With 11.5 seconds left in regulation, the Portland Trail Blazers trailed by five points. Just seconds earlier, Zach LaVine sunk a 30-foot heave that made it feel OK to turn the TV off. Unfortunately for the Chicago Bulls, they couldn't. It was still Dame Time.
It's silly how great Damian Lillard is at ripping apart the hearts of opposing fans and changing a result before it goes final. With 8.9 seconds left, he hit Coby White with an in-and-out dribble and hoisted a 37-footer to bring the game within two points. On the inbounds pass after, a Rodney Hood and Gary Trent Jr. trap forced Zach LaVine into a jump ball. And then... this.
Lillard had an overall bonkers night, scoring 44 points on 15-of-26 shooting (8-of-17 from 3-point) with nine assists, five rebounds, and four turnovers in 36 minutes. He became the fourth player in NBA history to log multiple game-winners at the buzzer with 40 points. Portland won, 123-122, snapping a two-game losing streak.
The Blazers have gone just 2-3 since C.J. McCollum was sidelined with a fracture in his foot, but Lillard's been special. In those five games, he's averaging 34.8 points on 49.5% shooting from the field, 5.0 3-point makes on 41.7% shooting, 8.4 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 0.6 steals, and 3.8 turnovers. He's also made 39 out of 41 free throws. He's currently the ninth-best player in 9-cat leagues for the season.
Now let's talk about the great, good, and disappointing performances from all eight games on Saturday.
Lauri Markkanen — Markkanen finished with a season-high 31 points in the one-point loss to the Blazers. He knocked down 12-of-18 shots and 6-of-11 3-pointers with six rebounds and a block.
Zach LaVine — LaVine also went off for six 3-pointers, except he made his on only eight tries. He finished with 26 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, and six turnovers. If only he'd avoided that late-game trap.
Jayson Tatum — The Celtics fell to the Lakers by just one point, 96-95, but Tatum was awesome. He scored 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting (two 3-pointers) with nine rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Montrezl Harrell — Even with AD back in the lineup, Harrell had a stellar fantasy night. He scored 16 points on an efficient 8-of-10 shooting with five rebounds, one assist, and, most impressively two steals and three blocks.
LaMelo Ball — In an upset 126-114 win over the Bucks, Ball was the star. In 31 minutes off the bench, he scored 27 points on 8-of-10 shooting (two 3-pointers) with nine assists, five rebounds, four steals, and just one turnover. In a 12-point win, he was a plus-37. The rookie is GOOD.
Giannis Antetokounmpo — The Bucks suffered a bad loss to the Hornets, but Giannis wasn't the reason why. He scored 34 points on 12-of-19 shooting with 18 rebounds, nine assists, and a block. He did miss all of his 3-pointers (four tries) and nearly half his free throws (10-of-18 makes), but fantasy managers likely punted those categories with him anyway.
Jrue Holiday — Holiday had a well-rounded night, too, scoring 21 points on five made 3-pointers with five assists, five rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. He turned the ball over just three times in 40 minutes.
Bam Adebayo — In a one-point win over the Kings, Adebayo was dominant, scoring 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting with 13 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one block. He turned the ball over five times, though.
De'Anthony Melton — Melton is providing top-100 player value in 9-cat leagues this season and had a super strong night in the Grizzlies' 129-112 win over the Spurs. Off the bench, Melton scored 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting (four 3-pointers) with five rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
Chris Paul — No Devin Booker, no problem for the Suns. Paul was great in a 111-105 win over the stumbling Mavericks, scoring 29 points on 8-of-18 shooting with 12 assists, three rebounds, and four steals. He's 35 years old!
Stephen Curry — In a 118-91 blowout win over the Pistons, Curry scored 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting including six 3-pointers, seven assists, five rebounds, two steals, and five turnovers in 30 minutes.
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Enes Kanter — Kanter had a high-efficiency scoring night, finishing with 22 points on 9-of-13 shots. He only added one assist and no defensive statistics, though.
Robert Covington — He only scored nine points with four assists and two rebounds, but fantasy managers drafted Covington for his defensive upside, and he provided, logging a season-high four steals.
Gary Trent Jr. — Fantasy managers roster Trent for his 3-point shooting, and he sunk four of them in the win. He finished with 18 points and also added a season-high four steals.
Thaddeus Young — Young notched a rare rebounds and assists double-double. He dished 11 assists off the bench with 11 rebounds and eight points with a steal and a turnover. He's providing late-round value in 9-cat yet only rostered in 19% of leagues.
Anthony Davis — After missing one game with a quad contusion, Davis returned for L.A. to score 27 points on 11-of-25 shooting with 14 rebounds, two assists, and two steals.
LeBron James — You've heard of him? He scored 21 points on 7-of-17 shooting (four 3-pointers) with seven assists and seven rebounds.
Jaylen Brown — Brown and Tatum outplayed AD and LeBron even if it didn't end up mattering in the end. He scored 28 points on 13-of-19 shooting with three assists, one rebound, one steal, and a block.
Gordon Hayward — Hayward had a nice game scoring 27 points on 10-of-22 shooting (five 3-pointers) with three rebounds, two assists, two steals, a block, and a turnover.
Pat Connaughton — Connaughton's providing late-round value in 9-cat leagues (No. 143 overall) and he sunk five triples for 15 points with six rebounds, a steal, and a block in 29 minutes off the bench.
Zion Williamson — He made a 3-pointer! It was his first since January 23rd, and second of the entire season. He finished with 26 points on 11-of-19 shooting with seven rebounds, four assists, and a block. The Pelicans fell to the Rockets, though, 126-112.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker — Keep your eyes on NAW if Lonzo Ball is eventually moved from New Orleans. He scored 13 points on just 4-of-13 shooting but added five rebounds, four assists, three steals, and three blocks. He could turn into a high-impact fantasy player with added minutes.
Christian Wood — Wood had a really nice game scoring the ball, connecting on 11-of-13 shots for 27 points with nine rebounds, one steal, one block, and just one turnover.
Victor Oladipo — Oladipo was due for a good shooting night, and he finally eclipsed the 50% from the field mark, scoring 20 points on 7-of-14 field goals, including 4-of-8 from range.
Jimmy Butler — In his first game back from a more than two-week absence due to medical protocols, Butler played 34 minutes and scored 30 points. He made just 8-of-19 shots, but sunk 14-of-16 free throws and added eight assists and seven rebounds.
De'Aaron Fox — It wasn't his best night, but Fox still scored 30 points on 12-of-26 shooting. He dished six assists with six rebounds and one steal, though he turned the ball over five times in 32 minutes.
Buddy Hield — Hield has been scorching hot from range, now connecting on 18 3-pointers in his last three games alone. On Saturday, he made six on 13 tries for 18 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals, and four turnovers.
Gorgui Dieng — Dieng is the No. 94 player in 9-cat leagues, and he added to his impressive season with 15 points, two 3-pointers, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and a steal with three turnovers off the bench in the win over Sacramento.
Derrick White — In his first game back from a toe fracture since New Year's Day, White scored 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting with three 3-pointers, two rebounds, one assist, and two steals in 22 minutes.
Deandre Ayton — Ayton also stepped up big in Booker's absence to score 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting with 17 rebounds, four assists, and a steal.
Luka Doncic — The Mavericks have had several key players in medical protocol this month, and entering February, they'll hold an 8-12 record. It hasn't been pretty. Doncic played well in Dallas's fifth-straight loss though, scoring 29 points on 12-of-22 shooting with eight rebounds and seven assists.
Willie Cauley-Stein — With Kristaps Porzingis sitting out the second game of a back-to-back, Cauley-Stein started, scoring 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting with nine rebounds, two assists, and four blocks.
Kemba Walker — Walker had the second-worst shooting performance of his career, making just one out of 12 shots from the field for four points with six rebounds, four assists, a block, and a turnover. He played 28 minutes and missed the potential game-winner before the clock expired.
DeMar DeRozan — The No. 30 player in 9-cat leagues scored just five points on 2-of-6 shooting with one rebound, one assist, one turnover, and no other stats.
The Pistons — The same team that beat the Lakers on Thursday lost so badly that Klay Thompson called the majority of the second half of the game on the Warriors' local broadcast. Golden State won, 118-91, and Detroit had no player score more than 18 points. As a team, the Pistons had just 17 assists to 14 turnovers and shot 37.7% from the field.
Marcus Smart — Smart was carried to the locker room in the fourth quarter with what the team immediately called a calf strain. He wasn't putting weight on his left foot, and we'll wait for an MRI for full results.