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Friday, March 4, 2011
Andrei Kirilenko flying under radar


Since he missed two games prior to the All-Star break, Andrei Kirilenko has been playing some fantastic basketball for the Utah Jazz, and it has been going largely unnoticed because of all the hoopla surrounding the trade of Deron Williams and the retirement of Jerry Sloan. Kirilenko, by the way, was extremely close to being the hero for the Jazz Thursday night after he stole the inbounds pass with one second left in the game, but missed the layup to tie it up and ended up being the goat.

In the fantasy game, though, Kirilenko was a hero anyway, finishing with 12 points on 6-for-11 shooting to go along with five assists, three blocks and two steals. Kirilenko has always been a great fantasy player (when he's been healthy) due to his strange combination of elite defensive stats and ability to rack up assists as a forward. He'll probably never be an elite scorer, but as long as he stays healthy, he'll be a great contributor across the board (he's a top-50 player this season based on per-game averages).

Looking Back

The Magic came back from a 24-point deficit in the third quarter to beat the Heat on Thursday night behind a barrage of 3-pointers; most impressive was Jason Richardson, who carved up the Heat for 24 points himself, including six 3s. Richardson's been struggling of late, but maybe a game like this will be the start of a hot streak. … As for the Heat, they continue to get very little from anyone besides LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Mike Bibby played 19 minutes in his debut for the Heat, but his shot looked terrible and he doesn't belong on fantasy rosters until his minutes go up or his shot gets back on track. … C.J. Miles bounced back from his recent struggles, finishing with 22 points, six rebounds and two steals for the Jazz; the Jazz certainly need his ability to score off the dribble, and there's some real potential for him as a fantasy player if he can start to show some consistency. … Al Jefferson also continued to show added ability as a shot-blocker, racking up another six of them. That brings his average to 3.0 per game in his past five games, and is yet another sign that he's healthier than he's been in a couple of seasons.

Looking Ahead

Lineup alert: The Raptors and Nets will face off in London on Friday in what will be an early start for those of us here in the states (3 p.m. ET). Look for Kris Humphries to have a big game for the Nets; he's coming off a 16-point, 15-rebound performance against the Suns and had 12 points and 12 rebounds in his previous game this season against the Raptors. … The Thunder face the Hawks, and each team will probably be without one of its stars as both Kevin Durant and Josh Smith are listed as doubtful with their respective injuries. Look for James Harden and Thabo Sefolosha both to get big minutes for the Thunder in Durant's stead, while on the Hawks side it'll probably just be bigger minutes for all of the usual suspects. … The Knicks look like they'll be without Chauncey Billups against the Cavaliers, as Billups is still nursing a thigh injury; Toney Douglas was great on Wednesday night filling in for Billups, and he should have another nice night against the Cavs on Friday. … Meanwhile, Baron Davis is probable for the Cavs, and it will certainly be interesting to see how he plays given how dire his situation is in Cleveland. I won't have him in my lineup right away, but if he looks good, he'll be in there moving forward. … If you've been waiting for Jeff Green to have a good game for the Celtics, you might get your chance on Friday night. They'll host the Warriors, and will be without Glen Davis and Delonte West (as well as the O'Neal's, as usual). That should mean ample opportunity for Green to fill various roles off the bench against a poor defensive squad.

Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.