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Basketball Daily Dose

Dose: Not Heinz, but Harden '57

by Steve Alexander

James Harden scored 57 in a loss, Russell Westbrook scored 42 in a loss, Joel Embiid trashed the Celtics, Kawhi Leonard was back, Giannis Antetokounmpo was out again, and The Knicks are like the honey badger – they just don’t care.

Grizzlies 126, Rockets 125 OTJonas Valanciunas had a career-high 33 points and a season-high 15 boards, hit 10-of-19 shots and 13-of-17 free throws, and dominated Clint Capela in this one. Mike Conley led the way with a 35-5-8 line and hit six triples, and Bruno Caboclo came through with 15 points, seven boards, three assists and a 3-pointer in another start. Chandler Parsons (who?) had 11 points, three steals and three 3-pointers off the bench in 25 minutes, as the Grizzlies pulled off the unlikely upset. Delon Wright was fine with nine points, three rebounds, four assists, two steals and a 3-pointer, but we were hoping for more with Avery Bradley’s season potentially over due to a shin injury. I still love Wright as a pickup, and Caboclo’s worth a look with four games next week. I’m not touching Parsons.

James Harden had his seventh 50-point game of the season, but the Rockets are just 4-3 in those games. Harden finished with a ridiculous 57 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, two steals, two blocks and hit 9-of-17 3-pointers in the loss. He also hit 18-of-39 shots from the floor, and drained all 12 of his free throw attempts. Ridiculous. Chris Paul had an 18-7-7 line with a steal and two 3-pointers, Capela added 14 points, 10 boards and zero blocks, and P.J. Tucker had nine points, eight boards, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers in the start. Danuel House finally cooled off, hitting just 3-of-9 shots and three 3-pointers for nine points and three rebounds. He came in hot, but never got it going, despite playing a whopping 39 minutes. Just hang in there with him if you just picked him up. Like most teams, the Rockets only have three games next week. As a Harden owner, I’m just thankful he played in the Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back.

Raptors 123, Thunder 114 OTPascal Siakam may have solidified his Most Improved Player Award (sorry, DAR) with his 33 points, 13 rebounds, six dimes, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer on 14-of-21 shooting in 43 minutes. Not too mention that he guarded Russell Westbrook in the tough win. Kawhi Leonard was back and had 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and Fred VanVleet, filling in for Kyle Lowry (ankle), added 23 points, six assists, two steals and three 3-pointers in the win. The Raps don’t have anymore back-to-backs, which is good news for Kawhi, but they do play the Bulls, Knicks and Bulls again in a three-game stretch from March 26 to March 30, and I could see Kawhi sitting out for one of those games. VanVleet’s the pickup here, but there’s still a chance Lowry could play on Friday against OKC. Danny Green played well with a 17-5-6-2 line with five 3-pointers, but he’s tough to trust, while Serge Ibaka returned from his suspension with just six points, nine boards and two blocks in 23 minutes. All he really did was ruin Marc Gasol, who had 10 points in 30 minutes. And Jeremy Lin fell back to earth with six points and zero assists after scoring 20 on Monday. The Raptors play three times next week.

Russell Westbrook had 42 points, 11 boards, six assists, a steal and five 3-pointers on 16-of-29 shooting and helped the Thunder overcome a big deficit, but it wasn’t enough.  Paul George fouled out with a 19-5-6 line, while Steven Adams fizzled with four points and seven boards, despite playing 40 minutes against Gasol and company. The Thunder are now the No. 8 seed and are set to possibly face the Warriors in Round 1 of the playoffs, after sitting as the No. 3 seed at the All-Star break. Ouch. The good news for Thunder owners is they have four games next week.

Sixers118, Celtics 115Joel Embiid torched the Celtics with 37 points, 22 rebounds, four assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer, and hit 20-of-21 free throws after taking the night off against Charlotte. He hates the Celtics, and was clearly on a mission tonight. He is the first Philly player with a line like that since Charles Barkley did it in 1990.  Starters Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick all played well in the win, while the bench scored a total of eight points. The Sixers go three times next week.  

Marcus Smart was ejected after pushing Embiid, and Terry Rozier came through with 20 points, six boards and four 3-pointers in 24 minutes off the bench. Kyrie Irving led the way with 36 points, nine boards, four assists and three 3-pointers, Al Horford came through with a 22-6-5 line and Jayson Tatum added 13 points, six boards, four assists, a block and a 3-pointer in the loss. The Celtics have three games next week and a pair of back-to-backs coming (Saturday/Sunday, Friday/Saturday), so there’s a good chance Irving could be rested in some upcoming games, making Rozier an intriguing add.

Heat 110, Spurs 105 – The Heat bench generally outplayed the starters tonight, as Goran Dragic led the way with 22 points, two assists and four 3-pointers. He’s on fire right now. Starter Dion Waiters had an 18-5-4 line with four 3-pointers, but he’s tough to trust, and starter Josh Richardson’s shooting woes continued, as he hit 6-of-16 shots and two 3-pointers for 15 points, five boards, four assists, a steal and two blocks. He’s just too good to sit, even when his shot’s not falling. James Johnson and Dwyane Wade both scored in double digits off the bench, and Wade hit some huge shots, including one from beyond half court, to help the Heat win, although his fantasy line was severely lacking. Hassan Whiteside bounced back after a five-minute night with 12 points, seven rebounds and a block, but starter Bam Adebayo outplayed him again with six points, 15 rebounds, five assists and two steals in 29 minutes. Starters Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones were both disappointing, but I’m probably sticking with Olynyk as long as he’s starting. The Heat go three times next week, Dragic should be owned, and Olynyk, who has cooled off, is a realistic drop candidate, despite my earlier comment.

The Spurs got 17 points from LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli, 16 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, a steal and a block from DeMar DeRozan, and Rudy Gay had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists off the bench. He started the second half over Jakob Poeltl, as Poeltl lasted just 14 minutes to finish with two points, eight rebounds, two assists and zero blocks. He looked like a great pickup coming into the week, but they got Popped, as in Gregg Popovich’d. I’m sorry. Derrick White was also a disaster, hitting 1-of-8 shots for three points and four assists, but my guess is he’ll bounce back. The Spurs have three games next week.

Blazers 126, Mavericks 118Damian Lillard got loose for 33 points, 12 assists, two steals and six triples, and should continue to roll without C.J. McCollum (knee) around. Jusuf Nurkic double-doubled, starter Jake Layman scored 13 points with three 3-pointers, and Moe Harkless kept it going with 10 points, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers. Seth Curry hit four 3-pointers and scored 20 points off the bench, and might end up being the big winner in the absence of McCollum, while Enes Kanter also had a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards off the bench. The Blazers play four times next week, making Harkless, Layman, Curry and Kanter worth a look, while Rodney Hood and Evan Turner were both very quiet off the bench in this one.

For the Mavs, Luka Doncic kept it rolling with a 24-5-6 line and made all seven of his free throws (yay!), and Justin Jackson played 34 minutes off the bench for 21 points and three 3-pointers (Maxi Kleber was out (wrist). This was his best game in forever, so it was probably a fluke. Jalen Brunson scored 16 with three assists and two steals, Tim Hardaway Jr. had 14 points and two 3-pointers, and Dwight Powell cooled off with five points, but did have nine boards, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer. Stick with him if you can. Trey Burke had 15 points off the bench, but it was fluky, and the Mavs play three times next week.

Jazz 137, Knicks 116Donovan Mitchell 30 points and a nice line in three quarters, and Derrick Favors, Joe Ingles, Rudy Gobert and Ricky Rubio all played well in the starting lineup. And despite Favors’ playing through a hamstring injury, Jae Crowder still came through with 15 points, two steals and three 3-pointers in 23 minutes off the bench. The Jazz play three times next week and the five starters, plus Crowder, are the only players you can really trust. And for the record, I still don’t trust Favors, who had 10 points, five boards and two blocks. Ingles was the hidden star, finishing with 18 points, five boards, seven dimes and six 3-pointers in the easy win.

The Knicks have pretty much just given up and were blown out in this one. Allonzo Trier, who was hot, sat out with a calf injury, and Kevin Knox (27), Mario Hezonja (23) and Damyean Dotson (21) all played relatively well as a result. Emmanuel Mudiay bounced back with 15 points and five assists, and Mitchell Robinson somehow didn’t foul out in 30 minutes, finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds, a steal and three more blocks. He’s been pretty dreadful, but played well in this one. The Knicks only play two games next week, so I’m not messing with any of them. Mitchell’s big game also ruined DeAndre Jordan, who had six points in 18 minutes. I give up, but he should be ready to extract some revenge on the Clippers Sunday.

Cavaliers 107, Bucks 102Kevin Love hit just 1-of-10 shots before going to the locker room with a head injury, and he’s got a history with concussions. The Cavs have no reason to rush him back, or play him, so I’m skeptical about how many more games he’ll play this season. Collin Sexton scored 25 with four triples, but only had two rebounds and three assists, and Jordan Clarkson came through with 23 points and two steals off the bench. Cedi Osman and Brandon Knight cooled off, Ante Zizic was solid with eight points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, and Larry Nance (ribs) returned to action and came through with seven points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer off the bench. The Cavs play three times next week, so Osman, Zizic, Sexton, Nance and Clarkson look like the guys who should be targeted. Nance gets a nice bump with Love’s possible concussion.

Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out for the second straight game with an ankle injury, and his fantasy owners are fuming. He’s still day-to-day, but I’m guessing he’s back on Friday against the Heat. Khris Middleton led the way with 26 points and 12 boards, Eric Bledsoe came through with 24-8-8, and Brook Lopez kept it rolling with 19 points and a fun stat line in the loss. Ersan Ilyasova started for Nikola Mirotic (broken thumb), who might be done for the regular season, but only had eight points. D.J. Wilson has been getting big minutes and had a 6-8-5-3- line in 29 minutes, despite hitting just 1-of-9 shots. The Bucks play three games next week.

Magic 119, Pelicans 96 – The Magic starters all played well, including Johnathan Isaac, and they got the win over the AD-less Pelicans. Aaron Gordon had a 20-7-6-2 line, Isaac had 8-10-4 with four blocks, Nikola Vucevic double-doubled with 15 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks, D.J. Augustin had 13 points and seven dimes, and Evan Fournier came through with 22 points and a full stat line. Terrence Ross had 19 points and five triples off the bench, and with four games next week, all five starters, as well as Ross, are worth a look in fantasy.

Raise your hand if Julius Randle ruined your Wednesday night. My hand is raised, as the couldn’t-miss big man fell flat on his face despite the absence of Anthony Davis (personal), hitting 1-of-9 shots, getting into foul trouble, and sitting late in a blowout. Gross. He’s still the best big man not named AD on the Pelicans, and he will bounce back. Frank Jackson was the only starter to hit double digits in scoring with 14 points, four boards and four assists, as Randle, Jahlil Okafor, Elfrid Payton and Kenrich Williams all fell a bit flat. Okafor’s line was solid, but Payton really fell off, ending his streak of triple-doubles at five. It’s hard to believe this was a revenge game for him. The Pelicans play three games next week, making Randle, Jackson, Okafor, Payton and Williams worth a look. If Davis is back, Okafor and Williams will be tough starts in a three-game week. Stanley Johnson (season-high 18), Cheick Diallo (7 points, 11boards) and Ian Clark (17 points) all played well in the blowout, but I don’t trust any of them. And if Davis was cut in your league, I think he’s still worth picking up, just in case he finishes out the season.

Bulls 126, Wizards 120 OTLauri Markkanen came through a 32-13-5 line with five 3-pointers, Kris Dunn exploded for a season-high 26 points, six rebounds, 13 assists, two steals and three 3-pointers, Shaq Harrison (no Otto Porter) had 18 points, four steals and a 3-pointer, while the other two starters, Robin Lopez and Antonio Blakeney, disappeared. Somehow, Cristiano Felicio (season-high 15) and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot played well off the bench, but I don’t trust them at all. Markkanen and Dunn could keep it going, Harrison’s game feels like a fluke (Zach LaVine (thigh) sat this one out after being ruled in), and Lopez should bounce back. It was a tough night for LaVine and Ro-Lo owners. Kris Dunn’s game, I believe, was directly tied to LaVine sitting, so don’t expect a repeat performance anytime soon. The Bulls play just one game in the next five days and three times next week.

The Wizards got a huge line from Bradley Beal (27-7-7-3-2-2), Jabari Parker scored 28 off the bench, and Tomas Satoransky, Bobby Portis and Jeff Green all played fairly well in the starting lineup. Trevor Ariza left with a groin injury, and could miss time. My guess is both Green and Troy Brown Jr. (9 points, 10 rebounds, a steal, a 3-pointer) will benefit. Thomas Bryant came off the bench with five points, six rebounds and two blocks, The Wiz go four times next week, making Beal, Portis, Trevor Ariza (if healthy), Green, Satoransky, Parker, Brown and Bryant all fantasy options.

Other teams who play four games next week: Nuggets, Clippers, Lakers & Kings.

Steve Alexander
Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2017-18 NBA season marks (at least) his 16th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.