HOU @ ORL: I got a “huh?” from a friendly rival for drafting Omer Asik last night. Jeff had just plucked Nikola Pekovic off the top of my queue, we count OREB in that league, and the C list was thinning out rapidly. Asik, who is even hitting FT better this month, grabbed 12 more boards in 25 minutes.
I also own Patrick Patterson (quad) who should be ready to answer the regular season bell, and took rookie Terrence Jones with my last pick, just in case. The Rockets’ backup bigs last night, C Greg Smith and PF Donatas Motiejunas, were better than Jones. Jeremy Lin owners are breathing a little easier after his 13 point, 5 assist, 2 steal line.
The Magic waved the white flag, playing no starter over 21 minutes. Arron Afflalo was quiet in 18 minutes, but at least he’s on the court. They are not a good team even at full strength; without J.J. Redick (hip) and Gustavo Ayon (thumb) the bench is even thinner. Al Harrington will be welcomed back when his knee (surgery, followed by a staph infection) is finally healed. He needs a green light at a November 12 checkup to start practicing for a December return.
ATL @ DET: The Hawks punted the PTS category. Josh Smith played only 19:53, Al Horford (10 PTS, 6 REB) was quiet and Jeff Teague had the night off. Devin Harris started at PG, but has looked better at SG beside Teague. Only Louis Williams (17) did anything noteworthy off the bench. Anthony Tolliver, who has been getting a lot more minutes lately than Zaza Pachulia, missed nine of ten shots.
Taking it more seriously in front of 10,000 Pistons fans, Greg Monroe (16 PTS, 11 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL) was a stud and Brandon Knight chipped in 16. Impressive rookie Andre Drummond put up another great line (13 PTS, 10 REB. 2 BLK) in just 19 minutes, as starter Jason Maxiell fouled out in less than 17 minutes.
NOH @ MIA: Despite five more turnovers, Greivis Vasquez had 18 points and 10 assist, which I’ll take every night. Rookie Austin Rivers returned from a sprained ankle, played 23:38 then re-injured the same wheel. SF Al-Farouq Aminu (13 PTS, 10 REB in 37 bench minutes) looked better. Rookie Anthony Davis (24 PTS, 11 REB) was great and Ryan Anderson hit five 3-pointers; he will continue to play starter’s minutes in a bench role.
Miami used its best lineup, they just lacked intensity. Dwyane Wade turned it over seven times; Mario Chalmers took only three shots and missed them all. The entire team will turn things up a notch against the Celtics when the score counts.
MIN @ MIL: When Jeff Nichols scooped Nikola Pekovic in our draft, one pick before mine, I fired him. He’s been reinstated but is on thinner ice than Delonte West. Pek (19 PTS, 9 REB) and surprise starter Chase Budinger (20) were standouts in this romp. Luke Ridnour (personal) had the night off, so little-used Malcolm Lee started at PG and looked quite comfortable. Andre Kirilenko had a vintage AK-47 line, though not quite a 5 x5: 8 PTS, 10 REB, 4 AST, 6 STL, 1 BLK. Sophomore Derrick Williams had 13 PTS and 6 REB off the bench and is more valuable early, until Kevin Love (hand) returns.
The Bucks finished the silly season with two stinkers. Brandon Jennings was the only effective starter; Monta Ellis shot 1-11 for two points. They emptied the bench, with only rookie SG Doron Lamb (12 PTS) doing much. I’m sure Scott Skiles has a plan, but as usual can’t figure it out.
TOR @ MEM: The only guys missing for Memphis were 80% of the starting lineup. Jerryd Bayless (17 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST) did a nice job filling in for Mike Conley, Marreese Speights (13) took the spot of Zach Randolph and Jerome Jordan (10) was the C instead of Mark Gasol. With Rudy Gay also being rested, Quincy Pondexter scored 16 points in 32 minutes. The only Grizzlies starter to appear was Tony Allen (15), who looks ready.
The Raptors rode a strong second half to 120 points. Kyle Lowry (18 PTS, 7 AST) was the only starter to play more than 21 minutes. Andrea Bargnani scored 21 in just 17:55, and Jonas Valanciunas (15 PTS, 7 REB) had another solid game. Ed Davis, already in a logjam for minutes, has a sore hip and couldn’t play. He and Aaron Gray may be the forgotten big men, as Amir Johnson (15) has looked good all month.
WAS @ SAS: That’s not the way Bradley Beal wanted to finish the preseason, 0-6 in 19 minutes. Emeka Okafor was rested, so Earl Barron (12 PTS, 10 REB) started at C, and Trevor Ariza also got the night off, but Martell Webster (5 PTS) didn’t do much with the makeshift starting five as he has been doing off the bench. Among the most significant Spurs, only Manu Ginobili (back spasms) didn’t play, so they won easily.
DEN @ PHO: The Nuggets barely showed up. Michael Beasley had 29 PTS and 10 REB for the Suns. Thank god the preseason is over. Let’s play some real basketball!