Russell Westbrook tied Big O, the Nuggets, Pacers and Bulls are moving, the Pelicans are out, and the Blazers are really missing Jusuf Nurkic, and the Cavs are traveling to Boston for an epic showdown on Wednesday. Here goes and 11-game Daily Dose.
Thunder 110, Bucks 79 – Russell Westbrook got his 41st triple-double of the season with a 12-13-13 line and officially tied Oscar Robertson for the single-season triple-double record. He’ll have five more chances to break the record and it would not be surprising to see him triple-double against the Grizzlies, Suns, Nuggets, Wolves and Nuggets again to end his season and put the record at a seemingly unreachable 46. After all, he has seven straight right now, so there’s no reason he can’t finish up with five more of them. The Thunder are locked into the No. 6 seed right now, but still have a chance to catch Clippers or Utah if they can win out and get some help.
The Bucks didn’t even show up for this one. Michael Beasley, of all people, led the team with 14 points in just 12 minutes, Giannis Antetokounmpo was relatively quiet with 11 points, 10 boards and four assists on 3-of-10 shooting, and Khris Middleton managed just nine points in 24 minutes. Don’t panic on your No. 5 seeded Bucks, as they’ve only got a ½ game lead on the Hawks, are 2.0 games up on Bulls and Pacers, and 2.5 games up on the Heat.
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Nuggets 134, Pelicans 131 – The Nuggets got solid contributions across the board from Nikola Jokic, Danilo Gallinari, Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, Wilson Chandler, Mason Plumlee and Emmanuel Mudiay. The tough win put them just a ½ game behind the Blazers for the No. 8 seed and they smell blood in the water. Kenneth Faried left with a back injury, allowing Plumlee to get loose for a double-double, while Murray started at point guard and had a 16-5-5 line, and Emmanuel Mudiay came off the bench for 15 points and seven assists with Jameer Nelson out again with a calf injury. Owners of Plumlee, Chandler, Murray and Mudiay have to hope Faried and Nelson continue to sit. And if that happens, Mudiay might be worth grabbing after playing well in two straight games, while Plumlee could be ready to go on a run of his own after struggling mightily before tonight.
Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Jrue Holiday and Solomon Hill left it all on the court last night and the Pelicans have officially been eliminated from the postseason with this loss. Given the injury history of Davis and Holiday, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re shut down at some point. If that happens, Dante Cunningham, Cheick Diallo, Tim Frazier, Jordan Crawford and E’Twaun Moore could all be worth owning going forward.
Cavaliers 122, Magic 102 – LeBron James got his second straight triple-double and 12th of the season, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith all played well and Kyle Korver returned from an 11-game absence to score 11 points. Smith is probably worth grabbing if available after playing well over his last four games. The Cavs moved into a first-place tie with the Celtics and visit Boston tonight, setting up one of the regular-season games of the year.
The Magic got 21 points from Evan Fournier and continue to play their regulars even though they have nothing to play for. I don’t know how long that will last, so owners of Magic players will want to keep an eye on the news feed, obviously.
Pacers 108, Raptors 90 – The Pacers got a huge win behind another big game from Paul George (35 points, 10 boards, 5 3-pointers), while Thaddeus Young came through again with a double-double (pick him up). Myles Turner wasn’t very good at all and is back in a slump, but the Pacers are going to need him down the stretch. Lance Stephenson played 25 minutes and had 12 points and a couple 3-pointers, and might be worth a pickup before it’s all said and done. He made a “bush league” layup with the game all but over and is lucky he got out of the arena without P.J. Tucker killing him. The Pacers passed the Heat for the No. 8 seed in the East and are tied with the Bulls. Both of those teams sit just a ½ game ahead of the Heat, and 1.5 games behind the Hawks, so the East playoff seeding is far from being locked in.
The Raptors fell into a tie with the Wizards with the loss, but we won’t get to see them square off to decide the No. 3 and 4 seeds. DeMar DeRozan was great, DeMarre Carroll was not and the Raptors’ starters didn’t do much to write home about. But the fact Carroll is playing does not bode well for Tucker going forward.
Wizards 118, Hornets 111 – With this win, the Wizards moved into a tie with the Raptors and both teams sit 3.5 games behind the Cavs and Celtics. We know these will be the Top 4 seed in the East, but we don’t know what the order will be. John Wall was big with 23 points, 13 dimes and six steals, Bradley Beal scored 19, and Jason Smith (17 points, 5 3-pointers) and Kelly Oubre (15 points, 3 3-pointers) bot played well off the bench. Otto Porter’s been quiet lately, but also hasn’t committed a single turnover in five straight games and has just four of them since March 1, which is crazy.
The Hornets sit 2.0 games out of the playoffs and are going to have trouble making it, but they should continue to try. Kemba Walker scored 37, Nicolas Batum and Cody Zeller played well, Marvin Williams missed all six of his shots for two points and Marco Belinelli scored 16 off the bench.
Knicks 100, Bulls 91 – The Knicks gave the Bulls a setback, dropping them into a tie with Indy at 12.5 games back, although the Bulls currently hold the No. 7 seed. Kristaps Porzingis sat out with a sore back, but Carmelo Anthony played and hit just
9-of-25 shots. With Porzingis out, rookie Maurice Ndour started and had a career night with 13 points, 12 boards, two steals and a block. Kyle O’Quinn also got loose for eight points, 12 boards, five dimes and five blocks, while Willy Hernangomez was quiet with eight points and eight boards in the start. Mindaugas Kuzminskas scored 11 and will become a factor if Melo is shut down. And as long as Porzingis is out, look for Ndour and KOQ to stay relevant, as well. Ron Baker is starting for Derrick Rose (out for season) and had a 9-4-6-2 line with a 3-pointer in 37 minutes. I don’t trust him, but he’s worth looking into. I’ll be surprised if Melo’s not shut down soon. Courtney Lee has scored in double digits in four straight and had 14 points, four boards and three assists last night.
For the Bulls, Nikola Mirotic bounced back with 21 points and 10 boards, Jimmy Butler had a nice line and Rajon Rondo added five points, seven boards and nine assists in the loss. Paul Zipser started but didn’t score in 17 minutes, while Anthony Morrow came out of nowhere for 15 points in 19 minutes. He hadn’t even played in his previous four games, so I don’t trust him. But keep an eye on him.