Hedo does it again
It is pretty clear to anyone watching the Magic whose team this is. It's not the $118 million man. Rashard Lewis has been a valuable addition, stretching defenses and providing a steady source of scoring, but this is not his team. Dwight Howard, that arch-rebounder, is unarguably one of the top centers in the game, but this is not his team. It will be, but not yet. Right now, the Magic are Hedo Turkoglu's team and anyone who has watched this team recently will have a hard time denying this truth. Last night was just another example. Hedo went for 27 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and a block on 8-of-13 from the field and 11-of-12 from the line. Howard, for some inexplicable reason, took just eight shots from the field, though he did get to the line for 12 attempts. Howard's scoring has been in decline since the first month of the season: 24.3 points per game in November; 21.7 in December; 19.1 in January. His rebounds and blocks have remained very strong, but owners should get used to more 16-point games like last night. If Howard doesn't get touches in the fourth quarter, his numbers will not get back to where they were earlier this season.
The Heat were a mess last night with Dwyane Wade (flu) and Udonis Haslem (ankle) joining the wounded. This gave Luke Jackson (14 points, three 3-pointers) a rare night of relevance. Keep an eye on Dorell Wright. Yes, he is inconsistent, but he has been getting minutes (29.2 per game in his past five) and will get you some blocks and rebounds.
It's not common that a team can put up 122 points in a game and yet have no fantasy superstars in the contest. Such is the balance of the Raptors, who ran a good defensive team out of the gym. The Wizards had no answers. Andrea Bargnani had another decent night (19 points, three 3-pointers and a block) and Jose Calderon was his usual efficient self, notching 11 points and 11 assists in 26 minutes. This was the story for all the fantasy-relevant Raptors. Only Bargnani played more than 30 minutes.
The Wizards, lacking Caron Butler (strained hip flexor), could get nothing going last night. Only Andray Blatche (12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks) met or exceeded expectations. If you scooped up Blatche, know that as soon as Butler is back, he will lose all value.
Moving from disappointing to more disappointing, allow me to introduce the Milwaukee Bucks, who were held to -- gulp -- 69 points by the Sixers. When Royal Ivey is your team-high scorer (17 points) and rebounder (6), you know you are having a rough night.
A lot of us have been waiting on Louis Williams to bust out all season. If you watch his speed and scoring ability in the game, you will know why we like him. However, facts are facts and Williams just isn't producing well enough to be owned in mid-sized and smaller leagues. Including last night, he is averaging 10.7 points, 0.8 3-pointers, 2.8 assists and 0.6 steals in his past five games. You should be able to do better than that in most 12-team leagues.
More disappointing, meet most disappointing. Yes, the Bulls managed to score less than Bucks, posting just 67 points. Ugh, I did not pull a great night for box score blogging with this one.
Minnesota is starting to resemble a professional basketball team. With last night's evening up with the Bulls in their home-and-home set, the Timberwolves have won four of their past six. Last night, the Wolves were led by Al Jefferson (26 points, 20 rebounds) and Ryan Gomes (25 points, two 3-pointers and 10 rebounds). Jefferson has been everything his owners had hoped for during the past five games, when he has averaged 28.0 points and 14.2 rebounds. That's sugar.
As an antidote to the mostly gloomy numbers we have perused in our jaunt through the neatly arranged columns and rows, let's visit the Warriors' half of the box score they shared with the Hornets. Six Warriors scored 13 or more points last night, led by Stephen Jackson. Captain Jack had 26 points and three 3-pointers on 10-of-16 shooting from the field. Baron Davis scored 23 points with five 3-pointers and nine assists. Matt Barnes chipped in with 17 points, six rebounds and two blocks. While I love Barnes' ability to contribute in a wide variety of categories, the Chris Webber signing will likely cut into the minutes he needs to remain fantasy relevant.
All the usual suspects got theirs for the Hornets, but surprisingly it wasn't enough for a victory.
The award for most frustrating line of the night undoubtedly goes to Darko Milicic, who is down to 18.8 percent owned in ESPN leagues. This is a guy with an average draft position of 101.4, so he was owned in all 10-team and larger leagues. Well, last night, he spurned all of you who lost faith with 14 points, 16 rebounds and 5 blocks. Some of you will crawl back to Darko, begging forgiveness. Don't do it. Even with last night's season-best performance, Milicic is averaging 7.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in his past five. That's deep-league production only.
David Lee got a lot of run last night (14 points, 12 rebounds in 37 minutes), in large part because Eddy Curry left the game early with flu-like symptoms. Unfortunately, Lee's minutes will be inconsistent the rest of the season, barring a trade or injury.
As is often the case, it was a good night to be a LeBron James owner, as he racked up 37 points, three 3-pointers, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. Yeah, that's pretty much the line of the night right there. With James doing so much, no other Cavs helped their owners. I do expect Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden to have a nice run while Anderson Varejao misses the next three-plus weeks with a high-ankle sprain.
I am telling you, keep an eye on these Sacramento Kings. They are deep and could put together a run with all the talent they have. Last night, Brad Miller was huge. OK, he's always big, but he posted 22 points, 21 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks last night and, along with Chris Kaman, has been one of the best draft-day values at the center position this year.
Atlanta continued its road woes last night and, outside of Josh Smith (21 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals and a block) and Josh Childress (14 points, 2 steals and 3 blocks), there wasn't much fantasy goodness to go around.
The Clippers were led by rookie Al Thornton, who just blew up last night with a career-high 33 points to go with two 3-pointers and two blocks. His production has been creeping upward and he is definitely ownable in deep leagues. Mid-sized leagues might take a flier on him because of the Clippers' favorable schedule, but I fear that his minutes will plunge when Elton Brand finally makes it back. Still, if you are desperate, you could get a solid month from Thornton if he continues to see more minutes, which he should.
Guy Lake is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.