There were only five games on Saturday's slate, but there is still plenty of business to discuss, including Big Ben's big night, The Beard and Booker trading buckets in H-Town, and a thriller in NYC. After recapping the action, I'll wrap up the Dose by taking a look at a handful of players that are facing injury issues for Sunday's games.
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Dallas Mavericks 130, New Orleans Pelicans 84:
This one was over early in the second half, as the Mavs outscored the Pels 40-14 in the third quarter. Unsurprisingly, Luka Doncic led the way for Dallas. He logged only 26 minutes in the blowout, but still managed to tally 26 points (8-of-15 FGs, 8-of-10 FTs) six rebounds, nine assists, one steal, two turnovers and two 3-pointers in just 26 minutes. Incredibly, it was his 18t straight game with at least 20 points, five boards and five dimes, which ties Michael Jordan for the second-longest such streak in league history. Luka and MJ trail only Oscar Robertson.
Kristaps Porzingis struggled with his jumper again on Saturday, shooting 4-of-11 from the field for 13 points with five rebounds, two assists, one steal and two turnovers in 20 minutes. Remarkably, he has shot above 50% from the floor only once in the 21 games he's played for Dallas. He's on pace to become the first player in 15 years to average more than 15 FG attempts per game, yet shoot below 40% from the field and below 71% from the FT stripe. Yet, due to blocks and 3PT's, he still ranks inside the top-85 in nine-category fantasy formats. The Mavs have a back-to-back on Sunday against the Kings, but it sounds like KP is expected to play today as well.
Delon Wright injured his right adductor in the first half on Saturday and was ruled out of the contest shortly thereafter. We'll wait for an update before we speculate as to the severity of the injury or if Wright will miss time. Jalen Brunson converted all six of his FG attempts for 14 points with two rebounds, three assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 18 minutes. He'd see an uptick in playing time if Wright is sidelined. Boban Marjanovic had his best game as a Maverick, totaling 15 points, 16 rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 23 minutes.
No one on the Pels logged more than 26 minutes in the embarrassing blowout, and the lines were ugly. Lonzo Ball shot 1-of-9 from the field for two points with four rebounds, two assists and one block. He missed all seven of his 3-point attempts. Brandon Ingram had 14/4/2 in 25 minutes. J.J. Redick scored a team-high 15 points with two rebounds, one assist and one 3-pointer. Jahlil Okafor re-entered the rotation but didn't d much: six points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in 23 minutes.
Philadelphia 76ers 141, Cleveland Cavs 94:
Philly has looked soft at times this season, but they were flat-out dominant vs. the Cavs, despite the fact they were playing without Joel Embiid (left hip contusion) and Josh Richardson (right hamstring). Ben Simmons put the Sixers on his shoulder Saturday night, pouring in a career-high 34 points (12-of-14 FGs, 9-of-12 FTs) to go along with three rebounds, seven assists, two steals, two blocks and … wait for it … a 3-pointer! Big Ben saw only 26 minutes of court time, but it was more than enough to stuff the stat sheet. After the game, coach Brett Brown said he wants to see Simmons far more aggressive from downtown moving forward. "I want a 3-point shot per game, minimum," said Brown. "He will be liberated. His world will open up and, in many ways, so will ours."
Embiid acknowledged he felt some discomfort in his hip Thursday night; however, he reportedly plans to play Sunday vs. the Raps. J-Rich, on the other hand, has already been officially ruled out of Sunday's contest. In addition, Matisse Thybulle rolled his right ankle in the first half of Saturday's game and was unable to return. He may be forced to the sidelines on Sunday as well. Mike Scott got his first start of the season on Saturday and made the most of the opportunity, scoring a season-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting with six rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers in 24 minutes. Trey Burke had 21 points, eight dimes and four steals, but did most of his damage in extended garbage time.
Kevin Love (illness) returned to action after sitting out Friday night, but tallied just six points (2-of-7 FGs, 1-of-1 FTs), seven rebounds, one assist and one 3-pointer in 20 minutes. Larry Nance, who started in place of Love on Friday and logged 40+ minutes, was bumped back to the bench. He had three points, two rebounds, one assist and one 3-pointer in 18 minutes on Saturday. Darius Garland chucked up 20 shots, but made just seven of them, finishing with 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes. Collin Sexton was 3-of-13 for his 10 points with two assists and zero rebounds.
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Indiana Pacers 104, New York Knicks 103
The Knicks have found inventive ways to lose this season, gotta give them that. On Saturday, playing their first game for interim head coach Mike Miller, New York held the Pacers scoreless for the final 5 minutes and 17 seconds of the game. Yet, New York scored just five points over the final 5 mins themselves.
Julius Randle had a chance to send the game to overtime, as he stepped to the FT line with a tenth of a second left on the clock and the Knicks down two. He made the first but missed the second. On the night, he was 6-of-18 from the field en route to 16 points with 12 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one turnover in 35 minutes. Marcus Morris bounced back from a 2-for-9 dud on Thursday to score a team-high 25 points with three rebounds, one assist, one steal and four 3-pointers in 33 minutes on Saturday. He made four of his eight 3-point attempts and is somehow still shooting above 50% from deep this season.
RJ Barrett finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 36 minutes. He was locked in early, playing hard on both ends of the floor, but New York went away from him in the second half. He was 3-of-6 from the charity stripe. Mitchell Robinson tallied 14 points, seven rebounds, one assist, two steals, three blocks and one foul in 25 minutes off the bench. There was some hope Miller would insert Mitch Rob into the starting unit, but Robinson still played ten more minutes than Taj Gibson and was far more effective. Elfrid Payton logged 17 minutes, including all 12 minutes in the fourth quarter, and ended up with nine points, three rebounds, seven assists, three steals, one block and one 3-pointer.
While Elf played well, Frank Ntilikina had just two points, four rebounds, four assists and one turnover in 19 quiet minutes. And Dennis Smith Jr. remained mired in a shooting slump. DSJ scored one point with three rebounds, one assist, one steal and two turnovers in 12 minutes on Saturday. Over the Knicks' last three games, Smith Jr is 2-for-19 from the floor and 0-for-6 from downtown. On the season, he's shooting a ghastly 32% on FGs, 29% on 3PTs and 56% on FTs.
T.J. Warren led the way for the Paces, pouring in a team-high 25 points alongside four rebounds, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers in 38 minutes. Consistently underappreciated in fantasy circles, Warren is up to 80th overall in nine-cat leagues this season. Domantas Sabonis efficiently scored 19 points by shooting 8-of-11 from the field and ripped down 15 rebounds to go along with two assists, one steal and two blocks in 38 minutes. Myles Turner was frustratingly ineffective offensively once again, scoring just seven points, and only had six rebounds, but he did chip in two steals and matched a season-high with five blocks. Turner's FG% and rebound rate have dipped dramatically this season, but he's salvaged his value with defensive stats.
Malcolm Brogdon (sore right hand) was unable to play Saturday. He appeared to hurt the pinkie finger on his right hand in the closing moments of Friday's game vs. Detroit, as it got caught on the jersey of Langston Galloway. He went through warmups Saturday night, but ultimately was ruled out. Aaron Holiday drew the start vs. NY and ended up with 12 points, four rebounds, five assists and two 3-pointers in 28 minutes. T.J. McConnell, who always seems to play well vs. the Knicks, dished out a season-high 11 assists with six points, two rebounds, one steal and two turnovers in 20 minutes off the bench.
Houston Rockets 115, Phoenix Suns 109:
Russell Westbrook was back at it Saturday night, as he recorded his third straight triple-double: 24 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to go with three steals, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 37 minutes. Better yet, Russ didn't miss a million shots in the process, converting ten of his 18 FG attempts and 3-of-4 FTs. James Harden wasn't as efficient (8-of-27 FGs, including 3-of-17 from downtown) but did make 15-of-18 from the stripe en route to 35 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals, one block, no turnovers and three 3-pointers in 39 minutes. It was Harden's first game without a turnover in over three years. What's mind-boggling is that 35/6/4 drops his averages this season.
The pleasant surprise of the night for the Rockets was Ben McLemore remaining red hot. McLemore had scored 28 points with a career-high eight treys two nights ago, and was averaging 21.0 points, 5.3 boards and 5.7 triples in Houston previous three contests. Welp, he poured in 27 more points on Saturday, shooting 10-of-15 from the field with two rebounds, one steal and five 3-pointers in 30 minutes. McLemore will be a very popular waiver-wire add this weekend, especially for teams in need of triples.
Devin Booker did all he could to keep the Suns close on Saturday, pumping in 25 points and tacking on four rebounds, five assists, one steal, one turnover and two 3-pointers in 37 minutes. He was 11-of-19 from the field, but surprisingly just 11-of-16 from the stripe. Dario Saric also played well, contributing 13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three 3-pointers in 32 minutes. Ricky Rubio handed out 13 dimes and added six boards and ten points (on 5-of-16 FGs). Even with Aron Baynes (left calf) still sidelined, Frank Kaminsky (4/7/3) didn't bring much to the table.
Utah Jazz 126, Memphis Grizzlies 112:
The Jazz benefited from a balanced attack in their win over the Grizz, with all five starters scoring between 12 and 22 points. It was Donovan Mitchell who had 22 (9-of-17 FGs) with four boards and three dimes, but he did also commit seven turnovers. Rudy Gobert tallied 19 points on a stellar 8-of-9 shooting, to go along with 11 rebounds and five assists. Royce O'Neale started and put up a season-high 14 points with five rebounds, two assists, two steals and four 3-pointers in 28 minutes. Jeff Green was 7-of-9 from the floor and matched his season-high 19 points with one rebound, one assist and five 3-pointers in 26 minutes off the bench.
Mike Conley (left hamstring) was ruled out of this contest, his second straight game on the shelf. However, he was able to go through portions of practice on Friday and was initially listed as questionable, so it appears he's making progress. Joe Ingles was inserted into the starting again and responded positively. He had a season-high ten assists and added 12 points, one rebound, four steals and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes.
Jaren Jackson Jr. was the only standout performer for Memphis. JJJ scored a team-high 26 points with four rebounds, two assists, one block, one steal and three 3-pointers in 33 minutes. Jonas Valanciunas had 10/6/2 in 21 minutes.
Injury Notes for Sunday's Games:
Marvin Bagley (thumb) is questionable vs. the Mavs on Sunday. He's been sidelined since the season-opener, but could finally return to action. If so, he'd be matched up against Dallas and Luka Doncic, whom the Kings passed over to draft Bagley. Once Bags is cleared, Nemanja Bjelica will be bumped back to the bench.
De'Andre Hunter (right index finger) is doubtful for Sunday against the Hornets. Hunter dislocated his right index finger late in Monday's victory over the Warriors, was ruled out for Wednesday's game vs. the Nets, and appears he'll miss at least one more contest. Cam Reddish will likely draw another start.
Andrew Wiggins (thumb) and Jeff Teague (left ankle soreness) are questionable for Sunday's matchup vs. the Lakers. Wiggy, who injured the thumb Wednesday night, was a game-time decision for Friday, before getting ruled out after warmups. Teague started Friday vs. the Thunder and looked great, scoring 32 points (12-of-17 FGs) with nine assists, five rebounds, two steals and four triples in 40 minutes. We'll see if he is cleared to play after shootaround.
Cory Joseph (back soreness) is questionable for Sunday's game against the Mavericks. Joseph has yet to miss a game this season, but he's been battling back pain this week. He was able to log nearly 40 minutes on Friday despite the discomfort. Yogi Ferrell would be the primary beneficiary if CoJo is unable to suit up.
JaMychal Green (tailbone) is questionable Sunday vs. the Wizards. He's missed each of the two previous games the Clips have played this week. Moe Harkless and Patrick Patterson will soak up extra minutes if Green misses a third.
Kyrie Irving (shoulder) has been ruled out Sunday against the Nuggets. Kyrie hasn't played since November 14th, and we still don't have a target date for his return. Spencer Dinwiddie will continue to log all the minutes he can handle at point guard.
Bam Adebayo (groin) and Justise Winslow (back) are both questionable for Sunday's matchup with the Bulls. Bam looked fine on Friday when he poured in a career-high 24 points, but must have picked up an injury in the process. Winslow sat out Friday due to the back ailment. Goran Dragic (groin) will miss his fourth straight game for the Heat.
Isaiah Thomas (left calf strain) has been ruled out of Sunday's game vs. the Clippers. This will be the third straight game on the sidelines for IT due to the calf issue. Ish Smith has started each of the Wizards past two games and is averaging 17.0 points, 8.0 assists and 2.0 made treys in those two contests.