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Basketball Daily Dose

Dose: PG13 Has an MVP Moment

by Raphielle Johnson

Friday was, as is usually the case, a busy night in the NBA as there were nine games on the schedule. Among the games was DeMar DeRozan and the Spurs visiting Toronto, giving the fans an opportunity to show their appreciation for what he did as a Raptor before being traded last summer. That game went down to the wire, but the Daily Dose will begin with the thriller staged by the Jazz and Thunder. Russell Westbrook’s triple-double streak came to an end, but both he and Paul George excelled. And it was George who determined the outcome in double overtime, as his floater over Rudy Gobert gave Oklahoma City the 148-147 victory. Other players who put forth quality efforts on Friday include Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond, Kemba Walker and Trae Young

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The matchup between Utah and Oklahoma City was a big one, as the Thunder entered the night with a five-game lead on the Jazz in a Northwest Division race that is pretty tight at the top (Portland is sandwiched in between those teams). The squads combined to produce one of the best games of the season to date, with MVP candidate Paul George’s floater over the hand of Rudy Gobert with eight-tenths of a second remaining in double overtime being the difference. The shot capped a sensational night for George, who finished with 45 points (17-of-31 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs), nine rebounds, seven assists, one steal and five 3-pointers in 50 minutes played. He and Russell Westbrook combined to score 88 of Oklahoma City’s 148 points, with the point guard finishing the night with a line of 43 points (15-of-23 FGs, 7-of-10 FTs), 15 rebounds, eight assists, two steals, one blocked shot and six 3-pointers. 

Westbrook’s run of consecutive games with a triple-double came to an end (the streak reached 11), and he did foul out in overtime, but his team got the win and he shot the ball well. Friday marked just the fourth time in his last 12 games that Westbrook has shot 50% or better from the field, and it was also his second consecutive 40-point game as he scored 44 in the Valentine’s Day loss to the Pelicans. In total all five Oklahoma City starters scored in double figures, with Steven Adams (16 points, ten rebounds, five steals, three assists and one blocked shot) posting his first double-double since January 24 and Jerami Grant finishing with an 18/4/1/2/3 stat line with three 3-pointers. Lastly there was Terrance Ferguson, who scored 12 points in 27 minutes that were plagued by foul trouble. 

As for Utah, four of the team’s six double-digit scorers tallied at least 20 points with Donovan Mitchell’s 38 leading the way. Mitchell, who some believed had an argument to be an All-Star selection (the same can be said for Gobert), shot 14-of-35 from the field and also accounted for five assists, four rebounds, one blocked shot and four 3-pointers. While Ricky Rubio, who finished with 14 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals, is certainly an adequate point guard it’s fair to wonder if Utah should have looked into making an upgrade at the position in preparation for the stretch run. While Rubio, who turned the ball over eight times Friday, has been consistent in his two seasons with the Jazz offensively he does not take a whole lot of pressure off of Mitchell when it comes to Utah’s perimeter scoring. For that reason Utah needs Mitchell to keep firing away, even if it does result in some tough nights when it comes to the second-year guard’s field goal percentage. 

The aforementioned Gobert finished with 26 points, 16 rebounds, three blocks, two assists and one steal, and Derrick Favors added a double-double of his own with 24 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two assists. Jae Crowder was the fourth 20-point scorer on the night for the visitors, as he tallied 20 to go along with eight rebounds, three assists, one block and four 3-pointers in 37 minutes off the bench.  

DeMar DeRozan scores 23 in return to Toronto 

As noted above DeMar DeRozan, who was traded to San Antonio in the offseason, was making his first visit to the place where his NBA career began. And unlike the first meeting between the Spurs and Raptors, which was anything but a joyful reunion for Kawhi Leonard as fans booed his every touch of the basketball, DeRozan was given a hero’s welcome on multiple occasions as Friday was the first opportunity for Toronto fans to show their appreciation for what he did as a Raptor. And the game lived up to the expectations, as the outcome was not decided until the final seconds as two Leonard free throws sealed the 120-117 victory for the home team. 

DeRozan did not leave with the win but he did put forth a solid effort, finishing with 23 points (7-of-12 FGs, 9-of-9 FTs), eight assists, four rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot in 34 minutes. The tenth-year guard has scored 23 points or more in four of his last five outings, and for the month of February he’s averaging 21.4 points, 5.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting 46.2% from the field and 82.1% from the foul line (he has not attempted a three-pointer since January 31). A top-50 player in nine-category leagues for the entire season, DeRozan is just outside of the top-100 over the last month. 

He’s contributing about one less rebound and assist per game over the last month, and his steals and blocked shot averages have decreased as well. The lack of a three-point shot isn’t a major reason for DeRozan’s drop on fantasy lists over the last month, but the margin for error is smaller as a result. If he can produce in the non-scoring categories as he did Friday night moving forward, DeRozan’s fantasy value should improve as the Spurs continue their march towards a playoff spot. 

The biggest issue for San Antonio Friday night was the lack of production from LaMarcus Aldridge, who shot 2-of-8 from the field and finished with six points, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and one blocked shot in 31 minutes. On the season he’s averaging 21.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, and in the first meeting between the two teams he accounted for 23 points, five assists and two rebounds. Those numbers make it easy to assume that Aldridge’s performance in Toronto is best explained by simply stating that the All-Star forward had an off night. 

Thanks to the bench production San Antonio nearly overcame Aldridge’s lack of production. Marco Belinelli made five 3-pointers and finished the night with 21 points, six rebounds and two assists, with Patty Mills (15 points, four assists, three rebounds and one three-pointer) and Davis Bertans (16 points, three rebounds, one steal and four 3-pointers) also scoring in double figures. And Jakob Poeltl, who was also included in the offseason trade with Toronto, made all four of his field goal attempts and tallied eight points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots, one assist and one steal in 17 minutes of play. 

 

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Pascal Siakam continues to flourish for the Raptors

The aforementioned Leonard led the way offensively for Toronto, scoring a game-high 25 points to go along with six rebounds, two assists, two steals and one blocked shot, and five other Raptors reached double figures. One of those five was third-year forward Pascal Siakam, who has been one of the NBA’s most-improved players to this point in the season. Friday night Siakam played 33 minutes, shooting 7-of-10 from the field and 6-of-9 from the foul line and finishing with 22 points, six assists, three rebounds, two steals and two 3-pointers. His point total was half of what he produced in Toronto’s game before the All-Star break, as he racked up a career-high 44 in a win over the Wizards, but Friday’s effort means that Siakam has scored 22 points or more in five of his last ten games. 

Averaging 16.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.0 steals per game with shooting splits of 55.2/34.1/79.0 for the season, Siakam is a top-40 player in nine-category leagues. He’s certainly had eye-opening games, but the consistency has been the most impressive aspect of Siakam’s development in his third season as a pro. He’s remained a top-40 player over the past month, and his ability to score from just about anywhere on the court without needing to be a focal point of the Toronto offense is something that makes Nick Nurse’s team a force to be reckoned with in the East. Kyle Lowry and Danny Green scored 17 points apiece, with the latter going 5-of-7 from three, Jeremy Lin added an 11/3/2/1 stat line off the bench, and Serge Ibaka finished the night with 13 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot. 

Jaren Jackson Jr. out indefinitely with a right quad strain

Memphis dropped its third straight Friday night, falling to the Clippers by a final score of 112-106, and the team lost its promising rookie forward as well. Jaren Jackson Jr. did not play, and after the game coach J.B. Bickerstaff said that the forward is dealing with a deep bruise in his right quad. As a result he’s been ruled out indefinitely, with Bruno Caboclo moving into the starting lineup as a result. The two players who will be impacted the most by Jackson’s absence are Ivan Rabb and Joakim Noah, with the former already in the starting lineup. Rabb played 25 minutes, finishing the game with 15 points (5-of-10 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), nine rebounds, three assists, one steal, one blocked shot and one three-pointer. As for Noah, he had his best game as a Grizzly, finishing with 22 points (5-of-10 FGs, 12-of-12 FTs), 11 rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and one steal in 30 minutes. Not sure Noah, a career 69.8% shooter from the foul line, will be able to duplicate his 12-of-12 night from the charity stripe anytime soon but at the very least he should see even more playing time for a team that’s headed to the draft lottery. 

Also, Chandler Parsons saw his first game action since October 22. Parsons, who will be a part of the team’s rotation moving forward, played 20 minutes and finished with three points (1-of-7 FGs), two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one three-pointer. He looked rusty, which is certainly understandable, but with Kyle Anderson (shoulder) out indefinitely there’s room for Parsons on the wing. How effective he can be remains to be seen, so this isn’t a situation where fantasy players should be rushing to the waiver wire to scoop Parsons up. 

Montrezl Harrell ties career-high with 30 points in road win 

When the Clippers traded Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott to Philadelphia at the trade deadline, the general assumption was that Doc Rivers’ team was punting on the 2018-19 season. But that hasn’t been the case, as the Clippers remain in the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings. One reason for this is forward Montrezl Harrell, a seemingly indefatigable player who puts forth a good effort whether he’s a starter or reserve. The fourth-year power forward had one of the best games of his career Friday in Memphis, as he matched his career-high with 30 points (11-of-14 FGs, 8-of-10 FTs) while also accounting for three rebounds and one assist. Harrell’s been a top-70 player in nine-category leagues this season, and there’s no reason for him to not be rostered in most leagues. 

Danilo Gallinari was the lone starter to score in double figures, as he tallied 23 points with eight rebounds, three steals, one assist , one blocked shot and one three-pointer, and Lou Williams added 18 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes off the bench. 

Kemba Walker posts fifth double-double of the season

Hornets point guard Kemba Walker raised his double-double count for the season to five Friday night, as he accounted for 27 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and three 3-pointers in Charlotte’s 123-110 win over Washington. The double-double is Walker’s third in his last seven games, but it’s worth noting that he’s struggled with his shot recently. After going 9-of-25 from the field and 3-of-11 from three against the Wizards, Walker has shot a combined 13-of-45 over his last two games (3-of-18 from three). However, unlike his ten-point effort in a blowout loss to the Magic in Charlotte’s final game before the break, Walker had some help Friday night. Nicolas Batum posted a 20/8/5 stat line with five 3-pointers, Jeremy Lamb scored 16 with six rebounds, four steals, one assist and two 3-pointers, and three other Hornets scored in double figures as well. 

Bradley Beal drops season-high 46 points

Charlotte was able to get the win Friday night, but the Hornets (as has been the case for many teams) were unable to corral Wizards guard Bradley Beal. The All-Star guard established a new season-high, as he scored 46 points (16-of-25 FGs, 10-of-10 FTs) with seven assists, six rebounds, one blocked shot and four 3-pointers in 42 minutes. Beal has scored 40 points or more in three games this season, matching his total in 2017-18. The highest number of 40-point games he’s had in a single season is four, which occurred during the 2016-17 campaign. And given how much the ball is in Beal’s hands, it may not be long before he matches that total. For the season he’s been a top-15 player in nine-category leagues, but over the last month Beal he’s been a top-10 player. 

Andre Drummond puts up another 20/20 stat line 

Pistons center Andre Drummond had a big night in Detroit’s 125-122 win in Atlanta, as he accounted for 26 points, 21 rebounds, five steals, two assists and one blocked shot in 39 minutes. The seventh-year pivot has now posted 11 20/20 games this season, and with an average of 15.1 rebounds per game he’s in line to win his third rebounding title in the last four years. Over the last month Drummond is averaging 23.1 points, 16.2 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.8 blocks per game, and with percentages of 66.9% from the field and 66.2% from the foul line he’s been a top-five player in nine-category leagues during this stretch.

Drummond was 8-of-16 from the foul line Friday night, but for the month of February he’s making 64.2% of his attempts. For most players that percentage wouldn’t be a big deal but it is for Drummond, who’s shooting just under 56% from the line for the season. The improvement in that area is one of the reasons why he’s been one of the most productive fantasy options over the last month. 

Lauri Markkanen scores 25, makes game-winning free throws

Bulls second-year forward Lauri Markkanen proved to be the difference in Chicago’s 110-109 win in Orlando, as he made two free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining to provide the final margin. Markkanen, who was fouled on a three-point attempt by Aaron Gordon (who also played a season at Arizona), finished the game with 25 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, one steal and four 3-pointers in 38 minutes of action. The 7-footer has now scored 20 points or more in seven straight games, and for the month he’s averaging 25.3 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game with a true shooting percentage of 62.0%. February has been Markkanen’s best month of the season to date, and it isn’t all that close either. In total four Bulls starters scored in double figures Friday, with Zach LaVine adding 22 points to go along with six assists, four rebounds, two steals and five 3-pointers (on six attempts). 

Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee dominate the backboards in Dallas

Denver did not have to deal with Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic, who did not play due to an ankle issue, but even if he was available it’s unlikely that this would have stopped the trio of Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee from controlling the boards. All three grabbed 13 rebounds in Denver’s 114-104 victory, with Millsap scoring 17 points with three steals, two assists and one blocked shot and Jokic tallying 19 points, eight assists and one steal. As for Plumlee, in addition to his 13 rebounds he tallied 12 points and three assists. Scoring-wise seven Nuggets finished the game in double figures, and that includes Isaiah Thomas who scored a season-high 16 points to go along with three rebounds and two assists in 16 minutes off the bench.

Also contributing was Gary Harris, who scored eight points in his first game back from a groin injury. Harris played 21 minutes off the bench, with Malik Beasley (13 points, four assists, three rebounds and one steal) remaining in the starting lineup. With the addition of Thomas and Harris’ return the Nuggets are as deep as they’ve been at any point this season, which will make the way in which coach Michael Malone juggles the minutes something to keep an eye on moving forward. 

Taj Gibson goes for 19 & 10 as Minnesota wins without KAT

Minnesota took on the New York Knicks without its best player, as Karl-Anthony Towns has entered the league’s concussion protocol after being involved in a car crash on Wednesday. As a result Taj Gibson moved back into the starting lineup and the veteran forward made the most of the opportunity, as he racked up 19 points, ten rebounds, three assists and two steals in the Timberwolves’ 115-104 victory. The double-double is Gibson’s 11th of the season and first since January 24, when he tallied 14 points and ten rebounds in a win over the Lakers. Four of Minnesota’s six starters scored in double figures against the lowly Knicks, and reserves Derrick Rose (20 points, three assists, three steals and two rebounds) and Anthony Tolliver (16 points, three rebounds, one steal, one block and four 3-pointers) got in on the fun as well. 

Trae Young goes for 30 & 10 assists vs. Pistons 

Trae Young and the Hawks were unable to get the win, as Thon Maker’s three-pointer in the final minute proved to be the difference, but the rookie point guard continues to make strides. Young finished the game with 30 points (11-of-23 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), ten assists, two rebounds and five 3-pointers, his second 30/10 game of the season (with the first coming in Atlanta’s October 21 win over Cleveland). Well outside of the top-100 in nine-category leagues for the entire season due in large part to his struggles early on, Young has been a top-60 player over the last month. That’s a good sign, not only for those who have the rookie on their fantasy rosters but for the Hawks as well. 

Cheick Diallo goes for 16 & 18 in Pelicans loss 

With New Orleans stating that it will keep Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday down to about 25 minutes per game for the remainder of the season, there will be opportunities for some of the team’s younger players to earn increased playing time. Cheick Diallo certainly qualifies, and in the Pelicans’ 126-111 loss to Indiana he put forth his best performance of the season. In 26 minutes off the bench Diallo accounted for 16 points (5-of-7 FGs, 6-of-7 FTs), 18 rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot, establishing a new career-high for rebounds in a game. In the five games prior he accounted for totals of 30 points and 21 rebounds (4.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg).

Jahlil Okafor did not have his best night, as he finished with six points, five rebounds and two assists in a matchup that did not favor him, thus opening the door for Diallo to earn extended minutes and the third-year forward out of Kansas took advantage. As for Davis and Holiday, they played 20 and 25 minutes respectively with the former finishing with a 15/8/4/1/1 stat line and the latter tallying 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, one blocked shot and one three-pointer. 

Raphielle Johnson
Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.