Gameday: Nets vs. Clippers

The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers have both toiled for years as the proverbial younger brothers in the respective shadows of their metropolitan foes, the Knicks and Lakers.

The 2012-2013 season has seen the emergence of these two franchises from their long-held backseat roles. Tonight’s 48 in SoCal will mark the second and final time these two squads will do battle in the regular season.

In their first year in Brooklyn, the Nets have compiled a 40-28 record and have clinched a playoff berth after missing the postseason for four years straight. They are currently in the 4th spot in the Eastern Conference, only a game and a half behind the suddenly slumping Knicks.

The 47-22 Clips also sit in the 4th spot of their conference and have clinched a playoff berth as well. They are a whopping 11.5 games better than their Staples co-tenants.

Brooklyn has won six of their last eight contests, including four road victories. On Wednesday night coach P.J. Carlesimo’s guys destroyed the Mavericks 113-96 in Big D.

Los Angeles Clippers v Sacramento KingsBrook Lopez scored a season-high 38 points to go along with 11 boards and 2 blocks. Deron Williams went for 31 points and 6 dimes in front of his hometown crowd. In addition, super-motor Reggie Evans hauled down 22 rebounds.

The Clippers are 5-4 in the month of March and have yet to record back-to-back wins. After a disappointing 116-101 loss at Sacramento on Tuesday, coach Vinny Del Negro’s team bounced back with an easy 101-72 win against Philadelphia in Los Angeles.

As is so often the case, PG Chris Paul led the team with 19 points, 9 dimes, 6 boards and 5 steals. This was especially important because backup 1-guard Eric Bledsoe missed his 5th straight game with a calf injury and super veteran Chauncey Billups sat out with a hamstring issue. Both players are listed as questionable for tonight’s matchup.

When these two sides played in Brooklyn on November 23rd, the Nets topped the Clips 86-76. The game was tied going into the fourth quarter when the Nets pulled away, limiting LA to 13 points in the final 12 minutes. Lopez led the team with 26 points and 3 blocks.

Tune in to the YES Network at 10:30 PM ET to see if the Nets can improve on their 18-14 road record and take the season series from the Clippers.

Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Martell Webster

Phoenix Suns v Washington WizardsMartell Webster of the Washington Wizards has come on of late and is playing his best basketball of the season. The young and struggling 23-42 Wizards squad is currently on a 3-game winning streak and are a respectable 5-4 in the month of March.

A good portion of this success can be attributed to 6’7” SF Webster, who was plucked right out of high school and picked 6th overall in the 2005 NBA Draft. In his first season in D.C., the 8th-year pro is having one of the most productive stretches of his career.

In the nine March contests, Webster is averaging 16.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg and 1.9 apg in 35 mpg. The 26-year-old is also shooting 95% from the line and 46% from behind the arc over this span.

He has even more remarkable numbers over the past five games. The Seattle native has averaged 21.8 ppg while going 24 for 47 from 3-land. On Saturday night in a win against Phoenix, Webster scored a career-high 34 points, going 7-10 from the 3 and 7-7 at the line.

Webster’s court time and numbers have jumped in part due to injuries to Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza, important components of the Wizard’s backcourt rotation. But with his play of late, coach Randy Wittman is sure to give ample run to Webster regardless of the health of others on the roster.

This week Washington plays four teams on the road that give up a ton of points – Charlotte, Phoenix, Lakers and Golden State. Now is a good time to add Webster to your fantasy team and watch him continue to pour in buckets.

Fratello Telestrator

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Gameday Dish: Mavericks vs. Spurs

Chicago Bulls v San Antonio SpursThe Dallas Mavericks have made the NBA playoffs 12 straight seasons, but they will need to give a Herculean effort over their last 19 regular season games if they want to make it a baker’s dozen. At 30-33 they sit in 10th place in the competitive Western Conference.

To that cause, coach Rick Carlisle’s guys have won their past four games and head into San Antonio tonight hoping to extend their winning ways to a season-high 5 consecutive victories.

Standing in the way will be their instate nemesis, the West-leading 49-16 Spurs. However, when 5X NBA All-Star PG Tony Parker went down with a sprained ankle on March 1st it made San Antonio eminently more beatable.

In two of the last three contests, coach Gregg Popovich’s squad has fallen to the 29-34 Trail Blazers and the 22-40 Timberwolves.

The 107-83 loss at Minnesota on Tuesday was played without starting forwards Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard, who are both battling sore knees.

Dallas Mavericks v Orlando MagicBut the 136-106 shellacking by Portland at home on March 8th with the Spurs’ full compliment of players minus Parker was a true shock.

It’s hard to paint a bleak picture in Silver & Black when the Spurs also went to OKC this past Monday and emerged victorious 105-93. However, Tuesday’s loss to the Wolves allowed the Thunder to get within just one game of  their best-in-the-West record.

Dallas last played on Tuesday night at Milwaukee. Behind balanced scoring and Vince Carter’s 23 points off the bench, including 3 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, the Mavs came out on top 115-108.

Tonight’s 48 will be the fourth game between these two sides. The Spurs have won all three previous matchups by an average of 23 points, including a 129-91 dismantling on December 23rd at the AT&T Center. In addition, the Alamo City ballers are an impressive 26-4 at home this season.

Both Duncan and Leonard are expected to be back in the Spurs’ starting lineup, while Dallas’s veteran forward Shawn ‘The Matrix’ Marion will miss his fourth game with a left calf contusion.

Tune in to TNT at 8:00 PM ET to see if San Antonio can sweep the season series from Big D for the first time in 15 years.

Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Tobias Harris

Houston Rockets v Orlando MagicIf not for the Charlotte Bobcats, the 18-46 Orlando Magic would have the worst record in the NBA. When scoring guard J.J. Redick was traded to Milwaukee on February 21st, Magic fans felt the impact of a wrecking ball clearing the way for their franchise to rebuild from scratch after losing superstar Dwight Howard to the Lakers in the offseason.

One of the players Orlando received for Reddick and Ish Smith was 2nd-year combo forward Tobias Harris. The 6’8” Harris played one season at Tennessee after being named the 2010 Mr. New York Basketball. He was then selected with the 19th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Prior to being dealt to Orlando, 20-year-old Harris was buried on the Bucks’ bench. In his final two months in Milwaukee, Harris was on the court for a total of 44 minutes.

In the 9 games he’s played as a member of the Magic, Harris has averaged 29 mpg. With more court time Harris has flourished – averaging 15.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.4 apg and 1.1 bpg while shooting 53% from the field and 79% from the line. He’s also averaged one 3-bomb a game in Orlando and is shooting 40% from the arc.

With 80% of the regular season in the rear view mirror, now is the time for wily fantasy GMs to scoop up players like Harris who are balling better than ever in new roles and environments.