Rudy Gobert was nearly perfect, Russell Westbrook was perfect, LeBron played and the Cavs lost, and the Celtics are now just one game back of Cleveland for the lead in the East. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.
Jazz 108, Knicks 101 – Rudy Gobert may have actually overshadowed Russell Westbrook last night, hitting 13-of-14 shots and 9-of-12 free throws for a career-high 35 points, 13 rebounds, a steal and four blocks. Gobert matching up against a small Knicks lineup was a dream come true and he took full advantage. Rudy was the seventh player since 1987 to score at least 35 points and shoot 90 percent, joining Alonzo Mourning, Scottie Pippen, Cedric Ceballos, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller and Dwight Howard. Gordon Hayward and George Hill were both solid, while Rodney Hood hit just 1-of-4 shots for three points as he continues to look shaky on a bad knee.
The Knicks got 24 points, seven boards and three 3-pointers from Kristaps Porzingis in 31 minutes, and Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Courtney Lee all quietly scored in double digits. Rose hurt his left foot and while X-rays were negative, he was wearing a brace and limping when he left the arena. Without Brandon Jennings around, there’s no must-own player here, although Ron Baker and Chasson Randle would both help fill in the gap if Rose is going to miss time. Willy Hernangomez had nine points, 10 rebounds and two steals in 17 minutes off the bench and I don’t know why the Knicks are going small right now. I’m sure it doesn’t make a lot of sense to Gobert, either. But my guess is some flowers are being delivered to Phil Jackson this morning, courtesy of Gobert.
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Thunder 122, Sixers 97 – Just as Russell Westbrook’s MVP hopes appeared to be fading, he went all Mr. Perfect on us last night, hitting 6-of-6 shots from the floor and 6-of-6 free throws on his way to 18 points, 11 rebounds, 14 assists and two blocks. He made sure his 35th trip-dub of the season was a memorable one, as he became the only player in NBA history to triple-double on a perfect shooting night. The MVP war could be decided on Sunday, when Westbrook and James Harden will square off in Houston. Victor Oladipo had 18 points with a pretty empty line and Enes Kanter went off with 24 points, 11 boards, a steal and a block, hitting 8-of-9 shots and 8-of-9 free throws, as he tried to hang with Westy. Steven Adams has fallen off a cliff lately and had just six points and five boards in 25 minutes, while Taj Gibson was particularly awful with eight points and three boards in 13 minutes. Gibson is averaging less than 17 minutes over his last three games, making him useless in fantasy.
Nik Stauskas, of all people, led the Sixers with 20 points and five 3-pointers, but didn’t do anything else (1 assist). Jahlil Okafor graced us for 17 minutes, six points and two rebounds, which was just enough to render Richaun Holmes nearly useless. Holmes bounced back for a decent second half last night, but still finished with just 11 points, two rebounds and five fouls in 16 minutes. I’m sticking with him until the wheels come off. Dario Saric and Robert Covington were disappointing, T.J. McConnell was straight-up awful, and the unknown Shawn Long had a career night with 13 points and six boards in 15 minutes. Just write this game off for the Sixers and hope the regulars (Holmes, Saric, Covington, McConnell, Okafor) play better in the next one.
Hornets 109, Magic 102 – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played through his ankle injury, which was a welcomed sight for one of my deep-league teams. He had nine points, four boards and two steals on 4-of-5 shooting in 27 minutes. Nicolas Batum hit just 5-of-14 shots and Kemba Walker was 8-of-21 in the loss, while Cody Zeller had 15 points, six boards and three steals on 7-of-10 shooting. Despite Zeller playing well, Frank Kaminsky came through off the bench with 18 points, five boards, a bloc and four 3-pointers, and that may have hurt Marvin Williams. Marvin had seven points and 10 boards in 33 minutes, while Kaminsky has now hit double digits in four straight, and is averaging 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 2.5 3-pointers over his last four games, making him worth owning in all leagues. And Marco Belinelli caught fire, hitting 5-of-9 shots and three 3-pointers for 20 points. However, he’s averaging just 11 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 3-pointers on 38 percent shooting over his last five games. No thanks.
Nikola Vucevic did his best Elfrid Payton imitation and just missed a triple-double with 14 points, 12 boards, eight assists, a steal and three blocks. Payton was also nice with 15 points, five boards and five dimes, and Terrence Ross hit some shots to finish with an empty 19 points, two steals and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes. If you catch him on the right night Ross can be fun to own and he’s playing a little better, averaging 16 points and 2.3 3-pointers over his last three. Aaron Gordon was disappointing, finishing with seven points and four boards in 29 minutes after scoring 17 points in back-to-back games. Jeff Green missed this one with a back injury, which should actually be good news for Gordon.
Wizards 104, Hawks 100 – John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter all put up solid numbers for the Wizards last night, while Marcin Gortat disappeared once again. No one really stepped up in his place, although Ian Mahinmi did have four points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes. Gortat hasn’t scored more than eight points in six straight games, so I’m not mad at you if you feel like you have to cut him. Just beware that he’ll likely get it going again before it’s all said and done. Bojan Bogdanovic was also disappointing with five points on 2-of-6 shooting in just 15 minutes. He had his 10-game streak of double-digit scoring games broken and saw his lowest minutes of the season thus far in Washington. He really doesn’t do much besides scoring and 3-pointers, so last night qualifies as a disaster.
Tim Hardaway Jr. went off for 29 points, three 3-pointers, a steal and two blocks, Dwight Howard double-doubled, and Dennis Schroder had 18 points, six assists and 10 turnovers in the loss. Hang this one on Schroder, who also hit just 5-of-16 shots in the loss. Hardaway looks like he’s going to be a stud down the stretch with Kent Bazemore (knee) possibly done for the season. Paul Millsap (knee) missed his second straight game and we should find out today if he’ll rejoin the team for Friday’s game at Milwaukee. Ersan Ilyasova played 26 minutes, but hit just 2-of-8 shots for five points and eight rebounds. Taurean Prince played 28 minutes again off the bench, but had just seven points. But he also had two steals, a block and a 3-pointer, and is averaging 9.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 1.6 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers on 39 percent shooting over his last five games. He’s on the borderline of actually having some value right now. The No. 5 Hawks are now just 1.0 games ahead of both the Bucks and Pacers, as the playoff picture in the East is still a complete mystery.