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Saturday, February 7, 2009
Turkoglu's role changing with Nelson out


With 20 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists and a 3-pointer on Friday night, Hedo Turkoglu gave fantasy owners a small taste of what's to come for the remainder of the season. With Jameer Nelson out, Turkoglu will have the ball in his hands nearly every time down the court for the Magic. He is, after all, the team's best playmaker now that Jameer is gone. Turkoglu flourished as a "point forward" late last season (when Nelson was struggling) and should have no problem duplicating his success in that role. Turkoglu owners may not remember, but he proved to be a solid assist man when he averaged 5.8 assists per game after the All-Star break last season. Expect more or less the same this time around. The Magic undoubtedly will lean heavily on his playmaking skills as they look to position themselves to make a run on the top dogs in the Eastern Conference.

Under the boards

FRIDAY, FEB. 6
HIGHLIGHTS
Brandon Roy, Trail Blazers: 32 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 3-pointers in a losing effort against the Thunder.
Peja Stojakovic, Hornets: 28 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal and 7 3-pointers while shooting 9-for-18 from the floor and 3-for-3 from the line.
Kevin Martin, Kings: 37 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal and 4 3-pointers on 10-for-20 shooting from the floor.
LOWLIGHTS
Marc Gasol, Grizzlies: 3 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block in 27 minutes in a loss to the Clippers.
Greg Oden, Trail Blazers: 4 points, 2 rebounds, 0 blocks and 4 fouls in 16 minutes.
Kelenna Azubuike, Warriors: 0 points and 5 rebounds and 3 fouls on 0-for-3 shooting from the floor in 14 minutes.

We told you to give Mike Conley a look when Marc Iavaroni was fired, and Conley has made the most of his increased minutes under new head coach Lionel Hollins. Conley went for 18 points, 3 assists, 2 steals and a 3-pointer on Friday against the Clippers; he is averaging a solid 14.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.6 3-pointers over his past five games. With 35-plus minutes per game to work with, he looks like a wise investment for the second half of the season. … In his third game back from a knee injury, Zach Randolph blew up for 35 points, 10 rebounds and a steal (13-for-19 shooting from the floor). He was playing against a thin front line in Memphis, but this is the type of damage Z-Bo has done this season when he's been healthy. He'll be extremely valuable as long as he can stay on the court. … Don't read too much into Ricky Davis' big night (24 points and 6 3-pointers). This was easily his best game of the season, and he doesn't figure to duplicate it anytime soon. … Nick Collison completely dominated Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge in the paint with 21 points, 13 rebounds and a block on Friday night. Oden got into early foul trouble (what else is new) and saw just 16 minutes as a result. Collison won't block many shots, but he is averaging a double-double over his past five contests with 11.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game during that time. Give him a look if he's available in your league. … Al Horford is clearly struggling since returning from the knee injury that kept him out of 12 games. He managed just five points and four rebounds in 30 minutes on Friday, but will have the All-Star break to heal up for the stretch run. Expect to see a much healthier and productive Horford after the break next week. … It was a bit of good news, bad news for the Bobcats on Friday night. We'll start with the good: D.J. Augustin returned to the lineup to score eight points on two 3-pointers in just 16 minutes of action. Augustin was looking stellar prior to missing 10 games with an abdominal strain and should be on everyone's radar as a potential pickup candidate. Now for the bad news: Raja Bell left the game with a strained groin. Bell had been spectacular as of late with 17.8 points and 1.8 3-pointers over his past five contests. The extent of his injury is not yet known, but it wouldn't be surprising if he was held out until after the All-Star break. … With 33 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 3 3-pointers, Danny Granger proved that there should be no worries about his sore knee. There had been some concern about his health, but there is nothing to be concerned about as long as he keeps putting up lines like these. … Anthony Johnson wasn't as impressive in his second game in relief of Jameer Nelson. After going for 25 points on Wednesday, Johnson managed just 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in the Magic's loss to the Pacers. Johnson will be better than this on most nights (yes, even with Tyronn Lue around), but we surely can't expect him to put up 25 points again anytime soon. … Chris Bosh missed Friday's game with a strained right knee. In his absence, Andrea Bargnani dropped 19 points with 2 blocks and 2 3-pointers while Jermaine O'Neal had 24 points, 6 rebounds and a block in the Raptors' loss to the Hornets. O'Neal and Bargnani will be able to coexist with Bosh out, but only Bargnani will be able to sustain his value once Bosh is healthy. … Jose Calderon returned from a hamstring injury to post 16 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals and a 3-pointer in Friday's loss. His hamstring problem has been a lingering issue, but he looks safe to start after his performance on Friday night. … Andris Biedrins turned in an 11-point, 11-rebound, 2-block performance before leaving Friday's contest with what looked like a severe ankle sprain. In his absence, owners should consider adding Ronny Turiaf, who put up 11 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks after Biedrins' departure.