Jamison struggles to find his way
It doesn't take much for fantasy owners to begin to panic, and the Cleveland Cavaliers' Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison were squarely in the crosshairs of many an owner entering Thursday night's contest against the Boston Celtics. Williams has been slow to bounce back from a left (non-shooting) shoulder sprain, shooting 9-for-33 (27.3 percent) from the field in his four games since returning. And it's an open question whether Jamison can replicate the fantasy value he held on the hapless Wizards. At what point are there too many mouths to feed?
Well, a 20-point victory later and there are still more questions than answers. Williams was quiet for three quarters but did heat up late, scoring 14 of his 19 points (including four 3-pointers) in the fourth quarter as the Cavs pulled away. On the other hand, Williams made few forays to the basket and didn't get to the free throw line, bringing his total to six free throw attempts in five games since returning.
As for Jamison, well, he pretty much laid an egg. For most of the game, the Cavs were looking for offense from someone other than LeBron James (36 points, nine assists), especially after Shaquille O'Neal left for the game with a severely sprained thumb in the second quarter. As a result, the Cavs were forced to play small, but Jamison was unable to capitalize on the opportunity, finishing a disappointing 4-for-9 from the field for nine points and four turnovers.
The good news, however, is that Shaq's injury will force coach Mike Brown to work out the kinks of the frontcourt sooner rather than later. But the bad news is that might not necessarily be a plus for Jamison owners. J.J. Hickson (plus-27) and Anderson Varejao (plus-18) were X factors when they were on the court, while Jamison (minus-4) was diminished to little more than a standstill jump-shooter on offense. The Cavs can't re-sign Zydrunas Ilgauskas for 30 more days, so if Shaq's thumb keeps him out for a few weeks -- which seemed likely from what TNT's David Aldridge reported from the broadcast -- we'll get a very clear idea of just how many minutes Jamison will get over Hickson and Varejao. At the very least, however, his days of 38-plus minutes and 17 shots per game are over.
Chauncey Billups, Nuggets: 37 points (13-19 FG), 6 rebounds, 9 assists, 5 3-pointers versus the Warriors.|
Stephen Curry, Warriors: 30 points (11-19 FG), 7 rebounds, 13 assists against the Nuggets.
Earl Watson, Pacers: 15 points (5-7 FG), 8 rebounds, 5 assists versus the Bucks.
Andris Biedrins, Warriors: 5 points (2-8 FG), 8 rebounds, 4 fouls in 18 minutes versus the Nuggets.|
Roy Hibbert, Pacers: 12 points (6-7 FG), 1 rebound, 1 block in 11 minutes against the Bucks.
Antawn Jamison, Cavaliers: 9 points (4-9 FG), 3 rebounds, 4 turnovers versus the Celtics.
Ray Allen turned back the clock again, scoring 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting (including four 3-pointers) for the undermanned Celtics (Paul Pierce missed the game with a thumb injury and remains questionable for future games). Allen looked great coming off of screens and running whoever his defender was into the ground, so congrats if you held on to him during his dark days. Indiana Pacers head coach Jim O'Brien seems obsessed with playing as up-tempo as possible, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that Earl Watson and T.J. Ford each played 39 minutes in the backcourt. That left Roy Hibbert (12 points in 11 minutes) out in the cold, and since both Watson (15 points on seven shot attempts) and Ford (17 points, 11-of-12 from the free throw line) played more, we could see more of it in the future.
The key to Richard Hamilton's success this month is that he's getting to the line 6.3 times per game in February, converting more than 85 percent of his attempts. His opponent Friday, the Denver Nuggets, is 23rd in free throw attempts allowed (26.3 per game), and then he gets the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, so expect the good times to keep on coming. Darren Collison may be on fire on the offensive end, but opposing point guards are lighting him up defensively to the tune of 17.1 points and 7.3 assists per 40 minutes, so don't be surprised if Jameer Nelson continues to roll when he heads to New Orleans on Friday. The Los Angeles Lakers may lead the league in opposing 3-point percentage, but they've had a tough time bottling up J.R. Smith, who has gone off for a combined seven 3-pointers and 47 points in two previous meetings. Smith exposes a hole in the Lakers' weak bench and could be good for another big game this Sunday.
Adam Madison is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.