Tuesday featured a light, five-game schedule when a couple of tankers failed to tank, the reeling Cavaliers continued to unintentionally tank, the Thunder eked out a win, and the Spurs and Warriors continued to roll. Welcome to the Dejounte Murray coming out party edition of the Daily Dose. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!
Spurs 114, Cavaliers 102 – LaMarcus Aldridge had his eighth 30-point game of the season and looks like one of the best steals in fantasy drafts this season, especially when he looked all but done with the Spurs before everything took a 180 and they decided they loved each other. Dejounte Murray has officially overtaken Tony Parker at point guard and went off for 19 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and a career-high seven steals in 30 minutes. I trust most Spurs about as far as I could punt them, but if Murray’s available in your league, pick him up. Kyle Anderson had a solid 10 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block, and is going to continue to get heavy minutes with Kawhi Leonard’s world turned upside down. Anderson is a must-own player at this point, as far as I’m concerned. Davis Bertans, Tony Parker and Danny Green were all solid last night, but I’m not messing with any of them. Bertans got the start with Pau Gasol out with a wrist injury and had 13 points, five boards, three assists, a steal and two 3-pointers in 30 minutes. Gasol is day-to-day with his injury.
LeBron James became the youngest player to score 30,000 points, edging out Kobe Bryant, and finished with 28 points, nine boards, seven assists, a block and two 3-pointers. The good news ends there for Cleveland. Kevin Love had 10 points, 11 rebounds, a steal and nothing else, Isaiah Thomas hit 3-of-9 shots for 14 points and two assists, J.R. Smith didn’t even score, and Jae Crowder hit 4-of-6 shots and three 3-pointers for 13 points and four boards. Coach Tyronn Lue is talking about a lineup shakeup, which makes me nervous for Crowder, who has been playing well, while guys like Dwyane Wade (12 points), Jeff Green (8 points) and Kyle Korver (3 points) could be looking at a promotion soon. The Cavs are 3-7 in January and have lost 12 of their last 15 games. They’re still somehow the No. 3 seed in the East, but it doesn’t look like Monday’s meeting to trash Love worked, and another meeting or six might be in order. It appears that these guys don’t like each other very much and you have to wonder if Bron would take a do-over on the whole Kyrie Irving thing. But any way you slice it, the only Cavaliers you can really trust in your starting lineup right now are LeBron and Love, and maybe Thomas. Watch for lineup-change news prior to Friday’s game against the Pacers.
I thought this bit from Gregg Popovich on LeBron and Anderson was pretty great. “Well, it’s an awesome achievement,” Popovich said of LeBron’s milestone. “But what else do you say about LeBron that we haven’t said many times before? Just a great, great competitor and a great player. While Kawhi’s out, Kyle’s got that job,” Popovich said of holding LeBron to six or fewer points and keeping him from the milestone. “So I gave him an over-under. If he holds him within standard deviation… so we’ve got the analytical guys trying to figure out what standard deviation is. So I think maybe if he scores less than 12, then Kyle keeps that position forever; like a Lou Gehrig thing.”
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Kings 105, Magic 99 – The Kings snapped an eight-game losing streak by beating the Magic, and both teams now own a 14-win record. De’Aaron Fox left after just 11 minutes and finished with seven points and not much else due to abdominal tightness. Hopefully the injury’s not serious, but it was at least serious enough for him to take the rest of the night off. That cleared the way for Garrett Temple to go crazy with a career-high 34 points on 14-of-17 shooting with four 3-pointers and five assists. George Hill was resting, and Frank Mason and Fox were hurt, leaving Temple as the only real option at point guard. And he sprinted through the open door. Temple is a veteran, which is a bad word in Sacramento, and only has eight 20-point games to his credit in a long career, so this has fluke written all over it. If Fox is going to miss time, Hill should be forced back into action, but there’s a decent chance the injury isn’t serious. I’m not picking Temple up just yet. Willie Cauley-Stein went off for 21 points, nine boards, four assists, a steal and five blocks, Skal Labissiere kept it going with 10 points, nine boards and three blocks, and Bogdan Bogdanovic struggled, hitting just 4-of-12 shots for eight points, four boards and four assists. I still like him and would rank the Kings’ kids like this: WCS, Fox, Bogdanovic, Skal, Buddy Hield and Justin Jackson. Labissiere is going to be a hot pickup this week after his last two solid games, although I wish he played more than 23 minutes last night.
Orlando was led by 22 points and two 3-pointers from Evan Fournier, who was just 2-of-10 from downtown, or his line would have looked a lot bigger. Elfrid Payton stayed hot by hitting 9-of-14 shots and a 3-pointer for 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. He’s been crushing it in four of his last five games, so make sure you’ve got him queued up, although I know he was on a lot of weekly benches with just two games this week. Aaron Gordon had 16 points, 12 rebounds, a steal and two 3-pointers, but hit just 6-of-17 shots with seven turnovers. I put Gordon on blast in his blurb, as he’s hit just 27-of-86 shots over his last five games and hasn’t been making shots for the entire month. He’s taking some really crazy shots and his season-high seven TOs were also distasteful. I still love him, but I’m just hoping someone on the Orlando staff tries to get in his head about taking good shots, just like I do right now with my 10-year-old gunner of a son. Jonathon Simmons and Bismack Biyombo were both serviceable last night and the Magic now hold the distinction of having the worst record in the East, sitting a half game back of my Hawks.
Thunder 109, Nets 108 – The Thunder have quietly won five straight games and are 7-3 in January. Russell Westbrook had 32 points, five boards, six assists, two steals and hit the game-winning shot to beat the Nets last night. News flash – he’s good and it appears he made the All-Star Team, albeit as a reserve. Paul George added 28 points and nine boards, Steven Adams had six points, 14 rebounds and three steals on 3-of-12 shooting, and Carmelo Anthony had 10 points and eight boards. And those are the only OKC names you need to know in fantasy.
The Nets are a mess right now as they try to work D’Angelo Russell back up to speed and get everyone minutes. Jarrett Allen had the team’s only double-double and the first one of his career with 12 points, 11 boards, a block and a 3-pointer, and Joe Harris led the way with 19 points, five 3-pointers and nothing else. Starters DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Spencer Dinwiddie and Allen Crabbe were all serviceable, but didn’t do a whole lot. However, all of them should still be held in most leagues. Russell was bad with seven points and four assists on 2-of-6 shooting in 15 minutes, and Caris LeVert was kind of quiet with six points, five boards and six assists in 19 minutes. The fact that 10 players, including Jahlil Okafor, all played between 10 and 32 minutes in a close game is not a good thing for fantasy, and it’s becoming clear that they’re going to ride the hot hand each night. I guess I might as well rank them all as far as pickups go, since we have room: RHJ, Carroll, Dinwiddie, Russell, Crabbe, LeVert, Allen. I’m just not going to be suckered into picking up Okafor.
Lakers 108, Celtics 107 – One of my favorite songs is by Courtney Barnett and she sings “I’m not that good at breathing in” on Avant Gardener, and if she was going to write a song about the Lakers, she might say “they’re not that good at tanking,” as they’ve won three straight games with wins over the Pacers, Knicks and Celtics. They’re four games ahead of the Kings for last place in the West, but still six games out of the playoffs. Kyle Kuzma played through a finger injury and shot lights out off the bench, hitting 10-of-16 shots and five 3-pointers for 28 points, four boards and three assists for his best game since Christmas Day. Despite the fact he’s cooled off a bit, he should have been owned in all leagues prior to last night. Jordan Clarkson stayed hot with 22 points, but didn’t hit a 3-pointer, and may have trouble keeping it going with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope back, and Lonzo Ball on his way back from his knee injury at some point. I still think Clarkson’s worth owning right now, either way. Julius Randle had 14 points, 14 boards and a steal, and played through a painful fall on his tailbone, courtesy of Al Horford. Check on his status in the coming days to make sure he’s OK, but he looked good after the fall tonight. Brandon Ingram played through his tender ankle, but hit just 2-of-11 shots for seven points. He’s hit just 9-of-31 shots since returning from the injury, but should get back on track soon. KCP hit just 2-of-8 shots for eight points and two 3-pointers, but is worth owning when healthy, and Larry Nance added 11 points and nine boards in 26 minutes off the bench. I’d rank the Lakers like so: Ball, Kuzma, Randle, Clarkson, Ingram, KCP, Nance, Brook Lopez, Josh Hart.
The Celtics have now lost four straight games, falling to the Pelicans, Sixers, Magic and Lakers. Yuck. Kyrie Irving went off for 33 points, four assists and four 3-pointers on 13-of-24 shooting, Al Horford had 13 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and three 3-pointers, and Marcus Smart got loose for 22 points, eight assists and four 3-pointers, but missed the game-winner at the buzzer. Jayson Tatum hit just 1-of-6 shots and didn’t score until the second half, but is still a fifth-round fantasy value, Jaylen Brown hit 4-of-11 shots for nine points in 26 minutes, and Marcus Morris had 13 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and a 3-pointer in 26 minutes off the bench. He’s playing pretty well and is worth a look, but I don’t trust Smart enough to start him in most fantasy leagues. Tatum and Brown should be owned, but aren’t must-start players right now, either. Horford caught a Josh Bell head to the face and left the game late, so make sure he wasn’t concussed (I don’t think he was), and Irving banged knees with Brandon Ingram. He played through it and should be fine, but owners might want to watch the newsfeed just in case. Irving was rubbing his knee at times after the play, but looked OK.
Warriors 123, Knicks 112 – Kevin Durant took care of things in the first half and finished with 14 points, 14 assists, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers before being ejected with a couple technical fouls late, and Stephen Curry came to life after halftime to finish with 32 points, six boards, seven assists and eight 3-pointers. Draymond Green filled the stat sheet with 12 points, five boards, six dimes, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers, and Klay Thompson disappeared with nine points and zero 3-pointers in 34 minutes. This was just his second game of the season without a 3-pointer, but they’ve both come in his last six games. He’s fine.
Kristaps Porzingis sat out with a sore left knee so Michael Beasley stepped up with 21 points, four boards and four assists to lead the way. Even when Porzingis is healthy, Beasley’s been worth owning for the most part. Courtney Lee added 20 points and a couple 3-pointers, Enes Kanter had 16 points, nine boards and five assists, Jarrett Jack had 13 points, six dimes and three 3-pointers, and Tim Hardaway hit just 4-of-12 shots for 11 points, five boards, four assists and a 3-pointer in the loss. Frank Ntilikina played 19 minutes off the bench, but had just six points and one assist on 3-of-7 shooting. He’s nothing more than a stash at this point, although I still think the Knicks have to give him the keys at some point. Then again, the Knicks are only 3.5 games behind the Sixers for the final playoff spot in the East, so maybe they’re going to try to make it. Porzingis is day-to-day with his injury and Beasley and Kanter are must-plays whenever he’s out.