Nikola Jokic triple-doubled, Russell Westbrook put up a monster line and the Hawks beat the Clippers, but all anyone is talking about is Zion Williamson, who rivaled the Kentucky Derby last night with the most exciting two (or three) minutes in sports.
Spurs 121, Pelicans 117 – So the Spurs won, LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 32 points, 14 rebounds, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer, and DeMar DeRozan added 20 points, but the only thing anyone will remember about this game is… Zion Williamson! The kid made his debut for the Pelicans, had two points at halftime and had my phone buzzing with texts that mostly included the phrase ‘out of shape’ during the break. And then a funny thing happened with the world watching on national television. He got hot in the fourth quarter, scored 17 straight Pelicans points in a 3:08 stretch, hit 4-of-4 3-pointers, gave his team a brief lead and finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists, five turnovers and four 3-pointers on 8-of-11 shooting in just 18 minutes. Hollywood couldn’t have scripted this much better, especially since he was forced from the game by his training staff late in regulation when he could have helped the Pelicans get a win. He’d never hit more than three 3-pointers in a game at Duke, nor had he scored more than 17 points in a second half there. His 22 points were the most ever in a Pelicans debut and he’s the first NBA player to hit 4-of-4 3-pointers in his debut. I’ve been skeptical about whether he can stay healthy or how much he’ll play, but he couldn’t have gotten off to a better start than he did in his fourth-quarter run. Oh, and he’s also the first player in NBA history with 20 points, seven rebounds and four 3-pointers in fewer than 20 minutes. It was stunning, although I imagine teams will actually guard him in the next one. J.J. Redick (10 points) played through his hamstring injury and Derrick Favors returned from a one-game absence for 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Brandon Ingram scored 22 and Lonzo Ball flirted with a triple-double with 14 points, eight boards, 12 assists, three steals and three 3-pointers. And no, I still can’t believe how great Lonzo has been over the last month or so.
Hawks 102, Clippers 95 – Trae Young (thigh) sat this one out but it’s just a contusion, so it’s hopefully nothing too serious. The Hawks were outscored 32-16 in the first quarter and were down by 21 at one point before they came racing back on a night the Clippers were missing Patrick Beverley (groin), Paul George (hamstring) and Kawhi Leonard (load management). John Collins had 33 points, 16 boards, three steals, a block and three 3-pointers and Brandon Goodwin had 19 points, three assists and three 3-pointers while helping to fill in for Trae. Jeff Teague started, but hit just 1-of-7 shots for three points and eight assists, while Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish (off bench) both played well for Atlanta. Huerter didn’t shoot it well (5-of-14) but I still like him. The Clippers got 30 points, seven rebounds and three blocks from Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams added an 18-6-7 line in a rare start in the loss. Obviously, the Clippers will be a different animal once they’re back at full strength.
Pistons 127, Kings 106 – Andre Drummond was out with a missing tooth so Markieff Morris started and had 13 points, 11 boards and three 3-pointers. Thon Maker also double-doubled with 10 points, 10 rebounds, a steal and two blocks, but both players will take a big hit once Drummond is back (hopefully Friday). Derrick Rose shrugged off trade rumors for 22 points, six boards and 11 dimes, Svi Mykhailiuk hit two 3-pointers and scored 13 points, and Christian Wood got hot off the bench for 23 points and three boards on 7-of-7 shooting and 9-of-11 free throws in 25 minutes. Sekou Doumbouya was quiet with four points and seven boards in 21 minutes, and Reggie Jackson (back) finally returned to action with 22 points, four assists and three 3-pointers. I’m not biting on Jackson, but he’s worth keeping a close eye on, along with Doumbouya and Wood, who hadn’t played more than 16 minutes in his previous three games. Langston Galloway had 14 points in 29 minutes and should also be on your radar going forward. For the Kings, Dewayne Dedmon started for Marvin Bagley (foot) and had 13 points, 10 boards and a 3-pointer. De’Aaron Fox had 22 points to lead the Kings, Bogdan Bogdanovic had 19 points and three 3-pointers off the bench, Buddy Hield had 14 points and a full stat line, and Nemanja Bjelica added 14 points, nine boards, five assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in the loss.
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Thunder 120, Magic 114 – Dennis Schroder tied his season high with 31 points, nine assists and three 3-pointers, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander double-doubled, and Nerlens Noel had 14 points, seven boards, a steal and two blocks in a start for Steven Adams, who was out with his sprained ankle. Danilo Gallinari scored 12 and Mike Muscala added 14 points and four 3-pointers in 18 minutes off the bench. Noel is worth a play as long as Adams is out and could be a steal if Adams is traded. Chris Paul also had 19 points and six dimes in the win. For the Magic, Terrence Ross tied his season high with 26 points to lead the Magic, Nikola Vucevic added 24 points, 11 boards and a full stat line, Aaron Gordon had 14 points, eight boards and two 3-pointers, and Markelle Fultz had 11 points, five boards and six assists in 32 minutes. Michael Carter-Williams somehow had 15 points in 19 minutes but isn’t worth a look. Fultz played through a finger injury and X-rays were negative, so he’s hopefully good to go moving forward.
Raptors 107, Sixers 95 – Fred VanVleet (22-5-8), Pascal Siakam (18 & 15), Marc Gasol (17 on 7-of-7 shooting with 3-of-3 3-pointers), Kyle Lowry (16 & 4), Serge Ibaka (16 & 7) and Norman Powell (18 & 8) all played well in the Raptors win. Gasol is worth a serious look if he’s on your waiver wire, while OG Anunoby might be hitting waivers after a zero-point dud in 21 minutes. Anunoby’s one of those guys where you look at his stat line at the end of the week instead of day-by-day. I’m also surprised by how well Powell has been playing over the last few weeks. The Sixers, who were already without Joel Embiid (finger), lost Josh Richardson to a left hamstring injury after just four minutes. Richardson’s injury could end up costing him several games so owners may have decisions to make. Tobias Harris led the way with 22 points and a very full stat line, Al Horford had seven points, 10 boards, seven assists, two steals and a block, and Ben Simmons kept it going with 17 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and eight turnovers on 5-of-7 shooting, also hitting 7-of-9 free throws. Furkan Korkmaz came through with 17 points and four 3-pointers and could quickly become relevant again with Richardson set to possibly miss time. The same goes for Matisse Thybulle, who had 13 points and three 3-pointers in a start.
Celtics 119, Grizzlies 95 – Jayson Tatum led the way with 23 points and a full stat line but left in the third quarter with a right groin injury and didn’t return. Owners should be concerned, as groin injuries are nothing to mess with. Jaylen Brown was out with a sprained ankle while Daniel Theis, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, Enes Kanter and Brad Wanamaker all played well for Boston. Kemba Walker hit just 2-of-9 shots for eight points and four assists after being fairly dominant in his previous six games. He’ll be fine. Theis, Smart and Kanter are the guys to give a look to off the waiver wire. The Grizzlies were destroyed in the second and third quarters by a score of 74-38, so the bench got much of the run in the second half. Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks were all highly disappointing in this one, but all three should bounce back. Jonas Valanciunas had a 16 & 13 double-double with two steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer, while Jae Crowder, Morant and Brooks combined to hit just 3-of-19 shots in the ugly loss. There wasn’t much to see off the Memphis bench, as Brandon Clarke also had an off night.
Heat 134, Wizards 129 OT – Jimmy Butler was back after missing Monday with hip injury and had 24 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists, while Tyler Herro (25 points and 7 triples) and Goran Dragic (22 points, 6 boards, 10 assists, a steal and a 3-pointer) got hot off the bench. Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn both cooled off tonight, but should be fine, Derrick Jones Jr. was nearly invisible (but will be in the dunk contest) and Kelly Olynyk came out of nowhere for 14 points, five boards and two 3-pointers. Herro’s seven triples were the most for a Heat rookie and the eight straight OT wins in a season tied the NBA record. For the Wiz, Bradley Beal went off for 38 points, nine boards, five assists, a steal and two 3-pointers on 16-of-24 shooting (sell-high alert) and Davis Bertans finally came through with 24 points, four assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers in 32 minutes off the bench. Ian Mahinmi started and had 10 points, 10 boards, four assists, a steal and two blocks, and starter Isaiah Thomas scored 14. Thomas Bryant came off the bench for six points, six boards and two blocks in 17 minutes, Jordan McRae scored 14 with five dimes and two 3-pointers, and Troy Brown Jr. had nine points, three boards and four assists in 20 minutes. Bertans is a pickup, Brown is a potential drop, and the growing number of Wizards’ centers is a concern for all of them. But it was nice to see Bertans ball out.
Lakers 100, Knicks 92 – Anthony Davis bounced back with 28 points, five boards, five assists, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer and LeBron James had 21 points, six boards, five assists, five steals and two 3-pointers in the Garden. Game over. The Knicks got 20 points, six boards and four 3-pointers from Marcus Morris, Damyean Dotson came off the bench for 17 points and five triples, Julius Randle added 16 points, eight boards, six assists and a steal, and Elfrid Payton had eight points, six rebounds, nine assists, a steal and two blocks in 32 minutes. Payton is worth owning and Dotson should be on your radar everywhere. Mitchell Robinson had just four points but played 24 minutes with 12 rebounds and a block. Baby steps?
Bulls 117, Timberwolves 110 – The Bulls got 25 points from Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen bounced back with 21 points, six boards and four triples, Luke Kornet started and had 15 points, three rebounds, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer, and Kris Dunn had 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. The Bulls play four games again next week, making all of these guys worth a look. Additionally, Cristiano Felicio had a 12 & 10 double-double off the bench and Thaddeus Young was quiet with six points and five rebounds in just 19 minutes. I was high on Young, but it’s possible the Bulls are going to throw in the towel and just let the kids play. I’d hang onto Young though, while I’m not rushing out to grab Felicio. This was his first meaningful game of the season. The Wolves got 40 points, six boards and four 3-pointers from Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins came through with 25 points, five boards, nine assists, a steal and four 3-pointers in another loss. Shabazz Napier added a 16-7-5-2 line with two 3-pointers, while Jarrett Culver hit just 1-of-5 shots for three points. Napier and Culver are both worth a look right now, but their inconsistency can be frustrating. Napier’s always good for assists and Culver had scored in double figures in 11 straight games before hitting just 3-of-11 shots over his last two games for a total of nine points. He has to bounce back, right?
Rockets 121, Nuggets 105 – The Rockets got a much-needed win to stop the bleeding and Russell Westbrook channeled his inner Hakeem Olajuwon for 28 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists, four steals and a block, while James Harden only shot six triples to finish with 27 points, five boards, five assists, two steals and two 3-pointers on 6-of-13 shooting. Clint Capela double-doubled, P.J. Tucker posted a solid stat line, Ben McLemore and Danuel House were invisible, and Eric Gordon scored 25 in the win. For the Nuggets, Michael Porter Jr. was scratched with a tight back and the Nuggets are going to be super careful with him, as his back has always been a problem. Just hold onto him for now. Nikola Jokic had a 19-12-10 triple-double, Jerami Grant and Torrey Craig both played very well, Monte Morris started again for Jamal Murray with 11 points, three assists, three steals and two 3-pointers and a guy named P.J. Dozier scored 15 off the bench (ignore him). Will Barton hit just 3-of-14 shots for eight points but will bounce back. I don’t trust Craig, but Grant’s a must-own player as long as Paul Millsap is out. I also think Morris is worth owning with Murray out indefinitely.
Pacers 112, Suns 87 – Malcolm Brogdon lasted just 16 minutes before getting three stitches above his left eye and was tested for a concussion. He didn’t return for the second half and T.J. McConnell started in his place, finishing with 10 points, 11 assists and three steals in 27 minutes. Keep that in mind if Brogdon misses time. T.J. Warren led the way with 25 points and three steals, Domantas Sabonis had 24 points and 13 rebounds, and Myles Turner had nine points, seven rebounds and four blocks in the win. The Suns were led by Kelly Oubre Jr. with 17 points and nine boards, Devin Booker finally cooled off with 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting, and Deandre Ayton had 10 points and eight rebounds in the loss. The Suns were simply outmatched in this one.
Jazz 129, Warriors 96 – Donovan Mitchell scored 23, Rudy Gobert came through with 22 points, 15 boards and three blocks on 10-of-13 shooting, Bojan Bogdanovic had 18 points, four 3-pointers and a solid stat line, while Joe Ingles was relatively quiet with 11 points, eight assists and two 3-pointers on 4-of-7 shooting. Mike Conley had eight points and one assist in 19 minutes, so it’s tough to blame Ingles’ line on Conley, but I might anyway. This was a blowout, so the Jazz bench all contributed tonight. The Warriors were led by D’Angelo Russell’s 26 points, but there wasn’t much to see here. Draymond Green’s 5-4-2 line was highly disappointing, Glenn Robinson scored 10, and starters Willie Cauley-Stein (0-for-5) and Damion Lee (6 points) were also disappointing. If you want to drop Lee for a streamer, do it, as he’s cooled off. Alec Burks was also quiet in the blowout with seven points and six boards on 2-of-7 shooting, but I still kind of like Burks and Robinson. Lastly, Eric Paschall came off the bench for 11 points, four boards and three assists, and is another guy worth keeping around for now. Marquese Chriss had 11 points and eight boards before being ejected after 18 minutes.