Amar'e continues strong play

December, 18, 2009

Jerryd Bayless, Trail Blazers: 29 points (9-15 FG, 9-12 FT), 4 assists versus the Suns.
Michael Beasley, Heat: 22 points (8-15 FG, 6-8 FT), 8 rebounds against the Magic.
Luol Deng, Bulls: 24 points (7-7 FT), 13 rebounds, 5 assists versus the Kings.
Vince Carter, Magic: 10 points (4-10 FG, 0-4 3-pt FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists against the Heat.
Rashard Lewis, Magic: 9 points (3-9 FG), 3 rebounds versus the Heat.
Andre Miller, Trail Blazers: 4 points (1-3 FG), 5 assists, no rebounds in 18 minutes against the Suns.
In case you haven't heard, Amar'e Stoudemire is back.

In his past six games, he's faced six teams ranked among the top 14 in defensive efficiency, including two in the top five. He's walked out averaging 22.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in those six contests, capping it off with a sterling 27-point, 11-rebound performance against the Portland Trail Blazers. He even threw down a couple of vintage slams, including an athletic one off an explosive spin move (albeit via a blatant travel, but that's vintage, too). Yes, that's right, Stoudemire even reached double-digit rebounds for the second consecutive game. And indeed, one of the biggest plays of the night was a Martell Webster rebound off a Jerryd Bayless miss, an offensive rebound that occurred in part because Stoudemire was on the bench.

Fortunately for the Blazers, that was one of the few shots Bayless came up short on, for the second-year, former first-round draft pick poured in a career-high 29 points off the bench. As if the Blazers needed another reason to regret signing Andre Miller, Bayless played well with Brandon Roy in the backcourt, getting to the lane at will (9-of-12 from the line) and displaying range from outside (2-of-3 from beyond the arc). It's the latter that is particularly surprising, for we know Bayless can score, but if he can also develop as a consistent outside threat, there's a chance he could turn into the perfect running mate for Roy. For a night, at least, it was something to dream about.

Looking Back

You know who's playing a lot like Leandro Barbosa recently? Goran Dragic, the Suns' second-round pick a year ago. Like Barbosa, Dragic displays blazing speed in the open court, yet also shows a deft touch from outside, nailing better than 39 percent of his 3-pointers this season. He may not possess fantasy value yet, but if you were hoping for Barbosa to carve out value upon his return, things aren't looking so great. … Michael Beasley had 22 points on 15 shots versus the Magic, and a trend is developing: Beasley tends to have his strongest games when he gets to the free throw line. Beasley has combined for 50 points in his past two games while attempting 14 free throws, which, while not great, is improvement, and hopefully a sign of his game maturing as he learns to exploit opposing defenses. … Speaking of maturing games, Dorell Wright has impressed recently, and he's still just 24. With just the likes of Quentin Richardson ahead of him, you have to think that if Wright continues to impress, he could be in line for an increase in playing time.

Looking Ahead

Expect Jarrett Jack to rebound versus the Nets Friday, both because Jose Calderon (hip) is doubtful and due to the fact that only three teams allow a higher field goal percentage than the Nets. … Mike Dunleavy has been one of the most-added players in leagues, and could go off against the Grizzlies' porous 3-point defense (38.2 percent allowed, 28th). … Are the Warriors assimilating Anthony Randolph into the rotation, or are they just showcasing him for a trade? Either way, a matchup versus the Wizards on Friday could lead to a big game. … Speaking of trades, word is the Rockets would like to ship out Tracy McGrady, so watch to see if Trevor Ariza or Shane Battier lose playing time over the weekend. … Andrew Bynum has combined for a paltry 10 rebounds in his past three games, and a fourth straight road game, going up against the Nets' Brook Lopez in the process, doesn't seem like a good situation for a turnaround.

Adam Madison is a fantasy basketball analyst for



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