Jackson fabulous in past month

March, 4, 2009
Rashard Lewis, Magic: 29 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 3-pointers against Phoenix.
Brook Lopez, Nets: 24 points (9-12 FG, 6-7 FT), 12 rebounds, 3 blocks versus Milwaukee.
Troy Murphy, Pacers: 23 points (8-12 FG), 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 3-pointers, 2 steals, 2 blocks against the Kings.
Kenyon Martin, Nuggets: 6 points (3-13 FG), 3 rebounds, 4 assists against Detroit.
John Salmons, Bulls: 9 points (4-13 FG), 4 rebounds, 1 assist versus Charlotte.
Gerald Wallace, Bobcats: 10 points (4-11 FG), 4 rebounds against the Bulls.

Don Nelson has been irking fantasy owners with his decision to bench one of his starters each game to free up playing time for his younger players and, indeed, nearly did it again on Tuesday, threatening Corey Maggette's status before relenting at the last minute.

Maggette was fine and had his usual game -- 16 points off the bench -- but lost in the criticism of Nelson is the effect he's had on Stephen Jackson's production over the past month. Nelson has leaned on his captain especially hard recently, running him out for an unbelievable 44 minutes a game in February. Jackson responded with the best month of his life: 27.3 points, 8.1 assists, 5.7 rebounds, 2.6 3-pointers and 2.1 steals on 47.3 percent shooting from the field and 83.8 percent from the free-throw line.

That didn't stop Nelson from passing up Jackson in his rotational benchings, as he sat out Sunday's contest versus the Jazz, but Captain Jack had no problem resuming his lofty level of play, pouring in 23 points, to go along with seven rebounds and six assists in just 29 minutes in a blowout of the Timberwolves. You could make a convincing argument that, if anything, Nelson's love for Jackson should be tempered -- he averaged more than four turnovers in February and was struggling to clear 40 percent from the field before his outburst -- but fantasy owners couldn't care less as Jackson has leapfrogged into the stratosphere just in time for his owners to make a playoff push.

It's difficult to assess how sustainable such production is -- eight assists per game, really? -- but he has also defied expectations since Day 1. Jamal Crawford is the only other capable ball-handler, and he's not high on Nelson's list of priorities; the majority of Jackson's extra shot attempts and assists have come at the expense of Crawford. There's also no telling how much gas is left in Jackson's 30-year-old body, as he's been leading the league in minutes per game all season long. Nonetheless, it's not often you see a player put in a statistical month that even LeBron James would blush at, and it's one worth standing back for a second and praising.

Under the Boards

It hasn't taken long for Rodney Stuckey to reemerge in the wake of Allen Iverson's back injury, as Tuesday was the third consecutive game he shot 50 percent or better; he finished with 17 points, four rebounds, four assists, converting 9-of-10 free throws. All three of those games were big wins, too: two road wins against the Magic and Celtics, and a win against the Nuggets. Iverson's injury may or may not be serious, but it's probably safe to assume he'll come off the bench upon his return either way. … Shawn Marion bounced back from the flu to pick up his fourth double-double with his new team, contributing 18 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals. On the downside, Marion hasn't hit a 3-pointer since Jan. 7, but the move to Toronto has increased his assists to help cover the loss, as he's now averaging 3.8 per game if you toss out his six-minute Dallas game when he had the flu. … With 20 points and 16 rebounds versus the Raptors, Luis Scola extended his double-digit scoring streak to 10, which -- surprise, surprise -- has coincided with Tracy McGrady shutting it down for the season. Even the return of Carl Landry, who scored 22 off the bench, hasn't affected Scola, as the Rockets have no choice but to emphasize their frontcourt. Considering the team is 8-1 without T-Mac, though, it's turning out to be a blessing in disguise. … Danny Granger is prepping for a possible return Wednesday, but in the meantime Jarrett Jack continued his strong play, scoring 26 points against the Kings, his fourth 20-plus effort in five games. Granger will push either Jack or Marquis Daniels (18 points, but 7-of-18 from the field) to the bench. Jack's size works against him, but the Pacers are still within striking distance of the playoffs and have to prioritize performance. Jack also has been a much better player as a starter, averaging 15.2 points, 4.3 assists and shooting 47.9 percent in 34 opportunities.

Adam Madison is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.



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