Christmas Day was a fun one for NBA fans, but also depressing, as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Chris Bosh were in street clothes, and LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were banged up in a loss to the Heat. Here’s the rundown.
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Wizards 102, Knicks 91
John Wall had one of the best games on Christmas Day, finishing with 24 points, six boards, 11 assists, a steal and a 3-pointer, despite getting punked on by Quincy Acy, who might be facing a one-game suspension after he appeared to throw a punch during the melee. Bradley Beal had 17 points, five boards, five assists, a steal and two 3-pointers, Nene started and scored 12, but didn’t do much else, and Marcin Gortat added 10 points, nine boards, a steal and two blocks. Paul Pierce was awful with three points on 1-of-5 shooting, and has become quite unreliable. Kris Humphries had 14 points, six boards and a block in 29 minutes off the bench, and is still holding onto some value, and Rasual Butler had 11 points, six boards and three 3-pointers in 25 minutes. He’s as hit-and-miss as they come, but can be lightning in a bottle if you catch him on the right night.
The Knicks were easily outworked by the Wizards, but at least hung around during the game. The Carmelo Anthony shutdown watch continues, but he was nice again with 34 points, but only added three rebounds, two assists and nothing else on 13-of-28 shooting. Someone asked me on Twitter what I thought the chances of Melo playing during the fantasy playoffs were and my answer was “zero.” Jose Calderon is finally playing better and had 16 points, four rebounds, four assists, two 3-pointers and zero turnovers, but hit just 5-of-14 shots. Tim Hardaway fizzled with 3-of-10 shooting for eight points, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer, while Amare Stoudemire played through a sore knee and had six points, seven rebounds, a steal and a block on 2-of-6 shooting. Cole Aldrich makes for an interesting daily play right now and had 10 points, four boards and a block on 5-of-6 shooting in 22 minutes. J.R. Smith is said to be closer to playing through a foot injury, but it’s something that could linger all season. If you’re desperate for 3-pointers, it might make sense to pick him up in hopes that he’s playing again soon.
Thunder 114, OKC 106
Kevin Durant’s ankle injury is officially a major concern now that he’s missed four straight games, and it’s clear that it’s not a mild sprain, as the Thunder have been calling it. We still don’t know when he’s going to play again and the fact it’s the same foot that he broke earlier is part of the reason he’s not healing quickly. Perry Jones started and had 14 points and two 3-pointers on 5-of-7 shooting, but he didn’t do anything else. He failed to score on Tuesday, so he’s not a guy I trust, with or without Durant. Russell Westbrook had 34 points, five boards, 11 assists and five steals on 14-of-28 shooting, and his usage rate is off the charts any time Durant is out. Steven Adams was a daily-league savior with 16 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and three blocks, and is a guy that should be picked up in standard leagues right now with his strong recent play. Serge Ibaka came to life with 21 points, nine rebounds and a block, which was a welcomed sight by his frustrated owners. Anthony Morrow had 15 points, five boards, a block and three 3-pointers in 27 minutes off the bench, but it’s impossible to figure out when he’ll show up from night to night. Reggie Jackson had just six points and four assists in 27 minutes, but had been playing well coming in.
The Spurs got 15 points, six boards, five assists and a block from Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter hit 7-of-10 shots for 14 points, seven rebounds and a block in just 19 minutes, and Tony Parker added 10 points, three boards, five dimes and a steal on 5-of-10 shooting. Danny Green struggled, hitting just 4-of-13 shots and two 3-pointers for 12 points, but also had a couple steals and a block. Matt Bonner blew up for 17 points, four boards and three 3-pointers in 32 minutes, but you simply can’t trust him off the Spurs bench. Despite the presence of Tony Parker, Cory Jefferson played 30 minutes, hit 5-of-7 shots and finished with 14 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals, but I only trust him when Parker’s out. Manu Ginobili had a big game with 11 points, seven rebounds, 13 assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in 25 minutes, but you have to think his next missed game is just around the corner. Boris Diaw infuriated his owners with an apparent DNP-CD, but it was later revealed he had a fever, which will leave him iffy for Friday, as well. In fact, given that tonight’s game is the second of a back-to-back, you can count every Spur as iffy until lineup details emerge in the afternoon. Kawhi Leonard remains out indefinitely with a hand injury. Frustrating.
Heat 101, Cavaliers 91
The Heat got 31 points, five boards, five assists, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers on 12-of-28 shooting from Dwyane Wade, while Luol Deng caught fire for 25 points, eight boards, eight assists and a 3-pointer on 11-of-16 shooting in one of his best games of the season. Chris Andersen started at center and had 12 points, eight boards, two steals and a block in 29 minutes, and could be a sneaky play going forward. Mario Chalmers started at point guard, but both he and Norris Cole were ineffective running the point. Chalmers is still the guy you want to own here, despite his 2-of-12 shooting for five points, six dimes and a 3-pointer. Chris Bosh missed his seventh straight game with a calf injury, but it does sound like there’s a decent chance he’ll play on Saturday. Danny Granger scored a season-high nine points with seven boards and a 3-pointer, but if that’s his best game of the season, you don’t want any.
LeBron James left the game briefly with “leg tightness” but returned for 30 points, four boards, eight assists and two 3-pointers on 9-of-16 shooting, but didn’t have a steal, a block, turned it over four times and hit just 10-of-18 free throws in the loss. I’m guessing he’ll play tonight, but watch for updates. Kyrie Irving was great with 25 points, three assists, a steal and a 3-pointer on 10-of-19 shooting, but suffered a left knee contusion late in the game that will leave him day-to-day. He didn’t need an MRI, which is good news, but he’s questionable to play tonight, so watch for updates. Kevin Love struggled on 5-of-13 shooting with 14 points, five rebounds, a steal and a block, but didn’t hit a 3-pointer. He’s struggling on defense and spends a lot of time watching LeBron and Irving do work. Shawn Marion started over Tristan Thompson, but was useless with two points and five rebounds in 19 minutes. Thompson wasn’t anything special, but did have six points, nine boards, a steal and a block in 26 minutes. I’d love him a lot more if the Cavs would just give in and start him with Anderson Varejao out for the season. Dion Waiters was disappointing with eight points, six rebounds and a 3-pointer on 3-of-8 shooting, but salvaged a decent line with three steals and a couple blocks. If Irving is going to miss Friday’s game, Matthew Dellavedova should get the start and put up decent numbers after failing to score on Thursday.
Bulls 113, Lakers 93
Kobe Bryant couldn’t go on Christmas Day, which is a big concern, and it sounds like he’ll miss his third straight game on Friday at Dallas. It could be another week before we see him in action so he can rest his body and continue to play this season. I still think there’s a decent chance he won’t be playing during the fantasy playoffs, but the situation is probably not as dire as it is with Melo. In any case, he’s clearly hurting right now and I doubt his body is feeling much better in February, March or April. And with the Lakers having nothing to play for, the only reason I think Kobe might try to stick it out until the end is his pursuit of Karl Malone, who is No. 2 on the all-time scoring list. Kobe’s still about 3,500 points behind the Mailman.
The Bulls got 23 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and a 3-pointer from Pau Gasol, 21 points, six boards, five assists, two blocks and a 3-pointer from Jimmy Butler, and 20 points, six assists and two 3-pointers from Derrick Rose in the win. Mike Dunleavy’s funk continued with six points and two 3-pointers, and he’s been awful lately. The six points were the most he’s scored in his last five games. Yuck. Joakim Noah was also off, hitting just 2-of-8 shots for four points, 12 rebounds and a block on 2-of-8 shooting in 27 minutes, but at least he’s playing. Nikola Mirotic had 13 points, seven rebounds and three more 3-pointers in just 15 minutes of action, and is averaging 2.6 3-pointers over his last five games. The low minutes are a concern though, making him tough to trust unless you’re simply looking for threes. Taj Gibson had nine points and seven boards off the bench, and Aaron Brooks added 13 points, six assists and a 3-pointer in 28 minutes. He was helped by the fact Kirk Hinrich sat out with a hamstring injury, and is only really trustworthy when Rose in in street clothes.
The Lakers got 19 points, nine rebounds, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers out of starter Wes Johnson, who is worth using while Kobe’s out. Ed Davis added 13 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, finally breaking out for his owners, Jordan Hill played better than he has been with 16 points, six rebounds, a steal and a block, and Wayne Ellington started for Kobe and had 12 points and a 3-pointer in 35 minutes. He’s an intriguing and cheap daily play for as long as Kobe is out, and the same can be said for most of the Lakers starters right now. Ronnie Price had seven points, eight assists and three steals as the starting point guard, and Carlos Boozer added 14 points and five boards against his former team, but played just 17 minutes off the bench. I was expecting more, but Davis was playing too well to take out.
Clippers 100, Warriors 86
The Clippers easily disposed of the Warriors behind 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and a 3-pointer from Chris Paul, and a double-double from Blake Griffin that featured 18 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. He hit just 5-of-16 shots and 8-of-13 free throws, and also committed five turnovers to tarnish the shine off an otherwise great line. DeAndre Jordan stayed hot with 14 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks, J.J. Redick scored 11 with three 3-pointers, and Jamal Crawford got hot off the bench with 24 points, seven rebounds and four 3-pointers in the win.
All five Warriors starters hit double figures in scoring, but the numbers weren’t too impressive. They were led by Klay Thompson’s 15 points and two 3-pointers, Stephen Curry added 14 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a 3-pointer, and Draymond Green bounced back to double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers. OK, I take that back. Some of the numbers were impressive, especially Green’s. Harrison Barnes was nice with 12 points, 13 rebounds and two steals, and Marreese Speights started over Festus Ezeli, who was out with an ankle injury, and scored 11 points, but only had one rebound and zero blocks. Andrew Bogut (knee) is due back sooner than later, which is going to hurt Speights (and Ezeli). David Lee played 19 minutes and hit all five of his shots, but had just 11 points and three rebounds, which is why I don’t own him anywhere. It’s Dray-day, every day in Golden State.
We’ve got a full slate of games on Friday and things kick off at 1 p.m. with the Nets visiting Boston. Deron Williams could play off the bench in this one after missing time with a calf injury, while Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green will be looking to break out of the funk they’re currently in.
Other injury concerns on Friday include:
Jeff Teague – Playing for Hawks, but sore hammy could bring him off bench again.
LeBron James – Had leg tightness on Thursday, but hopes to play tonight.
Kyrie Irving – Knee contusion could keep him out tonight. Stay tuned.
Josh Smith – Should debut for Rockets tonight, although that’s not certain.
Terrence Jones – Leg injury persists, arrival of Smoove means you can move on.
Tony Allen – Looking probable tonight after missing several with eye injury.
Zach Randolph – Missed practice with sore knee, iffy for tonight.
Spurs – It’s a back-to-back tonight, so anything is possible.
Boris Diaw – Had a fever on Thursday, so he’s iffy tonight.
Kawhi Leonard – Remains out indefinitely with hand injury.
Kevin Durant – Almost no way he plays tonight and no target date set.
Kobe Bryant – Expected to miss third straight for rest.
Ricky Rubio – Still not ready, but inching his way back from ankle injury.
Tony Wroten – Missed Tuesday with a sore knee, iffy for tonight.
Hollis Thompson – Was out Tuesday with an illness, guessing he’s back.
Nicolas Batum – Missed Tuesday with sore wrist, questionable tonight.