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O.J. Mayo seems a lot more refreshed since the All-Star break. Maybe he just needed a break from the grind, but he topped the 20-point mark Tuesday for the third time in five games since the break. That's a feat he managed to accomplish zero times in the six games leading up to the annual NBA hiatus. During those same six games, Mayo shot below 30 percent three times and 42 percent or worse twice. What about the past five games? Mayo topped 50 percent in each of his 20-point efforts and 43 percent or better in the other two.
This is just his second season, so you know there will be bumps in the road. But his upside when he's on remains tremendous, as he can score, drop treys and swipe balls at a terrific rate, while maintaining quality assists and percentages. Keep in mind that he averaged 19.3 ppg, 2.3 3-pointers and 1.5 steals in 15 January games. In fact, Mayo has dropped 15 triples in his past six games, compared to the six he totaled in the final six games leading up to the All-Star festivities.
I fully expect Mayo's statistical growth to continue through the final weeks of the season, so he makes a perfect target if you're in need of scoring, 3s, steals and even assists, to a certain extent.
Sergio Rodriguez, Knicks: 18 points (7-10 FG), 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 3 3-pointers versus the Celtics.|
Marcus Thornton, Hornets: 37 points (15-22 FG), 3 3-pointers, 2 steals against the Cavaliers.
Lou Williams, 76ers: 26 points (8-14 FG, 5-5 FT), 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 3-pointers versus the Warriors.
Carlos Arroyo, Heat: 3 points (1-4 FG), 4 assists, 4 turnovers versus the Timberwolves.|
Ron Artest, Lakers: 3 points (1-9 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 turnovers against the Grizzlies.
Morris Peterson, Hornets: 2 points (1-5 FG), 3 rebounds versus the Cavaliers.
• With Steve Nash sitting out of action Tuesday due to a back injury, Goran Dragic started at the point for the Phoenix Suns and tallied 16 points, 10 assists, four boards and two triples. Sure, he turned the ball over six times, but not a bad night overall for the second-year man. I've been waiting for Dragic to make some noise like this, but having a future Hall of Famer in his way has pretty much nixed that so far. Unless Nash ends up missing extensive action, this glimpse into Dragic's potential is just something to keep in mind for the future when he finally gets to start for some team. He's a heady European with a good bit of upside.
• Marcus Thornton exploded Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, hitting 15 of his 22 shots for 37 points, three 3-pointers and two steals in 31 minutes off the bench. It looks like he's over that back injury and has positioned himself to replace the ever-boring Morris Peterson (1-of-5 for two points in 21 minutes) in the New Orleans Hornets' starting lineup soon. If Thornton is healthy and starting, he should knock down a ton of triples.
• All of us who took a shot by snagging Sergio Rodriguez off our waiver wires after his trade from the Sacramento Kings to the New York Knicks got a payoff Tuesday. In his second start for the Knicks, Rodriguez had 18 points, six assists, five boards, two steals and three 3-pointers against the Boston Celtics. Lines like these are what we all hope to see on a regular basis now that he's getting the chance to ball on a run-and-gun team.
• On the other side of the ball, Nate Robinson made his debut for the Celtics against his former team, the Knicks. He was barely a blip on the stat sheet, since he played only 16 minutes off the bench and scored four points on 2-of-7 shooting. It should get better for him as the weeks roll on, but his upside and consistency will be limited in Beantown. It wasn't reflected Tuesday night, but Robinson would benefit if Paul Pierce remains out -- he missed Tuesday's game due to a sore thumb -- for an extended period.
• Kobe Bryant returned from a five-game absence Tuesday and looked just like his old self. He took the Memphis Grizzlies for 32 points, six assists, seven boards, three triples, three steals and two blocks. Oh, and he hit the game-winner, to boot. It looks like Kobe's good to go for the stretch run.
• Wow! I didn't see this coming: Marcus Camby is injured. The Portland Trail Blazers got Camby to make a serious playoff run, but it sounds as if they'll be running the hardwood Wednesday without his services due to the ankle sprain he sustained during Tuesday's game. X-rays were negative, but it appears he'll miss at least a game or two. That could give a little life back to Juwan Howard in the interim.
• A strained hip flexor will keep Trevor Ariza out of the mix for at least the next few games. That means we should see Kevin Martin start for his new squad for the first time Wednesday against the Orlando Magic. Martin came off the bench in his first two games, but he should get his fantasy game on track now.
Tom Carpenter is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.