Heat-Knicks shootout provides fireworks

October, 30, 2008
While my fantasy line of the night from Wednesday goes to the Pacers' Danny Granger (against the Pistons, Granger finished with 33 points, 5 boards, 3 blocks, 2 steals and two 3-pointers while going 10-for-16 from the floor and 11-for-12 from the line), the story of the night comes from Madison Square Garden, where the Knicks beat the Heat and looked like the sort of team that makes fantasy owners drool. Not only did they score 120 points in regulation, but they allowed 115! It seems as though the Knicks will simply try to outscore teams, and that is good for everyone involved. Four players on the Knicks had at least four assists, and Chris Duhon -- their starting point guard -- had three assists, too.

Dwight Howard, Magic: Despite his normal struggles with free throws (6-for-13) and turnovers (4), he had a big night otherwise with 22 points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocks and a career-high 5 steals against the Hawks.
Chris Paul, Hornets: 21 points, 5 rebounds, 11 assists, 3 steals and 9-of-17 shooting at Golden State.
John Salmons, Kings: 24 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 9-of-17 shooting against the Wolves.
Kevin Durant, Thunder: 12 points (5-14 FG), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 turnovers versus Milwaukee.
Antawn Jamison, Wizards: Struggled from the field (6-for-18 overall, 1-for-8 on 3s) and grabbed just three rebounds against the Nets.
O.J. Mayo, Grizzlies: Missed 15 of his 20 field goal attempts (including all seven 3-pointers) at Houston.

Actually, the Knicks were full of important fantasy goodness. Jamal Crawford led all scorers with 29 points, and one would hope that means he's ready and willing to play coach Mike D'Antoni's style of basketball, because a fast pace seems like it would suit Crawford perfectly. Even better, popular sleeper picks Wilson Chandler and Nate Robinson each got significant minutes and produced big numbers: Chandler had 17 points and 9 boards in 23 minutes, and Robinson had 13 points, 7 assists and 2 steals in 25 minutes. Against bigger, better teams, the Knicks may not be able to go as small, but for now, I'd expect the Knicks to continue going small, putting up a lot of points and seeing if teams can keep up. Finally, both David Lee and Zach Randolph put up very good numbers. Lee had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists, and as usual he hardly missed a shot. Randolph went for 20 and 9, and it was encouraging that he only turned it over once. He has the sort of game that should work in D'Antoni's system, and he has major upside if he can put it all together this season. Remember, Randolph has averaged 20 and 10 for a season twice before, and he's still young (27 years old).

On the Miami side, besides Dwyane Wade's near triple-double (26 points, 7 boards, 9 dimes) there were, as far as I'm concerned, two big stories. First, Mario Chalmers started at the point, and his numbers were better than anyone could have expected: He finished with 17 points, 8 assists and a remarkable 7 rebounds. The best part is he had only one turnover. Those numbers are extremely encouraging if you took a flyer on Chalmers in the final round of your fantasy draft (or if, like me, you wrote about him in your rookie column ahead of Rudy Fernandez). I don't think there's any way Marcus Banks challenges him for minutes, but we should remember that the Knicks don't play any defense. See how Chalmers plays against a great defense before you do anything rash, but I think there's major cause for optimism here. Also, Udonis Haslem was a monster, going for 23 and 10 on 10-for-14 shooting from the floor. If he's still available in your league, pick him up; it might be the understatement of the decade to say that he should be able to hold off Mark Blount a while longer.

Under the Boards

I can't imagine it's going to be easy to face the Rockets this season, so I'm willing to say that I'm very impressed with the Grizzlies' Darrell Arthur. The rookie out of Kansas put up 11 points and 15 rebounds in just 27 minutes to go along with a steal and 2 blocks, and did it at the expense of Darko Milicic, who started for the Griz and was ineffective. My only question about Arthur coming into the season was his ability to rebound, and I'll certainly be keeping an eye on him to see if he can repeat the performance. … Both Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Bosh were productive for the Raptors, and that's good for those of us who took a chance on O'Neal in drafts. It's especially encouraging that they played well against the Sixers, who should have a strong interior defense most nights. … Warriors who played 39 or more minutes: Corey Maggette, Stephen Jackson, Kelenna Azubuike, Al Harrington. All four guys were pretty productive, but again, all four played a ton of minutes. I think it's a safe bet Maggette and Jackson continue to play a lot, but with the other two guys, some nights it will be a coin flip. Ride them while Nellie does, but jump ship at the first sign of trouble. … Josh Smith had 4 steals and 5 blocks, and the Hawks won a road game in Orlando. Best of all, Smith played 40 minutes. If his minutes jump from the 35.5 he played last season, he could end up being one of the top 5 fantasy players all season. … The Lakers went really deep against the Clippers; that meant no dominant fantasy performances. At point guard, though, that was good for Jordan Farmar, who played 26 minutes off the pine and put up 15 points, 5 boards, 5 dimes, and two 3-pointers. This could very easily be a regular thing for him.

Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.



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