Two Awesome Andres
• Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks: 39 points (16-20 FG), eight rebounds verses the Jazz.|
• Gerald Wallace, Bobcats: 31 points, 16 rebounds, two blocks verses the Blazers.
• Yao Ming, Rockets: 26 points (12-12 FG), 10 rebounds verses the Heat.
|• Devin Harris and Vince Carter, Nets: 12 points combined (benched for second half) versus Celtics.|
• Paul Millsap, Jazz: four points, three rebounds, two steals (five fouls in 21 minutes) at Dallas.
• Brandon Roy, Blazers: 17 points (3-10 FT), six rebounds, six assists at Charlotte.
Iguodala, especially, is on a tremendous run. Unsurprisingly, the Knicks couldn't contain him Saturday. After going for 28 points, 10 boards, seven assists, three 3-pointers and three steals in Madison Square Garden, Iggy is averaging 23.6 points, 6.7 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 steals and is shooting 57.0 percent from the field in January.
Miller also punished New York, recording 27 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals. His numbers this month: 19.2 points, 6.0 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals and is shooting 56.3 percent from the field.
As if that wasn't enough, both of these guys are chipping in from downtown. Over the past five games, Iguodala is 14-of-23 from beyond the arc. Miller's seven treys in nine January games doesn't sound like much 'til you consider that he's a career 21.3 percent shooter from distance who hadn't made more than seven 3-pointers in a season since 2003-04.
So with Brand's return imminent (he could play Monday versus Dallas), what happens now? Aside from an inevitable slide in their unreal shooting percentages, I don't see much of a drop off from either Andre. It's those patient Brand owners who, I think, are in for further disappointment. In November the Sixers tried adjusting to Brand by going half-court and feeding him the ball. It didn't work. But with the old lineup and new coach Tony DiLeo, the Sixers are fast-breaking and pulling away, to the tune of seven straight wins by a 12.4-point margin. Brand will likely be eased back into the lineup, which should depress his numbers in the short-term. Once he's at full strength, Brand should get his boards, but I can see his current 15.9 points per game -- already a career low -- slipping a bit further. If he boosts his percentages from here, it won't be all bad. Still, Brand seems to be destined to go down as this season's biggest draft bust.
Under the boards
While Lawrence Frank made an example of Devin Harris and Vince Carter, Brook Lopez avoided his coach's wrath by turning in another outstanding performance: 28 points (on 12-of-17 shooting) and 10 boards versus the Celtics. Amazingly, Lopez is still available in 45 percent of ESPN.com leagues. By comparison, Samuel Dalembert is available in 27 percent of leagues. And that is so very, very wrong. Even when the injury-riddled Clippers win, they lose. Though Los Angeles downed the Bucks to end a 12-game losing streak, Marcus Camby's 18-point, 11-rebound night was cut short by a sprained left ankle. He's day-to-day. In another start for the injured Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith turned in another brutal shooting performance, going 2-for-13 against the Magic. In contrast, Linas Kleiza (available in 98 percent of leagues) dropped 26 points and three triples on Orlando, which is the league's third best team at defending the 3. It seems like Kleiza gets two five-point nights for every 20-point outburst, but in any league that allows daily roster moves, he's a great fill-in with Tuesday's sparse schedule. On that night, Kleiza and Denver host pitiful Sacramento. Another solid game for Jerryd Bayless (14 points on 6-of-9 shooting at Charlotte). The deep-leaguers are already on this kid, but with Steve Blake now expected to miss up to four weeks, Bayless is worth watching.