Thunder Beat Bulls
Russell Westbrook hit just 5-of-14 shots, but also hit three 3-pointers on his way to 17 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, just missing a triple-double in a fairly easy win over the Bulls. The question now becomes, will Westbrook play in both Thursday and Friday’s games? They are at Cleveland, minus Kyrie Irving on Thursday and at Toronto on Friday. While there’s a chance he plays in both games, I would not be surprised to see Scott Brooks give him Thursday night off, especially since Jarrett Jack will likely be the starting point guard for the Cavs. I benched Westbrook in League Freak, going with Jimmy Butler for four games instead. If Westbrook sits on Thursday, it was a smart move. If he plays in both, I’m pretty dumb. In any case, Westbrook got it done last night. Kevin Durant had a ho-hum 35 points and 12 rebounds, and it’s starting to feel like the Thunder are coming out of the West this year.
Taj Gibson led the Bulls with 16 points, Joakim Noah just missed yet another triple-double with nine points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, and Carlos Boozer just missed a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. As for my guy Butler, he hit just 4-of-12 shots (as usual) and had 13 points. His overall stat line was fairly disappointing, but he has three more shots to get it going this week. C’mon, Jimmy!
Brooklyn Rocks Suns
All five Nets starters scored in double figures, led by Deron Williams, who hit 11-of-13 shots for 28 points. He may or may not have dunked in the game, but that doesn’t matter in fantasy. The most surprising line of the night came from Mason Plumlee with 14 points and 11 rebounds on 5-of-6 shooting. He had a grand total of 12 points and seven rebounds over his last two games, but looked great against brother Miles Plumlee last night. Joe Johnson had 19 points after scoring 16 on Saturday, and appears to be turning the corner, while I don’t know what to tell you about Andray Blatche. He had seven points in 21 minutes off the bench, and hasn’t been able to get it going, even though Kevin Garnett has been on the shelf. If he’s not starting for the Nets, he shouldn’t be starting for your team. And in case you haven’t noticed, the Nets are getting hot, and could be one of those teams that no one wants to see during the playoffs.
The Suns are reeling and officially out of the playoffs right now, but still have a chance to get in. Just four of them were in double digits last night, led by Markieff Morris’ 18 points and three rebounds. Goran Dragic had 13 points and just two assists, and Eric Bledsoe had 19 points, five rebounds and five assists in the ugly loss. Am I worried about Bledsoe’s return ruining Dragic and company? Not really, but I do think the Dragic we saw when Bledsoe was out won’t be around much going forward. Gerald Green played 31 minutes off the bench and was able to finish with 17 points and three 3-pointers, as he still clings to value despite Bledsoe.
Pacers Pound Sixers For 21st Straight Loss
I played Evan Turner in my daily leagues thinking he’d seek revenge on the Sixers last night, but he took it easy on them with four points on 2-of-7 shooting off the bench. Lance Stephenson led the way with 25 points, but didn’t have one of his better stat lines, while Paul George added 24 on just 4-of-14 shooting. The Pacers won this one pretty easily, but the Sixers weren’t fantasy pushovers last night, and haven’t been for several games now.
Hollis Thompson almost found his way into my daily lineup due to his incredibly cheap salary, but I chose to ignore him after looking at his game log. Despite starting for the Sixers, he had zero points on Saturday and had scored in single digits in 18 straight games. He certainly broke out of it last night with 17 points, six rebounds, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers on 6-of-7 shooting in 41 minutes. If his salary is still at rock bottom, I may roll him out there on Wednesday against the Bulls. Thaddeus Young had another big game, Tony Wroten was solid with 17 points and four assists in the absence of James Anderson, and Michael Carter-Williams had 15 points, 13 rebounds and six turnovers as the Sixers lost for the 21st straight time. We still don’t know how long Anderson is going to be out with his thigh injury, but it looks like Wroten is going to have a nice run here, while Thompson is officially worth putting on the radar.
Hawks Beat Charlotte
After losing 14 of 15 games the Hawks have figured something out, winning four straight games, including Monday against the Bobcats. Paul Millsap went off for 28 points, five rebounds, two blocks and two 3-pointers on 12-of-20 shooting, but the rest of the Hawks box score isn’t too impressive. Kyle Korver quietly had 10 points, but also added nine rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two 3-pointers, Pero Antic double-doubled with 11 points, 10 rebounds and three 3-pointers, and Jeff Teague added 11 points, six rebounds, nine assists and three 3-pointers, despite hitting just 4-of-14 shots. DeMarre Carroll was also quiet with nine points, but filled the stat sheet, as usual, with six rebounds, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer. All five Hawks starters were worth using this week, and all five came through last night, despite the scoring column looking a little light. Lou Williams is completely out of the rotation right now, so cut him if you must.
Al Jefferson’s week got off to a quiet start with 16 points, 12 rebounds and no blocks. He was joined by Kemba Walker (20 points, seven assists, full stat line) and Gerald Henderson (16 points, two 3-pointers) as the only other Cats in double figures. Henderson has now hit two 3-pointers in each of his last three games, which is a streak unlike any he has had before in his career. I have no idea if he’ll continue to keep pumping 3-pointers the rest of the way, but if he were to start making them consistently, his fantasy value would probably double.