Ford making his case to start again
Other than Josh Smith (16 points and a career-high 22 rebounds) and Joe Johnson (28 points and three 3-pointers), no Hawks distinguished themselves last night. Smith broke his steal-less streak (reported here first by our very own Adam Madison) with two thefts. Let's hope he is ready to turn it up for the stretch drive, because he has been off the past few weeks.
It was a night of fantasy ugliness in Orlando. The Clippers' best line came from Cuttino Mobley (17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals). Sorry Corey Maggette fans, his poor shooting from the field (6-of-16) and the line (10-of-14) disqualifies him. The Magic were a portrait in generosity (each starter scored in double figures, none higher than Dwight Howard's 22) and balanced scoring is never something fantasy owners want to see.
In Boston, the Big Sleep has begun. Philip Marlowe isn't on the case, but the Big Three are missing. Last night, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen each played fewer than 27 minutes. Expect a lot more games like this going forward, especially against the weak sisters in the league; this is why we have been telling you to deal these guys the past few weeks.
Zach Randolph got the start at center again and put up center-like numbers: 19 points, 12 rebounds and, gasp, 2 blocks. Jamal Crawford rebounded after a poor showing against Dallas with 23 points, two 3-pointers and 5 assists.
For the Heat, it was Ricky Davis (27 points, 5 assists), Shawn Marion (15 points, 17 rebounds) and no one else. Daequan Cook got the minutes bit not the production. It doesn't get easier, as the Heat face the Magic and Mavericks in their next two games.
The Hornets throttled the Spurs last night (eight points in the fourth quarter?). Only Tim Duncan (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Tony Parker (24 points, two 3-pointers and an ugly 2-for-8 from the line) were even marginally effective for fantasy owners. Chris Paul continues to make his case for best point guard in the land with 26 points, 17 dimes and 3 steals. He and David West (29 points and 10 boards) were the story last night as Peja Stojakovic's slump continues. He scored just nine points and is averaging just 12.3 points in his past three games.
Charlie Villanueva (26 points and 9 rebounds) is just 52.6 percent owned and that is far too little. People, he is averaging 24.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.8 3-pointers in his past five games. What more does he have to do, invite himself over and cook dinner? Pick the man up!
Gerald Wallace is back and though his first game was far from spectacular (14 points, a 3-pointer, five rebounds and a steal), let's remember he was facing the Mavericks. He looked decent out there and I like him to produce against the weaker defensive teams in the league. Matt Carroll won't lose much time when Wallace gets his minutes. Jared Dudley will see a drop on the other hand.
While Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony didn't bring much to the table for their owners, Kenyon Martin and Linas Kleiza did their part. Martin hit 9-of-11 from the field on his way to 23 points, and Kleiza dropped 19 points on the Grizzlies, who fairly well mailed this game in. When you are beaten by 22 by the Nuggets and their best two players combine to score that amount, you are not giving it your all on offense.
If T.J. Ford is upset about not starting, he is making his case for doing so on the floor. For the second game in a row, he led his team in scoring, putting up 23 points, plus 8 assists in a losing effort against the Warriors. Jose Calderon's numbers have not been helped by Ford's resurgence and the rest of the season does not look promising for the once fantasy darling. Eight points and six assists, while not terrible, is not what Calderon owners have come to expect.
Monta Ellis, on the other hand, continues to surpass all reasonable expectations. He shot 14-of-19 from the field last night, scoring 33 points, which would be excellent for a center, let alone a shooting guard. Baron Davis was similarly spectacular with 23 points, 15 assists and just one turnover. When the Warriors' backcourt gives you that kind of production, they are going to be hard to beat. Mickael Pietrus started at power forward last night and again put up solid numbers with 14 points, 8 rebounds, and a steal. Owners in 14-team and deeper leagues should be all over Pietrus, who is just 11.3 percent owned and will continue to see minutes with Chris Webber out indefinitely.
Guy Lake is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.