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There were so many great fantasy performances Friday night that I don't know where to start with this blog. LeBron James dropped 55 points on the Bucks. Leandro Barbosa blew up for 41 points against the Thunder. Kevin Durant proved once again that he's a sure-fire first-rounder next season with a brilliant all-around game, including 35 points, and Kobe Bryant scored 11 of his 39 points in overtime to defeat the Hornets. I could keep going, but unfortunately, the top fantasy story Friday had nothing to do with great performances on the court. Instead, yesterday's fantasy news was dominated by injury talk (what else is new?). Not only did we learn that Kevin Garnett will miss two to three weeks with a knee injury, but we also found out that Amare Stoudemire could miss the rest of the season after undergoing eye surgery.
• LeBron James, Cavaliers: 55 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 8 3-pointers on 16-of-29 shooting from the floor.|
• Kevin Durant, Thunder: 35 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 3 3-pointers on 12-for-23 shooting from the floor and 8-for-9 shooting from the line.
• Leandro Barbosa, Suns: 41 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 steals and 5 3-pointers on 16-of-21 shooting from the floor.
• Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets: 12 points, 8 rebounds and 5 personal fouls in 31 minutes.|
• Peja Stojakovic, Hornets: 5 points, 2 rebounds and a 3-pointer on just 2-of-11 shooting from the floor.
• Ramon Sessions, Bucks: 12 points, 2 assists and a steal in just 22 minutes in Luke Ridnour's return to the court.
KG's injury is slightly easier to swallow. He'll be back in a few weeks, and at least now we can have a little more confidence in our players when they face the Celtics. Garnett drives the Celtics' defense, so while Boston still will be a tough matchup for the opposition, it won't be as stifling as it has been with KG in the lineup. The Celtics will lean more on the other two legs of the tripod -- Paul Pierce and Ray Allen -- to help compensate for the loss, while Kendrick Perkins, Leon Powe and Glen "Big Baby" Davis will see slight bumps in production. Perkins already is owned in most leagues, so I don't see any potential pickups as a result of the injury. You might want to give Powe a shot if you are desperate for points in a deep fantasy league.
As for Stoudemire's injury, well, that was just heartbreaking. Not only did it come without warning, but folks were just starting to get excited about him, as new coach Alvin Gentry has the team off and running like he's the second coming of Mike D'Antoni. At least we can take solace in the fact that the rest of the Suns will get huge boosts in production the rest of the way. Barbosa in particular stands to benefit from the injury, as Phoenix will be forced to play with a smaller lineup. In a sign of things to come, Barbosa started Friday night and dropped 41 points with seven boards, seven assists, six steals and five 3-pointers in the victory over the Thunder. Make no mistake about it, "The Brazillian Blur" is going to have a humongous second half, thanks to both the coaching change and Stoudemire's injury.
Shaquille O'Neal, who many thought would suffer under Gentry, will be asked to play more minutes in the post with Stoudemire out. And while it remains to be seen whether his body can handle getting up and down the court every night, he at least regains some of the luster he lost when the coaching change was announced. Shaq scored 22 points with nine rebounds and a block Friday night, so life without Stoudemire started out pretty well for him.
If you're looking for potential pickups on the Suns, you might want to try Matt Barnes. Barnes played 30 minutes off the bench Friday and posted 14 points, six rebounds, nine assists, four steals and two 3-pointers in the victory; he should see ample playing time going forward.
Under the boards
Rafer Alston didn't start but played 29 minutes in his debut with the Magic. He was just 1-for-9 from the floor but handed out eight assists to go along with three steals. It looks like it will be business as usual in Orlando -- great assists, steals and 3-pointers but a devastating field goal percentage. As expected, Aaron Brooks got the bulk of the minutes for Houston at the point. He scored 19 points while adding 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals and 3 3-pointers in 33 minutes. Newcomer Kyle Lowry played just 14 minutes in his Rockets debut. I expect Lowry will earn more minutes and cut into Brooks' production as he becomes more comfortable, but Brooks is a nice pickup for now. He currently is averaging 14.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.1 3-pointers and a steal in eight starts this season. The shorthanded Knicks ran the Raptors out of the gym in a 127-97 victory. With Larry Hughes and Chris Wilcox out, Wilson Chandler, Al Harrington, David Lee and Nate Robinson posted big numbers. Things will get a little more crowded once Hughes and Wilcox join the lineup, but everyone should still have value in D'Antoni's system. Speaking of teams being shorthanded, none of the Bulls' newcomers dressed Friday, and that meant huge games for Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Tyrus Thomas. Enjoy the production while you can, because things will get very crowed once Brad Miller and John Salmons join the lineup. Francisco Garcia had a tough shooting night but still provided a versatile 15 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks and 2 3-pointers. With his ability to contribute in nearly every fantasy category and Salmons out of town, Garcia is a must-own. As expected, Marquis Daniels and Jarrett Jack continued their solid play with both Mike Dunleavy and Danny Granger on the shelf. Jack went for 18 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 3-pointers, while Daniels finished with 24 points, 2 steals and a 3-pointer in a victory over the Timberwolves. Expect both to remain hot at least until Granger returns to the lineup. Randy Foye (36 points, 4 steals, 5 3-pointers) and Ryan Gomes (26 points, 2 steals, 2 3-pointers) have stepped up their game on the offensive end with Al Jefferson out and will continue to do so. With Tyson Chandler sitting out, the Hornets have run with a smaller lineup, and Rasual Butler has reaped the reward. He hit 6 3-pointers Friday en route to a 31-point effort. He will continue to provide points and 3-pointers as long as Chandler is out. Nenad Krstic got a start over Nick Collison and finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds and a block in 28 minutes, while Collison added 14 points, 8 rebounds and a block in 24 minutes. It's looking like this will be a timeshare the rest of the way.