In some ways, Saturday night’s slate was disappointing, as LeBron James (illness) and Kevin Durant (hand contusion) didn’t even suit up and Paul George got ejected after picking up his second technical early in the second half of the Pacers game.
However, we also did get to witness some jaw-dropping performances by some of the NBA’s best big men, including incredible numbers courtesy of Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis and Hassan Whiteside.
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Hornets 99, Kings 85
Charlotte needed this win badly. They had lost five straight overall and came into Saturday riding a 12-game road losing streak. Cody Zeller (quad) remained sidelined, which meant the Hornets had to lean on Frank Kaminsky once again. Frank the Tank delivered in a big way. Kaminsky scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds. He also added five 3-pointers, three assists and two steals. Per Basketball Reference, Kaminsky is just the third player in Hornets franchise history to score more than 20 points, pull down more than 10 boards, and make at least five treys in one game. Over his last nine, The Tank is averaging 17.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.4 3-pointers. He’ll cool off once Zeller and Miles Plumlee (calf) return, but Kaminsky continues to provide a nice short-term boost… Kemba Walker was relatively quiet on Saturday. He finished with just 12 points (5-of-12 shooting), six assists, three boards and four turnovers… Marvin Williams was solid, tallying 16 points, six rebounds, three 3-pointers, two steals and a block… Nicolas Batum had 15 points and six boards but was just 4-of-17 from the floor… Marco Belinelli (13 points and six dimes) provided a nice spark off the bench.
As if often the case when a team scores just 85 points in a blowout defeat, there was not a lot to get excited about from the Kings on Saturday. Sacramento’s most disappointing performance of the evening had to be Willie Cauley-Stein. After an eye-popping 29-point, 10-rebound explosion on Thursday, Cauley-Stein dropped a dud on Saturday. He missed all five of his field goal attempts and finished with just two points, two rebounds, and three blocks in 28 minutes. With the Kings in complete rebuilding mode, WCS will see plenty of playing time over the final two months of the season, but this game was emblematic of his inconsistent 2016-17 season… Ben McLemore led the Kings with 18 points, but much of that came in garbage time late in the fourth quarter. He also didn’t bring much else to the table (two rebounds and zero assists)… Buddy Hield scored 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting in 26 minutes off the bench. He also had two 3-pointers, two assists and three turnovers… One King that did impress in this contest was Skal Labissiere. After scoring a career-high 12 points on Thursday, Labissiere pulled down a career-high 13 boards and scored eight points in 23 minutes on Saturday. With two consecutive solid games, Skal is making the case that he deserves more minutes going forward. Considering Sacramento has nothing to lose, in fact, they want to make sure they have as many ping-pong balls as possible by the time the draft lottery arrives, they have every reason to roll the rookie out there and let Labissiere learn on the job. His stock is rising and he’s someone to keep an eye on in deep leagues, and especially keeper formats.
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Magic 105, Hawks 86
This is what the Magic were hoping for when they swapped Serge Ibaka for Terrence Ross. Orlando’s newest addition poured in 24 points and added four rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block and four 3-pointers in team-high 35 minutes on Saturday. Ross has a new lease on life in Orlando, and while he won’t be able to match these numbers every night, he has far more fantasy upside than he did in Toronto… Nikola Vucevic was listed as questionable prior to this game with a sore Achilles tendon, but was able to play and looked perfectly healthy, finishing with 16 points, 14 rebounds, two steals, two blocks… A second straight solid game for Aaron Gordon (18 points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals), who appears far more comfortable playing his natural position of power forward… Elfrid Payton just missed a triple-double on Saturday. He had 15 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two blocks in 28 minutes. C.J. Watson (Achilles) is expected to miss at least another week, so Payton has a chance to string together a few good games in a row, something he has not done often this season.
The Hawks have been spanked in three straight games, with the margin of defeat at least 15 points in each loss. Tim Hardaway Jr. was the only Atlanta player to score more than 11 points. He had three rebounds, two 3-pointers and three turnovers to go along with his 15 points. Hardaway has scored in double-figures in 13 straight contests… Dwight Howard posted a solid double-double (11 points and 14 rebounds) but was just 3-of-7 from the floor and 5-of-13 from the charity stripe… Paul Millsap was uncommonly quiet, finishing with 11 points, seven boards and two assists in 29 minutes… Taurean Prince scored a career-high 11 points with four rebounds and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes. However, Atlanta is too deep to count on this type of playing time and production from Prince on a nightly basis… Ersan Ilyasova had 10 rebounds but added just five points and two assists in 25 minutes. His fantasy stock has taken a major hit in the move from Philly to Atlanta… Malcolm Delaney, making his second straight start, struggled once again on Saturday, finishing with just two points and four assists in 15 minutes. Dennis Schroder was suspended for Friday’s game after missing practice on both Wednesday and Thursday because he left the States without his visa and had trouble getting back in the country. Then, Schroder was late for the team bus on Saturday, which resulted in him coming off the bench behind Delaney again. However, he ended up replacing Delaney in the lineup to start the second half. Schroder finished with 11 points, five rebounds, eight assists and one 3-pointer in 31 minutes. Hopefully, Schroder is able to put this sloppy week behind him and get back on the beam going forward.
Knicks 110, Sixers 109
Carmelo Anthony did it all for the Knicks in Saturday night’s win over the Sixers. He scored a game-high 37 points, including a game-winning 15-foot jumper from the baseline with 0.3 seconds left on the clock. Melo also finished with six boards, two assists, two three-pointers and three turnovers. Anthony has scored at least 30 points in eight of the Knicks last 18 games… Both Kristaps Porzingis (ankle) and Joakim Noah (hamstring) did not play Saturday. Noah is unlikely to play on Monday as well, whereas it sounds like there is an outside chance KP will be able to suit up. Willy Hernangomez started at center for the Knicks on Saturday and finished with 11 points (on 4-of-6 shooting), nine boards and two rejections in 23 minutes. Willy has at least nine rebounds in each of his five starts this season… Lance Thomas started in place of Porzingis and had 11 points, six rebounds and two assists in 37 minutes… Kyle O’Quinn had a great all-around game, backing up both the power forward and center spots. He tallied nine points, five boards, five assists, five steals and two blocks in 25 minutes. O’Quinn is the first Knick with at least five rebounds, assists and steals in a game since Melo in October of 2013… Derrick Rose had 18 points, five boards and three assists, but needed 17 shots to accrue those 18 points (8-of-17 from the floor)... Justin Holiday (14 points, seven boards, two treys, two blocks, and zero turnovers) was solid off the bench once again.
Not sure if It’s possible to have a “revenge game” against your own team, but we can assume Jahlil Okafor thoroughly enjoyed pouring in 28 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 29 minutes on Saturday night. With Joel Embiid missing at least two more games, Okafor will have some more opportunities to start at center and be featured on the low post… Dario Saric remained red-hot on Saturday, finishing with 19 points, a career-high 15 rebounds and five assists in a game-high 40 minutes. It was his fourth straight double-double. He is averaging 19.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists over this four-game stretch. Saric’s fantasy stock is soaring, and he has a chance to a true difference-maker in fantasy leagues over the final two months of the season… Robert Covington is another Sixer that is absolutely scorching hot right now. RoCo stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 20 points, 10 boards, two assists, two blocks, three steals and two 3-pointers in 39 minutes on Saturday. Over his last five games, Covington is averaging 19.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.8 triples, 3.4 steals, and 1.2 blocks. Like Saric, Covington should continue to see plenty of playing time, especially with Ersan Ilyasova and Nerlens Noel shipped out of Philadelphia.
Heat 113, Pacers 95
Miami has now won 16 of their last 18 games and has pulled within 1.5 games of the Pistons for the eighth seed in the East. Hassan Whiteside absolutely dominated the paint all night. He ripped down a game-high 17 boards and scored 22 points, while shooting 6-of-12 from the floor and a surprisingly efficient 10-of-13 from the line. It was Whiteside’s sixth game this season with at least 22 points and 17 rebounds. Karl-Anthony Towns is the only player in the league with more such games… Dion Waiters shared game-high scoring honors with Whiteside. In addition to tallying 22 points, Waiters tacked on three assists, two rebounds, two steals, three 3-pointers and six turnovers. Although we keep waiting for Waiters to cool off, he keeps producing. He has scored at least 12 points in 16 straight games. He is averaging 20.6 points, 5.8 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.7 treys over this current stretch… After a two-point dud on Friday, James Johnson reminded fantasy owners that he’s capable of producing terrifically well-rounded stat lines as well. Johnson had 15 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, two blocks, two steals and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes on Saturday… It wasn’t all great news for the Heat. Josh Richardson (two points, four rebounds, one assist) struggled again. As did Tyler Johnson, who missed all five of his FG attempts and finished with five points and four dimes. Backup center Willie Reed was diagnosed with a right calf strain and was unable to return to the game.
Paul George was ejected from Saturday's game after picking up two technical fouls with 8:49 left in the third quarter. PG13 played just 19 total minutes and finished with 10 points, one rebound and one assist… Myles Turner tried to pick up the slack with George getting the boot. He attempted 19 shots (one short of his career-high) and tallied 18 points, seven rebounds and two steals… Monta Ellis had been playing well of late but stumbled on Saturday. He was just 3-of-12 from the field for his eight points. He’s tough to trust… Jeff Teague, like the rest of the Pacers, struggled with his shot. He scored 16 points but was 5-of-16 from the floor. He added six assists and three rebounds… It looks like Thaddeus Young is still not 100 percent as he works his way back from his wrist injury. He took just two shots and scored two points on Saturday, although he was able to chip in five boards, four assists and a steal.