Kobe Bryant continues hot shooting
The Lakers outscored the Hornets 33-9 in the fourth quarter behind a huge performance by Kobe Bryant, and they needed just about all of those points, because they were down 18 through three. Kobe has obviously had some ups and downs this season, but he's averaging 33.6 points on 53.6 percent shooting from the floor over his past five games, so this is definitely not one of his down periods.
As usual, one of the most interesting things to think about in fantasy basketball is Bryant's value heading into next season. This was the season he was supposed to lean on his teammates and have his own production suffer a bit. It obviously hasn't played out that way; he's not first in the league in usage rate anymore, but he's still third, right behind Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook. One wonders how long he can keep it up, but for folks who drafted Kobe late in the first round this season, behind guys like Dwyane Wade and Deron Williams, Kobe has been a great value.
• Mo Williams returned to the lineup for the slumping Jazz but was pretty underwhelming in his first game back from his thumb injury, and the Jazz took a loss in Cleveland. It was mainly his shot that was off, as he finished just 3-for-12 from the floor, but he made two 3-pointers and chipped in six assists. He's probably worth starting in most leagues right away, but it could take him another game or two to get back into the flow.
• Jeff Green made the winning bucket for the Celtics in a big road win over the Pacers, and he finished with 11 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks. He's moving right onto the fringe of reliability in fantasy leagues of late and is averaging 15.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.7 blocks over his past three games, all wins by the C's.
• Dorell Wright has had his playing time yanked around quite a bit this season, but the 76ers swingman has been making 3s of late, and that means he probably belongs in your fantasy lineup. He's averaging 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.8 3s and 1.5 steals over his past four games. It's easy to forget that Wright has been a top-30 fantasy guy in the past, especially when he seems to find himself on the bench these days more often than not, but take the hot streak while it's there, because he's extremely valuable in fantasy leagues when he gets minutes.
• The Magic lost a heartbreaker to the Heat on a layup by -- who else? -- LeBron James on the final possession, but Nikola Vucevic played a monster game for the home team. He finished with 25 points and 21 rebounds, and this after scuffling a bit in his previous two outings against the Grizzlies and the Hornets. Obviously, Vucevic is still searching for a little more consistency in his performance night to night, but he's a really exciting guy to have in fantasy leagues coming down the stretch.
• Ed Davis got the start for the Grizzlies, filling in for Zach Randolph in a home win over the Trail Blazers, but didn't do much with the opportunity, posting just three points and six boards in 25 minutes. He had 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in a blowout win over the Magic on Sunday, but it would appear that he'll be back to bench-warming once Randolph is back in the lineup.
• Sebastian Telfair got his first significant playing time as a Raptor on Wednesday night and went off for 13 points, 7 assists, 4 steals and 3 trifectas against a putrid Suns team that managed to get only one player into double figures on the night. It's never a good idea to read too much into blowouts, but assists, steals and 3s are always of major value in fantasy leagues, and if Telfair can carve out the kind of playing time Jose Calderon was getting in Toronto, there could be more games like this on the horizon.
• The Knicks likely will be without Carmelo Anthony on Thursday night against the Thunder, and that means you'll want to make sure Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith and Amaré Stoudemire are all in your lineup. The Thunder have a very good defense, but they also play pretty fast, so there should be plenty of chances for the Knicks to rack up numbers even if they'll probably lose the game.
• The Clippers and Nuggets will both be entirely healthy and ready to go for their faceoff in Denver. I really like this matchup for Nuggets starting center Kosta Koufos. He's averaging just 10.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in two games against the Clippers so far this season, but he's doing it on 77 percent shooting from the floor. He's been very efficient of late as well, averaging 9.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks while shooting 66 percent from the floor over his past five games. Make sure he's in your lineup this time around.
Fastbreak Player of the Night
As usual, I'll avoid the obvious answers of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Instead, I'll go with J.R. Smith. His shot hasn't been too accurate of late, but he's managing 18.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.2 steals and 3.4 3s over his past five games. The Knicks will need a huge night out of him to keep it close against the Thunder, and I'm betting he shows up.