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Matt Stroup

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Dose: January Jokic

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


A hectic NBA Tuesday saw big-ticket performances from Nikola Jokic, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins, as well as significant updates on the status of Chris Paul and DeMarcus Cousins. Here are some of the key takeaways from an eight-game night:

Raptors 104, Hawks 101

*Danny Green got a night of rest, while Kawhi Leonard returned from a day of rest, and put up a monster 31-4-6 line with six steals, a block and three 3s. With Green out of the picture, OG Anunoby got hot with 14 points, two steals and two triples — his first time with double-digit points since Dec. 21.

*In his second game back from his recent back trouble, Kyle Lowry put up 16 points, six assists, four steals, a block and three 3s.

*The Hawks got big production from their starting five as they kept it close and nearly stole one/nearly gave one away (depending on your perspective). John Collins had 21 and 14 with three 3s, while Jeremy Lin — starting for injured rookie Kevin Huerter (mid back pain) — scored 20 with nine dimes. Trae Young had 19-5-4 with two steals and a triple on 8-of-20 shooting, while DeAndre Bembry had a wild stat line of 11-6-5 with five steals, one trey and seven turnovers. Bembry and Lin are intriguing short-term plays, especially if Huerter misses any more time.

Pacers 123, Cavs 115

*The Cavs lost Larry Nance with a right knee injury. Initial reports sound optimistic but slightly murky. Here’s Joe Vardon of The Athletic: “Larry Nance (knee) will travel with the Cavs to New Orleans. As of now the injury is not believed to be serious, but, this being Cleveland, it’s subject to change.” With Nance out, Tristan Thompson went off, posting 15-13-5 with two blocks (though he’s only averaging 0.4 bpg on the season). The Cavs have now lost 10 in a row.

*Also notably hot for Cleveland: Jordan Clarkson (26 points in 32 minutes) and Alec Burks, who had 19 and seven with a steal, a block and three 3s. Burks isn’t quite stuffing the stat sheet like he was, but he has hit for 17 or more pointns in four of his last six, averaging 14.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 0.7 spg and 1.8 3s on 51.6 percent shooting over his last six games.

* Myles Turner (shoulder) did not play and is doubtful for Wednesday. Domantas Sabonis stepped into the starting five and put up 15-9-4 with three steals (tying a season-high) in 34 minutes (also tying a season-high). Darren Collison and Cory Joseph played through leg and thigh injuries, respectively. Collison had eight points and nine assists with four steals. Thaddeus Young tied his season-high with 26 points, and his last five games look like this: 16.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.7 bpg and 0.7 3s on 58.9 percent from the floor. Vintage Thad.

Sixers 132, Wizards 115

* Jimmy Butler returned and scored 20 on 8-of-9 shooting, but J.J. Redick (back) was out, opening up chances for Furkan Korkmaz and Landry Shamet to fire from distance. Korkmaz had 16 points, four assists and three 3s, while Shamet went off for a career-high 29 points with eight triples — his first game with double-digit points since Dec. 19. In related news, this game was not close, with Philly up by 23 at halftime.

*Bradley Beal scored 28 for the Wizards, while Otto Porter played just 19 minutes (11 points, three 3s) and sustained a right hand injury that required X-rays, which were negative.

*Thomas Bryant played just 18 minutes in the blowout loss, but still had nine points with a steal, a block and a 3-pointer.

Nuggets 103, Heat 99

*Nikola Jokic unleashed his seventh triple-double of the season (29-11-10), continuing his ridiculous start to 2019. Jokic through five games in January: 27.4 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 8.2 apg, 1.6 spg, 1.2 bpg and 1.8 3s (with 4.6 turnovers, but no complaints here). It is worth noting that according to the TV crew, Jokic was limping late in the game (though he did stay in to finish it). Hopefully that's nothing, but we should have updates leading up to Denver’s next game on Thursday.

*In other injury news, Gary Harris (hamstring) was ruled out prior to tipoff, and while we all expected good things from Monte Morris and Malik Beasley, the surprising beneficiary was… Torrey Craig??!!? Craig put up an out-of-nowhere 11-16-4 line with three 3s (and no steals or blocks) in 39 minutes, and it’s hard to get too excited about a guy who had scored two, 12 and five points in his previous three games. If nothing else though, we now need to keep one corner of one eye on Craig for Denver’s remaining games this week — three of them. As for Morris and Beasley, they were letdowns with just four and nine points, but both should see plenty of chances if Harris misses more time.

*As for the Heat… just when we thought that Derrick Jones Jr. was resurfacing as a trustworthy option — Airplane Mode fell out of the rotation completely. DJJ was a DNP-CD and I officially throw up my hands on this one. I guess I’d wait another game or two if you’re able to be patient, but no argument if you feel like dropping Jones Jr. and moving on from Miami altogether.

*Dion Waiters was back in action and scored 15 points with four assists and three 3s in 25 minutes, but of course went 0-of-2 from the free throw line because he’s Dion Waiters and mauling percentages is part of his general deal. On a positive / less bitter note about the Heat, Justise Winslow went for 12-4-4 with two steals and a block, his eighth straight game with double-digit points. The numbers during that stretch: 15.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.4 apg, 1.9 spg and 1.1 3s — on 46.8 percent from the floor (and 57.1 from the line). Can’t have everything.

Timberwolves 119, Thunder 117

*Minnesota gave new coach Ryan Saunders his first win in dramatic fashion behind a 40-10-4 line from Andrew Wiggins, who added a steal, a block and two 3s on 11-of-24 from the field and 16-of-18 from the line. I checked the box score again and this is all true. If you believe that Wiggins (40.5 percent from the field this season, and 73.9 from the line) is set to fully realize his potential with Tom Thibodeau gone… then I’m not here to ruin your sunny outlook. I will say though, just as simply as I can put it: Consider selling high.

*Jeff Teague got ejected after picking up two technicals (eight points, five dimes, five steals), though Tyus Jones was relatively quiet in his 24 minutes (10 points, four assists), and should take a big hit at least in the short term with Derrick Rose (ankle) expected to return on Friday. Josh Okogie notably got 37 minutes, but didn’t do much (nine points, one block, one triple), and Dario Saric had one of his better games in recent memory (15-7-2 with a steal and two 3s in 25 minutes). The outlook appears to be trending up for Saric, and maybe Okogie, while owners who added Jones might want to wait a game or two to confirm his role after Rose is back.

*OKC got 20-plus from Paul George (27), Russell Westbrook (25-5-16) and Steven Adams (20 points, 12 boards), as well as 14 from Terrance Ferguson — though this was his first time hitting double-digit points since Dec. 19 (strangely also true for the previously mentioned Landry Shamet).

*Nerlens Noel was stretchered off after hitting his head on a scary fall and was hospitalized overnight for evaluation.  

Suns 115, Kings 111

*The Suns were without Devin Booker (back spasms), but managed to keep their composure and take down the Kings. The glaring beneficiaries of Booker’s absence: Kelly Oubre and De’Anthony Melton. First — Oubre, who resurfaced in a serious way after three straight quiet games with a huge all-around line: 26-5-4 with three steals, a block and three 3s. The 26 points were a season-high. Melton, meanwhile, had 10-4-8 with four steals, two blocks and a trey — and both guys make sense as pickups as long as Booker is out.

*Meanwhile, Josh Jackson has already been playing plenty even with Booker on the court. Nevertheless, he had another productive game with 13-4-5 plus three steals and a trey. Josh Jax also shot 5-of-11 and has actually hit 54.5 percent percent of his shots (and 80.0 percent of his free throws) his last four games. Deandre Ayton fought through some foul trouble to finish with 17 points, 12 boards, a steal and a block.

*The Kings got 24 points from De’Aaron Fox, who added in five assists, three steals, one block, three 3s and — um — eight turnovers. Justin Jackson hit double digits for a third consecutive game (12-6-4 with three 3s), and has now averaged 17.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.3 apg and 3.3 3s in his last three games, though he’s shooting an unsustainable 62.5 percent from downtown during this run. For Willie Cauley-Stein, it was a night of threes: three assists, three steals, three blocks and 3-of-8 from the free throw line.

*Marvin Bagley (rest/back-to-back) was a DNP, but is expected to play Thursday. Nemanja Bjelica still struggled, putting up just four points in 16 minutes, and looks reasonable to drop in shallow leagues for about the eighth time this season.

*Also for Sacramento, Ben McLemore randomly got hot and scored 20 points in 18 minutes, his first double-digit game since Dec. 19 Dec. 26.

Warriors 122, Knicks 95

*This game predictably got out of hand with the Knicks playing the second half of a back-to-back at Golden State. No one in the Knicks’ starting five did anything notable — Tim Hardaway led all starters with 13, and left/then returned with a knee injury — while Mario Hezonja (19 points) and Enes Kanter (12 and 16) cleaned up off the bench in the blowout loss. Hezonja has now scored 10, 14 and 19 in his last three games, but could also be out of the rotation in short order — so he’s really only a consideration in deeper leagues.

*On the Warriors side of matters, Klay Thompson cut loose for 43 points and seven triples with two steals and two blocks, and is now averaging 29.7 ppg, 1.7 spg, 2.0 bpg and 4.7 3s through his first three games of January. Steph Curry decided to pass a bunch and got his first double-double of the season — 14-7-14 on 5-of-19 shooting. Meanwhile, for the second time this season, Draymond Green picked up a double-double while scoring exactly two points — in this case two points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists. He also recorded two blocks, and now has exactly two blocks in each of his first three games this year.

Clippers 128, Hornets 109

*Speaking of double-doubles, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell both posted authoritative ones off the bench, with 27 and 10 for Sweet Lou and 23-11-5 for Montrezl. Danilo Gallinari scored 20 and Tobias Harris put up 23 as the Clippers put four players above the 20-point plateau. The other compelling stat line for L.A. came from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (rookie wall), who had eight points, three steals and four blocks in his 21 minutes. SGA has been racking up steals lately (2.0 in his four January games so far), but is only playing 21 minutes a game over his last five.

*Charlotte got back Jeremy Lamb (hamstring) from a three-game absence — and got 16 points, six rebounds, one trey and basically nothing else from Lamb. Malik Monk got hot and scored 24 in 21 minutes, and has now put up 21, 0, 16, five and 24 points in his last five games. If nothing else, he’s a name to watch in the second half in Charlotte if the Hornets — currently in position for the 8th seed — plummet out of the playoff race.

*Kemba Walker shot 6-of-18, while Willy Hernangomez was a letdown after his big 19-point game on Sunday with just five points in 14 minutes, and basically falls into a similar category to Monk. On a slightly positive note, Nicolas Batum (10-5-4) is now averaging 9.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.8 spg and 1.5 3s in 34 minutes a game so far in January. He’s worth a look on waivers if you can handle his low point totals.

In other news…

*We have an expected return date on Boogie. DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) is targeting a return either on Jan. 18 against the Clippers, or Jan. 21 against the Lakers. Get excited. Temper your enthusiasm. Prepare to be frustrated with the Warriors managing his minutes! Hopefully, if nothing else, Boogie will have some big games for those who play in daily leagues. In weekly formats, this situation could be a headache.

*Chris Paul (hamstring) is expected to be out 2-3 more weeks, with the Rockets reportedly being “very careful” about bringing him back prematurely. Translation: 2-3 weeks may not actually be 2-3 weeks. I’m still waiting for him to come back and get hot, and then I’ll try to trade him before the next setback. The good news, which Mike Gallagher pointed out on the Rotoworld hoops podcast, is that the Rockets only have four back-to-backs in the second half.

*Ricky Rubio (hamstring) is set to miss the next two weeks, and with Dante Exum (ankle) also sidelined, that means an extended chance for Raul Neto, who had 10-6-5 with two 3s on Monday. Neto could make sense in deeper leagues, though I would obviously rather add a bunch of other players first (including of course De'Anthony Melton).

Editor's Note: Looking for an edge when it comes to fantasy hoops? Our new NBA DFS Toolkit has a Lineup Optimizer, Customizable Projections, Next Man Up tool and more for FanDuel, DraftKings and Yahoo! And for season-long, the NBA Season Pass provides weekly projections, rankings, Pickups of the Day and more.

Injury Quick Hits: Dennis Smith Jr. (sore back) didn’t practice Tuesday. … DeMarre Carroll (knee) and Joe Harris (ankle) are probable for Wednesday. … Nikola Mirotic (ankle) is doubtful, while E’Twaun Moore (quad) is questionable. … Moe Harkless (knee) is not expected to play Wednesday. … JaMychal Green (shoulder) is questionable. … As always, check back on the Rotoworld player news page leading up to tipoff just in case things change.



Matt Stroup has covered basketball for Rotoworld since 2008. You can find him on Twitter here .
Email :Matt Stroup



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