Foye emerging, Ford splitting minutes
Should Jose Calderon owners be a little worried? After another strong night from T.J. Ford (16 points and 3 assists in 23 minutes), I say yeah, a little. Ford is showing no fear out there, attacking the lane with his speed and, importantly, drawing beaucoup fouls (8-for-8 from the line). If he maintains this level of play, there is no way Calderon (24 minutes, 6 points and 7 assists) will remain unaffected. This hurts me, because I have Calderon on a number of my teams. Thankfully, I also scooped up Ford in a few leagues when he was dropped after his neck injury.
I have written about this several times this season, but it must be stated again: The 76ers' interior defense is nasty. If you go through the play-by-play of last night's game, check the number of missed layups by the Magic. This is all too common with Samuel Dalembert patrolling the paint. He is effective even when suffering from a strained quad, as he was last night. Dwight Howard had a solid night (14 points, 16 rebounds), but most centers and power forwards are going to struggle against the 76ers, and owners in daily leagues should plan their rosters accordingly.
While Atlanta as a whole still underachieves, Mike Bibby is adapting well to life with the Hawks. He reached his season high in assists (10) at the half. He ended the game with 12 dimes and a solitary turnover. Joe Johnson was a prime beneficiary, ending up with 26 points, five 3-pointers and 6 assists, as was the incredibly efficient Josh Childress (25 points on 7-of-10 from the field and 10-of-11 from the line).
Brad Miller continues to fulfill his fantasy owners' wildest draft-day dreams. Last night he schooled the Hawks to the tune of 25 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and a block.
Well, here is something no one called: Larry Hughes getting minutes at Kirk Hinrich's expense. This is far from a trend, but it is clear that coach Jim Boylan is allowing some intrasquad competition for minutes. This is not good news for Hinrich owners, but it does explain why Hinrich would play just 16 minutes to Larry Hughes' 32. It must be said that Hughes acquitted himself quite well, notching 29 points, 6 assists and 3 steals. Obviously, this situation bears close watching. While many of us expected big minutes (and numbers) from Tyrus Thomas going forward, it was Drew Gooden who got them last night: 25 minutes, 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Quentin Richardson, fantasy relevant? Not for most leagues, but his 17 points last night showed that Q still has some game left in him. He may not be bumping fists to forehead as he did back in his Clippers days, but he can still stroke the long ball. In his past five games, Richardson is averaging 30.0 minutes, 11.0 points and 1.6 3-pointers. Nothing to go crazy about, but deep-leaguers might take a look. Nate Robinson had his second strong performance in a row with 22 points, two 3-pointers and 6 assists. In fact, all of the Knicks' starters had good nights with the exception of Eddy Curry, who is in his own lonely orbit these days. He can be safely dropped in most leagues.
If the Celtics-Cavaliers game was a forecast of the Eastern Conference playoffs, be ready for a grind. These top defensive teams did not allow for many eye-pleasing fantasy lines on either side of the ball. LeBron James labored mightily to get his 26 points, shooting -- brace yourself -- 7-of-24 from the field. LeBron played through a sprained right ankle, but do not be surprised if he is nattily attired on Friday instead of wearing the Cavs' uniform. I will be sure to update the situation in Friday's Occupational Hazard.
Delonte West turned in his best line as a Cav (20 points, two 3-pointers, 5 rebounds and 2 assists). The assists will rise, but it is tough when you pass to LeBron and he misses so often. Look for more good lines from West going forward. He is a good fit for this team.
For the Celtics, Kevin Garnett (18 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals) looks to be getting back to form. Ray Allen turned in a good effort with 22 points and three 3-pointers, but overall it was not a great night for anyone in the TD Banknorth Garden last night.
It's getting to be a regular thing, Chris Paul dominating Steve Nash. Last night, Paul went off for 25 points, two 3-pointers, 6 rebounds, 15 assists and 3 steals with just 1 turnover. He led the Hornets over the Suns, and New Orleans had better hope the team can figure out how to overcome top teams in the West other than the Phoenix come the playoffs. They have used the Suns twice in a month to arrest three-game losing streaks.
Unreliable, thy name is Kyle Korver. After opening February with a bang, scoring 17.3 through the first four games, Korver has been pretty disappointing. Last night he sullied your totals with 2 points in just 14 minutes of playing time. Ronnie Brewer, on the other hand, put up 13 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. Brewer is worth keeping around for the defensive stats in deeper leagues. Mehmet Okur had his best game in weeks with 24 points, four 3-pointers and 7 rebounds.
It's not often you see domination as complete as that demonstrated by the Nuggets against the SuperSonics, but 138-96 is pretty bad. That's a 42-point pummeling. The nuggets spread the love around with seven players scoring in double-digits. Allen Iverson led the way with 31 points, followed by Kenyon Martin (23), Carmelo Anthony (16), Linas Kleiza (15), J.R. Smith (15), Marcus Camby (12) and Anthony Carter (12). Camby also threw in 14 boards, 4 dimes, 2 steals and 5 blocks. Kudos to those of you who overlooked the injury risks and selected my main man Marcus in your drafts. He has delivered big-time.
Corey Maggette and Tim Thomas were the sole bright lights in the Clippers-Blazers matchup. Brandon Roy was out with a sore ankle and both offenses struggled. Maggette scored 31 and hit 15-of-18 from the line. Tim Thomas was respectable, as well, putting up 21 points, three 3-pointers and (gasp) 11 rebounds. Thomas is not known as a dedicated rebounder, but he has been better of late, averaging 7.8 in his past five games. He was dropped in a number of leagues (46.8 percent owned) and is worth a look, especially considering the Clippers' favorable schedule.
Guy Lake is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him at email@example.com.