Bradley Beal and Joel Embiid went bonkers, James Harden, Khris Middleton, Ricky Rubio and Aaron Gordon all played well, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis returned with a win and Brandon Clarke went down after just four minutes in an eight-game Monday night.
Bucks 137, Wizards 134 OT – Giannis Antetokounmpo had a relatively quiet night with 22 points, 14 rebounds and eight turnovers before fouling out, while Khris Middleton did the heavy lifting with 40 points, five boards, five assists, three steals and two 3-pointers. He also scored a career-high 51 against the Wiz the last time they met. Eric Bledsoe came through with 23 points, seven boards, 10 assists and four 3-pointers, and Robin Lopez had 11 points, a steal, three blocks and three 3-pointer in a start for his brother, Brook, who was out with sore back. If BroLo misses time, RoLo might be worth a look or a spot start in DFS. The Bucks have won 17 of their last 19 games. Donte DiVincenzo had 12 points, 10 boards and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes off the bench.
The Wizards got a career-high 55 points from Bradley Beal (with nine turnovers and eight 3-pointers) after he scored 53 on Sunday. He had 22 points in the fourth quarter, and I owe everyone an apology for panicking on Beal and predicting he’d be shut down early. The Wizards are just 4.5 games behind the Magic for the No. 8 seed in the East and they’re going to continue to fight for that spot. If it makes you feel any better, I traded Beal for DeMar DeRozan about a month ago, which makes me sick to think about. The Wizards lost both of his 50-point efforts and he became the first player since Kobe Bryant in 2007 to score 50 in back-to-back games. Shabazz Napier came off the bench for a season-high 27 points, seven assists, two steals and three 3-pointers on 10-of-17 shooting and could replace Ish Smith as the starting point guard any day now, making him worth a pickup. Moe Wagner had eight points, 10 rebounds and five assists before fouling out and was helped by the fact Thomas Bryant rested and Davis Bertans was out with a sore right knee. Troy Brown Jr. was quiet with four points on 2-of-9 shooting in 21 minutes, and I’m OK with dumping him for a hot free agent.
Sixers 129, Hawks 112 – Joel Embiid took over in the fourth quarter and torched the Hawks for a career-high 49 points, 14 rebounds, three steals, a block and a 3-pointer, hitting 17-of-24 shots and 14-of-15 free throws in the win. The Hawks overcame a huge deficit after being outscored 41-24 in the first quarter and even took a late lead, but Embiid’s heroics helped the Sixers win the fourth quarter by 18 points to put Atlanta away. Al Horford started over Glenn Robinson, but it didn’t help much, as Horford finished with seven points, eight rebounds, five assists, a block and a 3-pointer. Shake Milton started at point guard for Ben Simmons and had seven points, five boards, six assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer. He looked good, but Brett Brown has said it will be a committee approach, so Milton may not continue to start while Simmons is out indefinitely with his back injury. Furkan Korkmaz had 15 points, six boards, a steal and three 3-pointers after scoring 17 on Saturday. He could end up being the big winner with Simmons out and if you’re trying to figure out whether to pick him or Milton, flip a coin. But I do prefer Korkmaz slightly.
The Hawks got a 28-7-10 line from Trae Young, John Collins had 21 points, nine boards, two steals and two 3-pointers, and De’Andre Hunter returned from a one-game personal leave for 22 points and seven boards in 39 minutes. Dewayne Dedmon was quiet again with five points and three boards in just 14 minutes, while Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish were also underwhelming. Reddish takes a hit with Hunter back, but I still like both players going forward. Dedmon has been awful since the Clint Capela trade, but he’s also been in serious foul trouble in all of his last four games.
Mavericks 139, Timberwolves 123 – Luka Doncic (ankle) and Kristaps Porzingis (rest) were both back on the court on Monday and Luka had 20 points, nine boards, seven assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer in the win. He came down on James Johnson’s foot and aggravated his right ankle injury but managed to stay in the game and play through it. Hopefully he didn’t do any more damage to the ankle that’s kept him out for 11-plus games this season. I know most of my fantasy teams can’t win without him and neither can the Mavericks. Luka also hit just 5-of-8 free throws and it’s starting to look like I might have to buy Matt Stroup a shirsey after the season. KP had 15 points and nine boards but struggled with his shot and hit just 1-of-8 3-pointers. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the way with 23 points and three 3-pointers and Seth Curry got a start and hit 7-of-11 shots and five 3-pointers for 19 points. Delon Wright had 16 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal off the bench and J.J. Barea added 12 points, eight assists and two 3-pointers off the pine, but neither is trustworthy as long as Luka is playing. However, Jalen Brunson (shoulder) is going to miss at least 10 days, giving both of them a boost. There was garbage time involved here as most of the starters got to chill on the bench for the fourth quarter.
Naz Reid got another start for Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist) but hit just 2-of-10 shots for six points, five rebounds and three blocks. Once again, it was James Johnson putting up the numbers in KAT’s place with 19 points, five boards, two blocks and a 3-pointer in 24 minutes. I still think Reid will be the guy to own in the end, but then again, I’m still waiting for Mitchell Robinson to wake up, as well. D’Angelo Russell, who rested on Sunday, led the way with 29 points, five assists and three 3-pointers and Malik Beasley came through with 21 points and five triples in the loss. Josh Okogie sprained an ankle in the second quarter but played through it and had six points.
Cavaliers 125, Heat 119 OT – The Heat are having a great season but have now lost to the Cavs, Hawks and Kings this month, but all three were road losses. Kevin Porter Jr., who had been nearly invisible in his last two games, exploded for a season-high 30 points, eight rebounds, three steals and four 3-pointers. I was reluctantly contemplating dropping him in one league on Sunday night to pick up Coby White and I’m scared to go look to see if I did it or not. I’m thinking I might have dropped Dillon Brooks instead, but I’m not sure. As I’ve been saying everywhere, KPJ is a must-own player and should finish up with a flurry. Kevin Love graced us with his presence and had 17 points and 14 rebounds as a starter, Larry Nance had 16 points, eight boards and two steals off the bench, and Tristan Thompson had 15 points and nine boards, also off the bench. Darius Garland had 14 points, seven assists, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers, Collin Sexton had 13 points and two 3-pointers, and Andre Drummond was quiet again with 13 points, six boards, a steal, a block and a career-high two 3-pointers in 24 minutes. Basically, every Cavalier regular played more minutes than Drummond and I have no idea what they’re doing with him, but he’s played 25 or fewer minutes in four straight games. The Cavs did pull off a big comeback late with Drummond on the bench, which doesn’t help matters. Cedi Osman was quiet during the KPJ coming-out party and all I really know is that KPJ and Nance should be owned, while J.B. Bickerstaff added this horrific fantasy tidbit after the game. “We’re going to call on different people. On a given night, it could be your night.” He also added this gem about Drummond. “He has the ability to score without plays being called for him and that’s a coach’s dream. You got a guy who can go get you 20 points and you don’t have to call a play for him.” So apparently J.B. has no interest in calling plays for Drummond, which is just great and explains Drummond’s slide. Lastly, Dante Exum left with a sprained ankle and didn’t return.
Bam Adebayo’s dream season continued with 22 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and four blocks on 9-of-15 shooting. He didn’t hit a 3-pointer and committed six turnovers, but literally no one cares, as that was another monster game from Bam. Jimmy Butler was out again for personal reasons and we still don’t know what’s going on with him. Dunk champ Derrick Jones Jr. started for Butler and had 10 points, seven boards, a steal and two blocks in 37 minutes, Kendrick Nunn came through with 21 points, four assists and two 3-pointers, and Duncan Robinson added 15 points and five more 3-pointers from the starting unit. Goran Dragic added 22 points, six dimes and two 3-pointers off the bench and Jae Crowder came through with 16 points, nine boards, three assists and four 3-pointers in 38 minutes off the bench. I think Robinson and Crowder are both worth owning the rest of the way, even though Robinson is basically just a 3-point specialist.
Magic 115, Nets 113 – Aaron Gordon possibly had the best game of his career with 27 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, a steal, two blocks and three 3-pointers on 11-of-14 shooting in the win, and Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross each scored 21 points with a bunch of 3-pointers. Nikola Vucevic added 16 points, 10 boards, five assists, a block and a 3-pointer and James Ennis had 13 points, four boards, a block and a 3-pointer in another start, making him worth a deep-league look. Markelle Fultz struggled with five points and seven assists on 2-of-9 shooting, but he’s still the point guard to own for the Magic.
The Nets got 24 points and eight dimes from Spencer Dinwiddie while starters Taurean Prince, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen (double-double) and Caris LeVert (19 points, 5 boards, 8 assists) all scored in double figures in the tough loss. Garrett Temple had 18 points off the bench and is averaging 11.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.3 3-pointer in February, for what it’s worth. As a reminder, Kyrie Irving is out for the rest of the season due to pending shoulder surgery, meaning big things for Dinwiddie and making Temple worth a look.
Rockets 123, Knicks 112 – James Harden attended Kobe Bryant’s memorial in L.A. and then flew back to Houston just in time to torch the Knicks for 37 points, six boards, nine assists, two steals and four 3-pointers. Eric Gordon started for Russell Westbrook (thumb) and had 16 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Westbrook was a late scratch, ruining the night for many fantasy and DFS owners. Robert Covington and Danuel House didn’t score a lot but filled the stat sheet, while P.J. Tucker was quiet with two points, five rebounds, a steal and a block in his 25 minutes. Tucker will have some nice lines while starting at center, but he’s not all that fun to own given his inconsistency. Gordon left early with a sore knee, but the game was basically over by then.
The Knicks were led by RJ Barrett’s 21 points and six boards, but he also had five turnovers. Dennis Smith Jr. is the last point guard standing for the Knicks and had 15 points, seven boards, five assists, a career-high seven steals and a 3-pointer in the loss. As long as Frank Ntilikina (groin) and Elfrid Payton (ankle) are out for the Knicks, DSJ should be in line for more big games. Julius Randle double-doubled with 17 points and 12 boards, starters Moe Harkless and Taj Gibson were quiet, and Bobby Portis came off the bench for 12 points and eight boards in 25 minutes. Mitchell Robinson played 26 minutes and had 10 points, eight boards, two steals and five blocks, and I still don’t know why the Knicks don’t just start him over Gibson and get it over with. It’s probably just because they’re the Knicks.
Suns 131, Jazz 111 – Devin Booker (24 points, season-high 10 assists) and Ricky Rubio (22 points, 11 assists, season-high 7 steals) double-doubled, Kelly Oubre scored 18 and Deandre Ayton scored 16 points in the win. Rubio is on fire, returning first-round value over the last couple weeks, and enjoyed his revenge game against the Jazz. With the other starters playing well, Mikal Bridges was quiet with eight points for the third straight game. Dario Saric played through his sore ankle and had 14 points and a couple 3-pointers, and Aron Baynes (hip) had nine points and eight boards in 16 minutes.
The Jazz got 38 points and six triples from Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic scored 16, Rudy Gobert had 13 points, eight boards, a steal and a block, and Jordan Clarkson added 14 points, a 3-pointer and two steals off the bench in the loss. Mike Conley had just eight points and one assist in 22 minutes and Joe Ingles was awful, hitting 2-of-7 shots for nine points and four assists. Gross.
Clippers 124, Grizzlies 97 – Kawhi Leonard had 25 points and eight boards and Montrezl Harrell added 22 points and two blocks on 9-of-11 shooting in massive blowout of the Grizzlies. The Clippers won the first quarter 40-14 and never looked back. The bench got a lot of run in this one and the Clippers’ defense is pretty scary. Patrick Beverley (groin) and Paul George (hamstring) both returned for the Clippers but were relatively quiet, scoring six and seven points respectively. George looked rusty after missing his last game but will hopefully be able to keep playing through his tender hammy.
The Grizzlies did not look like a playoff team last night and are reeling after losing Jaren Jackson Jr. to a knee injury, losing three straight games. He’s going to miss a couple more weeks, at least, and Brandon Clarke got the start in his place last night. I rolled him in DFS and had high expectations, just like the rest of the basketball world did, but he was a disaster, leaving after just four minutes with right hip soreness to never return. This game was over in the first quarter, so Clarke will hopefully be able to go on Wednesday against the Rockets. Ja Morant was the only starter to hit double figures and finished with 16 points and just one assist, while Gorgui Dieng had 14 points, 10 boards, a steal and four blocks off the bench. He’s going to get some big minutes with JJJ (and now Clarke) hurting and is basically a must-own player now, even though he didn’t start last night. Morant clearly misses Jae Crowder and JJJ and has just six assists over his last three games. The Memphis box score from last night can be crumpled up and thrown into a garbage can, as it was basically the basketball equivalent of a dumpster fire. They need to get things figured out quickly after the three-game losing streak as the Blazers are now just 2.5 games out of their No. 8 spot in the West. The Pelicans are just 3.0 games back, the Spurs are 3.5 games behind Memphis, and surprisingly, the Suns and Kings are just 4.5 games out of the No. 8 hole.