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Tobias Harris
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Basketball Daily Dose

Big Monday for Harden, Harris

by Steve Alexander

James Harden went crazy (again) and Tobias Harris exploded for a career-high 39 points on Monday night, while the Kings threw in the towel early, benching every starter for the entire second half.

Rockets 102, Jazz 97James Harden went off for a 47-6-5-5 line with four 3-pointers, 14-of-31 shooting and 15-of-16 free throws. P.J. Tucker got loose for 16 points and four 3-pointers, but didn’t have an assist or steal, and only had one block. He’s intriguing, for sure, but still hasn’t been able to put it all together this season. Eric Gordon scored 12 with two 3-pointers, Chris Paul had 11 points, nine dimes and four steals and Clint Capela came through with just five points and 14 rebounds, but also had season highs of three steals and five blocks in the win. This was Harden’s sixth 40-point game of the season and his season high was 54 against the Wizards on November 26. Harden is averaging a ridiculous 35.6 points. 6.6 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 2.2 steals and 4.2 3-pointers while shooting 51 percent over his last five games, and the Rockets have won four straight behind his dominance.
James Ennis could miss a couple more weeks with a hamstring injury, which should help both Gordon and Tucker.

For the Jazz, Donovan Mitchell had a 23-8-5-3 line with two 3-pointers on 8-of-22 shooting, Rudy Gobert had 18 points, 13 boards, four assists, a steal and three blocks, Jae Crowder had a 14 & 10 double-double with three 3-pointers and Ricky Rubio struggled with 12 points, four assists and seven turnovers in the loss. Joe Ingles was also quiet, hitting just 2-of-6 shots for five points, but at least had six assists in the loss. Just hang in there with Jingles. The Jazz bench was mostly a dumpster fire, and Mitchell, Crowder and Ingles combined to hit just 13-of-38 shots for 34 percent.

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Blazers 131, Clippers 127 – The night’s highest-scoring game was also one of the best, as the Blazers held on to beat the Clippers. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 66 points, Jusuf Nurkic added 20 points and had seven assists for the second straight game and Moe Harkless scored 13 points with a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in the win (I’m not buying it). Al-Farouq Aminu didn’t hit double digits in scoring, but did have 10 rebounds to go along with his eight points. There wasn’t a lot to learn here, especially from their bench, but the Blazers have won two straight.

Tobias Harris got loose for a career-high 39 points, 11 boards and three 3-pointers, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit 9-of-15 shots and two 3-pointers for 24 points and three assists and Danilo Gallinari added 22 points, five boards, three assists and two 3-pointers in the loss. If SGA was dropped in your league, this may be your sign. Bad Avery Bradley was back, missing all four of his shots and failing to even score a point, despite playing 30 minutes. I give up. Montrezl Harrell had 15 points, six boards, four assists and a steal, and hit 7-of-8 free throws, and Patrick Beverley came off the bench for 10 points, 11 assists and two 3-pointers. After struggling recently, Harrell appears to be back, averaging 18 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his last two games.

Bucks 107, Pistons 104 – The Bucks got a big game out of Giannis Antetokounmpo (as usual) and welcomed back Khris Middleton from a one-game absence with a pinkie injury, and he had 22 points, six assists, a steal and three 3-pointers in a team-high 37 minutes. Eric Bledsoe was solid with 17 points and nine dimes, Tony Snell got the start and had 12 points, six boards, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers, and Brook Lopez was eerily quiet against Andre Drummond. Malcolm Brogdon was out with a hamstring injury, resulting in Snell’s start, and the Bucks’ bench was pretty quiet in the win. Snell might be worth a deep-league look if Brogdon’s going to miss more time, but is not a player I’d trust in fantasy. Pat Connaughton didn’t even get off the bench, so drop him for a hot free agent if you took a flier on him after he started his last game for Middleton. D.J. Wilson had a career-high nine points off the bench, as did Sterling Brown.

Blake Griffin hit just 4-of-13 shots for a 19-10-11 triple-double, but also had 10 turnovers to transform it into a dubious quadruple-double. He also missed the game-tying 3-pointer, and this is one of the least efficient triple-doubles you’ll ever see. “I was unbelievably awful tonight,” Griffin said after the game. Drummond didn’t take advantage of a nice matchup against Bro-Lo, hitting just 4-of-12 shots, but did finish with a 10 & 14 double-double, with zero blocks. Reggie Bullock led the way for the Pistons with a career-high 24 points, three rebounds, one assist and five 3-pointers on 9-of-14 shooting. He had 15 in his previous game after missing time with a sprained left ankle. It was tough to see this one coming, but he couldn’t miss last night after sitting out for most of the month with the injury. The Pistons have three more games this week, making him worth a look. Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard both started, but were very quiet in this one, and Stanley Johnson hit 8-of-14 shots and four 3-pointers (all in the fourth quarter) off the bench for 20 points, six boards, two assists and a block in 25 minutes. Johnson had scored a total of nine points in his previous two games, so this one feels very fluky to me. I don’t trust him yet, but he’s worth keeping an eye on after this one.

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Suns 128, Knicks 110 – The Suns got 38 points, seven boards, two assists, two steals and two 3-pointers from Devin Booker, who hit 11-of-23 shots and 14-of-15 free throws, T.J. Warren had 26 points (17 in the fourth quarter), five boards, three assists, two blocks and four 3-pointers on 11-of-18 shooting, and Deandre Ayton added 21 points and 13 boards, but no steals or blocks in the Suns’ accidental win. De’Anthony Melton started alongside Booker, but had just three points and two assists in 21 minutes, and Mikal Bridges was quiet yet again with seven points in 33 minutes. The good news is that the Suns will waive Austin Rivers, which should help keep Melton in the starting unit and relevant. Richaun Holmes had 13 points, four boards and two blocks on 6-of-7 shooting in 19 minutes to stay on the fantasy radar, and Jamal Crawford came off the bench for six points and a career-high 14 assists in 26 minutes, which was weird. Josh Jackson stayed relevant with 14 points, seven boards, three assists and two 3-pointers, but I’d like him a lot more if he were starting over Bridges. Crawford’s played pretty well over his last three games, averaging 9.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists, but hasn’t made a 3-pointer since December 2 -- which, again, is weird. Just keep an eye on him in case he keeps it going. The Suns have somehow won three straight games, which might be the most Suns thing ever, and they’ve now passed the six-win Hawks with seven wins, leaving the Hawks in the lead for the services for Zion Williamson.

For the Knicks, Emmanuel Mudiay did it again with 32 points, six boards, six assists and two 3-pointers, Kevin Knox had 17 points, five boards and two 3-pointers, Enes Kanter had a 13 & 12 double-double with a steal and a block, and rare starter Courtney Lee had 12 points. Noah Vonleh played just 17 minutes and had three points and seven boards, but there was no report of an injury. Mario Hezonja finally made some noise with 14 points, five boards and a 3-pointer off the bench, and Frank Ntilikina hit 3-of-11 shots for nine points and one assist. Trey Burke has been back for two games, but only averaged 3.5 points in them, as Mudiay continues to play at a crazy-high level. I called Mudiay a must-own player recently, and he’s been on a tear for a few weeks now. Tim Hardaway Jr. was out with a sore right heel, which allowed the other starters (and Hezonja) to get more touches in this one.

Timberwolves 132, Kings 105 – The Wolves blitzed the Kings, outscoring them 38-23 in the first quarter and 36-21 in the second, as all five Wolves starters scored in double figures, with Taj Gibson, Karl-Anthony Towns and Derrick Rose (who started for Jeff Teague – ankle) all double-doubling, and Rose had a season-high 11 assists. Robert Covington (36 minutes) was the only starter to play more than 27 minutes and he had a 13-5-2-2-1 line with two 3-pointers. Additionally, Dario Saric, Gorgui Dieng (remember him?), Tyus Jones (double-double) and Josh Okogie all hit double figures off the bench in this garbage-time special.

And here’s where things got weird. The Kings had played three times in four nights (with travel) and then fell into an immediate deep hole, causing head coach Dave Joerger to pretty much bench everyone. None of his starters played in the second half. “I didn’t think putting those guys back in was going to be worth it,” he said. Buddy Hield led the way for the starters with 18 minutes and somehow had 21 points and five 3-pointers, Bogdan Bogdanovic played 10 minutes, Willie Cauley-Stein played seven minutes, De’Aaron Fox played six minutes and Nemanja Bjelica, who I recently called a “no-brainer pickup,” played just five minutes. Maybe I should stop using that phrase. A bunch of guys hit double figures off the bench, led by Yogi Ferrell’s 16 points, but I’m not even going to get into it. The Kings decided to throw in the towel early in this one, and owners of any of their starters took the hit. The good news is they have three more games this week and the starters should be back in there on Wednesday against the Thunder. Hopefully, as an owner of all five starters in various leagues, things go better in that one, as well as the rest of the week.

Thunder 121, Bulls 96 – The Thunder routed the Bulls behind Russell Westbrook’s 13-16-11-5 triple-double, while Paul George (big first half), Jerami Grant, Steven Adams and Dennis Schroder (bench) joined him in double-digit scoring in the easy win. This was Westbrook’s seventh triple-double of the season and 111th of his career, and he now leads the league in steals at 2.4 per game.

The Bulls were pretty bad in this one, as only starters Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn scored in double figures. Markkanen had 16 points, 15 rebounds, two steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer on 6-of-17 shooting, while Dunn had 12 points and seven assists. Wendell Carter Jr., Justin Holiday (3-of-10 shooting), and Ryan Arcidiacono (0-for-2, zero points) all struggled, while Bobby Portis scored 16 points off the bench, but had a relatively empty stat line. Cameron Payne limped home with 11 points and six assists off the bench. There was a mini-fight in this game, but only Robin Lopez was ejected, so I doubt there will be any suspensions handed out. Jabari Parker was out with an “illness,” but he’s also out of the rotation, making Portis worth a look.

Spurs 123, Sixers 96 – The Spurs somehow blew out the Sixers and got 21 points and six boards from Rudy Gay, 20 points and 10 boards from LaMarcus Aldridge and 20 points, six boards and seven assists from DeMar DeRozan. Davis Bertans added 16 points, six boards and three 3-pointers off the bench, but the only trustworthy Spurs are still Gay, Aldridge and DeRozan. They played 12 players and 10 of them played at least 13 minutes in the easy win. The Spurs are rolling and finished their six-game home stand at 5-1.

Joel Embiid had a 13-11-5 line, but hit just 6-of-17 shots, and Ben Simmons had a 16-6-6 line on 7-of-10 shooting in the loss. J.J. Redick and Wilson Chandler also scored in double figures, while Jimmy Butler struggled badly his second game back from a groin injury, hitting just 3-of-13 shots for six points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal. The Spurs were a defensive sieve earlier this season, but Embiid said after the game they made his team “uncomfortable” in this one. The Sixers should bounce back in a home date with the Knicks on Wednesday.

Warriors 110, Grizzlies 93Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all played well, but not great, on Monday, and Jonas Jerebko got loose for 16 points, three rebounds, a steal and four 3-pointers in the easy win. Jerebko hadn’t done much in his previous two games, but sprang to life on Monday. He’s going to be real inconsistent as long as Green is healthy. Andre Iguodala was back from his hip injury and had 10 points, five boards, two assists, a steal and three 3-pointers in the win. No thanks. Durant passed Larry Bird for 33rd place on the NBA all-time scoring list, and Curry became the fifth Warrior in history to score 15,000 regular-season points, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Rick Barry, Paul Arizin and Chris Mullin on the list.

The Grizzlies were without Mike Conley (hamstring, day-to-day) so Shelvin Mack got the start and had eight points, four boards, four assists and a 3-pointer. Jevon Carter, who was big in his last game, hit just 2-of-8 shots for five points and two assists, so there’s nothing to see there. Omri Casspi got some revenge against his former team and led the Grizzlies with a season-high 20 points off the bench, but simply got hot, hitting 8-of-10 shots. Kyle Anderson, Marc Gasol and Garrett Temple all started and scored in double figures, while Jaren Jackson Jr. was bad, hitting 1-of-6 shots for three points, four rebounds, two assists and nothing else. JJJ has cooled off, averaging just 6.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks over his last two games, but owners should continue to hang onto him if they can stand it. Anderson missed his last game with an ankle injury, but had his second highest scoring game of the season, along with five rebounds. He’s playing better, but still isn’t a must-own, or must-start player in my mind. JaMychal Green also stumbled last night, hitting 1-of-6 shots for three points and four boards, but at least had two steals and a block.

Steve Alexander

Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2020-20 NBA season marks (at least) his 20th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.