Joel Embiid
AP
Basketball Daily Dose

Embiid returns and Middleton shines

Updated On: January 29, 2020, 1:00 pm ET

With the matchup between the Clippers and Lakers postponed in the aftermath of Kobe Bryant’s passing, there were only eight games on the schedule for Tuesday night. Teams that hadn’t played at home since the basketball great and eight others died in a helicopter crash Sunday morning honored Bryant with video tributes and 8- and 24-second violations to begin their games. Below is a look at the Tuesday’s slate, which was headlined (following the tributes) by the return of Joel Embiid and Khris Middleton torching the Wizards. 

76ers 115, Warriors 104 — Embiid (torn ligament, left ring finger) was back on the court with a new number, as we donned No. 24 in honor of Bryant. And with that number having been retired by the 76ers (Bobby Jones), he reached out to Jones for permission to wear 24 Tuesday night. Fittingly Embiid scored 24 points while also accounting for 10 rebounds, one assist, one blocked shot and one three-pointer in 26 minutes. Embiid is going to get his on most nights, the question is how the production of the other key contributors will be impacted when he’s on the floor. 

Al Horford scored 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field, but he also accounted for 11 rebounds, eight assists, one steal and two 3-pointers. While he may not score as many points when Embiid’s on the court, Horford is good enough in the other areas to preserve his fantasy value. Tobias Harris finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and one three-pointer, while Ben Simmons added 17 points, four rebounds, five assists and one steal. Shake Milton made his second consecutive start, finishing with 11 points, one rebound, two assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 26 minutes. He and Raul Neto, who tallied 19 points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal and three 3-pointers, can be left on the waiver wire until they prove that they can produce on a consistent basis.

D'Angelo Russell accounted for 28 points, five rebounds, seven assists, two steals and six 3-pointers in 37 minutes, and stat lines of this caliber should be the norm as the Warriors play out the remainder of the season. Glenn Robinson III (20 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and three 3-pointers), Marquese Chriss (15 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Alec Burks (12 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers) also scored in double figures, while Draymond Green posted a line of nine points, nine rebounds, 12 assists, one steal, three blocks and one three-pointer. 

While he isn’t much of a scorer Green putting up lines in which he does a bit of everything comes as no surprise. Chriss has reached double figures in four straight games, and in the aftermath of the Willie Cauley-Stein trade he’s be a better option than Omari Spellman (five points, four rebounds and one three-pointer) in the short-term.

 

Hornets 97, Knicks 92 — Devonte' Graham’s status for this one went back and forth, as he was originally declared out due to illness before deciding just before tipoff that he would give it a go. Graham started and played 35 minutes, scoring five points while also dishing out 10 assists. Terry Rozier picked up the slack scoring-wise, as he dropped 30 points on the Knicks to go along with 10 rebounds, one assist and four 3-pointers. Rozier, who hasn’t always been the most efficient guard, and Graham (provided he’s healthy) are both worth a look for Wednesday’s game vs. the Wizards given Washington’s defensive struggles. 

Miles Bridges (15 points, four rebounds, one block and two 3-pointers), Malik Monk (13 points, two rebounds, two assists), Willy Hernangomez (12 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, two steals and one three-pointer) and Cody Zeller (10 points, 10 rebounds, one steal and one block) all scored in double figures, with Hernangomez appearing to have passed Bismack Biyombo (DNP-CD) in the frontcourt rotation. I wouldn’t pick up Willy immediately, but he’s worth keeping an eye on for now. P.J. Washington had a tough night shooting the ball, as he was just 1-of-9 from the field, finishing with three points, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and one blocked shot. 

Julius Randle and Marcus Morris led the way for the Knicks, scoring 24 and 23 points respectively. Randle also tallied five rebounds, two assists and one steal, while Morris supplemented his point total with four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one three-pointer. Taj Gibson continues to start in the middle, with Mitchell Robinson coming off the bench. Gibson played 16 minutes Tuesday, accounting for three points, three rebounds, one assist, one block and one three-pointer. Robinson played 26 minutes, scoring four points (2-of-2 FGs) while also tallying 10 rebounds, one steal and five blocked shots. The Knicks are well off the pace for the playoff spot, and eventually Mike Miller needs to give Robinson not only the starting job but all the minutes that he can handle as well. 

Elfrid Payton finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and one steal, while Dennis Smith Jr. got the call to serve as the backup point guard as opposed to Frank Ntilikina. DSJ played 15 minutes, scoring seven points with three rebounds, and two assists, while Ntilikina played just three minutes and made his lone shot (a three-pointer). Of the three point guards Payton is the only one worth considering as a roster option, as neither Smith Jr. nor Ntilikina has been consistent enough to merit consideration. 

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Pelicans 125, Cavaliers 111Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram led the way for the Pelicans, with the former posting one of his best lines of the season, in Tuesday’s win. Holiday shot 10-of-16 from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line, scoring 28 points while also accounting for two rebounds, eight assists, three steals, four blocked shots and three 3-pointers in 33 minutes. Over the last two weeks he’s provided top-10 value in both eight- and nine-category formats. Ingram, who’s been a top-25 player in both formats for the season, added 24 points, one rebound, six assists, two steals and four 3-pointers. He shot 9-of-13 from the field, making all four of his three-point attempts, snapping out of a slump that coincided with the addition of Zion Williamson to the rotation. 

Three other Pelicans finished in double figures, J.J. Redick (15 points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal and two 3-pointers), Williamson (14 points, nine rebounds and one assist) and Nicolo Melli (11 points, four rebounds, one assist and three 3-pointers). Just as important as the stats for Williamson is the minutes count, and he played 30 Tuesday night. He’s had better performances on both ends of the floor, but Williamson being able to take on an increased workload without any issues is the bigger takeaway. Melli’s value took a major hit when Williamson entered the lineup, as he played a total of eight minutes in the two games prior, which makes him a tough sell right now. Lonzo Ball added five points (2-of-10 FGs), eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals, one block and one three-pointer in 32 minutes, and Derrick Favors tallied nine points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot. 

Cleveland was without starting point guard Darius Garland (rest), who sat out with this being the second game of a back-to-back. Dante Exum moved into the starting lineup and didn’t have much of an impact, posting a line of four points and one rebound in 18 minutes. Since going off for 28 points in a loss to the Timberwolves back on January 5, he’s scored a total of 27 points (nine games). Even when there’s an opening in the starting lineup Exum should be left alone. Garland’s absence also meant more time on the ball for Collin Sexton, who finished with 24 points, three rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block and two 3-pointers. He’s now dished out at least four assists in five of the last seven games, a positive development as he’s averaging just 2.5 per game. 

Kevin Porter Jr. played 26 minutes off the bench, scoring 21 points with two rebounds, two assists, one steal and five 3-pointers, while Larry Nance Jr. (17 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one three-pointer) also posted a nice stat line in a reserve role. Porter playing eight more minutes than he did on Monday in the first game of the back-to-back is a positive sign, since he missed time earlier this month with a knee injury and twisted his ankle during Monday’s game vs. the Pistons. He stands to figure prominently in the Cavaliers’ plans for the remainder of the season, and now would be a good time to grab Porter if he’s available. As for Nance, over the last two weeks he has been a top-50 player in nine-cat, and that’s with Kevin Love (12 points, six rebounds three assists and two 3-pointers) and Tristan Thompson (five points, nine rebounds) in the rotation. 

Raptors 130, Hawks 114Kyle Lowry made history in Toronto’s win, becoming the franchise’s all-time assists leader. In 33 minutes he accounted for 12 points, eight rebounds, 11 assists, one steal and two 3-pointers, joining Fred VanVleet (19 points, one rebound, three assists, one steal and three 3-pointers) and Terence Davis (15 points, six rebounds, one assist and one three-pointer) as guards that scored in double figures. In total six Raptors scored at least 10 points, but there was some bad news as Marc Gasol (10 points, one rebound, one assist, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 16 minutes) left the game during the third quarter due to tightness in his left hamstring. That’s the same hamstring that sidelined him earlier this season, which makes the injury that much more concerning. 

Serge Ibaka is the obvious choice to fill the resulting void, and in 27 minutes he tallied 24 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and two 3-pointers. A prolonged absence for Gasol would also open up some minutes on the back end for Chris Boucher, who played 13 minutes and finished with nine points, five rebounds, one assist and one steal. Boucher is rostered in just three percent of Yahoo leagues and given how hamstring injuries (Gasol) can be, now would be a good time to strike and pick him up off the waiver wire. All-Star Game starter Pascal Siakam finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one block and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes, and Norman Powell tallied a team-high four steals to go along with six points, two rebounds and one assist. 

Two days removed from an emotional 45-point performance, Trae Young had a tough go of it Tuesday night as one would expect. He finished with 18 points (5-of-13 FGs, 7-of-8 FTs), two rebounds, 13 assists and one three-pointer, but he also turned the ball over seven times. Playing against guards as tough as Toronto’s can do that to a player. Cam Reddish also scored 18 points, shooting 4-of-11 from three, while also tallying six rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot, while De'Andre Hunter added 15 points six rebounds, four assists and three 3-pointers.

John Collins paced the Hawks with 28 points (11-of-14 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs), 12 rebounds and one blocked shot. And in his last game in Toronto, Vince Carter played 18 minutes and scored 10 points with five rebounds, two assists, two steals and two 3-pointers. The man formerly known as “Air Canada” had a good night, but he should be left on the waiver wire. 

Bucks 151, Wizards 131Khris Middleton made history Tuesday night, as he became the first player in league history to score at least 50 points in a game while shooting 70% or better from three and 100% from the foul line. He finished with a career-high 51 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and seven 3-pointers in 36 minutes, with he and Eric Bledsoe more than filling the void left by Giannis Antetokounmpo (shoulder). Bledsoe scored 34 points while also accounting for six rebounds, 10 assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes, shooting 11-of-20 from the field and 10-of-10 from the foul line. Antetokounmpo’s absence meant a rare start for Ersan Ilyasova, who produced a line of nine points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and one three-pointer in 21 minutes. 

Donte DiVincenzo (16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers) and Robin Lopez (10 points, one rebound and two blocks) both hit double figures off the bench, while Brook Lopez (three rebounds, five assists, one block and one three-pointer) and Wesley Matthews (three rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers) scored nine points apiece. DiVincenzo has been a top-100 player in both eight- and nine-category formats over the last two weeks, but he’s rostered in just 16 percent of Yahoo leagues. Even with his not being a starter, he should be picked up in deeper leagues. And he could be even more valuable down the line, as Milwaukee may be able to rest some of their vets ahead of the postseason. 

Bradley Beal (47 points, six assists, one steal, one block and four 3-pointers in 38 minutes) once again did the heavy lifting for the Wizards, who had a total of five double-digit scorers on the night. He’s scored 36 points or more in each of Washington’s last four games, due to the combination of his skill level and the Wizards needing him to go off in order to have any chance of competing on most nights. Beal’s rolling right now, which could net good trade value in most leagues. Thomas Bryant replaced Gary Payton II in the starting lineup, finishing with 18 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, one steal and one blocked shot in 32 minutes. The move was long overdue as Payton has been struggling mightily, and it improved Bryant’s fantasy value. 

Isaiah Thomas (three rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers) and Troy Brown Jr. (seven rebounds, five assists and two 3-pointers) scored 16 points apiece, and Davis Bertans shot 4-of-4 from three and finished with 15 points, three rebounds, one steal and two blocked shots in 30 minutes. Thomas shot the ball well, going 5-of-10 from the field, but he doesn’t offer much fantasy value. Brown would be a better option in standard leagues. 

Grizzlies 104, Nuggets 96Dillon Brooks and Jonas Valanciunas did the scoring, Ja Morant the assisting and Jaren Jackson Jr. the defending as Memphis took care of Denver. Brooks shot 11-of-19 from the field, scoring 24 points with one rebound, three assists, one steal, one block and one three-pointer, while Valanciunas finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one blocked shot. Morant posted a line of 14 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals in 30 minutes, shooting 6-of-11 from the field and 2-of-4 from the foul line, while Jackson accounted for 10 points, two rebounds, one assist, seven blocked shots and two 3-pointers. The seven rejections matched his career-high, and he did it while committing just one foul. Already a tantalizing fantasy player, Jackson Jr. is averaging 2.4 blocks per game over the last month. 

Jae Crowder (knee) missed another game, with Kyle Anderson making another start as a result. Anderson finished with four points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block, but that isn’t enough to justify rostering him with Crowder sidelined. Brandon Clarke (12 points, six rebounds, two assists and one block) and Solomon Hill (seven points, three rebounds, four assists and one three-pointer) are much better choices to fill that void fantasy-wise. De'Anthony Melton (left hand) was a late scratch, which freed up some rotation minutes for Marko Guduric (five points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one three-pointer) and Jon Konchar (two points). Neither should be rostered, which you probably already knew.

Nikola Jokic finished with another double-double to lead the Nuggets, as he tallied 25 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, one block and three 3-pointers. But the stat line took a hit thanks to the seven turnovers, the most that he’s had in a game since Denver’s comeback win over the Warriors on January 16 (nine). That may be the only concern fantasy-wise at this point, as after tallying no more than four turnovers in any of Denver’s first seven games of the month he’s had five or more in five of the last seven. 

Joining Jokic in double figures were Jerami Grant (21 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block and six 3-pointers) and Gary Harris (10 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and two 3-pointers). Grant is a must-have right now, as he’s filling in for the injured Paul Millsap (knee). And it’s worth noting that there is no concrete timeline regarding the veteran forward’s return to the court. Monte Morris (nine points, five rebounds, six assists, one steal and two 3-pointers), Will Barton (nine points, seven rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block and one three-pointer) and Michael Porter Jr. (eight points, four rebounds, one assist, three steals and two 3-pointers) didn’t shoot well but salvaged their nights fantasy-wise with contributions in other areas. 

Celtics 109, Heat 101Jayson Tatum (groin) missed another game, but Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown picked up the slack as Boston became the third team (Clippers and Lakers) to beat the Heat in Miami this season. Hayward shot 10-of-14 from the field and 8-of-10 from the foul line, scoring 29 points while also accounting for nine rebounds, two assists, one block and one three-pointer in 38 minutes. The second season removed from a significant injury is usually when a player gets back to where he was before that moment, and that’s been the case with Hayward. Brown added 25 points, three rebounds, five assists, one block and four 3-pointers in 41 minutes, shooting 10-of-16 from the field. 

Kemba Walker added 16 points, four rebounds, eight assists, one steal and three 3-pointers but he had a tough night shooting-wise, making just five of his 19 field goal attempts (3-of-13 3-pointers). Marcus Smart also struggled shooting-wise, as he was 3-of-13 from the field and accounted for 11 points, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal, three blocks and three 3-pointers. Daniel Theis should be picked up in standard leagues if he’s available, as he is Boston’s lone center in the current rotation. Theis tallied 10 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks in 30 minutes, and despite being a top-100 player he’s rostered in just 41 percent of Yahoo leagues. Semi Ojeleye and Grant Williams have seen an uptick in minutes with Enes Kanter (hip) sidelined, but not enough to merit their being rostered in standard leagues. 

Goran Dragic led six Miami players in double figures with 23 points to go along with two rebounds, four assists, two steals and one three-pointer in 30 minutes off the bench, while Jimmy Butler shot 10-of-12 from the foul line and finished with 20 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals. Bam Adebayo (16 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block), Duncan Robinson (12 points, five rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers), Dion Waiters (11 points, five rebounds and three 3-pointers) and Derrick Jones Jr. (10 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one three-pointer) also scored in double figures for the Heat. 

With Kendrick Nunn (Achilles) sidelined Tyler Herro made another start but he struggled, finishing with six points (3-of-13 FGs) with five rebounds, two assists, one steal and one blocked shot in 28 minutes. He was also 0-of-4 from three, so there wasn’t much value to be had there. Herro is still worth a look in deeper leagues, as he scored 13 points or more in each of the three games prior to Tuesday. 

Suns 133, Mavericks 104 — This one got out of hand thanks in large part to the tandem of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, as the Suns led by as much as 38 before coasting home with the win. Booker (32 points, six rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two 3-pointers) and Ayton (31 points, nine rebounds, one assist, two steals and one block) combined to shoot 25-of-25 from the field, and this is the first time this season that two Suns have scored 30 or more in the same game. In total five Suns scored in double figures, with one being Mikal Bridges

Bridges replaced Dario Saric (eight points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in 22 minutes) in the starting lineup and he filled the stat sheet, accounting for 13 points, two rebounds, six assists, two steals, one block and one three-pointer in 34 minutes. The second-year forward did enough to show that he’s worth a longer look in the starting lineup, but whether or not that happens depends on Monty Williams. Kelly Oubre tallied 19 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and three 3-pointers, and rookie point guard Ty Jerome added 12 points, two rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers in 23 minutes off the bench. Jerome jumped Elie Okobo, who played just five minutes, in the rotation for this game and served as Ricky Rubio’s primary backup. 

Luka Doncic (21 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal and one 3-pointer) was the lone Dallas starter to score in double figures, while guards Jalen Brunson (15 points, two rebounds, one assist and one steal) and J.J. Barea (15 points, two rebounds, seven assists and one three-pointer) were productive off the bench. But Kristaps Porzingis (nine points, three rebounds, one assist and one three-pointer) shot 2-of-8 from the field, taking a step back after scoring in double figures in each of his first four games back from the knee injury that sidelined him for nearly a month. In five games he’s shot 35.4% from the field and 32.3% from three, while averaging 13.6 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest. Hopefully he can get things turned around in the near future. 

Lastly Willie Cauley-Stein made his Mavericks debut, playing 12 minutes off the bench and accounting for four points, three rebounds, one assist and two steals. Right now I wouldn’t roster him, but that could chance as Cauley-Stein gets used to Rick Carlisle’s system and a concrete role is made available to him. With Dwight Powell (Achilles) done for the season there’s clearly a void that needs to be filled in the Mavericks frontcourt rotation. Maxi Kleber played 20 minutes, finishing with six points, five rebounds and two assists. He’s a better option than Cauley-Stein right now. 

Wednesday’s Schedule (all times Eastern) 

Chicago at Indiana, 7 PM 

Detroit at Brooklyn, 7:30 PM

Memphis at New York, 7:30 PM 

Utah at San Antonio, 8:30 PM 

Oklahoma City at Sacramento, 10 PM 

Houston at Portland, 10 PM 


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