HOU @ MIL: They run and they score. James Harden (29 PTS, 7 AST, 4 STL) is an all-star, but the more anonymous Rockets are also having great fantasy seasons. Carlos Delfino (22 PTS, 3 REB, 2 STL) was 6-of-7 from downtown Milwaukee and Patrick Patterson (18 PTS in 21 minutes) is just about ready to rejoin the starting five. Monta Ellis was off-target (5-for-19 and the only Bucks big man to play well was rookie John Henson (11 PTS, 15 REB) but he could return to the crowded Scott Skiles doghouse at any moment.
IND @ BOS: Finally, Doc Rivers listened to my Jason Collins rants and moved Kevin Garnett (18 PTS, 7 REB) back to center. Rajon Rondo (18 PTS, 7 AST, 5 REB, 2 STL) did the rest. Brandon Bass (4 PTS, 8 REB, 2 BLK) played 22:28 as the starting PF, but rookie Jared Sullinger (7 PTS, 10 REB) got 30 minutes off the bench before fouling out. That is shaping up as a timeshare. George Hill (groin) missed another game, and D.J. Augustin was no match for Rondo. Paul George and David West each shot a miserable 4-for-18 as part of a team-wide 31.8% disaster.
PHI @ OKC: That was a routine win by an excellent team over a tired foe. Russell Westbrook (27 PTS, 5 AST) won his battle over a less-than-100% Jrue Holiday (15 PTS, 9 AST) and apart from Nick Young (21) the Sixers did very little. Westbrook, Kevin Durant (26 PTS, 6 REB) and Serge Ibaka (15 PTS, 10 REB, 3 STL) weren’t needed much in the fourth quarter.
CHI @ MIA: 30 points is a great night for anyone but LeBron James, whose bruised knee kept him from racking up his usual defensive numbers. Chicago used their size advantage perfectly, with Carlos Boozer (27 PTS, 12 REB) and Joakim Noah (13 PTS, 12 REB, 4 AST) dominating the paint. If and when the Bulls have a healthy Derrick Rose, they will be a nightmare playoff opponent for almost anyone.
UTA @ PHO: The Suns never recovered from a 9-point second quarter. Luis Scola (15 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST, 3 BLK) and Goran Dragic (17 PTS, 6 AST, 3 REB, 2 STL) were fine, and Marcin Gortat (18 PTS, 11 REB, 3 BLK) held his own against Al Jefferson (21 PTS, 8 REB) but the Jazz got a big lift from Paul Millsap, whose 19-point, 10-rebound, 5-steal line was his best in three weeks.
LAL @ LAC: Despite 38 points and 5 steals by Kobe Bryant and a strong effort from Dwight Howard (21 PTS, 15 REB, 2 BLK) the Lakers lost. Blake Griffin (24 PTS) was better than expected and Chris Paul was superb — 30 PTS, 13 AST, 6 REB, 2 STL — to lay claim to L.A. supremacy for the time being. Pau Gasol (2 PTS in 27 minutes) needs to rest that sore foot until he’s an asset, not a liability. His fantasy owners are in a real pickle.
January 5 Games
BOS @ ATL: It’s a common story on Saturdays — both teams played elsewhere last night, arrived in Atlanta in the wee hours and you never know who will have the most energy. Sometimes, it’s home court, pride and fan support that makes the difference, and Boston has been brutal on the road of late.
NYK @ ORL: Theoretically an easy Knicks win, as Carmelo Anthony can outscore two players and the Magic have not won a single game since Glen Davis hurt his shoulder. Nikola Vucevic has been very good in Big Baby’s absence, but Tyson Chandler is a formidable opponent. Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo can score; the question is, who can stop Melo and J.R. Smith?