Elfrid Payton and Luka Doncic are on fire, Blake Griffin and Kawhi Leonard rested, Kevin Love, Kelly Oubre, Otto Porter and Kyle Lowry are all hurt, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka were out with suspensions, Hassan Whiteside bottomed out, and Kevin Durant was back from his ankle injury. And most of that is pretty bad news for owners fighting their way through the playoffs.
Cavaliers 126, Pistons 119 – Collin Sexton led the way with 27 points, five triples and two steals, Cedi Osman came through with 21 points, four rebounds, six assists, a steal and two 3-pointers, Brandon Knight had 16 points, four boards, five assists, a steal and two 3-pointers, and David Nwaba added 13 points, six boards, four assists, a steal and a block in 40 minutes. Ante Zizic was quiet with eight points, six boards and a steal, Marquese Chriss, who was originally listed as a starter for Kevin Love (back) played 20 minutes and double-doubled with two blocks, Jordan Clarkson scored 14 off the bench, and Nik Stauskas somehow got hot and scored 17 points with a couple 3-pointers. Larry Nance Jr. was out again and Nwaba got the start for Love, and the Cavaliers are an interesting roll of the dice these days. Osman, Sexton, Nwaba, Knight and Clarkson are all worth owning, while Chriss and Zizic should be on your radar. And we don’t know when we’ll see Love again, as the Cavs have no real incentive to play him. But it also sounds like he has a legitimate back injury, and is day-to-day.
Blake Griffin sat this one out for rest, giving Thon Maker a start, but it was Andre Drummond (21 points, 21 boards) and Wayne Ellington (season-high 25 points and seven 3-pointers) who went off. Maker was quiet with seven points and nine boards, Reggie Jackson had 15 points, four assists and two 3-pointers, and Ish Smith and Langston Galloway each had 13 points off the bench. Smith had a 3-pointer and five dimes, and Galloway hit three 3-pointers. Griffin should be back for the next one, and is a must-start player along with Drummond and Jackson, but guys like Ellington, Smith and Galloway are all going to be hit or miss the rest of the way.
Jazz, 116, Wizards 95 – The Jazz’s box score doesn’t look like it came from a team who won big, but they did. Donovan Mitchell led the way with 19 points, Jae Crowder, who is heating up, had 18 points, five boards, three assists, two blocks and two 3-pointers off the bench, Joe Ingles added 16 points and a solid stat line, and Rudy Gobert had 14 points, 14 rebounds, a steal and two blocks on the night. Ricky Rubio had eight points, 10 assists and six turnovers, but is at least playing again, and Derrick Favors left early with a hamstring injury with just four points and four rebounds in 12 minutes. You probably don’t need me to tell you that Crowder is now a really hot pickup, but then again, he was already playing well before Favors went down.
For the Wiz, Jabari Parker led the way with 19 points, seven boards, three steals, a block and a 3-pointer, Bradley Beal disappointed with just 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting, and Bobby Portis was really disappointing with 11 points, five boards and three 3-pointers in just 19 minutes. The good news is he’s not hurt, and he’s got three more games this week to right the ship. Trevor Ariza and Tomas Satoransky were pretty quiet, and most of the Wizards bench was disappointing in the blowout loss. Stick with your Wizards, as most of them should bounce back. Yes, the silly season is upon us, just in time to crush your spirit during the fantasy playoffs.
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Nuggets 114, Celtics 105 – All five starters for Denver (almost) got it done, as Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic double-doubled, Will Barton scored 20, Gary Harris had 16 and four triples, and Jamal Murray had 11 points, four rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes. Torrey Craig led the bench with 13 points, eight boards and a 3-pointer, and Monte Morris had 11 points, four boards, two assists and a 3-pointer, despite playing just 19 minutes. There wasn’t a lot to learn here, but I bet Morris has a couple better showings than this one. Oh, and Isaiah Thomas got seven courtesy minutes in his return to Boston, where they played a tribute video for him, and that hurt Morris a bit tonight. The Nuggets clinched a playoff berth with the win.
Kyrie Irving scored 30 after missing eight of his first nine shots, and had a nice night, Al Horford played through his sore knee and had 20 points, six boards, six assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers, Marcus Morris scored 13 with a couple triples, Marcus Smart had 10 points and a couple steals, and Jayson Tatum had seven points, six boards, a steal and a block, while scoring just eight points in the loss. The Boston bench was really quiet, while Gordon Hayward missed this one with a concussion, and is already listed as doubtful for Wednesday’s game.
Raptors 128, Knicks 92 – Kawhi Leonard was (annoyingly) rested and all five Raptors starters scored in double digits. Pascal Siakam led the starters with 19 points, eight boards, five assists, a block and a 3-pointer, and Marc Gasol double-doubled in the final game of Serge Ibaka’s suspension. Kyle Lowry returned from right ankle soreness and put up a 15-6-8 line with five 3-pointers, but aggravated his injury and didn’t return. He’s day-to-day again. Fred VanVleet started and rocked with 13 points, two rebounds, 12 assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers (his first double-double), and Danny Green came through with 13 points and three 3-pointers, but no steals or blocks. And, of course, after a terrible stretch and a start for Lowry, Jeremy Lin went off for 20 points from the bench after being dropped everywhere. I picked up VanVleet and threw him into a weekly lineup with Lowry questionable, but he came through even with Lowry playing well. And with Lowry going down again, VanVleet and Lin are both pickups right now. Go get them, and look for Gasol to take a hit with Ibaka on his way back.
Allonzo Trier led the Knicks with 22 points, four boards, three assists and a 3-pointer off the bench, Kevin Knox had 12 points, six boards, two steals and two 3-pointers in the start, while Mario Hezonja, DeAndre Jordan, Emmanuel Mudiay and previously en fuego Damyean Dotson all fizzled in the starting lineup. This was a massive blowout, and I’d try to stick with Hezonja, Jordan, Mudiay and Dotson going forward, while tempering expectations on Trier. Dotson and Mudiay have been super hot lately, but the Knicks were a train wreck last night, just like they are on most other nights. Mitchell Robinson played just 14 minutes before fouling out and I dropped him on Monday. Jae Crowder, or any other hot free agent, probably makes more sense than Robinson, who’s been dreadful in his last three games, despite blocking seven shots in them.
Heat 116, Thunder 107 – The Heat won, despite the fact that Kelly Olynyk was the only Heat starter in double figures with 18 points, nine rebounds and a 3-pointer. Derrick Jones Jr., Bam Adebayo, Dion Waiters and Josh Richardson (3-of-14) all scored between six and nine points. Goran Dragic, who is suddenly hot, led the way with 26 points, 11 assists and six 3-pointers, and Dwyane Wade scored 25 with a full stat line in the win. And on a night when fantasy owners were severely let down by some of their guys, Hassan Whiteside bottomed out with two points, four boards and nothing else in just five minutes. The Heat are a mess, but if you want to roll the dice on Dragic, he’s probably worth it. The starters should bounce back on Wednesday against the Spurs. Wade played through a hip injury and the Heat are trying to make the playoffs, so there’s a decent chance he just keeps playing through it.
The Thunder were without Russell Westbrook after his one-game technical foul suspension, but Paul George (31 points), Jerami Grant (27 & 10 double-double), Steven Adams (10 & 12 double-double), and Dennis Schroder (20 points, 6 assists, 2 3-pointers) all went off in the starting lineup. The bench did nothing, but Westbrook will be back for the next one, which should mean fewer goodies for guys like Schroder, who will return to the bench, and Grant.
Spurs 111, Warriors 105 – DeMar DeRozan scored 26 with nine rebounds and eight assists, LaMarcus Aldridge had a 23 & 13 double-double with a fun line, Rudy Gay scored 17 off the bench, and Derrick White had 12 points, four assists, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers for the Spurs. Jakob Poeltl, who had blocked five shots in each of his last two games, had just six points, seven rebounds and zero blocks. I was all about picking him up, but we also have to remember that he’s still Jakob Poeltl. Hopefully he bounces back this week. The Spurs have quietly won nine straight games, as Gregg Popovich continues to boggle the mind.
Stephen Curry (25-7-8) and Kevin Durant (24-5-3) led the way in the loss, Andrew Bogut (7 points, 7 boards) started for DeMarcus Cousins (ankle), and Klay Thompson and Draymond Green scored in double figures in the loss. The bench didn’t do much of anything, and only the starters were really worth trusting, despite the five-game week. Boogie is day-to-day with the injury, but I’d be surprised if he plays on Tuesday, either. Kevin Durant returned from a sore ankle just in time for the five-game week, so owners will just have to keep fingers crossed that he doesn’t sit out on Tuesday, or any other night this week. Andre Iguodala was out after a tooth extraction and is day-to-day. Not only do the Warriors play again on Tuesday, they have another back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday. Yikes.
Pelicans 129, Mavericks 125 OT – Julius Randle led the way with 30 points and a full stat line, Anthony Davis had 20 points and also contributed across the board in just 21 minutes, Elfrid Payton had his fifth straight triple-double (what?) with 19 points, 10 boards and 11 assists, Frank Jackson stayed hot with 19 points, four dimes and two 3-pointers, and Kenrich Williams came through with eight points, 11 boards, three assists, three steals and two 3-pointers, despite hitting just 3-of-10 shots. I don’t trust Williams, but the Pelicans starters are all worth using, as long as you know AD is going to play each night.
For Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki scored eight points and passed Wilt Chamberlain on the scoring list, and Luka Doncic played through his sore knee and went nuts with 29 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and a 3-pointer, and even hit 8-of-11 free throws, including the game-tying one that sent the game to OT. That was the rookie’s fifth triple-double of the season and Doncic missed another triple-double by just one assist on Thursday. And he's not even fully healthy. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21, Jalen Brunson had 14 points, four assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer, and Dwight Powell came through with 16 points, eight rebounds, two steals and a 3-pointer.
Bulls 116, Suns 101 – Robin Lopez led the way with 24 points, seven boards and a block, Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine each scored 17, and Kris Dunn had 14 points, three assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer in the win. Wayne Selden was quiet with seven points in 20 minutes off the bench, and Shaq Harrison scored six points in 32 minutes and the start. Otto Porter was out with a shoulder injury, and coach Jim Boylen said he doesn’t know when Porter will play again. Harrison started in his place, but no one really stepped up with Porter sidelined.
Kelly Oubre (thumb) sat this one out and is day-to-day, and Josh Jackson was the guy to use in his place in fantasy. Jackson had 18 points, seven boards, a steal and two 3-pointers off the bench. Deandre Ayton (double-double) and Devin Booker (25-8-7) led the way for the Suns. The only ones I trust right now are Booker, Ayton, Jackson and maybe Mikal Bridges, who had 12 points and a 3-pointer, but no steals or assists. And if Oubre returns, Jackson will take a hit. Tyler Johnson, T.J. Warren and Richaun Holmes are also banged up and missing games for the Suns.
Trail Blazers 106, Pacers 98 – The Blazers beat the Pacers despite no C.J. McCollum (knee), as Damian Lillard went off for 30 points, 15 assists, three steals, a block and four 3-pointers. Jusuf Nurkic (18 & 11) double-doubled, Al-Farouq Aminu scored 16 with four 3-pointers, Moe Harkless added 10 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer, and Jake Layman missed all five of his shots and failed to score in a start for McCollum. Seth Curry and Rodney Hood each scored 11 off the bench, and those two, but Layman, will all see extra minutes with McCollum’s regular season over. But they’re all going to be tough to trust, as evidence by their stat lines.
For the Pacers, Myles Turner went off for a season-high 28 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two 3-pointers, but didn’t have a block, Bojan Bogdanovic had 15 points and three steals, and Wesley Matthews added 14 points, four rebounds, two assists, a block and three more 3-pointers in the loss. Doug McDermott scored 14 points with four 3-pointers off the bench, and Domantas Sabonis had seven points, seven rebounds and a block in 26 minutes. The only Pacers you want to be messing with are Turner, Darren Collison (9 points, 7 assists, 2 steals, 1 3-pointer), Bogdanovic, Matthews, Thaddeus Young (2 points, 10 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, 1-of-8 shooting), and Sabonis. The loss kept the Pacers from clinching a playoff berth.