Hello everyone. Hopefully your Chanukah and Christmas, whatever you celebrate, was fantastic. It's the most wonderful time of the year. I was able to pull myself away from It's a Wonderful Life, the Andy Williams Christmas Special and a 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story to catch some National Basketball Association action on Christmas Day, and the games on the hardwood did not disappoint. While there were a few stars missing in action due to injury, we had the equivalent of fantasy myrrh, frankincense and gold. Let's get started!
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Monday's Fantasy Five
Enes Kanter exploded for 31 points and 22 rebounds in Monday's loss against the 76ers. He was able to hit 12-of-21 from the field while hitting 7-of-8 from the floor, turning it over just twice. While he wasn't terribly excited about the congratulatory texts he was receiving since his team lost the game, it was a rather impressive stat line. He joins Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Lanier and Bill Russell as the only players in NBA history to post a 30-20 game on Christmas Day, and he is the first Knicks play since David Lee to accomplish the feat. His 22 boards are also the most of any active player on Christmas Day. He has three straight double-doubles, and he is averaging 26.5 PPG with 19.0 RPG and 1.5 BPG over his past three outings. With this type of Christmas performance, from now on New York fans might call him Saint Knick.
Draymond Green was his normal emotional self, especially when it comes to facing the Cleveland Cavaliers. He picked up a technical foul in the victory, but that was a sidebar to another big stat line for the former Michigan State standout. He was able to post 12 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists with two steals and a blocked shot to more than make up for the absence for Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) in the starting five. He and teammate Kevin Durant had huge lines for their fantasy owners, as KD was good for 25 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots. Durant was averaging 32.0 PPG over his past seven previous Christmas Day outings.
It was a losing effort for James Harden and his Rockets in Oklahoma City, but the Thunder saw the best effort from their former guard. 'The Beard' was all sorts of fired up after a loss earlier in the weekend against the Clippers, especially when a few fouls didn't go his way in the end. He posted 29 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists while adding a blocked shot and three 3-pointers. While the point total was a far cry from his back-to-back 51-point games, he had a much more well-rounded game across the board while turning it over just one time. And unlikely his last game, which saw Harden very contentious with the referees in the end, he was not whistled for one foul.
Kyle Kuzma knew he needed to step up with fellow rookie Lonzo Ball (shoulder) nursing a bum wing. And step up he did, as Kuzma was good for 31 points, four assists, rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot while dropping in six 3-pointers. In the team's last game he became the first Lakers rookie in franchise history since Jerry West in 1961 to score 25 or more points in three straight games. He is averaging 27.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks and 4.4 3-pointers over the past four outings, as he continues to make his case for the NBA's Rookie of the Year. At the very least he might be ready to take home rookie of the month honors for December.
Kevin Love brought his best to the Bay Area for Monday's loss against the Warriors. He posted a game-high 31 points while producing a season-high 18 rebounds, doing everything in his power to knock off the defending champs. He continues to post top-20 roto value, and he didn't hurt his fantasy owners with a 7-of-7 night from the charity stripe, too. It will be interesting to see how head coach Tyronn Lue folds Isaiah Thomas (hip) into the mix when he is healthy, and whether or not Kevlar loses any offensive responsibilities or fantasy value with another offensive stud on the floor.
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Fantasy Game of the Night
The battle between the Rockets and Thunder in OKC had plenty of players stuffing stockings on Monday. The best news for Houston, outside of another huge game from Harden, was the return of Clint Capela (heel) from a two-game absence. He looked very comfortable despite a physical showdown with Steven Adams in the middle, posting 19 points on 9-of-14 shooting while adding 10 rebounds, two steals and an assist over 30 minutes. Eric Gordon also continues to put up solid numbers in the starting five with Chris Paul (groin) absent, going for 20 points with three triples, three rebounds, an assist and a steal across 37 minutes. Trevor Ariza also picked up the pace with 20 points, four rebounds and four triples, while adding an assist. He was one of four Rockets starts with at least 19 points in a balanced lineup.
On the OKC side, Adams was impressive with 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots while hitting a very efficient 7-of-9 from the floor. Russell Westbrook was up to his usual offensive heroics, popping in 31 points while adding 11 assists with six rebounds and three steals. He turned it over five times, but he was a solid 12-of-24 from the floor and fantasy owners can't complain too vehemently. Paul George went for 24 points, including four 3-pointers, while posting five rebounds, four assists and a steal. Carmelo Anthony elected to shed his usual sleeves, and while he didn't feel comfortable, and admitted so after the game, he was able to dump in 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including a pair of triples while grabbing five boards. Jerami Grant provided the relief off the bench with nine points in 19 minutes, including a make on his only triple attempt.
Quick Hits: Dwyane Wade got his first on-court taste the Cavs-Warriors rivalry, and he went for 13 points with five rebounds, four assists and three steals across 29 minutes while turning it over zero times. … Durant has posted at least two steals in three straight games, he has at least six rebounds in 10 consecutive outings and he has swatted two or more shots in each of his past nine contests. … Joel Embiid was able to posted 25 points on 8-of-17 shooting in his first Christmas Day action, a win in New York. He also snagged 16 rebounds while posting three assists and three blocked shots across 34 minutes. He was outshined by Kristaps Porzingis and Kanter, but he certainly held his own. Speaking of Porzingis, he was good for 22 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots, and the two teams combined for 12 swats. … John Wall had a tremendous 21 points and 14 assists in Washington's 111-103 win in Boston. He has 10 or more points in each of his seven games since returning from a nine-game absence, but this was easily his highest scoring output. He has 10 or more assists in three of his past four outings, too, as he rounds back into form. … Marcin Gortat was efficient in his 27 minutes, posting 11 points with 10 rebounds and two blocked shots. … Kelly Oubre Jr. was sharp off the bench, going 7-of-13 from the field across 32 minutes, ending up with 16 points. He is working on a season-best five-game streak with 10 or more points. … Terry Rozier was good for 16 points, including four 3-pointers, in Monday's loss against the Wiz. He finally snapped out of his shooting slump, as he entered hitting just 5-of-22 from the floor over the past three outings, averaging 3.7 PPG. … Taj Gibson was sharp in the late-night game, hitting an efficient 11-of-13 from the field to end up with 23 points while grabbing nine rebounds. … Karl-Anthony Towns was a beast against the Lakers, too, posting his usual solid offense. He finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots in another average night at the office for KAT. … Jimmy Butler showed well with 23 points, eight assists and five rebounds.