Commentary

Daily Notes for Saturday: Alston set for big bounce-back

Updated: January 2, 2009, 10:26 AM ET
By Adam Madison | Special to ESPN.com

Matchups for Saturday, Jan. 3

Time Visitors Opp. PPG Opp. FGP RPG Diff. Home Opp. PPG Opp. FGP RPG Diff.
6:00 p.m. Houston Rockets 93.9 .442 +1.9
@
Atlanta Hawks 94.8 .443 +0.5
7:00 p.m. Milwaukee Bucks 96.5 .446 +3.4
@
Charlotte Bobcats 93.5 .447 -0.7
7:00 p.m. Sacramento Kings 105.3 .475 -3.2
@
Indiana Pacers 104.6 .455 +1.0
7:30 p.m. New Jersey Nets 102.3 .465 +0.2
@
Miami Heat 95.9 .439 -1.9
8:30 p.m. Minnesota Timberwolves 102.8 .472 -0.3
@
Chicago Bulls 102.9 .456 -1.6
8:30 p.m. Philadelphia 76ers 96.2 .452 +2.9
@
San Antonio Spurs 93.8 .454 -0.4
9:00 p.m. New Orleans Hornets 91.4 .449 +0.8
@
Denver Nuggets 99.5 .436 -0.5

All times are ET.
Key: Opp. PPG = Points per game allowed to opponents. Opp. FGP = Field goal percentage allowed to opponents. RPG Diff. = The difference between team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.

Injury report

Out
Shane Battier, SF, Rockets (foot)
Elton Brand, PF, 76ers (shoulder)
Mike Dunleavy, SG/SF, Pacers (knee)

Day-to-day
Malik Allen, PF, Bucks (rib)
Raja Bell, SG, Bobcats (groin)
Luol Deng, SF, Bulls (ankle)
Drew Gooden, PF/C, Bulls (ankle)
Spencer Hawes, PF/C, Kings (abdominal)
Mike Miller, SG/SF, Timberwolves (ankle)
Fabricio Oberto, C, Spurs (foot)

Start 'em, sit 'em

Rafer Alston hasn't hit more than one 3-pointer in his past four games, shooting an especially awful 22 percent from the field, but Hawks opponents shoot 21.9 3-pointers per game, converting a robust 38 percent. Most of his points come off his long-range shooting, too, so he could be in store for one of his finest games of the season. … Josh Smith has topped the 20-point mark in two of his past three games and, amazingly enough, those were the first two times all season Smith scored 20-plus points. Smith shot the ball only 14 and 13 times in those games, though; he averaged 14 field goal attempts per game last season. The Rockets suppress field goal percentage, too -- fifth-best in the NBA -- so don't get your hopes up, J-Smoove owners. … The Bucks are all the way up to sixth in defensive efficiency, a testament to just how well Scott Skiles is at coaching defense. But that's had a negative effect on Richard Jefferson, whose minutes, shot attempts and points were all down in December. His opponent, the Bobcats, are one of the slowest teams in the NBA, ranking 27th in possessions per game, so there's not much of a reason you should waste a game on Jefferson if you're in a rotisserie league.

Waiver-wire pickups

It's unknown whether T.J. Ford will regain his starting job over Jarrett Jack by the time Saturday's game rolls around, but Jack has a favorable matchup which makes playing him worth the gamble. Both the Pacers and Kings like to run, and the Kings don't like to play much defense; they're tied with the Warriors for last in defensive efficiency. Points in the mid-teens should be achievable for Jack. … Ryan Gomes is averaging only 2.9 3-point attempts per game despite shooting 38.5 percent from distance, but he's attempted at least four in five of his past six games. It has jump-started his recent lackluster shooting percentage and has naturally improved his point totals, and keep in mind only the Spurs allow opponents to shoot better than the Bulls' 39 percent from beyond the arc. … Speaking of the Spurs, while they are defending the arc unusually poorly this season, they allow the fewest free-throw attempts per game, as their 20.1 per game is more than 1½ free throws ahead of the next closest competitor. That's bad news for Lou Williams, who averaged an impressive 6.2 free throw attempts in December in just 25 minutes per game. Williams isn't much of an outside shooter -- 25 percent from long range on the season -- and since he's valuable mainly for points, you can sit the surging Sixer.

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