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Since returning from his recent finger injury, Rajon Rondo looks like a totally different player. After dishing out 14 assists without a turnover in the Celtics' win against the Spurs on Thursday night, he's got 22 assists and one turnover in the past two games, which is certainly a good sign for his point guard play going forward.
More importantly, though, he's taken 33 shots in those two games, and has made 20 of them. In each game, he has managed to score 22 points. These are positive things for a guy who was shooting less and less and growing less and less confident in his ability to shoot in the first place. It is worth noting, by the way, that according to hoopdata.com, Rondo is shooting 38 percent on long 2-point jump shots (16 to 23 feet from the basket), which is only slightly below the league average. That is, he's not necessarily the awful shooter he seems to be at times. It would be great for the Celtics and for fantasy owners if Rondo is finally figuring that out.
Ray Allen continues to struggle mightily with his shooting from everywhere but the free throw line, and after Thursday night he's averaging just 12.6 points on 35 percent shooting from the floor in his past five games. Allen has gone through stretches like this in the past (Games 3, 4 and 5 of last season's NBA Finals come to mind), and usually snaps out of them eventually, but at his age this cold streak is definitely cause for concern. On a night they got Jermaine O'Neal back from injury, the Celtics lost Nenad Krstic to a knee injury, and it's unclear at this moment when they'll get him back. Any time he misses should mean even more playing time for Glen Davis and Jeff Green. The Spurs played their big three (Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan) big minutes on Thursday night, and that's a bad sign for George Hill and Tiago Splitter, who both had looked promising of late. Even though he's starting, Rodrigue Beaubois continues to not get enough minutes for the Mavericks for him to really be worth playing in any but the deepest fantasy leagues. He's good, but not good enough to contribute in fewer than 20 minutes. Four players were ejected in the fourth quarter of the Mavericks' loss to the Lakers, but the only fantasy-worthy one was Jason Terry (the others were Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Shannon Brown), who was ejected after picking up a flagrant 2 when he shoved Steve Blake on a drive to the basket. It remains to be seen what sort of further punishment Terry receives.
The Bobcats will be without Stephen Jackson, Tyrus Thomas and Shaun Livingston on Friday against the Magic, so it's definitely a good night to get Gerald Henderson and Boris Diaw into your fantasy lineups if they aren't already there. Elton Brand is questionable for the 76ers with flu symptoms; I wouldn't hold him out against the Nets unless you're sure he's not going to play. John Wall will be suspended for the Wizards, who will likely be without Nick Young and might be without Jordan Crawford, as well. The truth is there's no one you should start in their place, though if you are truly desperate it is possible they'll get a good performance out of Othyus Jeffers against the Cavaliers. With Devin Harris listed as questionable for the Jazz, if you're desperate for assists you might look to Earl Watson against the Lakers' awful defense at the point guard position. It's no guarantee, but Watson does have 22 assists in his past three games.
Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.