Some NBA observations made in between joyrides with Shaun Ellis:
Steve Nash returned from the flu-like symptoms that sidelined him yesterday to post 20 points and 10 assists in a loss to Dallas. If you gambled on another start for Lenadro Barbosa (four points) as I did, you got burned.
The return of Nash as well as the ineffective Shaquille O’Neal (four points, five rebounds) ended the brief experiment of Terry Porter, who shifted Grant Hill (four points, five rebounds) back to the bench.
Erick Dampier dominated Shaq with nine points, 14 rebounds and three blocks and continues to be one of the most maddeningly inconsistent big men in the game.
Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-high 39 points, but the real significance is the second consecutive solid game by Jose Juan Barea, who had 18 points and four assists.
I’m still not sold on Barea, especially since Josh Howard seems close to returning. But if you are in a deep league with a roster spot open, he may be worth a flier.
Manu Ginobili finally looked like himself in a victory over Denver, scoring a season-high 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including four 3-pointers.
With the Spurs at full strength, it appears that Roger Mason (30 minutes on Wednesday, 29 minutes on Thursday) will be the one logging the most minutes off the bench while surprise rookie George Hill (six minutes on Wednesday, 19 minutes on Thursday) will receive some inconsistent PT. Mason is still valuable as a 3-pointer specialist. I’d cut Hill loose for other options.
Rough day all around for the Nuggets but it’s worth looking at what’s going on with J.R. Smith, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in three straight games and four of five.
If you throw out the seven-minute donut he put up on Sunday, he’s averaging 20.0 points in his last four games. It’s getting to the point where he has to be in your lineup, unless you have an abundance of 3-pointers at other spots.