There were 11 games on the slate on a full Friday night in the NBA. The top spot in one Conference changed, and both the Heat and Thunder took losses. Here’s a quick recap of the playoff races and then we’ll go through 5 quick lists of 5 to catch up on all of what went down last night and get us ready for today’s 9 games as the NBA Regular season reaches crunch time.
The Spurs dismantled the Hornets at home, while the Thunder went down on the road in Indianpolis leaving the Spurs with possession of the top spot in the Western Conference having won 10 in a row. The Thunder are the only team to have clinched a playoff berth (they’ve played 2 more games than the Spurs), but have dropped their last 3. Further back in the pack, Memphis beat Miami, Dallas lost in OT to Portland, and the Jazz dropped the Warriors. There were 2 games that pitted 2 playoff hopefuls in the West against each other: one saw the Nuggets run past the Suns in a close game, and in the other the Rockets edged the Lakers who lost at home for just the 6th time at home. The Lakers may have issues too with Andrew Bynum quickly turning himself into even more of a lightening rod by getting ejected when his team was counting on him down the stretch. The Lakers are still 3rd in the West, but their sites are set on playoff success which may be difficult unless Bynum grows up fast.
The Eastern Conference is a bit more settled with the Bulls and Heat firmly in the 1-2 spots despite Miami’s loss last night. The Pacers look scary right now as a 3-seed with Boston a game up on Philly for the 4 and Atlanta and Orlando in the mix for the 5 and 6 seeds. The most compelling storyline in the East is the 8 spot where Milwaukee pulled within a game of the Knicks by beating Charlotte. The battle for the final playoff spot, and the right to play Chicago in the first round, looks like it will come down to the last few games of the season which always makes for dramatic basketball.
Here’s the top 5 overall lines from last night’s games and then 5 other guards, forwards, and centers that also played well. At the very bottom, there are my 5 pickups for today’s game if you need help finishing out a playoff matchup or are streaming starters as we come to the finish.
5 top overall performers
1. Kevin Durant-OKC: Durant ripped Indiana for 44 points and added 6 boards, 3 assists, 2 blocks, a steal, and 3 threes. Despite his big game, the Thunder lost and fell to 40-15 which now puts them in 2nd in the conference.
2. Byron Mullens-Cha: I mentioned him yesterday as a good addition and it surely paid off if you grabbed him. He had 31 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks as he hit 14-23 shots in his team-high 43 minutes.
3. Al Jefferson-Uta: Jefferson had 30 points on 13-18 shooting while grabbing 11 boards and added 2 assists and 5 blocks. He and Devin Harris led the Jazz to a win at hoe over the struggling Warriors.
4. Raymond Felton-Por: Felton hit 12 of 18 shots from the field including 5 threes while scoring 30 points to go with 7 boards, 6 assists, and 2 steals. He helped the Blazers beat the Mavs in Dallas in overtime.
5. Arron Afflalo-Den: Afflalo had 30 points, 5 boards, 3 assists, and a steal to lead the Nuggets to a win over the Suns at home which helped keep the Nuggets ahead of Phoenix in the playoff race.
5 other top forwards
1. David Lee-GS: Despite the Warriors struggles, Lee continues to put up numbers. Last night he had 26 points, 12 boards, and 4 assists.
2. Dirk Nowitzki-Dal: Dirk had 23 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block in Dallas’s overtime loss to the Blazers.
3. Josh Smith-Atl: Smith had 22 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, 4 assists, and a steal in a team-high 42 minutes as the Hawks squeaked past the Pistons in Atlanta.
4. LaMarcus Aldridge-Por: Aldridge drained the game-winner as part of his 25 point-12 board night. He added a block and 2 assists and played a team-high 44 minutes.
5. Danny Granger-Ind: Granger had a team-high 26 points to lead the Pacers past OKC. He added 6 rebounds, an assist, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
5 other top guards
1. Goran Dragic-Hou: Dragic came up huge for the Rockets in LA finishing with a team-high 26 points, a team-high 11 assists, 3 steals, 4 rebounds, and 3 threes in his 38 minutes.
2. Jeff Teague-Atl: Teague had 24 points (tied career high) to go with 11 assists (season high), 2 steals, and a block. It was his 3rd career double-double and he could be peaking at just the right time for the Hawks and his fantasy owners.
3. Eric Gordon-NO: Gordon is making a case for the Hornets to keep him, or for another team to pay him big bucks. His audition went well last night scoring 31 points to go with 3 steals, 4 assists, and 2 boards.
4. Deron Williams-NJ: Williams led the Nets to a win at home over the Wizards with 19 points, 13 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal while hitting 3 threes in 33 minutes.
5. Russell Westbrook-OKC: Westbrook struggled shooting (7-23) but almost finished with a triple-double. He had 21 points with 11 rebounds, 9 assists, a steal, and 2 three-pointers. The supporting cast was non-existent for the Thunder as they fell in Indy, but Westbrook’s fantasy numbers were still solid.
5 other top centers
1. Roy Hibbert-Ind: Hibbert finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds while dishing 2 assists and blocking 4 shots. He played 32 minutes in the Pacers big win over the Thunder.
2. Tim Duncan-SA: Duncan led the Spurs extremely balanced scoring with 19 points and added 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
3. Bismack Biyombo-Cha: Biyombo started and played 35 minutes last night in Milwaukee finishing with 14 boards, 14 points, and a block.
4. Pau Gasol-LAL: Gasol had 14 points, 10 boards, and 5 assists in the Lakers loss. Andrew Bynum was on his way to a spot here until he got himself ejected.
5. Serge Ibaka-OKC: Ibaka had 7 blocks and 2 boards with his 6 points in 20 minutes for the Thunder last night. Ibaka is straight money in blocks, but his other categories are inconsistent.
5 top additions in play today
1. J.J. Barea-Min (owned in 33% of leagues): Barea started Wednesday and played 37 minutes. He finished with 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 threes, and 15 points. He had 7 turnovers, but he should be in for a solid points/assists/threes night as the Wolves head to New Orleans.
2. Shannon Brown-Phx (7.4): Brown makes another appearance here after last night where he had 18 points, 6 boards, 3 threes, and an assist in Denver. Tonight the Suns host Brown’s former team the Lakers and he should get some solid minutes and contribute once again.
3. Ekpe Udoh-Mil (6%): Udoh started for the injured Drew Gooden last night and had 3 blocks, 5 boards, and 9 points in his 31 minutes. Those numbers are right about his averages as a starter for the Bucks so if you need blocks and boards consider adding him for tonight’s game against the Blazers. He makes an even better add if you can get confirmation Gooden is out before adding him.
4.Charles Jenkins-GS (26%): Jenkins continues to start at PG for the Warriors. He’s a decent add if you need assists. He had 7 last night in Utah to match his 7 the previous game and is averaging 6.8 in his last 5 games. He can also add a steal or 2 and points if his shot is on. He’s averaged 12.4 points in his last 5 games while averaging 28 minutes of PT. Tonight the Warriors host the Nuggets, and I expect Jenkins to be just above those averages.
5. Delonte West-Dal (2.4 %): West played 30 minutes in the Mavs loss last night. He had 10 points and 5 assists and is expected to start at PG again for the defending champs tonight as they face the Grizzlies. If you’re desperate for assists in a deep league, it’s worth noting West is starting.