Kyrie Irving was nothing short of incredible in a Mamba-inspired performance during Friday’s 133-118 win over the Bulls, only missing four shots on his way to 54 points, seven trey-bombs, five boards, five dimes, one steal and four turnovers in a mere 32 minutes of play. He was a perfect 10-of-10 from the field through the first half of action, and he finished the game 19-of-23 from the floor and 9-of-10 from the stripe, making it the most efficient 50-plus-point performance in the modern era (no other player in NBA history has recorded 50-plus-points while attempting nine triples and only missing four total shots). Irving pointed to the heavens after dropping in his 54th point in a salute to his fallen mentor, and credited his all-time game to that “mamba mentality” during his post-game interview. He looks to be completely over the shoulder issue and figures to have some huge games down the stretch as the Nets fight for seeding out East. Congrats if you were able to buy-low when he was looking like a shutdown candidate.
Damian Lillard gave his own tribute to Kobe with a 48-point gem (17-of-30 FG, 7-of-8 FT) as he powered the Trail Blazers to a win, adding seven triples, nine boards, 10 dimes, two steals and just one turnover in his 40 minutes of floor time. It was an emotional night in Los Angeles with this being the Lakers first game since the tragedy, and while Dame did play a bit of a spoiler role by denying L.A. the win, it’s hard to imagine a better way to honor a legend. Thrillard has simply been on another level since MLK Day, posting absurd averages of 48.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 9.8 assists, 8.0 treys and 1.2 steals per game on 54% shooting from the field and 91.2% from the stripe, which has him sitting in the No. 1 spot in fantasy hoops over that five-game stretch.
Kristaps Porzingis saw his usage rate spike to 33.7 (up from 25.2) on Friday night with Luka Doncic (ankle) unavailable, and he came through with 35 points (12-of-20 FG, 10-of-13 FT), 12 rebounds, one 3-pointer, two steals, one block and four turnovers across 36 minutes. This was a solid bounce-back performance for KP following Tuesday’s nine-point dud, and he’ll likely return to monster-mode with Doncic set to miss at least the next six games. In the four games without Doncic earlier this season, KP posted first-round value in 9-cat leagues with averages of 22.5 points, 13.8 rebounds, 2.8 swats and 2.8 treys per contest on 44.4% shooting. He’s been a bit inconsistent alongside Doncic this year, though, so owners may want to use the incoming hot streak as a sell-high opportunity.
J.J. Barea got the spot-start sans Luka Doncic (ankle) on Friday and finished with 11 points (4-of-10 FG, 3-of-3 FT), nine assists, five rebounds and two turnovers in 21 minutes; while Jalen Brunson came off the bench for seven points, three rebounds, three assists, one block and one turnover in 20 minutes. These two could be moving in and out of the starting lineup until Doncic gets back, so they’re both on the radar in deep leagues. Delon Wright saw 25 minutes, but remained disappointing with just 10 points, two rebounds, two 3-pointers, three assists, three turnovers and zero defensive statistics. He should technically see more opportunity while Doncic is out, but he wasn’t that great the last time Doncic went down, and Rick Carlisle seems unwilling to give him the minutes he needs to produce reliable value in fantasy hoops.
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Seth Curry scored 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting (2-of-3 from the line) to go with two 3-pointers, two rebounds, four assists and one turnover in 25 minutes off the bench. The last time Doncic went down, Curry posted averages of 14.5 points and 2.3 triples per game on 48.8% shooting, so he could have some low-end value in deep leagues as a 3-point specialist over the next few weeks.
Rui Hachimura (groin) is being listed as questionable for Saturday’s game against the Nets, but he’s expected to get out there and will have a 20-minute limit in his first game back from a lengthy layoff. He was playing pretty well prior to going down with averages of 17.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists on 49.1% shooting through eight games in December, so he’s someone to consider grabbing, as he could be a fun guy to own down the stretch.
Danuel House Jr. got the spot-start in a small-ball lineup featuring P.J. Tucker (six points, two triples, one rebound, one assist, one steal and one block) at the five-spot with Clint Capela (heel) unavailable and he hit 5-of-10 shots on his way to 14 points, four 3-pointers, three rebounds, two steals, two blocks and zero turnovers across 38 minutes. Capela won’t be back until he’s pain-free in his heel, so that leaves a lot of opportunity for guys like Tucker and House, so they’re both worth grabbing. Isaiah Hartenstein should technically have more minutes coming his way, although he picked up a DNP-CD on Friday, so he’s more of a deep league guy as D’Antoni won’t be consistent with his minutes.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk went 4-of-6 from 3-point range on his way to 13 points, four rebounds and two assists over 26 minutes. He’s been hovering around top-100 value over the past month with averages of 13.3 points, 2.9 treys, 2.2 boards, 2.1 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.3 turnovers per game on 46.3% shooting, so give him a look if those numbers are appealing.
Josh Hart bounced back from Tuesday’s two-point performance with an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double to go with two 3-pointers, one block and two turnovers in 28 minutes off the bench. He’s not the most exciting guy to own, but he’s been a sneaky top-90 player over the past month with averages of 9.8 points, 6.9 boards, 1.7 triples, 1.2 steals, 0.7 swats and 1.1 turnovers per game on 43.8% shooting.
The good Malik Beasley came to play on Friday, as he scored 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting to go with five triples, four boards, one assists, two steals and one turnover in 27 minutes off the bench. He’s been extremely inconsistent this season, but with Michael Porter Jr. leaving this game with an ankle injury, Gary Harris (personal) away from the team and Jamal Murray (ankle) without a timetable, he could be looking at a ton of opportunity on Sunday in Detroit. If MPJ, Harris and Murray are all unavailable on Sunday, Beasley will be someone to consider streaming.
Trevor Ariza ripped away five steals on his way to two points, four rebounds, three assists, one block and zero turnovers through 39 minutes. Since landing in Portland, Ariza has posted averages of 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.0 triples, 1.8 assists, 2.3 steals and just 1.0 turnover per game on 54.1% shooting, which has been good enough for top-40 value in 9-cat leagues. Make sure he’s not floating around on your waiver wire.
Chris Boucher contributed eight points, seven rebounds and three blocks in 18 minutes off the bench. Marc Gasol (hamstring) might be out through the All-Star break, so the Swatter Boy is back on the radar as a potential shot-blocking specialist in deep leagues.
Daniel Gafford (thumb) did not play Friday, although head coach Jim Boylen said he was very close and he was able to go through shootaround. It looks like he’ll beat Wendell Carter Jr. (ankle) back to the court and with Lauri Markkanen (hip) not coming back anytime soon, Gafford could be unleashed once he’s cleared to play. He has elite shot blocking potential, so he’s someone to consider stashing in deep leagues.
De’Anthony Melton (hand) returned from a two-game stint on the sidelines and came through with seven points, one rebound, one assist and one steal over 17 minutes. He has some value as a deep league steals specialist, but his upside will be limited as long as he’s held to minutes in the teens.
Rick Carlisle announced that Luka Doncic (ankle) will miss at least the next six games for the Mavericks, and there’s a good chance we won’t see him take the floor again until after the All-Star break. J.J. Barea got the start in his place on Friday, but I could see him alternating starts with Jalen Brunson, and Kristaps Porzingis will be carrying the offense. There will also be more opportunity for Tim Hardaway Jr. and Seth Curry.
Clint Capela (right heel) did not play Friday and Mike D’Antoni said he doesn’t want him to return until he’s pain free in his heel, as this has been a nagging issue for over a month now. It’s possible he could be held out through the All-Star break, and while I’d expect this to eventually lead to more minutes for Isaiah Hartenstein, he finished Friday’s game with a DNP-CD. Instead, D’Antoni went with P.J. Tucker and Danuel House to fill the five-man minutes, but all these guys are on the radar as potential pickups, with House perhaps being the most attractive.
Michael Porter Jr. turned his right ankle on Friday and did not return, finishing with 15 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, one 3-pointer, one steal, two blocks and one turnover across 25 minutes. Mike Malone did say that MPJ was in good spirts after the game and didn’t think the ankle injury was anything serious, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him miss Sunday’s game in Detroit. If both Porter Jr. and Gary Harris (personal) are out again on Sunday, Malik Beasley and Monte Morris will be looking at a ton of opportunity and big minutes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (shoulder) returned from a one-game stint on the sidelines and produced 31 points, 16 rebounds, nine assists, one 3-pointer, one steal, two blocks and two turnovers in 32 minutes. He’s fine.
George Hill (hamstring) did not play Friday and he’ll likely spend at least a few more games on the sidelines. Pat Connaughton and Sterling Brown will split his minutes, but that doesn’t mean much in fantasy hoops.
Donte DiVincenzo (ankle) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game against the Suns.
Carmelo Anthony (personal) skipped Friday’s trip to Los Angeles to grieve the loss of Kobe Bryant, and it’s unclear if he’ll play on Saturday vs. the Jazz. Wenyen Gabriel got the start in his place, but he fouled out in just 13 minutes of play, finishing with one rebound, one assist and one block while missing all three of his shots.
Kendrick Nunn (Achilles) is probable to return from a three-game absence on Saturday vs. the Magic. With Nunn back in action, Tyler Herro will likely head back to the second unit and Dion Waiters may fall out of the rotation again.
Kris Dunn went down with a right knee just 13 seconds into Friday’s game and did not return, and he’s set to undergo more tests on Saturday when the team returns to Chicago. It’s extremely unlikely that he’ll play on Sunday, and I’d expect his minutes to be divvied up amongst Chandler Hutchison, Denzel Valentine, Shaq Harrison and Coby White.
Aron Baynes (hip) did not play Friday, and while he’ll be re-evaluated on Saturday, it seems unlikely he’ll be cleared for Sunday’s game in Milwaukee. Dario Saric exited Friday’s game with a left ankle sprain and did not return, so Mikal Bridges has a lot of minutes coming his way, although he’s not much more than a steals specialist in deep leagues.
Evan Fournier (back) is questionable to play on Saturday vs. the Heat. If he can’t give it a go, Terrence Ross would have the opportunity to start and Markelle Fultz would see some more playmaking responsibilities.
Kevon Looney (abdominal) is questionable to play on Saturday vs. the Cavs, but even if he’s cleared, he’ll likely have a strict minutes limit. With the Warriors playing for nothing this season, Looney probably won’t see the minutes he needs to warrant ownership in most leagues.
Marc Gasol (hamstring) did not play Friday, and while the Raptors haven’t offered an official timetable, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them hold the 35-year-old vet out through the All-Star break considering this is the same hamstring he injured earlier this year. Serge Ibaka will be starting until he gets back and there will be more minutes available for Chris Boucher.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle) also missed Friday’s game and he should be considered questionable for Sunday’s game vs. the Bulls.
Kemba Walker (sore left knee) is being listed as questionable for Saturday’s game vs. the 76ers, although with it being a nationally televised game on a non-back-to-back against a division rival, I’d expect him to push through the pain.
Enes Kanter (hip) is also questionable for Saturday’s game, although he still hasn’t gone through a full practice, so I’d say he’s closer to doubtful. Daniel Theis will continue to get all the run he can handle until Kanter gets back.
P.J. Washington (ankle) is questionable for Saturday’s game against the Spurs. If he can’t give it a go, Marvin Williams could get the start and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could get back into the rotation.
Brandon Clarke (hip) did not play Friday and he should be considered questionable for Monday’s matchup with the Pistons.
Mike Conley (rest, knee) will play on Saturday against the Trail Blazers.
Jordan McRae (ankle) will not play on Saturday.
Frank Ntilikina (groin) is probable for Saturday’s game in Indiana.
Allen Crabbe (knee) is doubtful to play on Saturday.