Prepare for fallout from Nets-Celtics fight
There was quite a bit of interesting basketball played on Wednesday night, with James Harden facing the Thunder for the first time (it didn't go well; Harden shot 3-for-16) and Chauncey Billups making his season debut starting at shooting guard for the Clippers (he came out and knocked down his first 3-pointer and then didn't make another shot from the floor all night). However, the big story was a brawl that broke out in the second quarter of the Nets' win in Boston, establishing a rivalry that, happily for the Nets, has been pretty heavily one-sided this season.
In the second quarter of an already chippy game, Rajon Rondo took exception to a Kris Humphries foul on Kevin Garnett and incited a brouhaha that ended in ejections for Rondo, Humphries and Gerald Wallace. Without question, the league will have more to say on this, and you can expect a few of the combatants to be subject to multigame suspensions. Keep an eye on the fallout if you own Rondo or any of the others involved in the fight.
• Tyson Chandler has been amazingly efficient on the offensive end lately, but his performance in the Knicks' win over the Bucks -- he had 17 points with just four attempted field goals and 9-for-10 shooting from the line -- was truly remarkable. In his past five games, he's shooting 89 percent from the floor, and it will be fun this season to see whether he's able to break Wilt Chamberlain's record of 72.7 percent shooting from the floor for the Lakers in 1972-73.
• The Wizards got their first win of the season, but in fantasy leagues, Trail Blazers big man J.J. Hickson was the story with 15 points and 19 rebounds in 34 minutes. Hickson has shown flashes of talent over the years, but he's becoming a major force this season on the glass. He doesn't do much else, but his rebounding and field goal percentage contributions are enough to make him an important player in fantasy going forward.
• Andray Blatche had a great game for the Nets in their win over the Celtics, finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds, but it's important to note that many of his 29 minutes were the result of the ejections of Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace, as well as the fact that Brook Lopez was in foul trouble all night. Blatche certainly could wind up being a player worth paying attention to in fantasy leagues (as he's been in the past), but he's not there quite yet.
• Charlie Villanueva continues to contribute off the bench for the Pistons, and after putting up 19 points in 21 minutes in a blowout win over the Suns, he's averaging 15.3 points (including three 3-pointers) in just 18.3 minutes per game over his past three contests. He's not doing enough to warrant a spot on fantasy rosters quite yet, but if his minutes creep up into the mid-to-high 20s, he'll be worth your attention.
• If you were wondering whether Ersan Ilyasova could follow up his productive performance against the Bulls on Monday night with another one against the Knicks, you got your answer pretty quickly: He couldn't. Ilyasova didn't score in 13 minutes off the bench, and he'll be riding my bench in fantasy leagues until he strings together two good games in a row.
• Patrick Patterson might not be the most exciting player in the world, but the Rockets' forward has been playing some amazing basketball lately. After posting 27 points on 11-for-18 shooting from the floor in a loss to the Thunder, he's averaging 19.6 points and 5.0 rebounds and shooting 57 percent from the floor over his past five games. More intriguing, he's knocking down 1.2 3s per game during that stretch, and if he can keep that up, it'll make up for what he lacks as a rebounder and shot-blocker.
• The Nuggets and Warriors meet for the third time already this season on Thursday night, and you'll want to make sure you get Carl Landry in your lineup, because the Warriors forward has been killing the Nuggets so far this season. Landry is averaging 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and, remarkably, 3.5 assists in 33.0 minutes in the two previous meetings while shooting 60 percent from the floor. He's recovering from oral surgery but is probable, and it's worth relying on him given the recent history here.
• In Thursday night's other game, the Spurs travel to Miami. These teams met just once last season, and while the Heat won in a blowout, it might be relevant that both teams were on fire from the 3-point line. For this game, pay attention to the fact that the Heat are prone to giving up big production to opposing big men, and while Tiago Splitter didn't have a big night in an easy win over the Magic on Wednesday night, he's averaging 11.4 points on 64 percent shooting from the floor over his past five games, and he'll get his chances against the Heat.
Fastbreak Player of the Night
Of course, you'll want to play LeBron James; he tore through the Spurs in their meeting last season to the tune of 33 points, 10 assists and five rebounds. If you're looking to get a little more creative, though, try Andre Iguodala. Iggy's played really well against the Warriors this season, and is averaging 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the two meetings. He should be primed for a big night Thursday.