Yao, Artest carry load for Rockets

October, 31, 2008
In Dallas, the Rockets came out with a win because their duo of Ron Artest and Yao Ming outperformed the Mavericks' duo of Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard. All four players had monster fantasy nights, but it is perhaps more telling that Tracy McGrady did not. McGrady played just 30 minutes, and while he put up a pretty good line of 16 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 10-for-11 shooting from the line, he was only 3-for-10 from the floor and ended up sitting out the entire fourth quarter of a game that was still very much in doubt until the Rockets made a run at the end. Artest, meanwhile, hoisted up 22 shots and didn't have a single assist to show for it. I think it's safe to say he's going to be a huge part of the offense going forward.

Chris Paul, Hornets: 20 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists and 3 steals at Phoenix.
Morris Peterson, Hornets: 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including four 3-pointers versus the Suns.
Mo Williams, Cavaliers: 17 points, 7 assists and just one turnover against the Bobcats.
Leandro Barbosa, Suns: 2 points on 1-of-6 shooting (all five misses came on 3-pointers), no assists and three turnovers versus New Orleans.
Raymond Felton, Bobcats: 5 points (1-10 FG), 5 assists at Cleveland.

Another interesting subplot of McGrady still recovering from offseason knee and shoulder operations is that someone is going to have to pick up the slack from time to time. On this night, it was reserve point guard Aaron Brooks, who managed 14 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists while chucking up 12 shots in just 20 minutes. Obviously, Brooks is a willing shooter, but I'm particularly encouraged by the five assists, which points to an understanding of the offense and a level of comfort in the distributor role. He's not worth picking up quite yet, but keep your eye on him, because with another performance or two like this one he'll start stealing some of Rafer Alston's minutes away and be a productive fantasy player.

Also keep an eye on Brent Barry, the only guard off the Rockets bench who has seen significant playing time in both games. He has put up pretty close to a big, fat zero statistically so far, but we know he's a capable shooter who has put up some good numbers across the board in his career. His best days are behind him, but he still has a bit of potential to be a 3-point shooter for you if you are in a deep league.

On the Dallas side, nothing really stands out except that Dirk and Howard had to carry the whole load offensively. The Mavs got only 26 points out of their entire backcourt, and 15 of those came from Jason Terry, who was hardly effective, shooting 4-for-13 from the floor overall. You could chalk this up to their having to face the Rockets, but I would keep an eye on Gerald Green. Coach Rick Carlisle said that he would consider playing Green, and although he didn't against the Rockets, Green's got a lot of talent offensively, and would seem to be a good fit to get out and run alongside Jason Kidd. The odds of him actually being a productive fantasy player this season are slim, but if he has one big game off the bench, he could very easily work himself into the rotation. The Mavs just might need him.

Under the Boards

The downside of Jason Kidd's career might be in full swing, but he put up a strangely wonderful line against the Rockets last night. He scored only seven points, but in classic Kidd fashion added 7 boards, 12 assists and 4 steals. Even better, he only turned it over once. If someone's willing to trade him in your league, the rumors of his demise -- and his low scoring numbers -- may allow you to get him for cheap. … D.J. Augustin got 25 minutes off the Bobcats' bench, which means that Larry Brown was willing to have him on the floor alongside Raymond Felton on occasion. That bodes well for both players going forward, even though neither was very productive against the Cavs' stingy defense on this night. … Speaking of the Cavs, Daniel Gibson had one of those fluke games that are great if you played him and wildly frustrating if you didn't, scoring 25 points including four 3-pointers in 31 minutes. It means nothing in terms of his future fantasy prospects; you already knew he was going to play, and he's not going to go 10-for-14 from the floor every night. … Bobcats' coach Larry Brown is probably going to spend the next couple of weeks toying with his rotation, but for those people who were worried Jason Richardson wasn't going to shoot as much from behind the arc this season, he was 2-for-4 from downtown in just 29 minutes against the Cavs. Normally I'd be concerned about the 29 minutes, but he's the closest thing the Bobcats have to a star player and he'll definitely continue being a key factor (and an automatic start in fantasy). … Chris Paul just missed a triple-double, and is likely just one of the many point guards who will put up some big numbers against the Suns this season. … If Shaquille O'Neal isn't going to be useful for anything else in fantasy anymore, at least we know he can rebound when he's healthy. The Big Cactus has 21 rebounds in 52 minutes of playing time so far this season, though he didn't have the same energy on the second night of the back-to-back. … On the Hornets' side, with Tyson Chandler out with a sprained ankle, neither Hilton Armstrong nor Melvin Ely did anything to suggest they deserve any sort of regular minutes, but James Posey was effective. Expect the Hornets to take the Celtics' tactic from last season and use Posey as a power forward in small lineups with regularity. … Peja Stojakovic scored 20 points, but left early in the fourth quarter after rolling his ankle. Keep an eye on his status for Saturday's home opener versus Cleveland.

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



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