There were only four games on Tuesday, but we had one fight, one scuffle, a Bam Adebayo explosion, more good stuff from Delon Wright, and a nice game from Aaron Gordon, who came off bench for breaking team rules.
Heat 90, Raptors 89 – James Johnson and Serge Ibaka squared off and both appeared to throw a punch before being ejected from Tuesday’s game. Both players will almost certainly face a one-game suspension for their role in the “fight.” Johnson’s a black belt with a background in MMA fighting, so it’s probably a good thing for Ibaka that it never really turned into a real fight. In the second semi-fight of the night, Goran Dragic and DeMar DeRozan got into it and DeRozan reached out for Dragic’s face as they were walking off the court, although I wouldn’t call it a punch. I doubt he’ll be suspended.
Wayne Ellington hit the game-winning layup just before the buzzer to give the Heat the one-point win, their fifth straight. Ellington had 15 points and hit three 3-pointers, and also had three rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block. He’s a 3-point specialist, although he should be for shooting 10 of them a night, and is coming up with some steals and rebounds right now. But he’s only a must-add player if you badly need 3-pointers. The Heat are pretty banged up right now, so Ellington should continue to see 30-plus minutes until further notice, making him worth a look in almost all leagues. Bam Adebayo went crazy, scoring 16 points with a career-high 15 rebounds and a career-high five blocks. With Johnson likely suspended for Wednesday night, look for Bam to play heavy minutes again against the Pacers. Kelly Olynyk had an off night with four points and five rebounds, and both of them should be busy again tonight. If you want to take a flier on Bam and see what he does tonight, go for it. It was also encouraging that he played alongside Hassan Whiteside at times last night.
Josh Richardson struggled, starting 0-for-9 and finishing 3-of-13 with six points, six boards, four assists and three blocks. He played the entire fourth quarter, just as he has in each of the Heat’s last five games, which have all been wins. Derrick Jones Jr. got the start with Tyler Johnson out with a shoulder injury and could get another one tonight, as Johnson sounds doubtful. Jones had eight points, five boards and two blocks, but I’d be hesitant to trust him, even as a punt in DFS. Dragic took advantage of Johnson’s absence with 24 points, a season-high 12 boards, four assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer, and there should be more of where that came from tonight against the Pacers.
For the Raptors, DeRozan scored 25 and hit another 3-pointer, while Delon Wright played well in a start for Kyle Lowry (tailbone). Wright hit 5-of-9 shots and a 3-pointer for 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block in 29 minutes. Even when Lowry’s healthy, I’m loving Wright and think he should be owned everywhere. Jonas Valanciunas was quiet, especially with Ibaka in the locker room, and had just eight points, three boards and two blocks. He’s as hit-or-miss as they come and he just never got going last night. He scored zero points last Wednesday, then had 20 and 21 in back-to-back games, and then posted tonight’s dud. Which is a pretty good example of what it’s like to own JV this year. With Ibaka likely suspended for Thursday’s game against the Cavaliers, Valanciunas, Pascal Siakam and Lucas Nogueira should all help fill the void.
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Blazers 117, Thunder 106 – The Blazers handled the Thunder even without Damian Lillard, who continues to deal with a calf injury. Lillard is very questionable for tonight in Houston, and if he’s out, Shabazz Napier should be the man again. Napier had 21 points, five boards, two assists, two steals and two 3-pointers, and is a must-start player any time Lillard is sitting. C.J. McCollum also enjoyed the absence of Dame with 27 points, seven assists, a steal and a 3-pointer. Jusuf Nurkic had 20 points, eight boards and a steal in 23 minutes, and has really redeemed himself over the past two weeks. Moe Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu seem to be canceling each other out on most nights and that was the case last night. I still like Aminu, but he’s been difficult to own for much of the season and has been extremely lackluster in his last four games. He had 10 points, seven boards, three steals and two 3-pointers last night, helping to make up for his lack of offense.
The Thunder are a mess and couldn’t compete with the Lillard-less Blazers after losing to the lowly Suns in their previous game. Russell Westbrook hit just 7-of-20 shots for 22 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists, three steals, two blocks and six turnovers, marking the sixth time this season he’s missed a triple-double by one assist or rebound. Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Steven Adams all played pretty well, but temporary starter Terrance Ferguson failed to score in 30 minutes. Andre Roberson will probably miss another game with his knee injury, but Ferguson has scored a total of 13 points with 11 fouls and not much else in three games since his 24-point explosion last Wednesday.
Mavericks 114, Magic 99 – Dirk Nowitzki and Dennis Smith Jr. both scored 20 points in the win and Dirk has yet to miss a game this season while returning seventh-round value in nine-category leagues. Smith is coming on, scoring in double figures in six straight games and averaging 16.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.5 steals over that stretch. Hopefully he’s going to have the monster second half that we were looking for over the last couple months. Maxi Kleber scored two points and hasn’t done anything in some time, making him waiver-wire fodder, while Yogi Ferrell and J.J. Barea both played well. Ferrell had 15 points, eight boards, four dimes and two 3-pointers, while Barea had eight points and 12 assists. I’d still rank these guards as 1. Smith, 2. Barea and 3. Ferrell, but Yogi’s at least worth keeping an eye on in case this was the start of a hot streak. He scored six points in each of his previous two games.
Aaron Gordon was benched for breaking team rules but still managed 19 points, eight boards and a 3-pointer off the pine. Mario Hezonja got the start in his place and was solid with 14 points, four rebounds, four assists, a steal and two 3-pointers, but Jonathon Simmons was back last night. Simmons struggled with just three points on 1-of-7 shooting, but should end up hurting Hezonja once he’s back up to speed from his back injury. I’ve dropped Simmons in several leagues, but might pick him up again when he gets hot. Both Bismack Biyombo (6 points, 8 boards, 1 block) and Elfrid Payton (8 points, 4 assists, a steal, two 3-pointer) were quiet last night, but both should be owned and started until further notice. Marreese Speights came off the bench for 13 points, a season-high 10 rebounds, two 3-pointers and two blocks, but this was his first double-double of the season and he really hadn’t done much of anything in his previous four games. Ignore Speights. D.J. Augustin got loose for 18 points, five assists and four 3-pointers, but hadn’t scored more than nine points in his previous eight games. Ignore him as long as Payton is healthy.
Lakers 99, Kings 86 – Julius Randle stayed hot with 22 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, a steal and a 3-pointer on 8-of-13 shooting, while Kyle Kuzma (9 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, a block and a 3-pointer) and Larry Nance (10 points, 8 boards, 1 steal) paled in comparison. Randle got 30 minutes, Kuzma got 24 minutes and Nance played just 19 minutes. Kuzma still filled it up and should be owned, but he’s averaging just 10.2 points over his last five. He averaged 19.5 points in December and 18.2 points in November, and I think it’s time you try to trade him while his name carries a nice ring to it. It appears to be Randle’s world at power forward now, which is going to make it tough for Kuzma to have a big second half. Just don’t give him away, as Kuzma will still hold some value, even if the scoring and minutes continue to be low. Randle is cooking, averaging 15.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 0.8 steals over his last five.
Brook Lopez got hot hit a season-high five 3-pointers in just 22 minutes, finishing with 18 points, three rebounds and nothing else. I still don’t trust Bro-Lo and he hadn’t scored this much since Nov. 19. I’m just glad I don’t own him. Lonzo Ball was nice with 11 rebounds, 11 assists and a career-high five steals, but hit just 2-of-10 shots and 1-of-7 3-pointers, including an airball on a wide-open three attempt. Ball’s shooting is going to hurt all season, but he’s going to get enough assists, rebounds, steals and threes to make up for it. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s stay at a detention center is over and he can travel with the team again going forward. He had 16 points, four boards, two assists, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers, and should be picked up if he was dumped in your league while he wasn’t allowed to travel. The Lakers won back-to-back games for just the fourth time this season.
The Kings are a mess, as usual, and were led by Bogdan Bogdanovic’s 19 points. He also had two rebounds, four assists and a steal, and has quietly scored in double figures in four straight games. He’s worth a look in all formats, especially considering that he started the second half over Malachi Richardson last night. Richardson was a -16 in just five minutes last night, so it’s possible Bogdan is the man the rest of the way, and they need someone who can score. Zach Randolph, Willie Cauley-Stein and Skal Labissiere were all quiet last night, while Kosta Koufos exploded for a season-high 15 rebounds with six points and three steals. Koufos will only be worth a look if WCS gets hurt, and I would not cut WCS or Randolph right now. Buddy Hield also came off the bench in the second half, replaced by Garrett Temple, but Temple had just three points and took a nasty shot to his left thigh. Neither player is a must-own, but I’d rather have Hield, who had 13 points and three 3-pointers in 23 minutes. De’Aaron Fox was nice, scoring 15 points, with three assists, four steals and three 3-pointers. He’s averaging 15.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 3-pointers on 46 percent shooting over his last four games. Yes, George Hill has been at home waiting for the birth of his child, but there’s simply no reason the Kings don’t turn Fox loose for the second half. Make sure he’s not available in your league, as I think he’s going to have a nice run the rest of the way.
Lastly, Zach LaVine is expected to make his season debut on Saturday for the Bulls. I think he’s going to take baby steps, but if you have some junk to cut, feel free to pick him up and hope that he looks good out of the gate. I’m just not going to hold my breath.