News, Notes, and Rumors from around the NBA: April 18, 2012.

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NEWS

  • The Celtics are playing without Rajon Rondo after he hurt his back in Boston’s game against New York the previous night
  • Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler needs surgery to repair a labral tear in his left hip and is done for the season.
  • Baron Davis missed the Knicks’ game at New Jersey on Wednesday night because of a stomach virus and was replaced in the starting lineup by Mike Bibby.
  • Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau says the team’s leading scorers Derrick Rose and Luol Deng will not play Wednesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats.

NOTES

RUMORS

Tweet of the Day: Marcus Thornton

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Mannnnn Steve Novak doesn't miss shheeezzzzzzz
@OfficialMT23
Marcus Thornton

Who would have thought? The Knicks bring in Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, JR Smith, Baron Davis, and Mike Bibby, and who turns out to take the spotlight? Steve Novak. Although he’s not a nightly horse, he was an absolute monster tonight, shooting 8-10 from three-point range and scoring 25 points. Don’t get me wrong, JR Smith was also huge, shooting 7-10 from long range and scoring another 25 points, and the combination of Carmelo and Tyson scored another 55 points. But Novak hit some clutch ones down the stretch, and was really a momentum killer. I blogged earlier in the week about Kyle Korver being a difference maker with his shooting, and I think the same can be said about Novak. If the Knicks can keep up their play into the playoffs, they could really make a push, especially with Amare Stoudemire returning to the lineup and Novak shooting the way he did tonight.

Fantasy Spin: Saturday April 14

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Not only did Dwight Howard (back) miss another game, he’s out for the rest of the regular season. Glen Davis (16 PTS, 9 REB) will maintain his increased value, but Big Baby was the lone hard worker for the Magic in a terrible effort. Ryan Anderson missed 10 of 12 shots (0-for-8 from deep) and his rebounding is off, too. Garbage time came early, so Atlanta bench players like Jannero Pargo (17) and Marvin Williams (16) padded their stats.

Friday the 13th

BOS @ TOR: Blowouts and/or surprises were the rule last night, not the exception. Given that Jose Calderon (eye) joined Andrea Bargnani (shut down for the year with a calf injury) this result was a shocker. DeMar DeRozan scored 22 and Linas Kleiza, playing with a sore knee, added 17 off the bench. The Celtics were flat, shooting just 37.5%, and perhaps overconfident. Paul Pierce (18) led a belated fourth-quarter rally.

NJN @ PHI: Another upset, as MarShon Brooks (22) and Gerald Green (23) led the Nets to a road win despite the absence of Gerald Wallace (hamstring) and two starters scoring one point each. The Sixers, whose bench outscored the starters — again — have no apparent excuse and are in danger of missing the playoffs. Maybe Evan Turner (18 PTS, 7 REB) and Jodie Meeks (3 PTS as the starting SG) should switch roles one more time.

CLE @ IND: When a complete surprise like Lester Hudson cools off (7 PTS in 19 minutes) they rarely heat up again. The Cavaliers were overmatched; six Pacers scored in double figures including George Hill (15), who got another start at PG despite reports that Darren Collison would return. No starter for Indiana had to play more than 26:30, long enough for Danny Granger to score 18 points.

WAS @ NYK: We said it would be easy, but 103-65 is ridiculous, in yet another game where both benches got plenty of run because it was a mismatch. Baron Davis was a shocker: 18 points on 7-9 shooting, including 4-5 from downtown, in 23 minutes. J.R. Smith (23 PTS, 6 AST) led all scorers. Even matched up against Tyson Chandler (8 PTS, 15 REB), young Kevin Seraphin (12 PTS, 5 REB, 5 BLK) was the brightest light on a dark night for the Wizards.

CHA @ MIA: The Heat chose to rest Dwayne Wade and still cruised to victory. LeBron James had 19 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST and 2 STL in less than 29 minutes. Udonis Haslem sat with a stomach virus and Ronny Turiaf is nursing hand and hamstring injuries, so Joel Anthony (10 PTS, 5 REB, 4 BLK) started at C and rookie Dexter Pittman had 16 points in 18 minutes off the bench. Derrick Brown (21 & 9) was the least-bad Bobcat.

PHO @ HOU: Flipping back and forth between this game and Raptors-Celtics was like watching two different sports. Only one was intense, fast-paced and well-played, with Steve Nash (18 PTS, 10 AST) and Marcin Gortat (20 PTS, 15 REB) leading the Suns to a desperately-needed win that bunches up the West playoff race even tighter. Goran Dragic topped Houston with 22 & 7, while Marcus Camby (14 PTS, 18 REB, 3 BLK) was a force up front, but somebody had to lose.

MIL @ DET: The Bucks were a team on a mission. All five starters scored 14 or more points, led by a surprise 26 (plus 5 REB and 8 AST) from Drew Gooden, who showed no signs of the back pain that has recently slowed down his fine season. Brandon Knight (25) and Ben Gordon (24) were the best Pistons; Rodney Stuckey played just 16 minutes and turned it over five times.

SAC @ OKC: Kevin Durant (29) and Russell Westbrook (22) did the scoring, Kendrick Perkins (11 & 11) provided the muscle and the Kings were trailing by 19 at halftime; Isaiah Thomas (21) was at least respectable. Continuing our Friday the 13th theme, garbage time came early and affected the stats for a lot of guys. Derek Fisher played 27 minutes and scored 14 points, his high for the Thunder.

UTA @ NOH: Eric Gordon showed no signs of a back injury or rust, as he scored 25 to lead the Hornets — now, with a real owner — to victory. The Jazz got 27 from Paul Millsap and 19 from Al Jefferson, but the other three starters shot 4-17 and the loss really hurts their playoff push. It’s a team I like for next season, assuming they can upgrade from Devin Harris (3 points) at PG.

DEN @ LAL: As expected, without Kobe Bryant (shin) it was another big night for Andrew Bynum (30 PTS, 8 REB, 3 BLK) and Metta World Peace (14 PTS, 8 REB, 3 AST, 5 STL) but the surprise was Matt Barnes, with 24 points and 10 boards off the bench. Denver kept it close behind Andre Miller (20 PTS, 6 AST, 6 REB) and JaVale McGee, who had 14 & 10 off the bench.

DAL @ POR: Add Nicolas Batum to any list of NBA tough guys. Playing through a sore knee and quad that prevents him from practicing, he led the Blazers with 20 points. J.J. Hickson, the starting PF for the remainder of the year, had 13 & 10, but it wasn’t enough. The Mavericks gave Jason Kidd a night of rest, and Delonte West stepped up with 21 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds to complement 24 & 9 from Dirk Nowitzki.

Another Saturday Night

GSW @ LAC: Actually, the “night” begins at 3:30 Eastern, so be sure to set your lineups in time. David Lee (groin) is not going to play, so the Warriors are facing a nightmare in the frontcourt. Blake Griffin should be able to get whatever he wants. It’s not much better in the backcourt, where Chris Paul should dominate against the likes of Charles Jenkins and Nate Robinson.

CLE @ WAS: Based on how they played last night, neither of these teams can win. Let’s assume that the Cavs, in the middle of three games in as many nights, have no reason to step it up, but the Wizards were embarrassed enough to try harder tonight. John Wall can only improve on 2-12 shooting with 7 turnovers, but Jordan Crawford is my pick to click.

BOS @ NJN: Also in the second game of a back-to-back-to-back, Boston faces another team they “should” beat, but who knows? Deron Williams is up to the challenge of Rajon Rondo, and Kris Humphries (18 & 13 last night) always works hard up front. Though he couldn’t find the range on Friday, Mikael Pietrus and the rest of the Celtics’ bench will need to play well.

OKC @ MIN: The outcome is inevitable, as Kevin Love (concussion) is the latest of the Timberwolves to be sidelined. James Harden (knee) sat out last night and may rest again, as he shouldn’t be needed. Daequon Cook (13 last night) might get more minutes than usual. Minnesota’s J.J. Barea suffered an 8-stitch cut on his lip on Thursday, and Nikola Pekovic is playing in pain.

UTA @ MEM: The Grizzlies had last night off, while Utah lost a heartbreaker. If Tony Allen (facial laceration) returns, Memphis will be at full strength. Mike Conley and Rudy Gay seem like solid plays tonight, and O.J. Mayo could get hot off the bench.

IND @ MIL: Both teams won last night, but Milwaukee is more desperate this evening. The Pacers have clinched a playoff berth and look good for home court in the first round; the Bucks are just two games back of the struggling Sixers for eighth place. Look for Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis to attack early and often.

PHO @ SAS: The Suns won last night but it gets no easier. Grant Hill (knee) was eased back into the lineup with 25 minutes off the bench and we’ll see if he’s up to a back-to-back. The Spurs are at home, rested and the only problem for fantasy owners is worrying about who will play, as Gregg Popovich loves to push different buttons each night.

The Spin is here every day by 8:00 EDT except for Sunday, when we sleep in and post before noon. Follow me on Twitter in between.

Club At The End Of DraftStreet

Sure Things Over $14,000
M. Gasol $15,461
K. Durant $18,978
T. Duncan $15,073
R. Westbrook $15,905
Bargains Under $9,000
Ge. Hill $8,296
A. Bradley $7,321
D. Cook $4,794
K. Perkins $7,766
Hunches $9,000 to $14,000
R. Gay $12,964
M. Conley $11,594
J. Barea $10,186
O. Mayo $9,835

I could not have guessed any more wrong. Built my Freeroll team (and my cash leagues) around Kevin Durant and Andrew Bynum, who were OK, but my fill-in guys were horrible. I liked Iman Shumpert and Jeff Teague, who were barely needed in their teams’ blowout wins, and expected more from Ed Davis. Even J.J. Hickson’s double-double was mildly disappointing.

That’s how it goes in single-day fantasy leagues. Congrats to “gls81” for using Marcus Camby and Brandon Knight to beat 538 other teams in the Freeroll and win the $125 top prize.

As every day is a whole new “season,” I’m in the $2 and $5 GPP Salary Cap games again, three times each, for a total of $21. Because those leagues close at 7:00 Eastern, they don’t include the matinee, so CP3 and Blake are not listed on the chart and it’s effectively a six-game schedule. My $100 bankroll for Week 6 is dead even with two days to go, and in fact, we are back to Square One for this entire adventure.

If time permits, I might try a Snake-Draft league (or two) this afternoon. Yesterday, I joined one, queued up my picks then was distracted by real life and had to autodraft. Finished third of six, but was left short at the second guard spot. Your chances improve quite a bit in that format when you can attend the draft and adjust on the fly.

If you still haven’t tried Draft Street, it’s always free to join and you can get started by playing in free leagues.

Sheridan: Chris Paul has entered the MVP debate

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So it looks like control of the Pacific Division will indeed be at stake Wednesday night when the Lakers and Clippers meet at the Staples Center for the fourth and final time this season.

The primary reason why is the Clippers’ six-game winning streak that has moved them within a game of the Lakers entering Tuesday night’s games (which include the Lakers playing the Jersey Juggernauts).

And the primary singular reason for the Clips’ surge is none other than Chris Paul, who has fined-tuned his game to such a degree over the past couple weeks that he deserves to enter the MVP debate (it is a wide-open race, as I discuss in the above video with CineSport’s Tara Petrolino).

Paul has had double-figure assists in five of the past six games, he has had fewer than three turnovers in 12 of the past 13 games (the lone exception was a 3-turnover game), he’s scored 20 or more points in three of the past five games, and his 2.4 steals per game have led to many of the transition opportunities that allow the Clippers to show the best side of their Lob City personality.

Early in the season (remember Kobe’s stretch of 40-point games?) it looked like the award was Bryant’s to lose, then LeBron James had a month in which he clearly became the clubhouse leader, but then came a dropoff from James and his teammates that has opened the race back up. Kevin Durant is in the conversation, Kevin Love has been in and out of it, Dwight Howard has to be in it, and Paul is the freshest face in the pack.

It’s going to be a close MVP vote — that’s about the most definitive thing you can say about the race at this point.

Also in the above chat we discuss the Eastern Conference race between the Milwaukee Bucks and the ailing New York Knicks (Baron Davis is only 32 even though he looks 42), and Scott Skiles’ team is opening a critical five-game homestand that will make or break their playoff chances.

Also, do you know which teams are going to be rooting extra hard for the ping-pong balls to line up in their favor?

The Nets and the Warriors, that’s who. If New Jersey’s pick is not top three, it goes to Portland. And if Golden State’s is not top seven, it goes to Utah.

And whoever lands at No. 1 is going to take Anthony Davis, eh? The kid looked outstanding in Kentucky’s NCAA national championship victory Monday night.

News, Notes, and Rumors from around the NBA: April 1, 2012.

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NEWS/NOTES:

RUMORS: