Gerald Green and Draymond Green went off, Kevin Durant can't catch a break and the Clippers could be without Milos Teodosic and Austin Rivers for a while. For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!
Warriors 124, Rockets 114
Kevin Durant missed tonight’s game with a “right calf strain,” an injury that the Warriors said he picked up in the first quarter of Wednesday’s game vs. Dallas. As you can see in the link (click here), Durant did have an awkward landing, but he was able to carry on and finished with 25 points (10-of-21 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), 12 rebounds, six assists, four blocks and one 3-pointer in 38 minutes.
However, coach Steve Kerr said Durant woke up on Thursday morning with swelling and said it caught the Warriors off guard. “He woke up this morning and it was really sore,” Kerr said. “It wasn’t even anything we discussed last night.” Kerr added that he thinks Durant will be “fine” and that he didn’t want to risk it vs. Houston, especially on the second night of a back-to-back set. His status for Saturday’s game vs. the Clippers is to be determined, and the only clue we have is that Kerr said he was hopeful to have him back “before long.” So to be honest, I don’t think anybody besides Durant knows if he’s going to play or not.
Omri Casspi would’ve been a decent insurance policy for owners in deeper leagues with Durant banged up, as he averaged 10.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 blocks and 0.7 triples in six starts this season. However, he missed this game as well with a back issue and it’s unclear how long he will be out.
Stephen Curry, who gets a usage rate bump from 26.4 to 39.0 when Kevin Durant (calf) is not on the floor, predictably had a big night to pace the Warriors with 29 points, nine rebounds, five assists, one steal and four triples in 37 minutes. His Splash Brother Klay Thompson also went off with 31 points and seven 3-pointers, while Draymond Green passed Tom Gola for the most triple-doubles in franchise history (21) with 17 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and one block in 38 minutes. I noted in his blurb that he’s now played 38 minutes in back-to-back games, an indication that his left ankle tweak is no longer a concern.
Andre Iguodala (back) returned to action and had his best game in a while, scoring 10 points (5-of-9 FGs) with nine assists, two rebounds, two steals, one block and two turnovers in 31 minutes as a fill-in starter. That’s actually his first game with double-digit points since November, but to be fair he’s been pretty banged up lately. If Durant does need to miss time and Casspi is still on the shelf, Iguodala becomes an intriguing pickup if you can live with his free throw percentage (61.9%)
As many of you know, I’m a big Jordan Bell fan, so I was just as disappointed as the rest of you to see him play just six minutes. He had a couple lapses on defense and coach Steve Kerr didn’t look his way in the second half, as he went with the slow-footed statue of Kevon Looney instead. Bell was a top-60 player in standard 9-category leagues in December with 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 blocks, 1.0 steals and 1.5 turnovers with solid percentages (65.4% from the field and 73.7% from the line), and he did that in just 20.3 minutes per game. Even with the Warriors healthy up front now, I still think it’s possible for Bell to see that type of workload going forward, but coach Steve Kerr’s rotations are so unpredictable from night to night. Many frustrated people asked me if Bell should be dropped, but it completely depends on your situation (league size, your position in the standings, etc.) I personally have no intention of dropping him yet and I’m hopeful that he will bounce back this weekend, and keep in mind that Golden State plays four times next week. The best answer I can give you is that he’s back to being a stash for the time being.
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Moving on to the Rockets, it was no surprise to see Chris Paul (28-9-7 with five 3-pointers) and Eric Gordon (21-7-3 with two triples, three steals and a block) feast. Harden won’t be re-evaluated for another 1.5 weeks and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he misses the entire month of January, so CP3 is locked in as a top-10 fantasy asset and Eric Gordon could flirt with early-round value while Harden is out. Clint Capela double-doubled with 15-10 and one block, confirming that he’s going to be just fine while Harden is out. He even had a nasty Euro-step layup tonight, or a "Swedish meatball move" according to TNT's Reggie Miller. Someone should probably inform him that Capela is from Switzerland...
Trevor Ariza had a quiet night with just three points on 1-of-8 shots, but he did crash into Usher (YEAH, the singer) in the stands and was down holding his back for a while. He was able to play through it, but his status is at least worth monitoring going forward. Keep an eye on P.J. Tucker if we get bad news, but I don’t think we will. Other than that, nothing else in happened for the Rockets.
Kidding!! Gerald Green went completely bonkers again on Thursday, scoring 29 points with eight 3-pointers, three rebounds and one steal in 34 minutes. He’s now averaging 21.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 5.3 triples in his last four games since his quiet debut, becoming Harden’s biggest competition for the MVP Award in the process. In all seriousness, he’s a strong add in all formats and the Rockets quickly came to an agreement after the game to sign him for the remainder of the season. I’ll warn you that he’s as streaky as they come, but you have a love to a 3-point shooter who isn’t shy in Houston’s fantasy-friendly offense.
Thunder 127, Clippers 117
Russell Westbrook recorded his 13th triple-double of the season on Thursday, scoring 29 points with 12 rebounds, 11 assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 38 minutes. He’s been on a tear lately and has been the third best player in standard 9-category leagues over his last 10 games, averaging 30.7 points, 10.5 assists, 9.7 rebounds, 1.9 steals, 0.8 triples and 3.6 turnovers in that span. He looks like the Westbrook we saw last season, you know, the one that won the MVP award with a NBA record 42 triple-doubles.
You would think Paul George and Carmelo Anthony would lose some value with Westbrook playing out of his mind, but that’s not the case. Melo had 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting and has scored 21+ points in three straight outings, saying after the game that the OKC offense is “flowing.” He’s not lying either, as the Thunder have a 122.0 offensive rating over their last seven wins. If you stuck with him during the hard times, you should be feeling really good right about now.
As for George, he scored 31 points with six rebounds, three assists, one block and five 3-pointers in 35 minutes, and he was big down the stretch with 10 points in the final quarter. He’s had some injury concerns lately with a sore left knee, tightness in his forearm and a calf injury (earlier in December), but he looked healthy in his last three games with 24+ points in each with 12 3-pointers in that span. Steven Adams continues to be one of the most underappreciated players in real life and in fantasy, as he had another nice night with 12 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block. Seven of his rebounds came on the offensive glass and he does so many little things for OKC that don’t always show up in the boxscore.
Terrance Ferguson was under the national spotlight after his monster night on Wednesday against the Lakers in which he dropped a career-high 24 points with one rebound, one assist, three steals and six 3-pointers. He had nowhere to go but down, but he made another start on Thursday and was decent, scoring 11 points with one rebound, two assists and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes. Andre Roberson (knee) and Alex Abrines (groin) are out with injuries, but they haven’t been great for the Thunder this season which means there’s a chance that Ferguson could stick in the starting lineup. Just keep an eye on him.
We learned before the game that Austin Rivers is going to miss at least two more weeks with his bruised heel, and just when you thought the Clippers’ luck couldn’t get any worse, Serbian star Milos Teodosic left the game with a sore left plantar fascia and didn’t return. This is the same injury that’s been bothering him all season, and while coach Doc Rivers called him day-to-day, he also said “it doesn’t look great.” He’ll be re-evaluated on Friday, but if you’re an owner, go ahead and plan to be without him on Saturday (barring a major surprise).
Lou Williams is the biggest winner in terms of fantasy, as he racked up 26 points with three rebounds, four 3-pointers and a season-high 10 assists. Coach Doc Rivers did say after the game that he doesn’t want to put too much on Williams’ plate and also doesn’t want him bringing the ball up every possession, but he’s locked in as a top 60 player for the foreseeable future and that’s being conservative with Blake Griffin back. Speaking of Blake, he scored 25 points with nine rebounds, seven assists, one turnover and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes, and he certainly doesn’t look like a player that missed nearly a month for a knee procedure. He hasn’t played less than 32 minutes since coming back, but I’d still be looking to sell-high since the Clippers probably aren’t to be very competitive later in the season, especially with all the injuries.
DeAndre Jordan scored a season-high 26 points with 17 rebounds, one assist and one steal in 38 minutes, but look for him to be moved by the trade deadline (he’s expected to become a free agent this summer when he inevitably turns down his player option). A trade might not hurt his value, so it doesn’t really move the needle much for his rest-of-season outlook.
Wes Johnson is back on the radar as a guy who can rack up steals, blocks and triples, and he was terrific on Thursday with 13 points with two rebounds, one assist, two steals, one block and three 3-pointers. He made his second start in a row and played 30 minutes, so the restrictions from his foot injury have been lifted.
Jawun Evans took over for Teodosic down the stretch, and while he was pretty quiet with four points, four assists, three rebounds and one steal in 23 minutes, he does have some big games on his resume this season and he will be an intriguing add if we get bad news on Teodosic. He has per-36 minute averages of 11.8 points, 4.1 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 0.8 triples, and the Clippers are going to need him to be more aggressive in the short term with so many guys out.