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De'Aaron Fox
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Basketball Daily Dose

De'Aaron Fox and Deandre Ayton return

by Raphielle Johnson
Updated On: December 18, 2019, 7:08 am ET

Tuesday’s NBA slate included some key returns to action, as Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox was back after missing nearly a month with a Grade 3 ankle sprain and Suns center Deandre Ayton’s 25-game suspension had finally come to an end. In addition to those returns, Tuesday’s slate included another quality showing from Domantas Sabonis, and the Hawks getting blown out despite Trae Young scoring 42 points. Below is a look at Tuesday’s results, beginning with Fox’s return to the Kings lineup. 

Hornets 110, Kings 102 — Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox (ankle) did not start in his return to the court, and ahead of Tuesday’s game coach Luke Walton said that he was on a minutes restriction. That being said Fox would up playing 30 minutes, accounting for 19 points (6-of-13 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), two rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two 3-pointers. The next step in the process is to see how his ankle feels on Wednesday. The player most affected by Fox’s return was reserve point guard Yogi Ferrell, who was a DNP-CD. Cory Joseph made another start at the point, playing 21 minutes and finishing with two points, two rebounds, five assists and one blocked shot. 

While Joseph will likely remain in the rotation, he didn’t offer much in the way of consistent fantasy value while Fox was out so it’s time to pull the plug if you still have the veteran guard rostered. 

Harrison Barnes (four rebounds, one assist and one three-pointer), Buddy Hield (two rebounds, two assists, one steal and four 3-pointers) and Marvin Bagley III (seven rebounds, one assist and one three-pointer) scored 14 points apiece, and in total the Kings had seven double-digit scorers. Nemanja Bjelica (12 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals, one block and two 3-pointers) and Richaun Holmes (11/5/1/2/3) both filled the stat sheet, while Bogdan Bogdanovic accounted for ten points, two assists, two steals and two 3-pointers. 

With Bagley back in the fold Trevor Ariza has gone back to the limited role he had early in the season, and in 19 minutes he accounted for six points, six rebounds, one steal and two 3-pointers. If you’re hanging onto Ariza, it may be best to place him on the waiver wire in exchange for a more productive reserve. 

When Charlotte started Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo alongside each other in the team’s most recent game, a loss to the Pacers, it appeared to be a case of the Hornets attempting to match up with the tandem of Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. Well, that may not have been the reason why James Borrego made the move with P.J. Washington (finger) out of the lineup as Zeller and Biyombo started again Tuesday night. Zeller played 31 minutes, scoring 17 points (6-of-13 FGs, 5-of-9 FTs) with nine rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots, while Biyombo accounted for ten points, 12 rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes. 

Malik Monk, one of the players who had a chance to carve out a more prominent role for themselves in the aftermath of Washington’s injury, had a good night as he scored 23 points (9-of-12 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs) with ten rebounds, four assists, one steal and two 3-pointers. This was Monk’s first double-double of the season, and over the last week he’s provided tenth-round value in nine-category formats and 11th-round value in eight-cat per Basketball Monster. Consistency has always been an issue, but with Dwayne Bacon being a DNP-CD on Tuesday and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (seven points, one three-pointer) not being much of a threat offensively this would be a good time to roll the dice on Monk in deeper leagues. 

Cody Martin tallied seven points, six rebounds, three assists and one three-pointer in 25 minutes, but Monk would be a better choice than him as well. As for Charlotte’s starting backcourt of Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham, once again those two struggled to make shots consistently. Rozier finished 4-of-16 from the field and Graham went 4-of-15, with the former posting a line of 11 points, six rebounds, six assists, one steal, one blocks and two 3-pointers and the latter going for 15 points, four rebounds, seven assists, one steal, one block and four 3-pointers. The positive for both Rozier and Graham is that they filled their respective stat lines, but Charlotte (and fantasy players who have them rostered) need these two to shoot the ball better than they have recently. 

Pacers 105, Lakers 102 — Los Angeles was shorthanded for this one, as Anthony Davis was held out after spraining his right ankle during Sunday’s win over the Hawks. As a result of his absence Jared Dudley moved into the starting lineup, and JaVale McGee saw his minutes increase. Dudley played 15 minutes, accounting for three points, one rebound, two assists and one three-pointer. He still isn’t worth rostering, even if Davis were to miss time beyond Tuesday’s game. As for McGee, he tallied ten points, eight rebounds, one assist and three blocks in 22 minutes. The minutes total is the highest for the veteran center since November 19, when he played nearly 23 minutes in a win over the Thunder. 

As for the Lakers’ other center, Dwight Howard was spectacular during his 26 minutes on the floor. Howard was a perfect 10-of-10 from the field (and 0-of-3 from the foul line), scoring 20 points with six rebounds and two blocks. Over the last two weeks McGee has been the more valuable player from a fantasy standpoint, providing ninth-round value in nine-cat while Howard has been an 18th-round player. 

With Davis out the general assumption was that LeBron James would have to do much of the heavy lifting offensively, but even though he led the team in shot attempts with 20 the Lakers finished with six double-digit scorers. James shot 8-of-20 from the field and 4-of-8 from the foul line, scoring 20 points with nine rebounds and nine assists. But he struggled shooting the ball, going 0-of-6 from three and 4-of-8 from the foul line. Also scoring in double figures were Avery Bradley (13/3/2/1 with one three-pointer), Alex Caruso (11/4/3/2 with two 3-pointers) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (10/4/1/1 with one three-pointer). 

Rajon Rondo, whose three-point attempt in the final seconds could have forced overtime, accounted for seven points, five rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 26 minutes. And Danny Green shot 2-of-4 from three, finishing with six points, two rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot. 

Indiana had an injury concern to deal with Tuesday, as Jeremy Lamb played just 15 minutes before being forced to the sideline by a sore right groin. He finished with four points, one rebound and three steals, and Lamb’s early exit meant more minutes for Justin Holiday (six points, seven rebounds, two assists and one three-pointer in 26 minutes). Over the last month Holiday has been a sixth-round player in nine-category formats, but he’s tailed off recently. That being said, should Lamb be forced to sit beyond Tuesday the older Holiday on the Pacers roster would see his value increase especially in deeper leagues. 

Domantas Sabonis led the way offensively for the Pacers, notching his 13th straight double-double with 26 points (10-of-15 FGs, 5-of-8 FTs), ten rebounds, four assists and one three-pointer in 35 minutes. His work on the glass has turned Sabonis into an early-round player in both eight- and nine-cat formats, as he’s averaging just over 13 rebounds per game, and that’s also why he’s proved to be more valuable that Myles Turner. Turner was solid Tuesday night, accounting for 16 points, seven rebounds, two steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 36 minutes. 

Also scoring in double figures for the Pacers were T.J. Warren (12 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal and three blocks), Malcolm Brogdon (14/5/6 and one block with two 3-pointers), Aaron Holiday (11/2/4 with two 3-pointers) and T.J. McConnell (10/4/4/3). In the case of Warren, the three blocks are the most that he’s had in a game this season, and it’s just the second time that he’s blocked multiple shots in the same game. In the 15 games prior Warren blocked a total of three shots, so if anything Tuesday’s effort was more outlier than his beginning to morph into a credible shot-blocker. 

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Knicks 143, Hawks 120 — New York had a big night in its return home, as the team established new season-highs in first quarter points (41) and first half points (77). The Hawks have struggled defensively throughout the season, and the end result was a big night for the Knicks both individually and collectively. RJ Barrett (six rebounds, one assist, one steal and two 3-pointers) and Mitchell Robinson (13 rebounds, one steal and two blocks) both posted career-high point totals, with the former scoring 27 points and the latter 22. Barrett shot 10-of-13 from the field and Robinson was 9-of-13, as neither had much trouble getting what they wanted against the porous Hawks defense. 

Marcus Morris (four rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers) added 22 points, Julius Randle (11 rebounds and two assists) and Kevin Knox (two rebounds, two assists, three steals, one block and three 3-pointers) 17 apiece and Bobby Portis (seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and two 2-pointers) 11. Lastly there’s the point guard rotation to discuss. Frank Ntilikina started, accounting for three points, three rebounds, three assists and one three-pointer in 18 minutes, with Elfrid Payton playing 20 minutes off the bench and Dennis Smith Jr. 13. Payton scored just five points on 2-of-7 shooting, but he also dished out a team-high nine assists. Smith provided a boost as well, scoring eight points with five rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block and one three-pointer. 

The Knicks’ point guard position appears to be one where all three will get the opportunity to prove that the starting job should be theirs, but that could be an issue when it comes to the team’s cohesiveness. And it also doesn’t help for those who are (for some reason) considering any of the point guards for their fantasy teams. 

Trae Young was the leading scorer, as he shot 16-of-29 from the field and finished with 42 points, four rebounds, eight assists and seven 3-pointers. Young also turned the ball over just three times on the night, and it’s been noted numerous times that he’d be of even greater value in nine-category leagues if he took better care of the basketball. The silver lining in the cloud that was this blowout loss is that help is on the way, as suspended forward John Collins will be make his return to game action December 23. 

Kevin Huerter has been used more often as a playmaker in recent games, and he was back on the court after tweaking his injured right shoulder during Sunday’s loss to the Lakers. The second-year wing played 32 minutes, accounting for 14 points (5-of-14 FGs), three rebounds, five assists, three steals, one block and two 3-pointers. De’Andre Hunter added 19 points, five rebounds, four assists and one steal in 31 minutes, with Vince Carter (15 points, one assist, two blocks and four 3-pointers in what was likely his final game at Madison Square Garden) and Jabari Parker (ten points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals) also scoring in double figures. 

The return of Collins in less than a week’s time will limit Parker’s upside for the remainder of the season, but he should get enough playing time to justify keeping him on your rosters. Alex Len didn’t have a “great” night coming off the bench as he turned the ball over four times, but he did finish with nine points, five rebounds and one three-pointer in 25 minutes. By comparison, Hawks starting center Damian Jones played just nine minutes and tallied two points and three rebounds. Neither Len nor Jones should be rostered unless they’re being considered in very deep leagues. 

Nets 108, Pelicans 101 (OT) — Another game, another solid performance for Spencer Dinwiddie as he accounted for 31 points (11-of-26 FGs, 8-of-11 FTs), two rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 39 minutes. Over the last month he’s been a top-40 player in both eight- and nine-category formats, averaging 24.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.1 three-pointers per game. While some may be concerned as to how he and Kyrie Irving (right shoulder) will mesh once the latter returns to the lineup, the Nets haven’t released a target date for Irving as he works his way back to full strength. So continue to ride the Dinwiddie wave if you have him rostered, and his play combined with the Irving mystery could enhance his trade value (speaking fantasy here, to be clear). 

Joe Harris and Jarrett Allen also played well, with the former shooting 5-of-9 from three and tallying 24 points, six rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot in 37 minutes. He’s been a top-100 player all season long in nine-cat, and is ranked 101st in eight-cat after Tuesday’s action. As for Allen, he shot 6-of-7 from the field and posted a line of 12 points, 14 rebounds, one assist and six blocked shots in 35 minutes. While he’s averaging just five minutes more per game than backup DeAndre Jordan on the season, Allen played 17 more minutes Tuesday night. Jordan finished with six points, six rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block, a decent night given his playing time. 

Taurean Prince was just 1-of-9 from the field, scoring three points, but he made up for the poor shooting by tallying 11 rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot. He’s struggled with his shot recently, shooting just 25.5% from the field in the Nets’ last four games, and he’s ranked outside of the top-200 as a result. Prince is a solid late-round player when he’s shooting in the mid-thirties, thanks to his production in other areas. In his second game back, Wilson Chandler accounted for seven points, six rebounds, two assists and one three-pointer in 18 minutes, while David Nwaba contributed 12 points, three rebounds, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers. His production was key, as Garrett Temple posted a line of seven points, five rebounds, five assists and one three-pointer, but he did so on 2-of-14 shooting. 

Moving on to the Pelicans, New Orleans had to make a change to its starting lineup with J.J. Redick sidelined by a sore left groin. Lonzo Ball moved back into the starting unit, and in 35 minutes he accounted for ten points (4-of-13 FGs, 1-of-3 FTs), eight rebounds, four assists and one three-pointer. And with fellow starter Kenrich Williams (three points, six rebounds and one steal) struggling mightily with his shot, it’s fair to question if Alvin Gentry will have to make another change to his starting lineup should Redick be forced to miss an extended period of time in order to get another shooter on the floor. 

Josh Hart once again came off the bench, playing 40 minutes and accounting for 14 points, nine rebounds, one steal and four 3-pointers (on ten attempts). Over his last ten games Hart  is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.9 steals per while shooting 38.1% from the field, 35.6% from three and 75.0% from the foul line. By comparison Williams is posting averages of 2.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.8 blocks and 0.4 steals per game with shooting splits of 21.6/13.8/20.0 during that same stretch (he’s missed two of the Pelicans’ last ten games). Given how poorly New Orleans has played, having lost its last 13 games, it may be time to make another change to the starting five. 

Brandon Ingram (22 points, ten rebounds, one assist, two blocks and one three-pointer) and Jrue Holiday (21 points, five rebounds, six assists, one steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers) led the way offensively, with Jaxson Hayes chipping in with 13 points, eight rebounds, one assist, two blocks and one three-pointer (his first of the season) off the bench. Derrick Favors started and played 20 minutes, tallying seven points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots, and if choosing between he and Hayes for fantasy the rookie center gets the nod. 

Jazz 109, Magic 102Mike Conley made his return to the court after missing five games with a left hamstring injury, but the night would not end on a positive note for him. After accounting for seven points, six assists and one steal in 19 minutes, the veteran point guard left the game in the third quarter after re-aggravating the injury and did not return. With Conley looking at another stint on the sideline, go get Joe Ingles if he’s available. Ingles was already in the starting lineup, playing 37 minutes and posting a line of 16 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and four 3-pointers, but he stands to have the ball in his hands even more as a playmaker. 

Donovan Mitchell (three rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers) and Bojan Bogdanovic (five rebounds, five assists, one steal and six 3-pointers) scored 30 points apiece, with Rudy Gobert adding 16 points, 19 rebounds and five assists. Interestingly, this was third game in his last five in which the two-time Defensive Player of the Year has failed to register either a steal of a blocked shot. That obviously doesn’t mean that he isn’t playing defense, but it is an interesting note. Prior to this stretch Gobert had just one game this season in which he finished without either a steal or a block (November 3 vs. the Clippers). 

Royce O'Neale tallied 11 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers in 35 minutes, and he likely becomes even more valuable as the Jazz will once again need to account for the loss of Conley. Emmanuel Mudiay had just two rebounds and two assists in 11 minutes, but even with Conley’s injury he won’t be all that valuable fantasy-wise. 

Orlando didn’t get much from its front court Tuesday night, with Nikola Vucevic (12 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers) shooting 4-of-15 from the field and fellow starters Jonathan Isaac (7/4/1 with three blocks and one three-pointer) and Aaron Gordon (6/5/2) combining to score 13 points. Mo Bamba wasn’t much better off the bench, accounting for four points, seven rebounds, three assists and one block in 15 minutes. But the Magic were able to rally in the second half, thanks in large part to D.J. Augustin

The veteran point guard shot 8-of-10 from the field, scoring 22 points with four rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes. Even with Markelle Fultz (14/4/2/2 with one three-pointer) making the starting point guard job his own, Augustin still has value especially in deeper leagues. Over the last month he’s been a 12th-round player in nine-cat and an 11th-rounder in eight-cat. And he’s been a top-100 player over the last two weeks. 

Evan Fournier finished 0-of-8 from three, but he shot 8-of-9 inside the arc on his way to a 19-point, four-assist night, and Michael Carter-Williams chipped in with ten points, three rebounds, one assist and three steals in 18 minutes off the bench. Terrence Ross (eight points, two rebounds, one assist and one three-pointer) was a non-factor on Tuesday, but he’s capable of getting hot on any given night. 

Clippers 120, Suns 99 — Having served his 25-game suspension, Deandre Ayton made his long-awaited return to the Suns lineup in Los Angeles. And by most measures he had a good night, scoring 18 points (9-of-19 FGs) with 12 rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot. Ayton did roll his ankle during the third quarter, but he played through the injury and after the game said that he was fine. His return lowers the value of both Frank Kaminsky and Aron Baynes, but the former did put together a line of 12 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 23 minutes. Dario Saric was the one who played alongside Ayton the most, and he finished with eight points, six rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers in 24 minutes. 

While Ayton’s return was the headline for Phoenix, the team was without three perimeter contributors. Devin Booker remains out with a right forearm contusion, while Cameron Johnson (left hip soreness) and Tyler Johnson (illness) were also ruled out. Kelly Oubre filled the stat sheet, finishing with 19 points, four rebounds, one assist, three steals, one block and three 3-pointers, while Ricky Rubio struggled mightily with his shot (2-of-12 FGs) and accounted for four points, five rebounds and eight assists. 

As a result of the injuries more minutes were made available to Jevon Carter (nine points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 24 minutes) and Ty Jerome (ten points, one rebound, three assists, two steals and one three-pointer in 19 minutes), while backup poitn guard Elie Okobo accounted for ten points, two rebounds, four assists and two steals. 

The Clippers welcomed back two key rotation players, as Patrick Beverley (concussion) and Lou Williams (calf) both made their returns from injury. Beverley played 26 minutes, tallying nine points, three rebounds, one assist and one three-pointer, while Williams posted a line of 20 points, two rebounds, eight assists and five 3-pointers in 23 minutes off the bench. Jerome Robinson, who wasn’t much of a factor fantasy-wise, was impacted the most by the returns as he played just six minutes. 

But LA’s rotation wasn’t complete, as JaMychal Green (tailbone) remains sidelined. He said after the game that he expects to be back soon, which doesn’t bode well for those who hitched their wagons to Moe Harkless or Patrick Patterson. Harkless finished the night with three rebounds, two assists, four steals and a blocked shot in 23 minutes, while Patterson tallied six points, four rebounds and two 3-pointers. 

Paul George (24 points, three rebounds, one assist, three steals and three 3-pointers), Kawhi Leonard (20/6/2/1 and one three-pointer) and Montrezl Harrell (15/5/3/1/1) shouldered much of the load in the front court, with starting center Ivica Zubac accounting for 12 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes. Also worth noting is the performance of Rodney McGruder, who grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds to go along with seven points, three steals and one three-pointer. Landry Shamet had a tough night shooting the ball, as he was 1-of-6 from the field and finished with four points, two rebounds and four assists in 26 minutes off the bench. 

Wednesday’s Schedule (all times Eastern) 

Chicago at Washington, 7 PM 

Charlotte at Cleveland, 7 PM 

Miami at Philadelphia, 7 PM 

Toronto at Detroit, 7 PM 

New Orleans at Minnesota, 8 PM 

Memphis at Oklahoma City, 8 PM 

Orlando at Denver, 9 PM 

Boston at Dallas, 9:30 PM 

Golden State at Portland, 10 PM 

Raphielle Johnson
Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.