MIN @ CHI: On paper, before the season, Minnesota had ‘too many’ guards, and the eventual return of Ricky Rubio would force a logjam. Now they are shorthanded, as J.J. Barea (foot) and Brandon Roy (knee bruise) didn’t play, then fill-in starter Chase Budinger left early with a sore knee. Alexey Shved got 26 minutes (7 PTS, 6 AST, 5 REB) and may be in line for more. The Bulls lost their PG Kirk Hinrich to a hip injury, so Nate Robinson (18 PTS) keyed the victory. On an off-night for Carlos Boozer (0-5) it was Joakim Noah (17) and Luol Deng (16) picking up the slack.
DET@ HOU: Not the prettiest game, though James Harden scored 20 and Omer Asik (14 PTS, 8 REB, 4 STL) did enough to lead the Rockets, who also got bench contributions from Toney Douglas (11) and Marcus Morris (12) while the Pistons’ second unit struggled. Rodney Stuckey has been so bad that 4-12 shooting is actually a positive thing, improving him to 23.6% on the season.
BOS @ MIL: In a lineup shuffle that could continue for a while, Brandon Bass (8 PTS, 7 REB) started and Jared Sullinger played less than 7:00 off the bench. There was also a change at SG, with Jason Terry (15) starting and Courtney Lee (scoreless in 28:00) running with the second unit. Jeff Green (12) had a slightly better game in the new rotation. Monta Ellis led the Bucks with 32 points, but Brandon Jennings shot 1-11 and nobody else stepped up.
PHO@ UTA: On a night when Mo Williams (adductor) didn’t play, and neither Jamaal Tinsley (0-3) nor Randy Foye (0-7) made a shot, the Jazz won anyway. Tinsley dished out 14 assists, Al Jefferson (27 PTS, 14 REB, 2 BLK) was dominating and Paul Millsap (18 & 13) double-doubled. It was the first bad game of the year for Marcin Gortat (0-6) and another disappearing act by Michael Beasley (7 points) in a listless effort by the Suns, with previously slumping Jared Dudley (16) the lone bright spot.
DEN @ GSW: If Carl Landry is available in your league, don’t even finish this column, go pick him up. With Andrew Bogut (ankle) nowhere near healthy and rookie Festus Ezeli overmatched, David Lee (18 PTS, 9 REB) is playing C and Landry (22 PTS, 9 REB) got 36 minutes at PF in the double-OT loss. 21 points for Danilo Gallinari is progress, but 8-22 leaves him at 30% shooting for the season. Kenneth Faried had another Manimal line (18 PTS, 17 REB, 2 STL, 3 BLK) and Andre Iguodala was close to a triple double (19 PTS, 12 REB, 8 AST) as the Nuggets, using a tight 8-man rotation, won their fourth straight.