Kobe tries to ease the pain

February, 3, 2009

Kobe Bryant, Lakers: 61 points, 19-for-31 FG, 20-for-20 FT at New York.
Pau Gasol, Lakers: 31 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks at New York.
Marc Gasol, Grizzlies: 22 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists at Washington.
Brandon Roy, Blazers: 6 points, 5 assists, 2-for-10 FG at New Orleans.
Jamal Crawford, Warriors: 4 points in 47 minutes versus San Antonio.
Beno Udrih, Kings: 4 points, minus-27 +/- at Phoenix.
Monday was perhaps the most painful days of the NBA season. Let's recap:

1. Andrew Bynum is officially gone for eight to 12 weeks. Feel free to wave goodbye to him until Halloween.

2. Jameer Nelson dislocated his shoulder. To add insult to injury, it was hurt in a collision with Erick Dampier. An MRI is pending; we'll find out if Nelson is also lost for the (fantasy) season.

3. Chris Paul slipped and hurt his groin. This one didn't look as bad as items 1 and 2.

4. Deron Williams was hurt in advance and never even made it out onto the court.

5. John Salmons' feelings were hurt as he posted a minus-43 plus/minus as the Kings lost by 49 to the Suns in one of the more joyless blowouts I've ever seen.

6. Paul Millsap's knee still seems to be hurting his play. He fouled out after scoring only 14 points.

But in a valiant attempt to balance out all the pain, Kobe Bryant went absolutely Springsteen on the Knicks, pouring in 61 points as if to remind his owners that Chris Mihm will do just fine for now, thank you very much. What makes it all the more special is that he didn't grab a single rebound, but still managed three assists while attempting 31 shots.

So, what does Monday show us in terms of recalibrating our fantasy expectations?

Lamar Odom (6 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists) is relevant again, but don't expect an offensive renaissance. Anthony Johnson could be a nice pickup, at least until Orlando trades for another point guard. Antonio Daniels and Ronnie Price don't look like they will be fantasy factors in relief of Chris Paul and Deron Williams, respectively, but Brevin Knight could be a sleeper if Williams goes on the shelf for a prolonged period.

As a Nelson owner, I'm just trying to resist the panic, and I will avoid cutting him until we get back the results of the MRI. Shoulder dislocations can run the gamut from a couple of weeks to a couple of months and surgery, as in the case of Dwyane Wade. And it might be time to look at selling high on Millsap before it's too late. Oh, and Kobe is going to be an absolute monster for the rest of the season, and Pau Gasol will also see his numbers rise dramatically.

Under the Boards

The Warriors needed overtime to crack 100 points versus the Spurs, but at least the extra session helped Stephen Jackson get to 33 points and 14 rebounds. It was an interesting fantasy game because the Spurs actually had to step up their offense. It resulted in huge nights all around for Tim Duncan (32 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists), Manu Ginobili (32 points) and Tony Parker (23 points, 7 assists). ... Jerryd Bayless flashed his fantasy potential, relieving Steve Blake to the tune of 19 points, 6 assists and 2 steals. Bayless should be the Blazers' point guard of the future, so keep a close eye on how his role develops in the coming weeks. ... Greg Oden (6 points, 6 rebounds in 18 minutes) has regressed back into his fouling ways the past couple of games. ... Mike Conley continues to be well worth owning (14 points, 5 assists). ... Mario Chalmers backed up his 4 steals with 15 points, 8 assists, and 3 3s. ... Jason Richardson reappeared during the Suns' trouncing of the Kings, with 24 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 3-pointers and 4 steals. If you were trying to buy low, your window of opportunity may have closed. But before you up your offer, realize this game has "aberration" written all over it. ... Zach Randolph (21 points, 5 rebounds) returned to action, immediately dimming the prospects of Eric Gordon (12 points) and Al Thornton (9 points). ... Wilson Chandler had a very efficient night (20 points on 7-for-11 shooting). He has had two fantasy-worthy games in a row. ... Travis Outlaw (16 points, 6 rebounds) continues to be one of fantasy's most dangerous bench players.

John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.



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