The Process went ballistic, Ben Simmons just missed another big triple-double, Lonzo got benched again, Whiteside, Gasol, Collison and KAT came through, and Batum is back!
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Sixers 115, Lakers 109 – Holy, freaking Process! Joel Embiid went nuclear on the Lakers with a career-high 46 points, 15 boards, seven assists, seven blocks and two 3-pointers in just 34 minutes. He became the first player to record a 45-15-7-7 game since the NBA started keeping track of blocks in 1973 and finished with the best fantasy line of the NBA season. He says we’re only getting 69 percent from him right now and if he’s not joking, this could truly get crazy. He’s healthy, putting on a show and making the Sixers look really good. Teammate Ben Simmons added 18 points, nine rebounds, 10 assists and five steals on 8-of-13 shooting, and the big games from the young, dynamic duo limited Robert Covington to 12 points and six boards in 30 minutes. He’s fine.
The good news for the Lakers was Brandon Ingram’s 26 points and 11 boards on 11-of-18 shooting, Kyle Kuzma’s 24 points, seven boards and a 3-pointer, and Jordan Clarkson’s 20 points, six boards, five assists and two steals off the bench (8-of-21 shooting). The bad news was Brook Lopez hitting just 3-of-12 shots for eight points against Embiid, while Lonzo Ball hit just 1-of-9 shots for two points and two assists, also missing all six of his 3-pointers. He was dejected after the game and his funky shot is going to be a hot topic over the next few hours, days, weeks or even years. Embiid did the same thing to DeAndre Jordan on Monday and it’s possible that he dominates as much defensively as he does offensively. This is going to be fun.
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Cavaliers 115, Hornets 107 – Kevin Love and LeBron James both had big games, J.R. Smith scored 10 with two steals and two 3-pointers, and Jeff Green had 13 points and seven boards off the bench. I think Smith’s a pickup right now, but Green is someone I’ve shied away from, despite him putting up some decent numbers at times. I'd rather own Smith.
The Hornets welcomed back Nicolas Batum and he responded by hitting 7-of-15 shots and a 3-pointer for 16 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals in 32 minutes. That didn’t take long, did it? Michael Kidd-Gilchrist blew up for 22 points, two steals and two blocks on 10-of-14 shooting, Kemba Walker added 20 points, seven dimes and three 3-pointers, and Jeremy Lamb played just 22 minutes off the bench for 13 points, five boards, three assists and a steal. It was a nice run, but with MKG and Batum getting so much run, Lamb’s going to get the squeeze. Not too mention Malik Monk (9 minutes).
Raptors 125, Pelicans 116 – Kyle Lowry had a season-high 22 points with 11 rebounds, nine assists and four 3-pointers, and he’s been a rock star over his last five games. O.G. Anunoby started again (for Norman Powell – hip) but didn’t do much other than commit three fouls and score five points in his 14 minutes. He’s fun, but not a must-own player. DeMar DeRozan scored 25, filled the stat sheet and hit two more 3-pointers, and is on pace to easily beat his career-best 64 3-pointers made in 2013-14. Serge Ibaka’s numbers were a little better than his last couple games, but still not all that impressive, and C.J. Miles stayed relevant with Powell out by scoring 17 points and hitting five 3-pointers in just 19 minutes. Delon Wright left the game with a shoulder injury and didn’t return. If he misses time, Fred VanVleet (10 points, two 3-pointers) could become a sneaky DFS punt over the next few days.
DeMarcus Cousins had a full and fun stat line, but Anthony Davis was a letdown with 19 points and five rebounds, but did have three steals, a block and a 3-pointer in 34 minutes. He’s scored fewer than 20 in three of his last four, but as long as he’s healthy (he is), I’m not worried about AD. Jrue Holiday scored 18 with a solid line, while Rajon Rondo started and played 14 minutes for four points, eight assists and a steal. If you’re into Rondo, it’s time to grab him before the minutes cap is removed. Darius Miller hit 4-of-5 shots and two 3-pointers for 13 points and a steal, and is averaging 11.6 points, 2.6 3-pointers and shooting 68 percent over his last five games, making him an intriguing DFS punt, while E’Twaun Moore still managed 32 minutes and 10 points off the bench behind Rondo.
Thunder 92, Bulls 79 – Carmelo Anthony returned from his sore back for 18 & 11, but Paul George was not celebrating. PG-13 hit just 4-of-15 shots and two 3-pointers for 13 points, five rebounds and a block, ruining the night of his owners. Steven Adams (calf) sat, Dakari Johnson started (5 & 1) and Russell Westbrook had 21 points, five rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two 3-pointers on 6-of-13 shooting. Jerami Grant stayed relevant with Adams out, going for 15 points, 11 rebounds, a steal and a block in 35 minutes. He’s been putting up under-the-radar value all year.
The Bulls were without Justin Holiday (baby) so Kris Dunn got the start. It didn’t go well, as he hit just 1-of-11 shots for three points, six boards, three assists and a steal. Just hang in there with him, as things didn’t go much better for Jerian Grant. Lauri Markkanen (ankle) returned to the starting lineup and hit three 3-pointers for 16 points, six boards, two steals and a block, picking up right where he left off. Bobby Portis cooled off with five points, nine rebounds, a block and a 3-pointer with Markkanen back, but he’s still a hold, and Denzel Valentine had 13 points, a steal and three 3-pointers in the absence of Holiday. The Bulls were awful, as the starters combined to hit just 10-of-39 shots, and Markkanen hit six of those.
Wizards 102, Heat 93 – John Wall and Bradley Beal led the way for the Wizards, who got a bounce-back from Markieff Morris, who had 15 points, two boards and two 3-pointers before fouling out in 22 minutes. Better days are ahead for Morris. Otto Porter double-doubled, while Marcin Gortat bottomed out with two points and five boards on 0-for-6 shooting, thanks to Hassan Whiteside. Ouch. Gortat has been awful, averaging just 7.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 0.6 blocks over his last five games, which includes an 18-point, 7-rebound effort. He’ll eventually right the ship.
Whiteside had 14 points, 21 boards and a block, Goran Dragic added 21 points, two assists, a steal and three 3-pointers, and Dion Waiters came through with 19 points, five dimes and three 3-pointers. My boys, Josh Richardson and James Johnson, hit a combined 3-of-12 shots and scored a total of nine points, without a lot of goodies thrown in. Richardson’s been hit-or-miss all season. I’m sticking with him, but if you can’t take it any longer, I get it. Tyler Johnson had 15 points and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes off the bench.
Timberwolves 98, Spurs 86 – Karl-Anthony Town had a big 26 points, 16 rebounds, a steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers, but this may be the only place you hear about it with Embiid getting all the headlines. Andrew Wiggins was quiet with 11 points in 36 minutes, but Jimmy Butler was really quiet, hitting 2-of-13 shots for six points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. I don’t own him anywhere and he’s clearly struggling in his new role with a new team. Selling high once he gets hot again is not a bad idea. Nemanja Bjelica had 11 points, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in 22 minutes, while Gorgui Dieng sat out again with his finger injury.
I’m still in a little shock that the Spurs didn’t sit anyone in a back-to-back, but it happened. LaMarcus Aldridge double-doubled, the rest of the starters posted incredibly bland lines, and Manu Ginobili scored two points off the bench. Rudy Gay was bad for the third straight game and played just 22 minutes. He was hot before an Achilles injury, so I’m willing to give him another game or two to work it out.
Pacers 116, Grizzlies 103 – Darren Collison exploded for 30 points, eight assists and two 3-pointers, Victor Oladipo and Bojan Bogdanovic did what they’re supposed to, while Myles Turner had just 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and three blocks. He’s still not 100 percent after his concussion, but that just means this is a buy-low opportunity. I’m staying the course. Domantas Sabonis stayed relevant off the bench with 13 points, six boards and four dimes in 24 minutes. Cory Joseph had 10 points, four assists, two steals, a block and two threes in 22 minutes, and has been playing well, making him another one of those sneaky punt plays in DFS.
Mike Conley was out with a sore Achilles, Mario Chalmers started, and JaMychal Green made his return from his ankle injury. Chalmers was quiet until the end, but finished with eight points, four boards and six dimes, and Green had eight points, three boards and a 3-pointer in 17 minutes. He’s worth picking up after missing most of the season with the injury. Marc Gasol went nuts with 35 points, 13 boards, five assists, five blocks and three 3-pointers, but he will also be drowned out by all The Process chatter today. Don’t look now, but Chandler Parsons played a season-high 25 minutes and had 13 points and three 3-pointers. If the minutes stick, he’s going to be a popular pickup, but that’s a big ‘if.’ Tyreke Evans stayed hot with 18 points, six boards, nine assists, a steal, two blocks and another 3-pointer. My head tells me he’s a sell-high candidate, while my heart tells me that if I owned him, I’d just want to ride him until he breaks. Also, Dillon Brooks started again and had 11 points, five boards, a steal and a block. He’s not a season-long guy yet, but might be worth a DFS punt.
Blazers 99, Magic 94 – Damian Lillard had a strong 26-11-7 line with five triples, C.J. McCollum had 24 points, three steals and four 3-pointers, and Jusuf Nurkic had 11-8-5 in the win. Moe Harkless was very quiet in 28 minutes, Caleb Swanigan was benched at halftime and Shabazz Napier got hot off the bench for a season-high 19 points, three steals and five triples. That one came out of nowhere, so just keep an eye on him.
Evan Fournier stayed hot with 22 points, Nikola Vucevic double-doubled and Elfrid Payton had a 14-3-5 line with two 3-pointers. He’s back. Terrence Ross only scored five points in 27 minutes and Aaron Gordon was quiet with 12 points, five boards, two steals and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes. He’s fine. Jonathon Simmons had 16 points off the bench and should be owned in all leagues.
Knicks 106, Jazz 101 – The Knicks improved to 7-3 with the win behind 22 points, eight boards, two assists, two blocks and a 3-pointer from Kristaps Porzingis, and 26 points, six boards, six assists and three 3-pointers from Tim Hardaway Jr. THJ has scored at least 26 in three of his last four, so hopefully you didn’t dump him when he was struggling early. Courtney Lee left with a hamstring cramp and should be fine, while Frank Ntilikina had seven points, four boards and two steals in a disappointing 20 minutes. I still think he’s going to come on in the second half.
Rodney Hood came off the bench and hit 8-of-17 shots and three 3-pointers for a season-high 30 points in 32 minutes. Donovan Mitchell (must-own) started and hit 8-of-17 and three 3-pointers for 19 points, while Ricky Rubio and Joe Ingles each had 13 points. Both have been struggling, so it was nice to see them bounce back. Derrick Favors hit just 3-of-11 shots for six points, 10 boards, five assists, a steal and three blocks, but is a must-hold, and Jonas Jerebko started again and hit three 3-pointers for nine points and five boards. If he sticks in the starting five he’s probably going to be a better hold than Thabo Sefolosha, who had five points in 16 bench minutes.
Bucks 99, Pistons 95 – Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe all posted fun stat lines, Tony Snell managed 13 points, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 39 minutes, and John Henson came through with 10 points, 10 boards and two blocks. Henson is living up to the hype since the Greg Monroe trade. Malcolm Brogdon hung in there with 12 points and a full stat line in 26 minutes, so just hang onto him for now.
Andre Drummond double-doubled, Avery Bradley scored a season-high 28 points with six 3-pointers, and has scored at least 20 in three straight. He’s back, baby! Reggie Jackson was awful (six points), Tobias Harris was quiet (12 points), and Stanley Johnson had just two points in 18 minutes in his return from a back injury. Baby steps. Jackson was benched for Ish Smith down the stretch, but Smith hit just 2-of-11 shots for four points and four dimes. Jackson should bounce back.
Hawks 126, Kings 80 – Wednesday’s toilet bowl game featured a pair of three-win teams and the Hawks went off in a nasty blowout. Dennis Schroder had 21 points and eight dimes, Dewayne Dedmon had 20 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer on 9-of-10 shooting, and I’m mad I had him on the bench in a weekly-lineup league. Pick him up if he’s sitting out there. Taurean Prince had a fun line, and Kent Bazemore was quiet in the win. Luke Babbitt scored 13 before leaving with a back injury, while Ersan Ilyasova missed all four of his shots in 18 minutes off the bench. John Collins hit 7-of-9 shots for 14 & 8, and could be primed to make a run with Babbitt hurt and Ilyasova being Ilyasova. Go get Collins.
Zach Randolph had 16 points and four boards, and George Hill had 12 points, two assists, three steals and a 3-pointer in 24 minutes. They were the only two Kings in double figures and the only ones I trust right now are Randolph and Buddy Hield, who had six points on 2-of-8 shooting. De’Aaron Fox played just 19 minutes in the blowout, but should still be held.