There were only three games on Tuesday night, but one of them was a fantasy bonanza of stats, news and scrubs going crazy. Meanwhile, Dirk Nowitzki became just the sixth player in history to score 3,000 points, Julius Randle messed around, and Russell Westbrook got loose for a career-high 58 points in a loss to the Blazers. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!
Mavericks 122, Mavericks 111 – We’ve had a lot of fun with “Nurk Alerts” this season so it was nice to get a “Dirk Alert” headline up there last night. Dirk Nowitzki scored all 25 of his points in the first half and joined the elite 30,000-point club on a textbook fadeaway jumper early in the second quarter, then drained a 3-pointer before the clock was stopped and the celebration ensued. Mark Cuban was going crazy, teammates mobbed Dirk, and his long-time personal coach, Holger Geschwinder, showed some rare emotion, as Nowitzki became just the sixth player and the first international player to join the club. He joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain on the list, and may have a shot at Chamberlain since he plans on playing at least one more season. Congratulations, Dirk!
Harrison Barnes appeared to give way to Nowitzki and managed just 14 points and six boards against the Lakers and was outscored by the other four Mavs starters. Seth Curry stayed red hot with 18 points, five assists, a steal and four more 3-pointers, Yogi Ferrell had 16 points, seven assists and two 3-pointers, and Wesley Matthews knocked down five 3-pointers for 15 points. Curry has really lived up to the hype, which is good since we were really into him this season, and Ferrell has transformed into a must-own player after being let go by the Nets in early December. Nerlens Noel came off the bench and had 11 points, 12 boards and three blocks in 23 minutes, giving him double-doubles in two of his last three games. He should be good to go the rest of the way as the Mavericks try to dig out of a two-game hole and sneak past the Blazers and Nuggets into the playoffs.
For the Lakers, Julius Randle went off for 13 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists and a steal, despite hitting just 3-of-8 shots. This was his third triple-double of the season and he has a nice matchup against the Suns tonight. However, I thought Markieff Morris had a dream matchup against the Suns last night, and used him over Randle, which was a bit of a DFS disaster. More on that later. Brandon Ingram played 35 minutes again and had 13 points, four boards, five assists and a 3-pointer, and I’m just going to hang in there with him and hope he figures it out. D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson both played very well and Nick Young had 13 points off the bench. My Lakers fantasy rankings right now: Randle, Russell, Clarkson, Ingram, Larry Nance, Young, Ivica Zubac. Zubac missed his second straight game with a quad injury, although he was technically available to play. He’s been a rough ride if you picked him up, and while I’m still into him, there are a ton of waiver-wire guys getting it done, so you have to think twice about holding him.
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Blazers 126, Thunder 121 – Allen Crabbe turned out to be one of the fantasy stars of the night, even though he wasn’t in very many lineups. He was iffy coming in with a leg injury, but hit 7-of-10 shots, 5-of-7 3-pointers and 4-of-4 free throws for 23 points, four boards and two assists in 28 minutes off the bench. His last 20-point game happened in January and like I said in his blurb, he’s a little too ‘squirrelly’ to use in fantasy right now. And yeah, that’s the first time I’ve ever used that word to describe a basketball player. Crabbe made a huge difference tonight, as Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Moe Harkless, Jusuf Nurkic and Al-Farouq Aminu all played fairly well, but none of them were great. McCollum didn’t have an assist, steal or block, Nurk Alert didn’t block a shot, and the Harkless and Aminu lines wouldn’t have looked nearly as good without the five combined blocks. Aminu (12 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 3 blocks) should be owned in all leagues now that he’s healthy, and Harkless is close despite his six points last night.
Russell Westbrook hit 21-of-39 shots, 3-of-9 3-pointers and 13-of-16 free throws on his way to a career-high 58 points, three rebounds, nine assists, three steals, a block and just four turnovers in the loss. That makes four straight Ls for the Thunder, but they still hold a 5.5 game lead over the Nuggets for the No. 7 seed. Watching Westbrook drive to the hole, tuck the ball, explode past everyone and lay it in whenever he wants to is something else. And as you can imagine, if he had 58, his teammates didn’t have the ball too much. Victor Oladipo was finally back from a six-game absence due to his wrist injury and played well, hitting 5-of-9 shots and four 3-pointers for 16 points, five boards and five assists in 26 minutes. It looks like he should be good to go. The only other guy in double figures was Enes Kanter with 11 points and seven boards in just 18 minutes. Steven Adams was particularly bad with four points, three boards and nothing else in 29 minutes, and he’s scored nine or fewer points in four of his last five, as Westbrook has simply taken over offensively. Things don’t get any easier for the Thunder, as they’ll face the Spurs on Thursday. And I for one can’t wait to watch Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green try to contain Westbrook. If anyone can, it’s those two.
Wizards 131, Suns 127 – This game had more twists, turns and fantasy news than I care to think about. Markieff Morris, who had a revenge situation against a former team he didn’t get along with, posted a complete dud with six points and two rebounds in 25 minutes. His nickname is the ‘Phoenix Outlaw,’ but it was more like the ‘DFS Killa’ last night. Otto Porter Jr. hit just 1-of-6 shots for two points, and Marcin Gortat played just 19 minutes for six points and three rebounds. All three have had their struggles lately and their pictures didn’t become any clearer last night. Big men Ian Mahinmi (15 points, 9 rebounds, 7 steals) and Jason Smith (17 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 3-pointers) went off from the bench, which helps explain why Morris and Gortat didn’t do anything. Meanwhile, Bojan Bogdanovic stayed red hot and hit 5-of-9 shots, three 3-pointers and 16-of-16 free throws for 29 points and nine rebounds. His 29 points tied his season high and he hasn’t missed a free throw in eight games. He’s also scored at least 27 points in three of his last four games, and I’ll be the first to admit that I did NOT see this coming. He’s just what the Wizards needed at the trade deadline, but the bad news is that it looks like he’s killing Porter and Kelly Oubre, who played just seven minutes tonight. Don’t cut Porter, but don’t expect any miracles from him as long as Bogdanovic is playing like the Sixth Man of the Year. As for Mahinmi and Smith, one look at their game logs will tell you that last night looks like a big fluke, although Mahinmi has been playing fairly well of late. Neither player is an automatic pickup and I fully expect Gortat and Morris to bounce back at some point, but you should at least be keeping a watchful eye on all of them tonight against the Nuggets. And if you don’t own Bogdanovic, just do a quick waiver-wire check to make sure he’s not sitting out there. Shockingly, he’s still available in 45 percent of the Yahoo! leagues in existence. John Wall put his team on his back and won the game for the Wizards with a big fourth quarter, finishing with 25 points, 14 assists, three steals and two blocks, and Bradley Beal was nice with 27 points and two 3-pointers. Beal didn’t have an assist for the first time since Dec. 5, but has scored between 22 and 40 points in seven straight games. He’s also hit the 22-point mark in 11 of his last 12 games, and is showing no signs of leg issues. Lastly, Brandon Jennings and Jared Dudley were ejected from this one, not that it would have mattered had they stayed in the game.
The Suns were less complicated in the loss as Eric Bledsoe scored 30 points with five assists and four 3-pointers, and Devin Booker tried to keep his team in the game late with 25 points, six assists and four 3-pointers. Alex Len had eight points, 11 boards, a steal and four blocks in another start, T.J. Warren stayed hot with 15 points, 10 boards and a 3-pointer, and Marquese Chriss added nine points, five boards, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes. Big Sauce Alan Williams added 15 points and 10 boards off the bench before fouling out, while Tyler Ulis added seven points, five assists and a steal in 22 minutes. I love watching Ulis play and he might be worth a deep-league flier if you have someone you want to drop. In short, the five starters (Bledsoe, Booker, Warren, Chriss and Len) are worth owning, along with Big Sauce and maybe Ulis.
News and Notes
Andrew Bogut suffered a broken leg in his Cavs’ debut on Monday, so Tristan Thompson won’t have to worry about losing minutes the rest of the way.
The Lakers officially named Rob Pelinka as GM and he’ll team with Magic Johnson to hopefully steer the Lakers back to championship form over the next few years.
Michael Beasley will miss a couple more weeks with his knee injury, which should throw Terrence Jones into a nice role with his new team, the Bucks. If you have someone to cut and want to take a flier on TJ, I can get behind that thinking.
Enjoy the 11-game bonanza on tap for Wednesday night and tune in to watch that Boston @ Golden State late game, as it could end up being a Finals preview if Boston can shock the East.