Mavericks 115, Lakers 110 – Luka Doncic had 30 points, nine boards, eight dimes, three steals and three 3-pointers on 9-of-21 shooting and he even hit 9-of-11 free throws in the win. Luka’s usage could get ready to take a jump as Kristaps Porzingis went down with a nasty sprained left ankle that didn’t look great on TV. I wouldn’t be surprised if he misses a week, especially given that he’s Kristaps Porzingis. At this point, I’m just hoping that’s all the time he misses. Willie Cauley-Stein got 31 minutes with Maxi Kleber (back) and KP out and finished with 11 points, eight boards, a steal and two blocks. I don’t think I’d rush out and pick anyone up due to KP’s injury, especially until we find out how serious it is, but it’s possible WCS could end up being the winner. I’d go over the rest of the Mavs’ box score, but I don’t want to put you to sleep. The Mavs pulled into a tie with the No. 6 Blazers, but Portland holds the important tie breaker, leaving the Mavs at No. 7. They’re also just 2.5 games back of the No. 5 Lakers, but they’ll probably have trouble winning games if Porzingis is actually hurt.
Anthony Davis (calf) played for the first time in 30 games and looked both rusty and good. He played 17 first-half minutes and somehow the TNT crew missed the memo that he would play in the first half and sit out the second. He hit just 2-of-10 shots for four points, four rebounds, one assist, a steal and a block in 17 minutes. He looked good at times, but the overall look was that of rust. The Lakers are going to ease him back into action, but he could be worth throwing into lineups by next week. The Lakers get the Mavs again on Saturday and are then at Orlando on Monday for the start of a four-game week with no back-to-backs. I think I’d target that Orlando game to deploy AD and hope for the best. Dennis Schroder was a beast with 25 points, 13 assists and two 3-pointers on 9-of-13 shooting, Andre Drummond was great with 14 points, 19 rebounds, a steal and three blocks in arguably his best game as a Laker (the Mavs tend to make opposing centers look amazing), and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fought through a sprained right ankle for a season-high 29 points and six 3-pointers but didn’t do much else. KCP’s hot right now though, scoring 29, 15 and 25 points in each of his last three games, so he’s worth a look until he cools off again.
Celtics 99, Suns 86 – We got a big dose of good Kemba Walker (illness) last night as he tied his season high with 32 points, hitting 11-of-17 shots and five 3-pointers with four boards, four dimes and a block in the win, despite not feeling well on Wednesday. But don’t get too excited just yet, as Walker doesn’t typically play in back-to-backs and isn’t likely to be in uniform on Friday night against the Nets. But it was fun while it lasted, and Payton Pritchard will likely start tonight. The fact Boston won this game without Jaylen Brown (shoulder) and 3-of-17 shooting performance from Jayson Tatum (ankle) is pretty amazing. As you know, the Suns are basically the best team in the league right now. Tatum did hit a big 3-pointer to ice the game, but this was a disappointing fantasy performance given that he usually puts up ridiculous numbers when Brown is out. Go ahead and consider both Brown and Tatum as questionable for Friday’s back-to-back. Marcus Smart returned from an illness and had 11 points, seven boards, five assists, a steal and a 3-pointer. Hopefully, he’ll be out there tonight. If he is, he should have a shot at a big night with so many questions surrounding the Celtics stars. The Celtics are hot, winning nine of their last 11 games. Robert Williams (knee) is day-to-day and Evan Fournier (protocols) could be back this weekend.
The 42-17 Suns lost for just the third time since March 25 and got 22 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, two steals and three 3-pointers on 8-of-16 shooting. Devin Booker had a rough night with 15 points and a weak line on 6-of-13 shooting before fouling out in 26 minutes. Mikal Bridges also scored 15, Deandre Ayton cooled off with 10 points, nine boards, a steal and a block on 5-of-8 shooting, and Cameron Johnson wasted a starting opportunity with eight points, six boards, a steal and a block on 3-of-11 shooting. Johnson started for Jae Crowder, who was out with a sprained right ankle. The Suns’ bench was nearly nonexistent and they just didn’t have their A Game against the smoking-hot Celtics. Romeo Langford started over Semi Ojeleye but didn’t do anything, as expected.
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Bucks 124, Sixers 117 – Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 points, 16 boards, six dimes, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer on 8-of-15 shooting but hit just 10-of-18 free throws. Khris Middleton hit 10-of-16 shots and four 3-pointers for 24 points and five assists, Brook Lopez had 16 points, four boards, two blocks and four 3-pointers, and Jrue Holiday double-doubled with 12 points, 11 assists and a solid line despite hitting just 5-of-12 shots. Bobby Portis was awesome off the bench with 23 points, five boards, three blocks and five 3-pointers on 9-of-11 shooting so congratulations are in order if you had him in your lineup. The Bucks go back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday so we’ll have to see who plays in those games.
The Sixers are reeling a bit without Tobias Harris (who was back tonight) and Ben Simmons, and have lost three straight games (Bucks, Suns, Warriors) after winning their previous four. Joel Embiid led the way with 24 points but had just three rebounds and a block on 9-of-21 shooting. It was the second night of a back-to-back, so at least he played. Who knew that Brook Lopez was the Embiid stopper? Tobias Harris was back from a three-game absence with a right knee injury and had 18 points and six dimes in the loss. Simmons might be back from his illness on Saturday, Seth Curry had 11 and three triples after a night off, Shake Milton bounced back with 20 points, four dimes and three triples off the bench, and Danny Green failed to score in 15 minutes. I’m not messing with Shake with Simmons closing in on a return. The Sixers are now in a tie for first in the East with the Nets and the Bucks are just 2.5 games back of both of them. One of those three teams is going to win the East and it should be fun to watch them battle it out down the stretch.
Pelicans 135, Magic 100 – Brandon Ingram hit 11-of-17 shots and two 3-pointers for 29 points and six dimes, and Zion Williamson went off for 23 points and seven boards on 9-of-12 shooting in the easy win. Steven Adams added 12 points and nine boards, Lonzo Ball hit 2-of-8 shots for six points and 12 assists, and Eric Bledsoe was nice with 15 points, three assists and five 3-pointers on 5-of-7 shooting. Naji Marshall disappeared with two points, three boards and four assists on 1-of-4 shooting in 17 minutes and it’s possible that the dream is over, at least for now. Willy Hernangomez came out of nowhere for 18 points, 12 boards and a block on 7-of-9 shooting in just 17 minutes, and I’m still not sure how he did it, but it has fluke written all over it.
The Magic got 17 points, 12 boards, two blocks and two 3-pointers from Mo Bamba while the rest of the team seemed to put up some somewhat serviceable numbers in a blowout. But they’re a mess and I don’t trust most of them. Wendell Carter Jr. was out with a sore ankle and Bamba made the most of his career-high 28 minutes. If WCJ misses more time, Bamba looks like a must-start player, but he can disappear at times. Cole Anthony (14 points, 3 assists) and Gary Harris (11 points, 2 3-pointers) are probably worth using right now, and some dude named Devin Cannady went off for a career-high 17 points, three boards, two steals and three 3-pointers on 7-of-11 shooting in 24 minutes. To quote our Cannady blurb, “the entire game was a garbage-time special.” Cannady had scored a total of 17 points in his previous seven games, so just keep an eye on him in case the Magic decide to turn him loose.
Spurs 106, Pistons 91 – DeMar DeRozan, Dejounte Murray and Patty Mills all sat this one out so Derrick White, of course, went nuts with 26 points, two 3-pointers, seven rebounds, eight dimes, a steal and three blocks in 29 minutes. He also hit 8-of-8 free throws and blocked three shots for the second time in his last five games. Jakob Poeltl had his best recent game with 17 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four blocks in 30 minutes, and has been playing well enough to be used everywhere, although he won’t be quite this good on most nights. Lonnie Walker had 18 points and four 3-pointers, Keldon Johnson had 10 points, seven boards, three steals and two 3-pointers, and Rudy Gay had 14 points and a couple threes off the bench. Obviously, White will take a hit with the return of DeRozan and Murray coming.
The Pistons have been alternating teams lately, starting the kids one night, the veterans the next and then going back to the kids, like they did tonight. The one guy who seems to be locked into both lineups is Jason Jackson, who hit 11-of-20 shots for 29 points, four boards, two assists and two 3-pointers. He’s the only reliable Piston on a nightly basis, at least for now. The Pistons rested Mason Plumlee, Cory Joseph and Jerami Grant tonight and started Saddiq Bey, Sekou Doumbouya, Isaiah Stewart, Killian Hayes and Jackson, while Frank Jackson was back in the mix with 14 points and a couple of 3-pointers off the bench. It would be nice if Dwane Casey would tell us what his plan is from week to week, but for now, managers of most Pistons just have to wait and see who is starting each night to decide what to do next. Either way, I’d recommend hanging onto Stewart (8 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks) and Hayes (12 points, 5 assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer) until further notice.
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Bulls 108, Hornets 91 – The Bulls got 18 points apiece from Nikola Vucevic, who bounced back from a dud, Coby White, who has been playing much better since Zach LaVine went down, and Thaddeus Young, who came off the bench. Much has been made about White’s inability to shoot but he hit 7-of-10 shots last night and four 3-pointers and has hit 12-of-20 shots over his last two games after hitting just 15-of-41 shots over his previous three games. Vuc added 16 rebounds and six dimes but has just one block over his last five games. Vuc had his double-digit scoring streak stopped at 106 games on Wednesday when he scored nine points with five boards, but started a new streak tonight.
The Hornets were led by Devonte’ Graham’s 16 points, Miles Bridges scored 13 and Terry Rozier disappointed with 11 points and eight dimes on 5-of-15 shooting. The most intriguing story coming out of Charlotte is the fact they’re starting a guy named Vernon Carey Jr. at center. Carey went off for 21 points with six boards, a block and a 3-pointer on April 16, then played just seven and three minutes in each of his following two games. He played 15 minutes last night in another start and had eight points and four boards. If they ever decide to give him 30 minutes again, look out. Just put him on your radar. And in one of the most disappointing lines of the night, P.J. Washington played just 13 minutes for three points on 1-of-4 shooting. There were no reports of injury and he wasn’t in foul trouble, so it appears he just got a night off. Which was disappointing, considering he had scored 26 and 23 points in his previous two games. I’m pretty sure PJW’s lack of minutes ruined a lot of fantasy dreams last night. Hopefully, he bounces back against the Cavaliers tonight.