It was an extremely entertaining Saturday in the NBA, highlighted by King James’ Cavs streaking to their 11th straight victory, Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond going at it in Philly, and Giannis Antetokounmpo stuffing the stat sheet once again.
After recapping Saturday’s action, we’ll wrap up the Dose by taking a look at a number of players facing injury issues in Sunday’s games.
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Boston Celtics 116, Phoenix Suns 111:
The Celtics captured their league-leading 20th victory of the season on Saturday afternoon courtesy of a balanced attack from both starters and reserves. Al Horford was everywhere, finishing with 14 points, five rebounds, 11 assists, one block and two 3-pointers. The 11 dimes were a career high. Horford is now averaging 7.0 assists a night over his last five games. He is on pace to become just the fifth player in Celtics franchise history to average at least eight rebounds and five assists per game over a full season… Rookie Jayson Tatum also had a terrific all-around game. Tatum scored 15 points (on 6-of-8 shooting) and added six rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks and one 3-pointer.
Kyrie Irving led the team in scoring with 19 points but was relatively quiet until crunch time. Irving finished with zero rebounds, five assists, two steals and two 3-pointers… Marcus Morris scored 17 points with eight rebounds and one 3-pointer in 27 minutes. Prior to the game, Brad Stevens said he planned to lift Morris’ minutes limit (current set at 25-30 mins) in the near future… Marcus Smart tallied 13 points, four rebounds, seven assists, one block and two 3-pointers. Smart has been far more efficient of late and was 3-of-6 from the floor, including 2-of-5 from downtown, and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe on Saturday. Over his first 18 games this season, Smart shot over 40 percent from the field just once. He has shot 50 percent or better in three of his last four.
Devin Booker did his best to keep the Suns close, pouring in 38 points in his first game in Boston since he dropped 70 on the C’s last season. Booker also tacked on four rebounds, five assists and three 3-pointers. Booker is now averaging a cool 54.0 points over his last two trips to the TD Garden… T.J. Warren was hit above his right eye towards the end of the first half and was bleeding as he left the floor. He missed the start of the second half but able to return a few minutes into the third quarter after receiving four sutures to close the wound. Warren finished with 19 points, five rebounds, one assist, four steals and one 3-pointer in 36 minutes.
After being smacked with a DNP-CD on Wednesday, Tyson Chandler was re-inserted back into the starting lineup on Saturday. He made the most of his opportunity, scoring 14 points and pulling down a game-high 18 rebounds in 28 minutes. Alex Len (ankle) didn’t play in this one. Coach Jay Triano said Len could have entered the game if needed, but rest was the preferred option. Greg Monroe backed up Chandler and finished with six points, eight rebounds, three assists and one turnover. The Suns'' frontcourt situation is completely unpredictable (and wildly frustrating) right now, with three quality centers vying for two spots in the rotation. A trade is likely the only way it gets cleared up.
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Dallas Mavericks 108, Los Angeles Clippers 82:
The Mavs began this game on an 8-0 run and never looked back, demolishing the reeling Clippers. J.J. Barea registered his second double-double of the season with a season-high 21 points (on 8-of-12 shooting) and a game-high 10 assists, to go along with four boards and four 3-pointers in 24 minutes off the bench. Barea ranks third on the team in scoring this season (12.4) and first in assists (5.2)... Dirk Nowitzki tallied 16 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and a season-high five 3-pointers in 25 minutes. Nowitzki went a perfect 5-of-5 from beyond the arc… Devin Harris scored a season-high-tying 15 points and added three rebounds, three assists and one steal in 21 minutes… Dennis Smith Jr. was relatively quiet, with 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, one block and one 3-pointer.
The Clippers have been outscored by 45 points (234-189) in the two games they have played since Blake Griffin went down. There wasn't much positivity to take away from Saturday’s shellacking, other than DeAndre Jordan once again imposing his will in the paint. Jordan scored 14 points, grabbed 17 boards and blocked two shots in the loss to the Mavs. The question floating around Clipper-land right now is whether Doc Rivers and company choose to hold onto Jordan (who can become a free agent this summer), or trade him to kick-start a rebuild. The Bucks are the most recent team reportedly interested in acquiring him… Lou Williams had 18 points (on 4-of-16 shooting) and six assists, but nothing else… Wes Johnson had seven points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 28 minutes.
Atlanta Hawks 114, Nets 102:
The Hawks were playing without John Collins (shoulder) and Dewayne Dedmon (leg), but still managed to beat Brooklyn on Saturday. Dennis Schroder led the way with scored 24 points, three rebounds, six assists, one steal and one 3-pointer. The Hawks were already short on talent coming into the season; now, with two of their best frontcourt players sidelined, expect Schroder to take on even more responsibility on the offensive end of the floor… Ersan Ilyasova started at power forward and just missed a double-double, finishing with nine points, 11 rebounds, one steal and one turnover in 24 minutes… Luke Babbitt tallied 20 points (on 7-of-9 shooting) with two rebounds, one assist and four 3-pointers off the bench… Miles Plumlee made his first start of the season and registered six points, seven rebounds, two assists and three blocks in 19 minutes.
The Nets have lost five of their last seven, and this was arguably their most disappointing defeat of the season. Spencer Dinwiddie has been Brooklyn's only consistent/healthy fantasy producer over the last couple of weeks. Dinwiddie scored 15 points with six rebounds, nine assists, three blocks and three 3-pointers in 30 minutes on Saturday. He’s averaging 16.0 points, 7.0 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 2.4 treys and 1.4 blocks over his last five games… Allen Crabbe (sore lower back) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (sprained right ankle) were both back in action on Saturday. Crabbe, who had missed four straight games, tallied 12 points, three rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers in 25 minutes. Hollis-Jefferson, returning from a two-game absence, finished with nine points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal and one turnover in 21 minutes… Jarrett Allen looked solid in limited playing time. He scored a career-high 12 points and added six rebounds, one assist and one block across 17 minutes.
Cleveland Cavs 116, Memphis Grizzlies 111:
LeBron James is unfair. He singlehandedly took over late in the fourth quarter Saturday night and carried the Cavs to their 11th straight victory. James finished with 34 points, 12 assists, two rebounds, a block and five turnovers. This was LeBron’s 63rd game with at least 30 points and 10 dimes. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only three players in league history (Oscar Robertson, Nate Archibald, and Jerry West) have more such games. LeBron, who is the NBA’s leading fourth-quarter scorer this season, had 15 in the final frame, including the last 13 points of the game for Cleveland. King James, who is third in the league in scoring, has now shot 50 percent or better from the floor in 10 straight games, and is averaging 9.8 rebounds and 9.8 assists over his last five contests.
Kevin Love recorded another double-double. He had 20 points (on 7-of-12 shooting), 11 boards, two assists, and three triples… J.R. Smith scored 17 points with five rebounds, two assists, three steals and four 3-pointers in 34 minutes. He’s scored in double figures in four of his last five… Channing Frye dislocated his right middle finger on Saturday but was available to return.
After a dud on Friday night, Tyreke Evans bounced back in a big way on Saturday. Evans poured 31 points, dished out 12 dimes and pulled down seven boards. Evans also knocked down five triples and made all eight of his free throws. As long as he stays healthy, he will continue to flirt with top-50 overall value… Marc Gasol was a game-time decision for this contest due to an ankle injury, but suited up and logged a game-high 41 minutes Saturday night. He finished with 27 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals, two blocks and one 3-pointer… Brandan Wright re-aggravated his groin injury on Friday and was unable to play Saturday. Chandler Parsons (right knee and ankle soreness) did not suit up Saturday and will also miss Monday’s matchup vs. the Timberwolves. He’s expected to return on Wednesday.
Philadelphia 76ers 108, Detroit Pistons 103:
Joel Embiid got into an entertaining war of words with Andre Drummond leading into this matchup, but backed up the trash talk with his play on the floor. Embiid scored 25 points with 10 rebounds, one steal and six turnovers in 32 minutes. He also took great pleasure in drawing the fifth and sixth fouls on Drummond late in the game. After the final buzzer, the two bigs hugged it out and told reporters it was all in good fun… Ben Simmons had a relatively disappointing evening. He scored just five points on 2-of-6 shooting and committed four turnovers, but added 10 rebounds, six assists and two blocks. It was the first time in his young career that Simmons failed to crack double-digits in scoring. Free-throw shooting will continue to be an issue (he ran to the corner when the Pistons were looking to foul late in the fourth), but Simmons will continue to rack up remarkably impressive counting stats on a nightly basis.
Robert Covington came into Saturday night in a nasty slump. He was just 9-of-36 from the floor, including 4-of-24 from deep, over his last three games. However, RoCo got back on track on Saturday. He was 6-of-13 from downtown en route to 25 points. He also registered eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks… T.J. McConnell (shoulder) missed his second straight game on Saturday. He’s dealing with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder. Fortunately, an MRI revealed no structural damage, but he is still very sore.
Reggie Jackson scored a season-high 25 points and chipped in three rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes. Coming off an injury-riddled 2016-17 campaign, many fantasy folks (myself included) shied away from R-Jax on draft day. Well, Jackson has been playing surprisingly well since opening night. The most impressive aspect of his play this season has been his efficiency and accuracy. He’s currently shooting 46.7 from the floor, 37.0 percent from downtown and 89.4 percent from the free-throw line. All three marks represent career highs.
Andre Drummond didn't get the win over his rival but certainly held his own. Dre finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, five steals and one block. It’s just the fourth time this season a player has had at least five steals, five assists and a points-rebound double-double in the same game. The other three players to accomplish this feat are Russell Westbrook, James Harden and LeBron James… Tobias Harris scored a team-high 27 points (on 9-of-15 shooting), knocked down three treys, and pulled down seven boards.
Milwaukee Bucks 109, Sacramento Kings 104:
Giannis Antetokounmpo was back at it on Saturday. He tallied 33 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three steals. He made his money at the line, knocking down 17 of his 22 freebies. The 22 attempts were the most by a Buck in more than 40 years. Also, at the start of last season, no Bucks player had recorded at least 30 points, ten boards, five dimes and three steals in the same game since Alvin Robertson in 1990. Giannis now has for such games over the last 12 months… Khris Middleton scored 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting but added little else (two boards and one assist)... Eric Bledsoe had 19 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and three turnovers in 33 minutes.
Zach Randolph was bumped to the bench on Saturday but was still able to tally 22 points and seven rebounds in 34 minutes. Z-Bo saw extended minutes in the second half partly because Willie Cauley-Stein injured his lower back after a bad fall in the second quarter and was unable to return to the game… Buddy Hield scored 19 points with six rebounds, four assists, four treys and a steal in 30 minutes. He’s been up and down all season, but can put up plenty of points… George Hill’s nightmarish season sunk a bit lower on Saturday. Hill had six points, one assist, zero rebounds and two turnovers in 18 minutes. Hill has scored in single digits in three straight games and is averaging 2.2 assists over his last five.
Denver Nuggets 115, Los Angeles Lakers 100:
Jamal Murray erupted for a game-high 28 points to go along four rebounds, four assists, two steals and five 3-pointers in 33 minutes. Murray was averaging just 9.5 points per contest over his previous four, so this was a welcomed sight… With Wilson Chandler (back) unable to play, Trey Lyles logged a season-high 30 minutes and scored a season-high 18 points, with three rebounds, one block and two 3-pointers.
The Nuggets embark on a six-game road trip on Monday, and Nikola Jokic (ankle) will travel with the team. Denver is hoping that Jokic will be able to return to the lineup “towards the middle of the six games." GM's in weekly fantasy leagues should leave Jokic on the bench for this upcoming week but will hopefully be able to slot him back in their lineup next Monday… Mason Plumlee (core) was cleared to play and started at center on Saturday. He registered 12 points, six rebounds and six assists in 31 minutes. Plumlee is worth streaming and DFS consideration while Jokic is on the shelf… Kenneth Faried surprisingly started alongside Plumlee at power forward and finished with 13 points, nine rebounds one assist and one block in 27 minutes.
Brandon Ingram stayed hot on Saturday, finishing with 20 points four rebounds, one steal and five turnovers in 28 minutes. Over the Lakers last five games, Ingram is averaging 19.6 points (on 52.2 percent shooting), 5.0 boards, 3.0 assists and 1.2 blocks. His stock is spiking… Kyle Kuzma (back) was questionable coming in, but chalked up 13 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and one 3-pointer in 27 minutes… Brook Lopez was averaging just 4.8 points and 3.0 rebounds over his last four games, but was able to score 15 points and grab five rebounds on Saturday… Lonzo Ball finished with nine points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and one 3-pointer in 33 minutes. However, he was seen walking with a bit of a limp after the game, and it is being reported that he is dealing tightness in his left calf. The Lakers have to turn around and play on Sunday. Check back to make sure he is cleared to suit up.
New Orleans Pelicans 123, Portland Trail Blazers 116:
DeMarcus Cousins helped lead the shorthanded Pels to an impressive road win in Portland on Saturday. Boogie bullied his way to 38 points, eight rebounds, two treys and a block… Rajon Rondo posted his second consecutive double-double. After a 13/11/8 gem on Friday, Rondo backed it up with 12 points, 10 assists and six rebounds on Saturday. He also chipped in two treys and committed just one turnover… Jrue Holiday also had a solid all-around game, finishing with 17 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
However, it’s tough for folks in New Orleans to be overjoyed at the moment, as the city anxiously awaits word on Anthony Davis (left pelvis). According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com, the extent of the injury to Davis will be better known once team examines him in New Orleans on Sunday. However, Davis was spotted on crutches at the arena Saturday night, which could be an ominous sign. Keep your fingers crossed.
Damian Lillard scored a team-high 28 points and added five boards and eight assists. The only blemish on Lillard’s ledger was that he needed 25 shots (11-of-25) to notch his 28 points… C.J. McCollum also struggled with his shot. He was 8-of-22 and finished with 17 points, four rebounds and three dimes… Meyers Leonard was surprisingly solid off the bench. He had 17 points, two rebounds and three assists in 16 minutes… Shabazz Napier tallied 15 points, seven boards, two dimes and three steals in 24 minutes.
Injury Notes for Sunday’s Games:
Stephen Curry (right hand contusion) is listed as probable for Sunday's game vs. the Heat. Curry is playing with padding to protect the ring finger on his shooting hand. He continues to put up plenty of points and dish out assists at a dizzying rate; however, it is worth noting that he hasn’t been quite as efficient as expected from the floor of late. Over the Warriors last three games, Curry is shooting “just” 41.5 percent from the floor and 30.0 percent from downtown. Those are solid marks for most other stars, but below the remarkable numbers we are accustomed to from the former back-to-back MVP. We’ll keep an eye on his efficiency going forward.
Kevin Durant (sprained left ankle) is also listed as probable for Sunday. Durant scored 25 points in 31 minutes against the Magic on Friday and, despite tweaking his right ankle early in the contest, was still on the floor well into the fourth quarter. He should be good to go.
Andre Iguodala (sore left knee), who was unable to play on Friday, is listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Sunday is the front end of a back-to-back for the Dubs, so it certainly won't be surprising if Iggy sat out at least one of the Warriors next two games. Pat McCaw, Omri Casspi and Jordan Bell would likely divvy up additional minutes if Iguodala is ruled out on Sunday.
Kristaps Porzingis (illness, ankle) was home sick and unable to practice on Saturday. He is also dealing with an ankle sprain and is questionable for Sunday's game vs. Orlando. When KP first injured his ankle in the first quarter of Wednesday’s win over Miami, it looked like it could be a devastating injury. Miraculously, the X-rays and MRI came back clean, and Porzingis is only dealing with a mild sprain. However, KP did admit that there is some swelling and that he would only come back once he was 100 percent. Now that he’s fighting through an illness on top of the ankle issue, the Knicks may choose to err on the side of caution and sit him out Sunday. If Porzingis doesn’t play, Michael Beasley would likely start in his place. Beasley scored a season-high 30 points with eight rebounds, two assists, one block and six turnovers in 36 minutes starting for KP in Houston last Saturday.
Frank Ntilikina (ankle) practiced on a limited basis Saturday and is questionable for Sunday's game. Ntilikina sprained his ankle earlier this week and was unable to play Wednesday vs. the Heat. However, he has now practiced (albeit in limited fashion) each of the last two days, suggesting he's moving in the right direction. We should get an update on his status for Sunday after shootaround, but we could be headed towards a game-time decision. If Ntilikina can't play, Ramon Sessions would serve as the primary backup at PG behind Jarrett Jack.
Jonathan Isaac (ankle) is listed as "out" in the game notes for Sunday's matchup with the Knicks. Isaac has not played since Nov. 11 but has reportedly made some solid progress this week, including participation in drills and some non-contact work. With Terrence Ross (knee) sidelined indefinitely, Isaac will see plenty of playing time once he’s healthy enough to suit up.