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Sunday, March 29, 2009
Gilbert Arenas looks good in return

Gilbert Arenas
Arenas was in the starting lineup for his first game back.

Gilbert Arenas made his season debut Saturday and surprised everyone by playing 29 minutes and posting a double-double (15 points, 10 assists) in his return from a knee injury. He was a little rusty, as he shot just 3-for-12 from the floor, but he looked quick and did not appear to be limited by his injured knee. All in all, it was a fantastic performance for a guy who hadn't played all season, and he proved why he is one of the league's best point guards when healthy. Now, before we get too excited here, realize that Arenas has already self-imposed a rule that he will not play in back-to-back games for the Wizards. He also almost didn't suit up Saturday when he felt some discomfort in his surgically repaired knee during pregame warm-ups. Needless to say, he is a risky investment at best, so tread carefully if you are thinking about picking him up for the stretch run.

With Agent Zero back, Caron Butler's return from a seven-game absence (groin) flew under the radar. Butler managed 11 points, 10 rebounds and 2 steals in 35 minutes and it was nice to see that he was healthy enough to stay on the court for that long. Like Arenas, I'm taking a cautious approach to Butler's return. While it looks like the Wizards want to see what their starting lineup will look like next year, there's still little to gain from running them both out on the court if they are hurting. And with that said, any tweaks or pain for either player will likely send them right back to the bench.

If Butler and Arenas can somehow stay on the court, their presence would hurt popular fantasy pickups Nick Young (13 points in 24 minutes) and Andray Blatche (15 points and a block). Blatche appears to be the safer investment of the two as it was nice to see that he still managed to receive 34 minutes on Saturday night. Continue to run Blatche out there, but Young owners may want to think about going in a different direction.

Under the boards

Gerald Wallace, Bobcats: 23 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks and a 3-pointer while shooting 7-for-12 from the floor and 8-for-9 from the line.
Mehmet Okur, Jazz: 26 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, 3 3-pointers and a steal in a 104-99 victory over the Suns.
Wilson Chandler, Knicks: 18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 blocks and 2 3-pointers in a loss to the Bobcats.
Jason Richardson, Suns: 4 points and 2 steals on just 2-for-11 shooting from the floor in a loss to the Jazz.
Mike Conley, Grizzlies: 2 points and 3 assists with no steals or 3-pointers on 0-for-8 shooting from the floor in a loss to the Blazers.
Charlie Villanueva, Bucks: 9 points and 7 rebounds with no steals, blocks or 3-pointers on just 4-for-15 shooting from the floor in a loss to the Heat.

Brandon Rush got his third straight start in Indiana and responded with 29 points while adding a steal, a block and two 3-pointers. Rush is now averaging a versatile 14.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 0.9 blocks and 1.8 3-pointers in 10 starts this season. Fantasy owners should certainly considering adding Rush as there are few options available that possess as much upside as this kid. … It's unfortunate that the Bulls have only two games in the upcoming week because they've been quite fantasy-friendly during their playoff surge over the past few weeks. Led by John Salmons (22 points, four 3-pointers), Ben Gordon (25 points, three steals) and Tyrus Thomas (18 points, 8 rebounds, 7 blocks), the Bulls will continue to go hard as they look to wrap up a playoff spot in the East. … Gerald Wallace torched the Knicks (what else is new) to the tune of 23 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks and a 3-pointer while shooting 7-for-12 from the floor and 8-for-9 from the free throw line. That's an impressive performance, even if it was expected that he'd light it up against the Knicks. … Gilbert Arenas wasn't the only one that was impressive in his return to the court; Richard Hamilton scored 31 points with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 3-pointers in 38 minutes on Saturday after missing six games with a groin injury. It looks safe to get him back in your lineups. … Charlie Villanueva's recent struggles continued as he saw just 23 minutes and finished with nine points and seven rebounds on just 4-for-15 shooting from the floor. This was the third game in a row in which Charlie V was limited to less than 30 minutes and his owners have to be slightly concerned about his prospects going forward if his minutes don't pick up soon.

Both Baron Davis (stomach) and Marcus Camby (ankle) sat out for the Clippers on Saturday. In their absence, Mike Taylor (11 points, six assists and a steal) and Chris Kaman (16 points, five rebounds and a block) picked up the slack. Unfortunately, Taylor also suffered a knee injury during the contest and his status for their next game is now in jeopardy. Look for Kaman and DeAndre Jordan to continue to fill in for Camby, while Fred Jones and Eric Gordon will pick up the slack if Davis and Taylor can't go. … Grant Hill and Matt Barnes continue to prove that they are reliable options with Leandro Barbosa on the shelf, as Hill scored 19 points with 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and a block and Barnes scored 14 points with 10 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 3-pointers. Keep them in your lineup at least until Barbosa returns. … After six straight DNP-coach's decisions, Jamal Crawford returned to the lineup to score 30 points on five 3-pointers in a game high 42 minutes of action. It makes absolutely no sense that Don Nelson would give Crawford that much run after benching him, but most owners know that it's impossible to predict what Nellie will do next. Needless to say, Crawford is a high-risk/high-reward option the rest of the way. … With Stephen Jackson out for the season, Kelenna Azubuike (21 points, 9 rebounds, three 3-pointers), Anthony Morrow (18 points, four 3-pointers) and Anthony Randolph (10 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 blocks) helped to pick up the slack Saturday night. Azubuike is the safest investment of the bunch, but Morrow and Randolph are fantastic high-upside gambles at this point in the season.