It was a relatively quiet night in the NBA, as there were only five games on the slate. However, we were still treated to some superb performances, including a pair of gems courtesy of the Pelicans dynamic duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
After recapping Saturday night’s action, we’ll take a quick look at the players that are facing injury issues for Sunday’s games.
Memphis Grizzlies 113, Los Angeles Clippers 104:
Mike Conley (Achilles) was a game-time decision for this contest as he is still dealing with soreness. However, he was able to suit up and scored 21 points to go along with one rebound, three assists, one steal and four 3-pointers in 33 minutes on Saturday. Conley has gotten off to a slow start this season; he’s shooting just 36.8 percent from the floor. The Grizz play the Clippers again on Sunday in the second game of a back-to-back. It is unknown if Conley will play or if Memphis will rest him to prevent extra strain on that ailing Achilles. Mario Chalmers was bumped back to the bench behind Conley on Saturday and chipped in 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals in 27 minutes.
Marc Gasol has been dealing with a nagging ankle injury and looked less than 100 percent on Saturday. He still managed to produce a solid line of 21 points, six rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes. Like Conley, Memphis may choose limit Gasol’s minutes on Sunday… Tyreke Evans was impressive once again off the bench on Saturday. One game after he poured 32 points off the pine, Evans scored 20 points with three rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes in the win over L.A. It’s the first time he’s scored 20-plus points in consecutive games since January of 2016. Yes, he’s injury prone, but his talent is undeniable. Ride ‘Reke while he’s producing…. Speaking of injury prone, Chandler Parsons played a season-high 20 minutes on Saturday, finishing with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers. Parsons has logged over 18 minutes in four straight games, and has shown some flashes of his former self. He remains risky, but may be worth a stash in deeper leagues.
Dillon Brooks earned his first NBA start on Saturday, but was unable to cash in. He was just 1-of-8 from the floor for two points, to go along with five rebounds and two assists. Coach David Fizdale has shown immense trust in Brooks. Coming into Saturday, Brooks had played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter in each of the Grizzlies previous three games. On the season’s he’s third among all rookies in minutes played in the fourth. Brooks’s production will fluctuate, but it appears he is in line for plenty of playing time. Andrew Harrison, who was bumped to the bench to make room for Brooks, was slapped with a DNP-CD. Harrison belongs on the waiver wire in all fantasy formats.
Blake Griffin finished with game-high 30 points, 11 boards, two assists, two steals, and five turnovers in Saturday’s loss. Griffin had knocked down at least two 3-pointers in each of the Clippers first seven games this season (after only registering nine multiple-triple games all of last season) but had just one 3-pointer vs. the Grizz… Patrick Beverley also only knocked down one 3-pointer, but still scored 23 points with seven rebounds and two assists. Beverly was 6-of-6 from the free throw stripe and matched a career-high with seven two-point field goals.
DeAndre Jordan double-doubled, finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds, to go along with three assists and three blocks. Without Chris Paul lofting him lobs, Jordan has seen his scoring average and field goal percentage drop dramatically, but DeAndre is still among the league leaders in boards… Danilo Gallinari struggles continued on Saturday. He scored 10 points and added four rebounds, six assists, one block and one turnover in 36 minutes. Gallo is shooting below 37 percent from the floor and just 27.1 percent from behind the arc. Both numbers would represent career-lows for Danilo. Owners don't have much choice but to remain patient and hope he starts knocking down makeable shots, as you’d likely have to move him at a steep discount if you tried to trade him now.
Detroit Pistons 108, Sacramento Kings 99:
Andre Drummond once again dominated the paint on Saturday night, scoring 16 points (on 7-of-10 shooting) and yanking down 19 rebounds. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Drummond is just the second NBA player over the past 35 years to collect at least a dozen rebounds in each of his first ten games in a season. (Kevin Love had a 12-game streak to start the 2011-12 season.) Drummond also added four assists, three steals and one block. This is already his fifth game this season with at least four dimes. He had only four such games last season and just one four-assist game in 2015-16. As the “hub” of the Pistons offense, as Stan Van Gundy refers to him, Drummond has taken on additional offensive responsibilities this season and is one of the primary reasons the Pistons have jumped out to a 7-3 record. Another reason for their recent surge has been the steady play of Avery Bradley. AB notched a season-high 24 (on 10-of-15 shooting) to go along with two rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers. After averaging just 13.3 points over the first four games of the season, Bradley has now topped 20 points in four of his last six contests and has knocked down at least three treys in three of four.
Tobias Harris had been slumping coming into Saturday, but bounced back in a bag way, tallying 20 points, five boards, five assists, and four 3-pointers. Those are the type of numbers we hope to see from Harris on a more consistent basis moving forward… Reggie Jackson has slowed down a bit of late as well. He finished with 15 points (on 3-of-10 shooting) seven assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 38 minutes… Jon Leuer (sprained left ankle) missed his second straight game. Anthony Tolliver has logged 19 minutes in each of the two games Leuer has missed.
George Hill (personal) didn’t play Saturday, which allowed De'Aaron Fox to slide into the starting lineup. Those of us that played Fox in DFS were hoping for a breakout game, but had to settle for 14 points, four assists and three turnovers in 27 minutes. He failed to register a rebound, steal or block. Considering Fox is averaging 14.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists as a reserve this season, he was unable to live up to expectations in the second start of his career. He’s still a good bet to bounce back next time out… Willie Cauley-Stein disappointed on Saturday as well. He logged just 19 minutes and finished with eight points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals. WCS was pegged as a popular late-round sleeper in drafts back in October, but hasn’t brought much to the table over the first few weeks of the season. He’s averaging just 5.0 points over his last four games and only 4.8 rebounds over his previous five. WCS still has the potential to deliver steals, blocks and boards, even in limited minutes, so it’s best to hold onto him for now in hopes his playing time starts climbing. Zach Randolph has been eating into Cauley-Stein’s playing time at center. Z-Bo was solid on Saturday, scoring 19 points with four rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers in 30 minutes.
Skal Labissiere's playing time plummeted to just six minutes on Saturday. He was held scoreless, with two boards being the extent of his contribution. After averaging 11.3 points and 5.4 boards in 23.2 minutes over the first seven games of the season (including two starts), Skal played 16 minutes on Wednesday before the six-minute spurt on Saturday. Coach Dave Joerger’s rotation is all over the place of late, making Labissiere extremely difficult to trust even in deep leagues… After starting out the season in a horrific shooting slump (shooting just 38.7 percent from the floor and 25.7 percent from 3-point territory) which landed him on the bench, Buddy Hield has shown some signs of life. He scored 17 points on Wednesday and had 13 points and eight rebounds over 21 minutes on Saturday. Bogdan Bogdanovic had 14 points, one rebound, one assist and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes… Stanley Johnson is day-to-day after exiting in the third quarter with a sore hip flexor.
New Orleans Hornets 96, Chicago Bulls 90:
The Hornets were unhappy they needed overtime to put away the pesky Bulls, but they did walk away from the Windy City with a win. Unsurprisingly, the star of the match was Chicago native, Anthony Davis. AD poured in 27 points (on 11-of-17 shooting), grabbed 16 rebounds and swatted three shots in 41 minutes. This was already the seventh time this season he’s had at least 25 points and 10 rebounds. According to Elias, that’s most 25/10 games through a player's first nine contests since David Robinson in 1994-95. In addition, dating back to the start of the 2013-14 season, that is Davis’ 19th game with at least 25 points, 15 boards and three blocks. Per Basketball-Reference, no other player in the league has even half as many such games over that time span. As long as he stays healthy, Davis is a lock to return high first-round value.
Davis’ tag-team partner, DeMarcus Cousins, had himself quite a night as well on Saturday. Boogie bombed the Bulls with 25 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block in 43 minutes. The one blemish on his nightly resume was that he missed 14 of the 20 shots he attempted. However, Cousins’ fantasy owners certainly can't complain about his production this season… Jameer Nelson had 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals in 35 minutes. Nelson has had some clunkers with New Orleans, but has also turned in a few lovely lines, as he did on Saturday. However, with Rajon Rondo (groin) inching closer to his return, Nelson’s limited value will be short-lived… Jrue Holiday was just 5-of-15 from the floor for 10 points, but chipped in five boards and six dimes. Holiday’s scoring is down this season, but he’s still finding ways to contribute. He’s averaging 5.2 rebounds and 7.0 assists over his last five games.
Justin Holiday led Chicago in points (18) and also added nine rebounds, three steals and three treys. The Bulls are extremely limited in terms of personnel, and have little choice but to rely on Holiday as a focal point of their offense, which is music to the ears of fantasy owners. Robin Lopez will also continue to benefit from Chicago’s lack of options. RoLo had 14 points and nine boards on Saturday.
Lauri Markkanen continued his fine play. The forward from Finland finished with 14 points, seven boards, four assists and two triples. Remarkably, Markkanen has nailed at least two 3-pointers in each of the eight games he’s appeared in. He’s the first and only player in NBA history to make multiple 3-pointers in each of the first eight games of his career… Jerian Grant had struggled mightily over the last week, but snapped out of his funk on Saturday, tallying 13 points with nine assists and eight rebounds in 36 minutes. Kris Dunn had been breathing down Grant's neck for the starting PG gig, but Dunn had just four points (on 2-of-9 shooting), four boards, three assists and three steals on Saturday.
Minnesota Timberwolves 112, Dallas Mavericks 99:
After a shocking two-point dud on Wednesday, Karl-Anthony Towns responded with a far more familiar KAT-like line on Saturday. Towns tallied a game-high 31 points, a game-high 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes. He was also predictably efficient, making 11-of-18 from the field and 7-of-8 from the line. Wednesday was the obvious outlier; there is certainly no reason for KAT owners to get jittery… Two Wolves posted solid double-doubles in the win: Jeff Teague (11 points, 10 assists, three steals) and Taj Gibson (12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals, two blocks).
Jimmy Butler was unable to locate his shot on Saturday. He was just 1-of-7 from the floor for four points. Butler was able to partially salvage his night by contributing five rebounds and seven assists. Jimmy Buckets is still trying to find his groove offensively in Minny, but that will come. Butler remains crucial to their success, especially on the defensive end. Minnesota is 6-1 this season in games in which Butler plays. He’ll get it going offensively sooner rather than later. If his owner in your league is antsy, throw out some offers and see if you can pry Butler at a discount.
Dennis Smith Jr. was one of the few bright spots for the Mavs in Saturday’s loss to the Wolves. DSJ had registered 18 points, five rebounds, one assist and three 3-pointers across 26 minutes. Smith was 7-of-15 from the floor in this one, but is still shooting just 37.7 percent from the floor over his last five games… Harrison Barnes finished with 17 points, four boards and two assists, but Minnesota was able to hold him scoreless in the second half.
The center spot has been a significant issue in Dallas all season long. The Mavs started Salah Mejri on Saturday, but that didn’t pay dividends. Mejri failed to score a single point and had a total of three rebounds in nine minutes. Dirk Nowitzki started at power forward, and had seven points, three rebounds and one 3-pointer in 21 minutes. As the season slips away (Dallas is now a dismal 1-10, the league’s worst record), Dirk will likely start seeing fewer minutes and more DNP-rest designations… Nerlens Noel's frustrating season continued on Saturday. He scored two points with four rebounds, two blocks and one steal in 14 minutes. Over his last five games, Noel is averaging just 3.2 points (on 35.3 percent shooting), 4.6 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 17.2 minutes. His limited playing time is one issue, but it’s also important to note that Noel has not been productive in the minutes he’s received… Dorian Finney-Smith (knee) was sidelined on Saturday, but coach Rick Carlisle did say that he was making progress and was considered day-to-day.
Golden State Warriors 127, Denver Nuggets 108:
This game was close at halftime, with the Warriors up by five at the break, before they blitzed the Nuggets with a 24-4 run to start the third quarter. Kevin Durant scored 13 of his 25 points in that third frame. For the game, he was 9-of-13 from the floor and added seven rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and four 3-pointers. Impressively, Durant has yet to shot below 45.0 percent in any game this season, and is now shooting 54.2 percent from the floor on the year. He’s also made at least two triples in each game and has shot 40.0 percent or better from downtown in each contest as well.
Not to be outdone, Stephen Curry finished with 22 points, 11 assists, two steals and five 3-pointers on Saturday. Steph posted a plus-minus of +44 in the win, which is the highest of his career. Over his last four games, Curry is shooting 58.6 percent from the floor, including a scorching 56.3 percent from behind the arc, while attempting eight treys per contest… Draymond Green stuffed the stat sheet as usual. He had 15 points (on 6-of-8 shooting) with seven rebounds, eight assists, one block, two steals and three 3-pointers in 27 minutes.
None of the Nuggets starters were able to crack double-figures in the blowout loss to Golden State. Nikola Jokic played just 20 minutes and was able to register eight points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Paul Millsap was eerily quiet, tallying only six points, one assist, one steal, four turnovers and no rebounds in 16 minutes. Ditto for Wilson Chandler, who had seven points and one assist in 20 minutes. Chandler has been a colossal disappointment this season. Despite logging 29.7 minutes a night, he’s averaging just 8.1 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Coming into this season, he had never posted a usage rate below 19.2, but is currently at 13.1. He’ll likely bounce back at some point, but it’s tough to hold onto him if there is a quality free agent available on the wire.
Jamal Murray scored nine points with one rebound, one assist, two steals and one 3-pointer in 19 minutes on Saturday. Gary Harris scored just four points with three rebounds, two assists, one block and two steals in 20 minutes. Will Barton was the Nuggets leading scorer in this game. He poured in 21 points with eight rebounds, five assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 34 minutes off the bench.
Injury Tracker - A Look Ahead at Sunday’s Slate:
John Wall (shoulder) is questionable for Sunday’s showdown with the Raptors in Toronto. Wizards fans and Wall owners got good news on Saturday when it was announced that Wall has no structural damage and is only dealing with soreness. We may not get definitive word on Wall’s status until right before tip-off. If Wall is unable to play, Tim Frazier would likely draw the start and would be a strong DFS play.
Kristaps Porzingis (sore left ankle) sat out of practice on Saturday but is expected to play Sunday vs. the Pacers. KP will look to continue his red-hot start. He currently leads the league in 30-point games, having topped 30 in six of the Knicks first eight contests.
Kawhi Leonard (quad) will not play against the Suns on Sunday. The Spurs continue to leave us in the dark regarding a potential target date for Leonard’s return. It has been reported he’s making progress, but we don’t have concrete information t generate optimism.
Mike Muscala (ankle) and Ersan Ilyasova (knee) have been ruled out of Sunday’s game vs. Cleveland. The Cavs will be limited upfront, which means John Collins will likely log a career-high in minutes and is an attractive DFS option. Collins is averaging 18.7 points, 13.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per-36 minutes this season. He could have a chance to flirt with 30 minutes on Sunday.
T.J. Leaf (ankle) will not play Sunday against the Knicks. Leaf is averaging 15.0 minutes per game this season, much of that coming when Myles Turner was sidelined. Thaddeus Young and Domantas Sabonis will log a few extra minutes.
Elfrid Payton (strained left hamstring) is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game vs. the Celtics. Coach Frank Vogel said that Payton “looked good” in practice on Saturday and didn’t feel any pain. However, Vogel said he’s “given thought” to holding him out Sunday, as the Magic don’t play again until Wednesday. If Payton does play, he’ll be on a minutes restriction. With D.J. Augustin (hamstring) sidelined, Shelvin Mack will draw another start if Payton is unable to go.