What a night at Madison Square Garden. Out of nowhere in an injury-plagued season, Kirk Hinrich had 16 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists, leading the Bulls to an impressive road win. Luol Deng (29 PTS, 13 REB) was superb and Marco Belinelli (22 PTS, 7 REB) has been a pleasant surprise on the court and in fantasy leagues. Carmelo Anthony scored 29 (before getting his second technical) and J.R. Smith had 26 for the Knicks, but the rest of the team struggled until the final seven minutes, when a furious rally was too little, too late. Raymond Felton scored 14 of his 21 in that stretch, and Jason Kidd (8 PTS, 6 REB, 3 STL) was scoreless for the first three quarters. Joakim Noah (15 PTS, 12 REB, 6 AST) had the upper hand all night on Tyson Chandler (5 PTS, 8 REB, 2 BLK) before both got ejected for a scuffle — Noah has vaulted to elite status among fantasy centers.
Other December 21 Games
ORL @ TOR: Pick up Amir Johnson (10 PTS, 7 REB, 2 STL, 2 BLK) in any size league, despite the haircut. Jonas Valanciunas will be out for a while with a broken finger. Ed Davis, who was already on the rise in fantasy hoops, is also must-own for the next few weeks. Jose Calderon (13 PTS, 9 AST) has led the Raptors to five straight wins. Alan Anderson was only 2-of-9 from the floor, but he’s better than Mickael Pietrus, and rookie Terrence Ross (13 PTS) was electrifying at times, hinting at more minutes to come.
Bear with this old Canuck for waving the maple leaf. It was a big deal for local product Andrew Nicholson to start at the Air Canada Centre against the Raptors. The rookie (6 PTS, 4 REB in 19:45) gave way to veteran Gustavo Ayon (12 PTS, 13 REB in 27:50) who should be owned in most formats for the next few weeks while Glen Davis (shoulder) recovers.
ATL @ PHI: What a difference Jrue Holiday makes. It wasn’t only his 11 PTS and 7 AST; Evan Turner (21 PTS, 6 AST, 5 REB) got to play SF and Thaddeus Young (18 PTS, 11 REB, 4 AST, 5 STL) was even better than usual. I’m going to stop recommending Al Horford after a 7-point night on 2-for-10 shooting against Lavoy Allen; something must be wrong. Josh Smith (17 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST) had the only respectable line for Atlanta.
MIL @ BOS: How about Larry Sanders? 17 points and 20 rebounds in 39 minutes was almost as good as his 10-block triple-double three weeks ago. Hey now! Monta Ellis (27) atoned for a lousy shooting game two nights earlier and Brandon Jennings (12 PTS, 11 REB, 8 AST) held his own against Rajon Rondo (6 PTS, 11 AST, 5 REB, 4 STL as the Bucks won in overtime. The new Boston frontcourt of C Jason Collins and PF Kevin Garnett couldn’t handle Sanders and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (20 PTS, 6 REB) but since the lineup change, Paul Pierce (35 PTS, 12 REB, 5 AST, 3 STL) has been a fantasy monster.