LeBron, Kobe take untimely nights off

April, 9, 2010

Fantasy owners were hit with a one-two blow Thursday. Shortly after it was announced that LeBron James would be rested for at least one game by his coach in preparation for the playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers followed suit, deciding to rest Kobe Bryant, too. And so begins a particularly chilling side of fantasy: when the goals of the real-life teams clash with their fantasy brethren.

It did have its benefits for some -- Pau Gasol and Mo Williams took advantage of their chances to lead their teams by having monster games -- but for the most part it's a big guessing game during championship week. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Lakers aren't the only teams that might rest some of their starters, as the Orlando Magic are another elite team that has the freedom to limit their players' minutes as the playoffs approach. Coach Stan Van Gundy says he doesn't plan on resting his starters, but it was also reported the Cavaliers would play James on Thursday. You never know what to believe at this time of the season.

Looking Back

Pau Gasol, Lakers: 26 points (10-11 FG), 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks against the Nuggets.
Joakim Noah, Bulls: 17 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks versus the Cavaliers.
Mo Williams, Cavaliers: 35 points, 6 3-pointers, 10 assists against the Bulls.
Rasual Butler, Clippers: 6 points (3-10 FG), 3 rebounds, versus the Kings.
Taj Gibson, Bulls: 2 points (1-9 FG), 4 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals against the Cavaliers.
Lamar Odom, Lakers: 5 points (1-6 FG), 13 rebounds versus the Nuggets.
Thankfully, it didn't take too long for Joakim Noah to bounce back to his normal levels of production, and he had his biggest game yet Thursday. He scored 17 points, tore down 15 rebounds, dished out four assists and swatted four shots, playing a comfortable 33 minutes. The initial timing of his injury couldn't have been worse, but it's somewhat of a consolation that he's bouncing back during championship week. And he's proving that he's still an elite keeper prospect, too. … DeAndre Jordan (six points, 10 rebounds and one block in 21 minutes) keeps producing in limited minutes, and it's a wonder the dead-in-the-water Los Angeles Clippers aren't doing more to get an extensive look at developing their 21-year-old center. That said, limited playing time or not, Jordan is still averaging nine rebounds and more than a block per game in his past eight contests. If nothing else that makes him a great streaming option for those looking to maximize every game down the stretch. … James taking the day off Thursday would have been the perfect opportunity for J.J. Hickson to assert himself offensively, but instead he went 2-of-7 from the field in 15 minutes. It was Jawad Williams who picked up some extra playing time, logging 23 forgettable minutes. The only role player who could conceivably step up if the Cavs decide to bench more regulars would be Delonte West, but he missed the game, too, with a bum back. It's a situation to avoid.

Looking Ahead

We've seen Dwight Howard run roughshod over many a center, so the question is can Earl Barron stay on the court against Howard? Barron has come out of nowhere to average 16.0 points and 13.5 rebounds in his two starts, but his numbers also indicate he's foul-prone. He could lay an egg at a crucial time for owners Friday against the Magic. … Andray Blatche hasn't shot well from the field this month and faces one of the league's tougher defenses in the Boston Celtics on Friday. They also attack him offensively, too; he's averaged 3.7 fouls in 30.3 minutes of playing time in three meetings. With the Celtics fighting for playoff positioning, Blatche could be in for a rough game. … Speaking of Celtics, Kendrick Perkins becomes a much stronger play Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks because of the absence of Andrew Bogut. Perkins is bigger and meaner than any of the Bucks' frontcourt players, so he could feast on the backboard while swatting shots.

Adam Madison is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.



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