It wasn’t only Jeremy Lin (17 PTS, 9 AST) who made the difference as the Knicks trounced the Hawks. Carmelo Anthony added 15, Landry Fields 16 and J.R. Smith chipped in 5 REB and 5 STL to go with a dozen points. Atlanta, minus Joe Johnson, trailed 60-35 at halftime. Jeff Teague played well in 29 minutes and Willie Green got another start, but Marvin Williams was held scoreless.
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The Warriors won in Phoenix for the first time in seven years. That’s the good news for GSW; the bad is losing Stephen Curry to a sore right foot. It could be plantar fasciitis, as X-rays were negative, and that could mean more minutes for Nate Robinson, who had 14 points off the bench. Dorell Wright, who had failed to score in two straight games, poured in 23. Marcin Gortat (21 & 15) and Channing Frye (22 & 9) played well, but Steve Nash took only four shots in 34 minutes.
Yesterday, I touted a few Wizards. All were pretty good, especially Jordan Crawford with 32 points off the bench, but it was not enough to hold off the rejuvenated Kings. The biggest change for Sacramento has been Isaiah Thomas at point guard. Ice-cold early, the wee rookie had a tremendous second half to finish with 18 points, but his ball-handling frees up Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton (22 each) on the wings and gets DeMarcus Cousins (16 & 16) good touches inside.
What an effort by the Celtics in Oklahoma City. With Avery Bradley and Mikael Pietrus forced into the starting five by injuries and the Rajon Rondo suspension, Kevin Garnett returned with 23 points, 13 boards and a pair of blocks. It wasn’t quite enough, as James Harden (ankle) played and the Thunder’s dynamic duo of Kevin Durant (28) and Russell Westbrook (31) is hard to stop.
Charlotte lost at home to the Pacers, but the news isn’t all bad for the Bobcats. Corey Maggette had 20 points and teenager Bismack Biyombo keeps getting better, with 9 PTS, 10 REB and 6 BLK in 33 minutes. With the Indiana starters getting plenty of rest, Tyler Hansbrough (22 & 9) led the way and George Hill returned to action, the bone chip in his ankle healed. Hill is a great pickup if he was dropped in any league with more than 12 teams.
How about those Hornets? If they were ever going mail one in, it would be their third road game in as many nights, but Chris Kaman (21 PTS, 13 REB, 2 BLK) and Gustavo Ayon (17 boards) dominated in the middle and they beat the Cavaliers. Both New Orleans PG contributed: Greivis Vasquez (13 PTS) started and Jarrett Jack had 16 in 30 minutes off the bench. The story for Cleveland was a rare off night for Kyrie Irving, who shot 2-13.
As expected, Jerryd Bayless is getting more run for the Raptors, with 20 minutes off the bench, and is a useful PG in deep fantasy leagues. Toronto handled the visiting Pistons, as Rodney Stuckey had a terrible game, going pointless in just 18 minutes, and Ben Gordon didn’t help off the bench. Greg Monroe was a beast in the losing cause with 30 & 14, mostly against Aaron Gray, who did have 12 & 12 in almost 30 minutes on the floor.
Kris Humphries (calf) didn’t play as the Nets lost to Orlando, but Brook Lopez scored 15 points in 28 minutes and is getting back to full speed. Bench play was the difference, as the Magic got 16 from Glen Davis and 11 from Chris Duhon.
It’s kind of an inside joke how much I “love” Nikola Pekovic. When you’re 300 pounds, there’s no such thing as a mild ankle sprain, and he was expected to rest through the all-star break. Instead, he played 32 minutes (15 & 12) to help the Timberwolves defeat the Jazz. It was a quiet night for Ricky Rubio, but Luke Ridnour (17) and J.J. Barea (22) picked up the slack. Josh Howard started again for Utah in the absence of Raja Bell, scored 19 points, and might be earning himself more minutes even when Bell returns.
In Houston, nobody on either team scored 20. The Sixers started 36-year-old Tony Battie at C and rookie Lavoy Allen at PF, but their bench kept it close. Nikola Vucevic had 18 points, 8 boards and 3 blocks, Lou Williams added 17 and Thaddeus Young 15.
The Bucks were no match for the Bulls in Chicago, as Joakim Noah put up a triple-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. C.J. Watson missed another game with a headache, variously described as a migraine and concussion-like symptoms. Milwaukee rookie Jon Leuer, an unlikely starting C, had 14 points in 20 minutes.
The Lakers beat Dallas behind 24 & 9 from Pau Gasol and 19 & 14 from Andrew Bynum, as Kobe Bryant was less than stellar for a change. The Mavs got 25 from Dirk Nowitzki and 20 from Vince Carter, but had no answer for the L.A. frontcourt.
Denver limped into L.A. without Ty Lawson, Rudy Fernandez, Danilo Gallinari and Nene. They did get 20 from Arron Afflalo, but Andre Miller and Al Harrington were quiet. Nuggets rookie Jordan Hamilton (18 PTS, 7 REB, 4 3PTM) was impressive off the bench. For the Clippers, it was all Chris Paul (36) and Blake Griffin (27) as Mo Williams killed his owners with a 2-16 shooting debacle.
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Four games remain in the first half. Most of us, along with millions around the world, will be watching New York at Miami and I’m sure it will be entertaining. The Heat are 14-2 at home, have won seven straight by wide margins and are very well rested, so it will take a tremendous effort for the .500 Knicks to pull off the upset. (Yes, I know they have won 9 of 11 in the Linsanity era.) Keep an eye on Udonis Haslem, who seems healthier of late, and Steve Novak might be a decent spot start in deep leagues.
The late game features the Lakers at Oklahoma City. Neither team produces many surprises for fantasy owners, but Daequon Cook may be under the radar in your league, as he continues to start for the Thunder.
The Spurs casually punted their impressive 11-game win streak by sitting out Tony Parker and Tim Duncan in Portland. Both will be active as they invade Denver tonight. Nuggets coach George Karl, who has done a fantastic job guiding his team through all the injuries, may rely again on rookies Kenneth Faried and Jordan Hamilton. For San Antonio, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are worth owning at least as long as Manu Ginobili (oblique) is out.
Orlando and Atlanta meet in the other game, and you have to wonder how Zaza Pachulia is going to deal with Dwight Howard. The Hawks are without all-stars Joe Johnson and Al Horford, so even at home, this is a tough matchup. For the Magic, Jason Richardson has missed some time with chest pains that are attributed to a virus, so J.J. Redick may get another start.
With no games to preview here for the next few days, we’ll be taking a look at fantasy resources, strategy and tactics. I’m on Twitter, give me a follow.