You knew the Knicks weren’t going to go unbeaten forever with Jeremy Lin, right? If you knew they would lose at home to the Hornets, you should be wealthy. Lin poured in another 26 points, added 5 AST and 4 STL, but 9 TO is a problem. Let’s hope that one weak spot in his fantasy game improves when Carmelo Anthony returns, probably tomorrow. For New Orleans, Jarrett Jack made a quiet return, coming off the bench behind Greivis Vasquez, and well-kept secret Gustavo Ayon had another double-double.
What Else Happened?
One reason I finished 150th out of almost 500 entrants in last night’s SheridanHoops.com freeroll is, my player values and predictions are usually more accurate over time than in any specific game. For example, I expected Dallas at Philly to be entertaining. Wrong again. The Mavs shot 38%, the Sixers 33% (scoring a miserable 24 points in the entire second half) and apart from Dirk Nowitzki, nobody had memorable numbers. Dominique Jones did play 21 minutes, if you’re in a 20-team league.
The Heat is on. It was 63-38 at halftime in Cleveland, with LeBron James scoring 28 in the first three quarters. Mario Chalmers (hand) looked fine, hitting four 3-pointers, so Norris Cole isn’t a must-add. Semih Erden, who had emerged as the main Cavs big man for the next few weeks, hurt his wrist, so rookie Tristan Thompson (12 PTS, 6 REB, 2 BLK) might be next in line for increased minutes.
The immediacy of the internet is a double-edged sword. Mid-afternoon, I told my Twitter followers that DeMarcus Cousins was “out” because it was an official report, confirmed by more than one source. Then his back spasms subsided and DMC not only played, he scored 26 points and pulled down 15 boards. Hope that didn’t hurt your fantasy team. Biggest fantasy news for the Kings was the demotion of John Salmons to the bench, with Isaiah Thomas starting. The Pistons won behind 36 points from Rodney Stuckey and 23 from Brandon Knight.
In another lineup shakeup, Ersan Ilyasova (14 & 10) started for the Bucks, with Luc Richard Mbah a Moute getting a DNP-CD and Drew Gooden sidelined with a sore wrist. Jon Leuer started at C against Dwight Howard. Guess which one had four fouls in 7:22 and which one had 26 PTS, 20 REB and 4 BLK?
“My” Toronto Raptors (in that they are the local team; not that I’m a fan) were embarrassed at home by the Charlotte Bobcats. D.J. Augustin started (11 PTS, 10 AST) and while Kemba Walker came off the bench, he still played 30 effective minutes. Bismack Biyombo had a field day with 13 boards and SEVEN blocks, so my Freeroll hunch Byron Mullens wasn’t needed.
The Grizzlies edged the Nuggets using a very short bench and evenly distributed scoring. All five starters and O.J. Mayo had between 12 and 20 points. Denver welcomed back Timofey Mozgov, who should take over soon at C from Kosta Koufos. As often happens, a hot sixth man got moved to the starting lineup and went cold. Al Harrington had just 4 PTS, all on free throws, while Kenneth Faried, who had been starting, was much better off the bench with 18 & 10. Corey Brewer, a recommended pickup here earlier in the week, led all scorers with 26.
As the very proud owner of Nikola Pekovic, I’m waiting for everyone else in my leagues to realize he’s 100% legit and start making realistic trade offers. 30 points, 12 REB, 3 BLK and 3 STL — he needs an old-fashioned nickname like the Montenegrin Mountain, or something catchier like The Beast. His presence gives Kevin Love (33 & 17) more room and the Rockets were no match for Minnesota up front, falling by 13 at home.
OKC trounced GSW. Kendrick Perkins sat with a knee bruise so Nazr Mohammed started at C. Not much other news of note as both coaches went to their benches early. If you don’t know about the Popcorn Machine, it’s a great little site that uses a graphic called Game Flow to illustrate exactly when each player enters and leaves a game. I’ll be explaining it in more detail in an upcoming Spin, probably during the All-Star break, but it’s one of my favorite resources. Click here to see what “garbage time” looks like.
Utah beat the visiting Wizards as expected, with Al Jefferson leading the way (34 & 12) and Devin Harris out of the doghouse long enough for 12 points and 9 assists. Washington rookie Jan Vesely is coming on, if he can stay out of foul trouble. Jazz freshman Alec Burks is also starting to see the floor more often. Keep an eye on both in deeper leagues.
The difference was Kobe Bryant (36) as the Lakers beat Phoenix by 12. Pau Gasol, perhaps troubled by trade rumors, had a quiet night while Marcin Gortat (21 & 16) and Andrew Bynum (17 & 14) battled to a draw. Shannon Brown, after sitting out six of the previous seven games, had 15 points in 20 minutes for the Suns. Metta World Peace, still the starting SF, was insignificant, but Matt Barnes (17 & 7) performed well off the bench.
Saturday Starts Early
The Spurs visit the Clippers in one matinee (3:30 EST) so don’t be late if your league has daily lineups. This should be a huge test of San Antonio’s 9-game winning streak and a great game to watch. Fantasy-wise, coach Popovich is impossible to predict. With mix-and-match substitutions up front among Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner, you never know who might have a big game. Until Manu Ginobili’s shooting hand is 100% healed, the SG rotation includes Danny Green and Gary Neal, with a dash of Kawhi Leonard.
The Bulls host the Nets in a 4:00 Eastern start, with Brook Lopez eager to play. Listed as questionable anyway, he’s unlikely to make a huge difference in his first game off the shelf. Derrick Rose is also very close to a return, but why not give him another 48 hours and aim for Monday?
Golden State goes to Memphis. Both played last night, but the home team should be better rested. Plus, the Warriors have no answer for Marc Gasol.
Atlanta is in Portland for the late game, and it’s not easy to predict the Hawks rotation. On Wednesday, Jeff Teague played fewer minutes than usual, Tracy McGrady got the night off and Marvin Williams had a forgettable 19 minutes. Willie Green scored 20 PTS and Kirk Hinrich got extra run, though he didn’t really impact the game. Josh Smith was amazing — his “I’m not an All-Star?” campaign should continue tonight. When LaMarcus Aldridge returns, the Blazers will be much better, though concerns remain about slumping Raymond Felton.
There will be a Spin every Sunday, just not as early as usual. Later in the afternoon, I’ll review what we learned on Saturday and preview the week ahead. Until then, best of luck!