Bryant vs. Durant, Settled on the Court
It was the premiere matchup of the evening, Kobe Bryant versus Kevin Durant. It took an extra five minutes to decide the contest, but in the end it was Kobe and the Lakers coming out on top by a three-point margin. Bryant dropped 31 points on 9-of-22 shooting, while Durant scored 28 points on 10-of-24 shooting, missing all eight of his three-point attempts.
Andrew Bynum chipped in with 22 points and 10 rebounds, but the real story might have been Ron Artest finally putting it all together. He scored 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting and picked off five steals. It's about time!
Also In the Headlines
• Troy Murphy left Wednesday night's game against the Nuggets with a bruised lower back. According to Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star, Murphy is doubtful for Wednesday night's game against the Knicks, so you may want to leave him out of your lineup. No early front-runner to take the minutes left behind by Murph. Though, if he misses some extended time it might be interesting to see if Tyler Hansbrough can come back this weekend and play a major role at power forward.
• Caron Butler returned to the court Tuesday night, and man he looked good -- 22 points on 7-of-18 shooting with a steal, a three-pointer and six rebounds. Let's hope he can stay on the court.
• Dwight Howard fouled out in just over 17 minutes, posting just eight points, five rebounds and three blocked shots. He also had a bit of a scare, falling hard on his right shoulder. Not sure how serious the injury will turn out to be, but we know he's tough as nails -- in his first five seasons in the league he missed just three total games. Tough it out, big man.
• Charlie Bell stepped in to the starting lineup for the injured Michael Redd. He had a decent line -- 11 points, five rebounds, three assists, a steal and a three-pointer -- but still isn't worth adding in standard leagues. It's evident by Tuesday nights 25-point performance that this is Brandon Jennings' team. I love his points, love that he's hitting threes, love that he's picking up steals, but I think with the current personnel the Bucks are putting out on the court Jennings might have a tough time dropping dimes. He's an add, but think of him more as a scoring point.
• Luol Deng with 24 points and 20 rebounds. Gangsta.
• Dirk Nowitzki was not impressed with Deng's performance, dropping 40 points and 11 rebounds of his own, while adding two steals and five, yes five, blocked shots. He scored 29 points in the 4th quarter alone. He is the most interesting man in the world.
• LaMarcus Aldridge played despite a bruised knee and look just fine -- 20 points, 14 rebounds, two steals. Nice to see him finally post a double-double.
Lost and Found
• Kenyon Martin with another solid return on the defensive side of the ball with two blocks and two steals. He could finish the season with 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks, if he can stay healthy. Still available in 40 percent of Yahoo! leagues, you might want to give him a look to boost your defensive stats.
• Four more steals for Rajon Rondo, giving him 14 in the first five games. I'm calling it right now, Rondo is going to lead the league in steals this year. Hey, Tuesday night was Election Night -- I'm in the mood to declare winners before the final results
• Roy Hibbert posted four blocks and a steal. He also posted a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. He may be the biggest benefactor of Murphy's injury, so grab him if he's still available in your league.
• Andray Blatche turned in a so-so performance -- seven points, eight rebounds -- but added two blocks against the Cavs. I'll stand by Blatche as an add. He's young and games like this one will happen from time to time.
• Ben Wallace with two points, two steals and, of course, two points. If only he could put the ball in the basket. It's a real shame.
• Amar'e Stoudemire blocked three shots Tuesday night. Is he back? Baby steps.
• The Bulls' starting five blocked 11 shots, with Joakim Noah leading the way with five. Each starter picked up at least one block, and Tyrus Thomas didn't even play (flu and/or contract dispute). Thanks fellas!
• Not to be outdone, the starting five for the Los Angeles Lakers tallied 16 total steals, with each player posting at least two. Ron Artest had five of his own. It's safe to say that Ron Artest might be contagious.
• Mehmet Okur had four steals and two blocks against the Mavs. He's not normally known for his defense, and I predict that after his next game he'll go back to once again not being known for his defense.
• Andrei Kirilenko had three blocks and three steals. I believe he still has his "free pass" in his back pocket, so things are coming up AK-47.
• With Drew Gooden out of Tuesday night's game against the Jazz, Erick Dampier got 39 minutes at center and blocked six shots! He has 11 blocks on the season and has posted double-digit rebounds in three straight games. Time to pick him up? Better you than me, but it's not a bad idea if you're looking for boards, blocks and a plus-60 percent field-goal percentage.
• Josh Smith had a so-so game with just 12 points and seven rebounds, but gave you a nice boost with three steals and two blocks. I still think he's going to start hitting his stride soon, so be patient with his non-defensive numbers.
• Anderson Varejao picked up his second double-double in the past three games with 10 points and 10 rebounds. He's available in 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues, and with his defensive numbers -- just under two steals and one block per game -- he's a better add than a guy like Udonis Haslem.
• Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton missed Tuesday nights game, and likely will miss the remainder of the week. Stepping up was one of my "adds of the week" from this past weekend, Will Bynum, with his 20-point performance on 7-of-15 shooting and two steals in 28 minutes. I still think he's a nice option for this week and as long as Hamilton remains out.
• Paul Millsap had five points and six rebounds in 21 minutes. It's not time to drop him, but you might want to sit him until things start looking more promising.
• Travis Outlaw outplayed Martell Webster. It's difficult to tell which one will step forward and fill the void left by Nicolas Batum, but it seems to me that Outlaw is the front-runner. He scored 19 points in 23 minutes and added two blocks and a steal. I'm a tad more confident in Outlaw than Webster, and would advise that if you're going to roll the dice on one of them, Outlaw is the better option.
Andre Miller and Steve Blake are still locked in a battle for minutes. Miller played 28 minutes, Blake chipped in for 27 minutes. Miller had five points and 11 assists, with zero rebounds, zero steals, and zero 3-pointers. Blake wasn't much better -- five points and three assists -- but it seems like neither is turning out to be a must-start, which is unfortunate for Miller owners who had to use a mid-round draft choice on him. Think about other options at the point until Miller starts getting more than just 25-28 minutes per game.