards, and Kawhi Leonard came through with another solid line of 12 points, nine rebounds, two steals and a block on 6-of-8 shooting. Danny Green played through his wrist injury and had 14 points, six boards, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers, and despite his inconsistent season, is worth holding in all leagues right now. As for Splitter, this was his first double-double since Nov. 20, so forgive me if I’m not doing cartwheels. If I’m the Clippers, Thunder or any other contender in the West, I do not want these guys in the playoffs.
Clippers Clip Warriors
Stephen Curry aggravated a quad injury last night and left the game early, and the timing couldn’t be worse in terms of the fantasy playoffs. He’s been limited for about a week now and simply isn’t usable in daily money leagues, despite last night’s 13 points, 11 assists and two 3-pointers. Owners will have to wait patiently for an update on his status, but we shouldn’t have to wait long as the Dubs play the Cavaliers on Friday. I’m not a real doctor, but it would seem to make sense to give him the night off in that one so that he can get healthy, assuming he’s not more injured than he looks. If he does miss time, Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford would be the beneficiaries, but they combined to go 0-ofr-11 last night off the bench. Klay Thompson hit 10-of-19 shots and four 3-pointers for 26 points to give me some daily success, but WILL MISS FRIDAY’S GAME due to the death of his grandfather. Best wishes to Klay and his family, while Blake, Crawford and possibly Draymond Green are probably going to be popular cheap options on Friday.
For the Clips, Blake Griffin stayed hot with 30 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and three steals on 13-of-28 shooting in their ninth straight win. They also stopped the Warriors’ four-game winning streak, as Danny Granger got loose for 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, but it came on a night when Jamal Crawford was out with a calf injury and Darren Collison was a dud with 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting. Granger is worth a look, but will take a hit once Crawford is back in action. Matt Barnes was quiet with 11 points, DeAndre Jordan had 10 points, 11 boards and six blocks, and Chris Paul hit just 5-of-15 shots for 16 points, eight boards and 12 dimes in the win. Griffin put on another highlight show and you can expect his name to be dropped by the talking heads in all MVP discussions right now. Simply put, the guy is ballin’ out. Jared Dudley returned from back spasms, but failed to score in less than a minute of action. Cut him and move on.
Suns Fall to Cavs in Bledsoe’s return
Eric Bledsoe made some noise in his return from knee surgery with 15 points, nine assists and two steals, but hit just 5-of-16 shots off the bench. As expected, Gerald Green took a hit, hitting 4-of-14 shots for eight points in 31 minutes. Green’s playing time was fine, but he simply won’t be as good as he has been with Bledsoe on the court. Channing Frye had 17 points, six boards and four 3-pointers, Markieff Morris had 18 points and 10 boards off the bench, and Marcus Morris added 14 points, three boards and three 3-pointers in a start for P.J. Tucker, who sat out with a one-game suspension.
Spencer Hawes suffered an ankle injury, but played through it and finished with 19 points, six rebounds and three 3-pointers in the win. Kyrie Irving played through a stomach virus and had 23 points, nine boards, six assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers for the Cavs, while Luol Deng was actually solid with 18 points, nine boards and three 3-pointers. Deng’s been a mess, but played well last night. Owners of Hawes will want to watch for updates on his status for the next one. Anderson Varejao finally returned from his back injury, but had just six points and seven boards in 15 minutes. He’s probably going to be tough to own or start the rest of the way, as Hawes and Tristan Thompson (13 & 7) seem to have the big-man spots under lock and key.