LeBron James and Kobe Bryant had their final meeting on Thursday night and it was fun to watch. Kobe showed up and finally shot better than 4-of-whatever and despite the easy win for the Cavs, it was a fitting way for the two to part ways. Devin Booker, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, Nikola Jokic and Emmanuel Mudiay all went off, the Hawks didn’t play well, and my guys Alex Len and Kenneth Faried didn’t fare well. Here’s what went down on Thursday. Follow Dr. A on Twitter by clicking here!
Cavaliers 120, Lakers 108
With Kevin Love out with a sore leg (not believed to be serious) and Timofey Mozgov still not feeling well, Channing Frye got the start and went off for 21 points, seven boards and five 3-pointers, which was easily his best game for the Cavs. Yes, you should keep an eye on him, but I’m not rushing to pick him up, and I’m not sure you should either. Especially if Love’s injury isn’t a big deal. LeBron led the way with 24 points, five boards, seven assists, two blocks and a 3-pointer in 35 minutes, new starting center Tristan Thompson double-doubled again with 10 points and 14 boards (that’s two straight dub-dubs), Kyrie Irving racked up 26 points and nine dimes, and J.R. Smith added 17 points, two steals and four 3-pointers. Smith has played well in four of his last five games and is averaging 12.4 points, 1.0 steals and 2.8 3-pointers over his last five. Over his last two, those numbers jump to 16 points, 1.5 steals and 3.5 3-pointers. The Cavs could be ready to start giving the studs some rest, and Smith could be a beneficiary of that. Mozgov played 13 minutes after sitting out on Wednesday, Matthew Dellavedova had 11 points and three 3-pointers, and Iman Shumpert played 26 minutes, but scored just two points off the bench. Keep riding the studs, keep an eye on Smith and Frye, keep a closer eye on the Rotoworld news feed to make sure the big guns are playing from night to night, and grab Thompson if he’s available in your league.
Kobe got hot early and was only out there because it was his final meeting with LeBron. He finished with 26 points, five rebounds, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers on 11-of-16 shooting for one of his better games of the season. He was fired up for LeBron, but it will be interesting to see how much he plays going forward. He had his shoulder attended to on the bench but was able to go back in the game late. Julius Randle had 15 points, nine rebounds and two steals, and D’Angelo Russell hit 8-of-19 shots and four 3-pointers for 24 points, four boards, five assists and zero turnovers. He’s one of the hottest point guards in the league and the future looks very bright. Jordan Clarkson never got it going last night and hit just 2-of-12 shots (0-for-6 from downtown) for five points and a couple steals. He’ll bounce back in the next one. Roy Hibbert was invisible, as usual, and Brandon Bass and rookie Marcelo Huertas both played well. Huertas had a career-high 13 points with five assists, a steal and two blocks in 28 minutes. The minutes have been there lately, but it’s going to be tough for him to go off as long as Russell is playing so well. And Bass is in the same boat with Randle looking so good.
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Raptors 104, Hawks 96
The Raptors got 30 points from DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry added 19 points and seven assists in the win. Jonas Valanciunas bounced back with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but didn’t block a shot and played just 24 minutes. He’s funky right now, but he should be OK. Luis Scola double-doubled with 10 & 12 after sitting out his last game for rest. He’s a borderline player to own in standard leagues, but looked good in this one. Patrick Patterson, Terrence Ross, Bismack Biyombo and Cory Joseph all played 20-plus minutes off the bench, but none of them did anything too eye-opening.
The Hawks didn’t look as sluggish as I was expecting, given that they had a free night to party in Toronto on Wednesday, but they never really had a chance to win this game, either. They also didn’t play well, so maybe there’s something to my partying theory. Al Horford had 20 points, three 3-pointers and two steals, but had just four rebounds, didn’t block a shot and committed four turnovers. Jeff Teague had just 10 points and seven assists on 4-of-15 shooting (ahem), and Paul Millsap had just 12 points and five rebounds on 2-of-8 shooting. He did have three blocks, but none of the aforementioned players looked very good last night. Kyle Korver was a dud with five points on 2-of-6 shooting, and Kent Bazemore stayed kind of hot with 13 points, eight boards, a steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers. Hopefully he keeps it going. Dennis Schroder had 11 points and five dimes off the bench, hitting 5-of-9 shots. In closing, I think there’s something to the theory that teams don’t play very well in games after having a free night to party in Toronto, Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles (the Warriors were free to roam L.A. on Saturday night when they lost to the Lakers early last Sunday). So if you’re into statistical analysis, avoiding players in that situation in those cities is probably a good idea in DFS.
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Spurs 109, Bulls 101
The Spurs improved to 31-0 at home with the win and Tony Parker returned from a toe injury for 20 points, a season-high 12 dimes, a steal on 10-of-16 shooting. He said after the game that his toe is fine. The Spurs played their studs in the TNT game and Kawhi Leonard went off for 29 points, seven rebounds, two steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers on 10-of-15 shooting. LaMarcus Aldridge was also fun with 26 points, 10 boards, two steals and a block on 10-of-19 shooting in the win. Danny Green, as usual, struggled on 2-of-6 shooting with four points and not much else. I do not miss him at all after finally dropping him a couple months ago. There was nothing to see off the Spurs’ bench, but Manu Ginobili played 20 minutes after being rested on Tuesday and Kevin Martin made his Spurs’ debut with one point in eight minutes. Keep an eye on the Rotoworld news feed nightly to find out if the studs are starting or sitting.
The Bulls hung in this one and got 21 points, 12 boards and two blocks from Pau Gasol, 21 points and six assists from Derrick Rose, and 20 points, six boards, four assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers from Jimmy Butler’s fill-in, E’Twaun Moore. Moore should be picked up, but it sounds like Butler should be back from his swollen knee sooner than later. Starters Taj Gibson and Mike Dunleavy didn’t play particularly well, and Bobby Portis failed to score in 11 minutes off the bench. Nikola Mirotic (8 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block, 2 3-pointers) was effective in 28 minutes off the bench, while Doug McDermott and Justin Holiday didn’t do much despite also getting 20-plus minutes of bench run. Mirotic is worth a pick up in most leagues, but I wouldn’t cut a sure thing for him just yet. Butler is doubtful for Friday, so Moore should have at least one big game left in the tank.
Nuggets 116, Suns 98
The Nuggets rolled the Suns, as expected, but it was Kevin Faried, and not Will Barton, who struggled last night. Faried played just 15 minutes and missed 7-of-9 shots for four points, five rebounds, a steal and a block. This was highly disappointing after three straight big double-doubles, but he should bounce back. Darrell Arthur stepped up in his place and had 13 points, five rebounds, a block and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes off the bench, while Will Barton bounced back with 17 points, eight boards, a steal and a 3-pointer in 30 minutes off the bench. Point guard Emmanuel Mudiay was a DFS value play last night and came through with a career-high 30 points, five assists, four 3-pointers and a block on 13-of-20 shooting. Congrats if you played him last night. Nikola Jokic stayed hot with 18 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and three blocks, and even hit a 3-pointer. He turned out to be a much better play than Alex Len last night, which was unfortunate for yours truly. Jokic is averaging 16.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.6 blocks and 0.4 3-pointers over his last five games, and it’s a coin toss whether or not you want to use him or Len in DFS right now. I tend to go with Len, but might switch over to Jokic given his hot streak. Gary Harris played 32 minutes in the start and had 12 points and a decent stat line, and should be owned across the board right now. Arthur came through for me as a punt in DFS last night, but it was fluky with Faried being so bad.
The Suns got another big game from Devin Booker, who overcame a slow start to finish with a career-high 35 points, five dimes, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in a team-high 44 minutes. He’s on cruise control right now, scoring at least 32 points in three of his last five games. Alex Len struggled for four points, 13 rebounds and a block, hitting just 2-of-13 shots against Jokic. Tyson Chandler was solid with eight points and 12 rebounds, but I still feel like he’s a shutdown candidate and he played just 22 minutes. Starter P.J. Tucker was awful, missing all nine of his shots for one point and he’s been awful for four straight games. Ronnie Price stayed relevant with eight points, five assists, two steals and two 3-pointers, but Brandon (not Brevin) Knight returned to action and had 10 points, five assists and two 3-pointers on 2-of-9 shooting in 25 minutes. He’ll ruin Price and Archie Goodwin, but Booker looks locked and loaded the rest of the way. The same goes for Len, despite the off night. Jon Leuer got hot off the bench with 19 points and seven boards, but played just 17 minutes. Ignore him. And Mirza Teletovic continued his struggles with five points on 1-of-7 shooting. Pick up Knight if you want to, but I see no reason for the Suns to play him more than 20-25 minutes nightly, although last night was somewhat promising. He should be in a three-way timeshare with Price and Goodwin the rest of the way, which is not an ideal situation.
Lastly, DeMarcus Cousins has been suspended for Friday night, which should put Kosta Koufos and his rock-bottom DFS salary in play tonight. Just make sure you don't plan on getting anything from Boogie tonight.