Eight games, some monster lines, Darren Collison sitting, Marc Gasol going off, Jon Leuer coming on, a mystery man leading the NBA in 3-pointers and a big line for Kyrie Irving were just some of the headlines from Wednesday night. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.
Timberwolves 92, Hawks 84 – The T-Wolves didn’t get any spectacular performances out of anyone, but Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng and Ricky Rubio all showed up to play and scored in double figures. Towns had the only double-double for the Wolves with a solid 17 points, 18 boards, five assists and one block, but also had six turnovers and zero 3-pointers on the night. Rubio is actually coming on and is averaging 8.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 2.0 steals, but is also at 3.4 turnovers and just 36 percent shooting over his last five games. I’m still glad I don’t own him. Minnesota only played eight guys last night, with the three benchwarmers only getting 19 or fewer minutes, so the rotation for the Wolves works in favor of the starters.
Paul Millsap hit just 7-of-18 shots and missed all five of his 3-pointers to finish with 18 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Oh, what could have been had he been making shots in the absence of Dwight Howard. He was out again with a tweaked back and Millsap looked pretty good, despite the poor shooting. I would imagine Dwight is back for the next one. Dennis Schroder had 21 points and seven dimes, Kent Bazemore struggled with just nine points on 3-of -9 shooting, and Kyle Korver had 10 points, five rebounds, three assists, four blocks and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes as a fill-in starter for Howard. Mike Muscala was one of the DFS plays of the night with 16 points, four rebounds, a steal and three 3-pointers in 30 minutes off the bench, but isn’t worth picking up due to Howard’s imminent return. Thabo Sefolosha was very quiet in his 33 minutes, but is clearly the guy to own over Tim Hardaway Jr., who played just one minute last night.
Cavaliers 113, Bucks 102 – The Cavs trounced the Bucks on Wednesday, just like they did on Tuesday. LeBron James filled the stat sheet and scored 29, Kyrie Irving had 31 points, six boards and a season-high 13 assists on 11-of-17 shooting, and Tristan Thompson scored just five points, but added 15 rebounds and four blocks in the win. He’s hit double figures in boards in three of his last four games. DeAndre Liggins and Richard Jefferson started with Kevin Love (knee) and J.R. Smith (thumb surgery) hurting, but Love should be back for the next one. Maybe Liggins is the starting shooting guard the rest of the way for the Cavs, but I’d rather own Iman Shumpert, who had 10 points, three boards, four assists, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers. Liggins had five points, four rebounds, a block and a 3-pointer in 26 minutes.
For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo went off again with 28 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer on 7-of-13 shooting. He also hit 13-of-14 free throws and is just killing it right now. Jabari Parker is still feeling it and hit 11-of-20 shots and four 3-pointers for 27 points. He only had one rebound, two assists and one block, and still doesn’t have a double-double this season, but has scored at least 27 points in six of his last eight games. Maybe he’ll start hitting the boards and get us a double-double before the new year is here. John Henson and Greg Monroe were both quiet, Matthew Dellavedova has been struggling, and Marcus Brogdon led the bench with 27 minutes, 11 points, five rebounds, seven assists and three steals. If you want to cut Delly for Brogdon, I can get behind the idea. And if you are ready to move on from both Milwaukee centers, I can also get behind that.
Grizzlies 98, Pistons 86 – Marc Gasol’s dream season continued with 38 points, five boards, four assists, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers, and he hit 14-of-17 shots and 8-of-11 free throws to boot. Sure, he’s an injury risk, but the guy’s having a pretty amazing season and I’m just going to enjoy the ride until it ends. Only JaMychal Green joined him in double digits with 10 points, nine boards and two 3-pointers. Chandler Parsons started and played a whopping 15 minutes for two points on 1-of-5 shooting. He’s missed 18 games, the Grizzlies have done just fine without him, and he’s going to be babied along. I’m fine with picking him up, but I don’t think you need to think of him as a fantasy starter for at least a couple more weeks. Mike Conley struggled, hitting just 3-of-10 shots and scoring nine points, but he looked like his old self on Tuesday night. He’ll bounce back. Tony Allen was very quiet last night, but stick with him, and Zach Randolph hit just 3-of-13 shots for a 6-4-4 line. Maybe he’ll get hot soon, but he’s simply not a must-own player right now.
Marcus Morris was supposed to come off the bench, giving way to Jon Leuer, but Leuer was involved in a minor car accident prior to the game, changing Stan Van Gundy’s plan. Morris took his last-minute opportunity and turned it into 1-of-11 shooting, but still scored 12 points thanks to 10 free throws. He missed all seven of his 3-pointers and had just five rebounds and nothing else. If you want to drop him, he’s about to be replaced by Leuer, who had 18 points, six rebounds, a block and a 3-pointer on 6-of-13 shooting in 30 minutes. Dropping Morris for Leuer makes perfect sense right now. Tobias Harris has been quiet lately, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit just 3-of-10 shots, and Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond both played well in the loss. The Pistons have lost four straight, SVG can’t wait to make the lineup change, and Harris is due for a big game very soon. He hasn’t scored more than 14 points in his last five games.
Wizards 107, Bulls 97 – John Wall had a 23-6-9 line, Bradley Beal scored 21 points on 7-of-18 shooting, and Marcin Gortat had a 14-11 double-double with two blocks on 7-of-9 shooting in the win. The good news ended there, as Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr. each scored eight points. Porter experienced back spasms and didn’t return for the second half of the game, so get him benched until we get more information. This could mean big things for Kelly Oubre, who played 22 minutes last night, but didn’t do much. If OPJ is going to miss time, Oubre will basically become a must-own pickup.
Jimmy Butler had a 20-11-5 line, but hit just 6-of-20 shots, Rajon Rondo had 10 assists but hit just 1-of-10 shots, Robin Lopez stayed quiet with six points and four rebounds, and Dwyane Wade hit 7-of-20 shots for 19 points, three boards and three assists. Taj Gibson was their best player last night with 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks on 8-of-12 shooting, The 11 boards tied his season high and broke a streak of four straight games with just four rebounds, and six straight games in single figures. He’s scored in double digits in nine of his 11 December games, so he’s hopefully on the brink of starting to rack up some double-doubles on a regular basis. Minutes have been an issue for Gibson though, and his three December double-doubles all happened when he played at least 29 minutes. Until last night’s 33-minute explosion, he hadn’t played more than 24 minutes in his previous three games. Nikola Mirotic played 22 minutes and had 11 points, six rebounds and three 3-pointers, and has played well in two straight games. I still don’t trust him. Doug McDermott played 26 minutes and scored 10 points with two 3-pointers, but is another guy I don’t trust at all. Stick with the starters.
Thunder 121, Pelicans 110 – Russell Westbrook hit 12-of-26 shots and 16-of-18 free throws for 42 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and just four turnovers in the win. Beast. Steven Adams was quiet with 12 points and four boards, which was disappointing given how bad the Pelicans are against centers. Enes Kanter was back on the scene with 34 minutes, 14 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks after playing fewer than 20 minutes in his last four games. Adams had four fouls, which helped Kanter’s cause and I may regret having cut Kanter a few days ago. Anthony Morrow has been useless as a starter, Andre Roberson has been quiet lately, and reserves Joffrey Lauvergne and Semaj Christon both played well off the bench last night. Alex Abrines played 30 minutes and scored a career-high 18 points with five 3-pointers, but it has fluke written all over it. Ignore them and wait patiently for Victor Oladipo to return from his wrist injury. It sounds like he’s getting close, but we still don’t have a target date on his return.
For the Pelicans, Anthony Davis went off with 34 points, 15 boards, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer on 14-of-26 shooting. Starters Solomon Hill, Alexis Ajinca and Buddy Hield combined for a grand total of seven points, which is why the Pelicans stink. Jrue Holiday had 23 points and 10 assists, and should be a blast to own over the second half of the season. Terrence Jones is coming on again and had 21 points, two rebounds, a steal and a block, but remains one of the biggest gambles in fantasy hoops. Tim Frazier had 10 points and five assists in 29 minutes, while Tyreke Evans played 15 minutes for six points on 2-of-6 shooting. They’re going to baby him along and I’d rather let another fantasy owner deal with that headache.
Kings 94, Jazz 93 – DeMarcus Cousins didn’t have 55 points, but was solid with 21 points, eight boards, a block and a 3-pointer. The big news out of Sacramento is that starting point guard Darren Collison continued to struggle and was benched in the fourth quarter. Collison had just eight points and one assist in 22 minutes, while Ty Lawson had 19 points, five boards, and one assist in 26 minutes off the bench. Lawson had 16 points and eight assists on Tuesday, and scored 10 on Sunday. If you are looking for a point guard to pick up, think about grabbing Lawson. And if you own Collison, I don’t think it’s fully time to panic and drop him just yet. The Kings starters not named Cousins were awful, as Matt Barnes, Kosta Koufos, Collison and Ben McLemore all scored eight or fewer points. Garrett Temple bounced back with 11 points and three 3-pointers, and if you picked him up recently, I’d stick with him and see where this goes.
Gordon Hayward bounced back with 28 & 10, Joe Ingles scored 10 with a full stat line in a start for Rodney Hood (flu), Rudy Gobert had another big night with 17 points, 14 rebounds, a steal and three blocks, and Shelvin Mack had 13 points, two assists and two 3-pointers in a start at point guard. Dante Exum was out with a knee injury and George Hill was out again with his toe injury. I miss George Hill and we still don’t know when he’ll be ready. Derrick Favors had four points in 16 minutes, but I’d rather own a bag of Cheetos.
Rockets 125, Suns 111 – James Harden was a bit quiet compared to Davis and Westbrook, hitting 8-of-18 shots and five 3-pointers for 27 points, five boards and 14 assists. All five Rockets starters hit double digits in scoring and Patrick Beverley just missed a triple-double with 18 points, nine boards, nine assists, a steal and two 3-pointers. He really bounced back last night and has been one of the more pleasant surprises in fantasy hoops this season. Montrezl Harrell was a surprise starter over Nene and had 17 points, three boards and three blocks on 8-of-11 shooting. Clint Capela is going to miss the next several weeks, Nene is nearly as old as I am, and it makes sense that Harrell will be the best player to own in Capela’s absence. I’m not going to call him a must-own player, but if you’ve got a big man you want to drop, Harrell makes sense to take a flier on. Eric Gordon had 24 points and seven more 3-pointers off the bench, and is the league-leader in 3-pointers this season, leading Stephen Curry by two. Go ahead and give Gordon the Sixth Man of the Year trophy now.
Devin Booker scored 28 points and added six points and seven assists, which was nice to see on his bobblehead night, and Eric Bledsoe had 16 points and six dimes in the loss. Did you pick up Tyson Chandler after he exploded for those two 20-rebound games? He’s averaged just 6.5 points and 8.8 rebounds in his four games since. He’s really doing nothing more than stifling the growth and development of Alex Len, which is kind of disgraceful given that the Suns are 8-21 and have lost four straight games. Free Len! He played 24 minutes last night and had nine points, five boards and four blocks, so maybe we’re heading in the right direction. Brandon Knight had 17 points off the bench and T.J. Warren is heading in the right direction after his head injury. He had 19 points, five rebounds and hit 9-of-17 shots and a 3-pointer in 29 minutes. He’s back, baby, and will hopefully be back in the starting lineup on Friday against the Sixers.
Mavericks 96, Blazers 95 – Harrison Barnes hit 10-of-22 shots and scored 28 points in 36 minutes. He’s been very good this season and the longer Dirk Nowitzki is out, the more Barnes will have the ball in his hands. Deron Williams is a must-own player and had 23 points, five boards and five dimes, and Wesley Matthews had a nice revenge game against Portland with 16 points, four boards, three assists, three steals and a 3-pointer in 41 minutes. He led the team in minutes and played five more than Barnes. Dorian Finney-Smith and Salah Mejri are starting, but the guys you want to own are Seth Curry and Dwight Powell. Curry had 12 points and four 3-pointers in 24 minutes off the bench (J.J. Barea was coming, but suffered an Achilles injury last night), and Powell had nine points, eight boards, three steals and two blocks in 24 minutes. Powell is finally heating up, averaging 10 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks over his last three games.
Al-Farouq Aminu is back and played 30 minutes, as did Moe Harkless, but neither of them managed to score in double figures. Center Miles Plumlee was quiet, but filled the stat sheet, and Damian Lillard scored 29 points for the Blazers. Allen Crabbe scored 14 off the bench, Shabazz Napier had 10 and Ed Davis scored six points with 10 rebounds off the pine, but the only Blazers you want to own are the ones who started last night.