It’s a good thing the 2015 All-Star game is being held in New York, because at the very least it will give the people some decent basketball to watch this season. New York and Brooklyn have combined to “reach” the lowest levels of ineptitude, and the two teams managed to score an impressive 144 points in total on Saturday evening. It’s a sad state of affairs in hoops across the state, but at least we’ll have the premier players in focus in a few short weeks when the All-Star festivities arrive.
Follow me on Twitter here.
Hornets 76, Knicks 71
Coming into this one with a three-game winning streak on the line, the New York Knicks trotted out the following starting five: Langston Galloway, Tim Hardaway Jr., Lance Thomas, Louis Amundson and Jason Smith. To be fair, Carmelo Anthony (knee) was sitting out of this one in order to rest, but to say the Knicks lack tangible talent on the roster would be like saying two plus two is four - it’s simply pointing out the obvious. But the with Hornets playing without Kemba Walker (knee soreness) and with Al Jefferson still limited after returning from his groin injury, the Knicks faced a shorthanded Charlotte squad that had a tough time getting anything going on the offensive end.
After scoring 16 points in his previous outing, Lance Thomas came back in this one with another 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block in a whopping 41.5 minutes, and he has the look of someone worth adding in deeper formats considering how thin the Knicks are with talent. If Thomas can stick around on the roster for the season, and there’s no reason to think he shouldn’t, he should be looking at a sizable role for a bad team once Melo does shut it down. Hardaway scored 25 points (five triples) to go along with six rebounds and five assists, and don’t look now, but this was his sixth straight game in double figures. Hardaway is like an inconsistent Nick Young in terms of his fantasy value, and that’s a description that should have owners realizing they can probably do better. He’s not usually as well-rounded in the box score as he was in this particular contest, but like all the Knicks, his role should expand if and when Melo decides to sit for the remainder of the campaign.
Brian Roberts started in place of Walker for Charlotte, and he finished with 17 points, three rebounds, three assists and four turnovers. Decent, sure, but that’s about it. Meanwhile, Big Al & Lance Stephenson struggled in bench roles with a combined 15 points on 7-of-24 shooting. Jefferson did at least have an impressive seven blocks, but he’s still looking to find his flow since returning to the lineup. Unless the Hornets can get their “big three” clicking in unison, it’s going to continue to be an underwhelming season for Michael Jordan’s club. Both Marvin Williams (head) and Bismack Biyombo (knee contusion) were knocked out of this game in the first half, so in keeping with their unfortunate theme of the season, the Hornets continue to rack up injury issues at extremely inopportune times.
Bucks 101, Pistons 86
Detroit actually won the first quarter of this game, but the final score would have anyone guessing this was a box score from the blowout. Stan Van Gundy’s squad gave up a 40-burger in the second quarter, and while Klay Thompson would scoff at such a performance, it’s noteworthy for those of us whose stroke isn’t as sensational as ½ of the potent Splash Bros. combination.
Unfortunately, the story of this game for Detroit was Brandon Jennings leaving with what is being reported as a torn Achilles. If that diagnosis is confirmed, Jennings will be done for the season. The point guard seemed to confirm on Twitter that he’s going to be sidelined for an extended period of time, and now all that’s left is for the word to become official. It’s a real shame for both the Pistons and Jennings, as the California kid had looked like a transformed player since Josh Smith’s departure. The Pistons will now have to rely on D.J. Augustin and rookie Spencer Dinwiddie to run the point, and while Augustin should be owned in all leagues, Dinwiddie should be worth an addition, too. Those in deeper formats should pounce on Dinwiddie earlier than those in standard formats.
Elsewhere, the Pistons got eight points and 16 rebounds from Greg Monroe, and he continues to look like a completely different player since Smoove departed the roster. He’s been the biggest beneficiary of the change, and his silent response to a question when asked about the Pistons’ improvement of late continues to speak volumes.
For Milwaukee, The Greek Freak didn’t do himself any favors in this one with a very uneven stat line of six points, five rebounds and four assists, including seven turnovers. Zaza Pachulia continues to be a solid if unspectacular option in the middle as evidenced by his eight points, six rebounds and six assists in limited run, and it’s about time Khris Middleton was rostered in all fantasy formats. All he’s done is produce since being given a larger role, and his 16 points, seven boards, four assists and one steal was another example of just that. Coming into tonight, Middleton had registered at least one steal in every game since before the calendar turned to 2015. OJ Mayo kicked in another 20 points in this one, and although he’s got seven straight games with 10-plus points, he’s not doing enough elsewhere to have any kind of real value.
Grizzlies 101, Sixers 83
It’s not often that Memphis wins a no-doubter game when Marc Gasol doesn’t score in double-digits, but it’s also not often that the Grizz face a team as woeful as the Sixers. Gasol still managed to remain productive in his 25 minutes with nine points, seven boards, four assists, two steals and four blocks, but Zach Randolph was the story in this one with 17 points and 14 boards on a tidy 8-of-11 shooting in just under 27.5 minutes. With 18 points (two triples) from Jeff Green as well, it’s almost as if Mike Conley’s disappearing act (nine points, one assist, 3-of-8 shooting) won’t even be noticed. As he campaigns for All-Star candidacy, Conley picked a bad time to deliver a stinker.
The Sixers just don’t have enough legitimate NBA talent on the roster, so playing from behind every night becomes an arduous task. Michael Carter-Williams’ regression this season is very much for real, and his performance tonight was reminiscent of what we’ve seen from him this season. With more shots (12) than points (10) and five turnovers to pair with his six assists, MCW isn’t doing as much to help as team as the box score might often suggest. He came into this one shooting 38.4 percent, including a pathetic 24.3 percent from distance, but he’s still launching over three 3-pointers per contest. The Sixers need to get that straightened out... and quickly.
Jazz 108, Nets 73
The Nets are an embarrassment. Stop me if you’ve heard that line before.
Jarrett Jack (16 points, four rebounds, seven assists, two steals) and Mason Plumlee (11 points, six rebounds, three steals, two blocks) were the only two Brooklyn players who showed up for work against a Utah team that absolutely blew them out of the water. Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez combined for 12 points on just 5-of-16 shooting.
Dante Exum got another start ahead of Trey Burke, and the Australian rookie responded once again with 13 points (three triples), four boards and four assists on a solid 5-of-7 from the field. Trey Burke went off for 19 points, two rebounds, three assists and four triples but owners have to be concerned now that he’s been taking a backseat to Exum. Rudy Gobert was effective off the bench once again in just 20 minutes with six points and 11 rebounds, but he didn’t manage to swat a single shot during his time on the floor. Derrick Favors (personal) was back after a one--game absence with nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 31 minutes.
Blazers 103, Wizards 96
LaMarcus Aldridge’s decision to delay thumb surgery to repair his torn ligament speaks volumes about his commitment to the team. Aldridge is entering his free-agent season, and if there’s any doubt about how he views his future with his current team, there certainly shouldn’t be any longer. Frankly, that was just talk to begin with, as both Aldridge and President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey have made it clear that LMA will be in PDX for the long haul. In Aldridge’s first game back since the injury, he racked up 26 points (9-of-22 shooting), nine rebounds and two steals. Not bad for a guy who was supposed to be out six-to-eight weeks, right?
Damian Lillard contributed 20 points and seven dimes in the win, while the Weber State product’s running mate Wesley Matthews netted 19 points of his own, including five triples. Points and threes are the name of Wes’ game, and he’s undoubtedly one of the most undervalued players on draft day every season. Dorell Wright (10 points, six boards, three assists) was the only other member of the Blazers’ roster who scored in double digits.
Washington couldn’t capitalize on a night where it got 19 points and six boards (three triples) from the veteran Paul Pierce, and that has to feel like a wasted effort. With John Wall (25 points, nine assists) and Bradley Beal (16 points, five rebounds, five assists) combining for 41 points, this is an especially difficult pill to swallow for the Wizards. This was a very winnable game that Washington should have won.