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Saturday, January 24, 2009
Ellis and Calderon return successfully


Fantasy owners had plenty to smile about Friday night as they welcomed Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon back to the court with open arms. Calderon turned in 23 points, 10 assists, a steal and a 3-pointer while Monta went off for 20 points, three assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in his season debut.

FRIDAY, JAN. 23
HIGHLIGHTS
Kevin Durant, Sonics: 46 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block and 2 3-pointers while shooting 10-of-23 from the floor and 24-of-26 from the free throw line.
Eric Gordon, Clippers: 41 points, 5 3-pointers and a steal on 12-of-19 shooting from the floor and 12-of-14 from the free throw line.
LeBron James, Cavaliers: 32 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks and 2 3-pointers, including a game-winning jumper at the buzzer.
LOWLIGHTS
Steve Nash, Suns: 4 points, 5 assists, 1 steal and 6 turnovers in a loss to the Bobcats.
Jermaine O'Neal, Raptors: 7 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks while shooting just 1-of-6 from the floor.
Joe Johnson, Hawks: 9 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 turnovers on 3-of-11 shooting from the floor.

Many expected Ellis to take a few weeks to get back into game shape, but he was able to log 34 minutes and showed little signs of rust. Given his lengthy recovery, some might have forgotten just how dominant the 23-year-old can be. Monta averaged 20.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals last season, and his return will have major ramifications for the Warriors going forward. Kelenna Azubuike (6 points, 3 rebounds) will feel the effects of Ellis' return the most, but don't be surprised if Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette and Jamal Crawford (who was out with a hamstring injury) take a hit in the point-scoring department as well. Ellis is the best pure scorer on this team, and he'll get his numbers regardless of whoever else is on the court.

In other news, the Memphis Grizzlies fired head coach Marc Iavaroni and announced they are working on a deal to bring Bucks assistant Lionel Hollins on as his replacement. Assistant Johnny Davis will be the interim coach until the final details are worked out on Hollins' contract. With Iavaroni out, the Grizzlies are expected to develop their youngsters and build for the future. The youth movement is coming, and with that in mind, fantasy owners should keep a close eye on Mike Conley (30 minutes, 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 4 3-pointers) and Darrell Arthur (29 minutes, 7 rebounds, 2 steals). Both looked fantastic in their first game without Iavaroni, and both could be solid pickup options if the Grizzlies decide to give them more playing time in the second half of the season.

Under the boards

It was sweet revenge for Boris Diaw as he torched his old team to the tune of 26 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and three 3-pointers. Gerald Wallace was equally dominant, with 28 points, eight rebounds, five assists, five steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers in the 98-76 victory over the Suns. Both players were presented with more opportunities when Emeka Okafor got into early foul trouble against Shaquille O'Neal. … Yao Ming gave us quite a scare when a knee injury sent him to the sidelines in the second quarter against the Pacers. Thankfully, the injury is not considered serious, and X-rays came back negative after the game. Still, fantasy owners are going to be understandably concerned any time Yao misses action. If this injury turns out to be more serious than expected, be sure to give Luis Scola (25 points, 7 rebounds) and Carl Landry (17 points, 1 block) a look in Houston. … Charlie Villanueva continued his hot streak Friday, dropping 27 points with seven rebounds, five 3-pointers and a steal. Charlie is now averaging 19.2 points, 6.4 boards, 0.9 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.8 3-pointers this month and finally looks like a safe pickup candidate. … As impressive as Villanueva has been in Milwaukee, Randy Foye has been even better in Minnesota. The Timberwolves have won eight of 10 games in January thanks to Foye's 20.8 points, 4.3 assists, 1.4 steals and 3.0 3-pointers on the month. Foye did it again Friday in a victory over the Hornets with 24 points, five rebounds, eight assists, four 3-pointers and a steal. … Point guard Sebastian Telfair has reaped the benefits of Foye's hot streak. Telfair scored 10 points with eight assists, two 3-pointers and a steal Friday and is now averaging a solid 11.0 points, 6.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.3 3-pointers this month. If you need a point guard, go get him off the wire. … Rookie Danilo Gallinari continued to impress the New York faithful with 11 points, three 3-pointers and a steal in 17 minutes Friday night. Gallinari is showing great touch from downtown since returning from a back injury and is shooting 46.2 percent from long distance this season. The downside of the Rooster's emergence is that it seems as though he may cut into Wilson Chandler's production. Chandler had his second straight poor game Friday with just 8 points in 22 minutes of action. Keep a close eye on this situation going forward. … After two straight huge games, DeAndre Jordan came back down to earth with just three points, seven rebounds and a block in a victory over the Thunder. Jordan got into early foul trouble (like many young big men tend to do) and proved that he'll be an inconsistent high risk/high reward option until Marcus Camby returns to the lineup.

Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.