Howard Ejected, Lakers Lose; Battle of NYC Tops Monday Afternoon Games

HOU @ CHA: Here’s a likely slumpbuster for Houston after seven consecutive losses. If they can’t get inspired for such a winnable game, things are even worse than imagined. James Harden needs to rediscover his mojo and the rest will follow. Omer Asik can dominate Bismack Biyombo inside, and Carlos Delfino comes off the bench to hit 3-pointers. There’s really no home-court advantage for the Bobcats, who have lost 14 straight in Charlotte. Kemba Walker is their steadiest player in fantasy and on the floor.

BRK @ NYK: This is for New York City bragging rights; both clubs are hot. Brooklyn is 10-2 for coach P.J. Carlesimo, with Deron Williams leading the surge. The Knicks’  MVP candidate Carmelo Anthony, is no longer a one-man team. SG Iman Shumpert has returned to add some perimeter defense and Amare Stoudemire is rounding into form. For the Nets, much depends on how Brook Lopez fares against Tyson Chandler; Lopez can focus on scoring because Reggie Evans grabs every available rebound. Game of the day, even if you don’t live in the Big Apple.

LAC @ GSW: Somehow, the Warriors won a game without David Lee (ankle) but they might be overwhelmed tonight if he can’t play. Blake Griffin would be too much for Carl Landry, the great Chris Paul is back from a bruised knee and the Clippers’ depth is tremendous. In particular, Matt Barnes is having a career year at 32, and the formerly fat reality-TV star Lamar Odom, who has worked himself back into game shape, helps in REB, AST, STL and BLK even when he doesn’t score much. Stephen Curry owners are holding their breath as he plays on a re-injured right ankle; Jarrett Jack is must-own even as the sixth man, and he’s one bad step away from taking over PG duties.

SAS @ PHI: We’re going to see some excellent PG play. Tony Parker and Jrue Holiday succeed with different styles and both are must-starts every night. Tim Duncan will be refreshed after sitting out the Atlanta game; he’s a very difficult matchup for Thaddeus Young. Even without Manu Ginobili (hamstring) the Spurs are too deep for the Sixers. Tiago Splitter is close to a double-double every night and averaging 28 minutes over the last ten games.

LAL @ CHI: At least big Dwight will be rested; the other Lakers not so much. Facing the Bulls in Chicago on national TV is no picnic at the best of times, and Kobe certainly looked tired yesterday. Carlos Boozer has put together a string of 11 double-doubles in his last 12 games, so how well Pau Gasol responds to this back-to-back could be significant. Another huge consideration is the hamstring of Luol Deng, who missed the OT loss in Memphis on Saturday. Jimmy Butler would start at SF again if Deng can’t go.

WAS @ POR: They are still just 2-17 on the road this season, but the Wizards are a much different team since John Wall returned, going 3-2 including an incredible victory in Denver. It’s not just Wall’s individual numbers; Bradley Beal is getting better looks (20-of-30 on 3-pointers in his last six) and everyone is playing with more confidence. Even Emeka Okafor has fantasy value, averaging 10 & 10 with a block so far in January. The Blazers need a healthy Nicolas Batum (wrist) and it sure would be nice if they had a decent sixth man. I’m hoping for a fast-paced, high-scoring contest and intending to use Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, with a long look at Wesley Matthews. Enjoy the 12-hour hoops-fest if you have the day off.

The Fantasy Spin is here by 9:00 EST every morning, and the DraftStreet Diary offers daily league advice. Follow me on Twitter — @SheridanFantasy — for updates.

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