Justise Winslow is done for the year, James Johnson gets a big boost, Stephen Curry is back, DeMarcus Cousins fizzled, and Darren Collison's outlook took another hit on Wednesday. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.
Hawks 111, Magic 92 – The Hawks used a balanced attack to take out the Magic and Dwight Howard had 13 points, 12 rebounds, a steal and a block for a double-double against his former team. No one was great for the Hawks and no one was too bad, although Dennis Schroder had a quality line of 18 points, six rebounds, seven assists and a steal in 30 minutes. Paul Millsap scored 16 with four steals and two 3-pointers and Kent Bazemore, who shows up about once every 10 days this season, came through with 17 points, four assists, two steals and three 3-pointers on 6-of-9 shooting. He’s been tough to own and this is another glimmer of hope that will likely end in about nine or 10 days of frustration. Thabo Sefolosha started again, but was quiet with eight points and five rebounds, while Tim Hardaway Jr., who had 29 points on Sunday, hit 5-of-9 shots and two 3-pointers for 12 points, two rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes. Sefolosha, Bazemore and THJ have all been worth owning at times this season, but along with Kyle Korver (17 minutes, 2 points), probably aren’t worth the hassle. The Hawks have quietly won four straight.
The Magic made a big change last night, starting Elfrid Payton at point guard and finally putting D.J. Augustin on the bench. Let’s hope it’s permanent after Payton went for 15 points, four rebounds, six assists, three steals, a block and a 3-pointer in 35 minutes. Payton was already playing very well off the bench, but this is the final notice to pick him up. Bismack Biyombo, unfortunately, still started over Nikola Vucevic and had just two points, two rebounds and two blocks in 21 minutes. Vuc had 10 points, six rebounds, six assists, a steal and three blocks off the bench, so hopefully he’s on the verge of replacing Biyombo, as well Aaron Gordon stayed hot with 15 points, 10 rebounds and two 3-pointers, and is now averaging 16.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 2.0 3-pointers on 18-of-40 shooting over his last three games. I’m guessing he’ll cool off again at some point, but he’s looked very good for three games. It was nice to see him show up on a night when Evan Fournier returned from his heel injury. Fournier came off the bench and hit 6-of-14 shots and two 3-pointers for 14 points, and should be back in the starting five soon. Jodie Meeks got the start again last night, but his run is over after his eight-point night.
Editor’s Note: Enter FanDuel’s NFL Dive for $1 and you’ll automatically get a FREE entry into a $3K soccer contest. PLUS — in addition to your free contest, you’ll play for large cash prizes in the NFL Dive. Play now!
Hornets 123, Thunder 112 – Nicolas Batum, who got fouled twice while shooting 3-pointers, stayed red-hot, hitting 7-of-18 shots, a 3-pointer and 13-of-15 free throws for a season-high 28 points, three rebounds, four assists and a block. He’s scored 20-plus in seven of his last 11 games, and had 20 or more points in just two games prior to that. Kemba Walker had 20 points and nine assists, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist double-doubled with 14 points and 11 boards on 7-of-9 shooting. MKG also did a pretty good job defending Russell Westbrook. Roy Hibbert started at center and had three points, two rebounds and two blocks (yawn), while Frank Kaminsky (17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, 2 3-pointers) and Spencer Hawes (8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 2 3-pointers) both played well off the bench. Cody Zeller is out with a concussion and both Kaminsky and Hawes are worth a look while he’s out. Marco Belinelli was quiet in his return from his ankle injury, which means you can forget about Jeremy Lamb now.
The Thunder got 33 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers on 10-of-31 shooting from Russell Westbrook. His shooting has been suspect lately (38 percent over his last five games), but he’s still racking up production at a ridiculous rate and only missed his 17th triple-double by two dimes. Steven Adams had a fun 18 & 12 double-double with a steal and a block, and Victor Oladipo scored 18 points with five assists and three 3-pointers, despite hitting just 7-of-20 shots. Enes Kanter, who had two points in 22 minutes on Monday, bounced back with 22 points, eight boards and a 3-pointer in 20 minutes last night. If he was dropped in your league, he’s worth owning. He’s averaging 17 points and 6.8 rebounds over his last five games, which includes Monday’s dud.
Bucks 105, Knicks 104 – Giannis Antetokounmpo hit a turnaround jumper at the buzzer to beat the Knicks last night as his dream season continues. The Freak had 27 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, a steal, three blocks and a 3-pointer on 10-of-18 shooting and hit 6-of-7 free throws. Basketballmonster.com has him as the No. 2 fantasy player in nine-cat leagues, and the No. 3 player in eight-cat. He might be No. 1 before this is over. Jabari Parker cooled off a bit with 15 points and four rebounds, John Henson was nearly invisible, and Malcolm Brogdon stayed hot with 12 points, six rebounds and eight assists on 5-of-14 shooting. He may have stolen Matthew Dellavedova’s job, but we won’t know for sure until Delly is back from his hamstring injury. Pick Brogdon up. Greg Monroe went off for 18 points, nine rebounds, three steals and a block, and you have to wonder if he’s about ready to get his starting job back, while Mirza Teletovic had 13 points and three 3-pointers off the bench. This was his first meaningful game since Dec. 16, so just keep an eye on him.
The Knicks were once again without Kristaps Porzingis, who is hoping to return from his Achilles injury on Friday, when the Knicks are in Milwaukee. He’s missed three straight with the injury. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 30 points, 11 boards, seven assists, two steals and four 3-pointers, and Derrick Rose had 15 points, three boards, four assists, a steal and a 3-pointer. Lance Thomas started again for Porzingis, but had just seven points and four rebounds despite playing 38 minutes. Joakim Noah had eight points, 16 rebounds, a steal and a block, but hurt his shoulder late in the game. He played through it, but given his fragile injury history, it’s a story worth keeping an eye on. Mindaugas Kuzminskas played 19 minutes and had a career-high 15 points with four rebounds, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers. The minutes weren’t great and Porzingis was out, so I’m just keeping an eye on him, and not racing to pick him up. Justin Holiday played just 10 minutes and scored seven points, and has taken a big hit since the return of Courtney Lee.