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Thursday, January 10, 2013
Jared Sullinger could become fantasy factor


Jared Sullinger probably had the best game of his short career for the Celtics in a win over the Suns on Wednesday, as he finished with 12 points on 60 percent shooting from the floor and 16 rebounds in 34 minutes off the bench. The playing time, of course, is what's most important here. Yes, the 16 rebounds are nice, but Sullinger's rebound rate has been good all season. He's 21st in the league, ahead of guys like Roy Hibbert, Al Jefferson and David Lee. The Celtics (29th in rebound rate) desperately need rebounding. It stands to reason that as Sullinger continues to improve, he's going to keep getting 30-plus minutes per game, even if he's still coming off the bench.

Looking Back

Landry Fields got his first start since Nov. 7 for the Raptors and played 42 minutes. He logged a plus-18, helping the Toronto starting lineup make easy work of the 76ers. Fields has been a huge disappointment this season, but the Raptors have quite a bit of salary invested in him, and he's going to keep getting playing time if he plays well. Despite a promising rookie season, Fields doesn't seem to be much of a shooter, but he's a great rebounder for a wing, and he had a double-double Wednesday night with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

• The Lakers suffered yet another tough loss, losing by three on the road to the Spurs. If there's a silver lining, it was the play of Earl Clark, who had a great game off the bench, finishing with 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting from the floor, 13 rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes. Obviously, Clark has shown no ability to contribute like this on a consistent basis, but with Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Jordan Hill all out of the lineup, getting something out of Clark becomes very important. He's got a ton of talent, so it will be interesting to see whether he can get a foothold in the rotation over the next couple of weeks. I wouldn't pick him up based on one good performance, but I'd keep paying attention.

Derrick Williams -- last season's second overall draft pick -- is finally starting to make a little noise for the Timberwolves with Kevin Love out of the lineup yet again. Williams played 28 minutes in a loss to the Thunder (his second-highest total of the season), and posted his first double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Wolves could really use some production out of Williams, and with Love out for the next couple of months, Williams has a chance to start playing to his potential.

Looking Ahead

Carmelo Anthony will miss Thursday night's game for the Knicks against the Pacers while serving a one-game suspension for his altercation with Kevin Garnett following a loss to the Celtics on Monday night. Additionally, J.R. Smith is listed as probable with a laceration above his right eye (also suffered against the Celtics). I'm expecting Smith to go and to have a huge game, but this might be the night Amare Stoudemire really starts to shake off the cobwebs, because the Knicks are really going to need his offense against a stingy Pacers defense. Stoudemire is scoring at a decent clip since his return to the lineup, and if he gets more minutes on Thursday night, you'll want to have him in your lineup.

• On the other side, George Hill has bronchitis and is questionable. The Pacers don't have any great backups at point guard, but D.J. Augustin was serviceable filling in for Hill for three games recently, averaging 13.7 points and 5.3 assists in three starts. Hill's probably going to play, but if you're desperate for assists, Augustin might be worth a shot for the night in deep leagues.

Fastbreak Player of the Night

Obviously, LeBron James is going to terrorize a Trail Blazers defense that's in the bottom third of the league in defensive efficiency overall. However, I love this matchup for Trail Blazers center J.J. Hickson (LeBron's old teammate in Cleveland). Hickson is averaging 12.3 rebounds in his past three games and will be facing a Heat squad that might be without Shane Battier (strained right hamstring). I'd be shocked if Hickson doesn't post a big double-double, even if I don't give the Blazers much chance of grabbing a win.