There were eight games in the NBA on Monday night, which is when James Harden decided to drop one of the fantasy lines of the year with a monster triple-double against Ricky Rubio and the Wolves. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.
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Heat 119, Sixers 108
Luol Deng had 29 points and four 3-pointers on 11-of-14 shooting and Goran Dragic hit 9-of-14 shots and two 3-pointers for 23 points, 10 assists and two steals in a win over the Sixers. Sure, it came against one of the league’s worst teams, but Dragic is going to love being ‘the man’ again, and Deng is going to like playing with a real point guard again. Dwyane Wade had a reasonable 18 points, but didn’t rack up a lot of stats and committed six turnovers in limited ‘blowout minutes.’ Hey, at least he’s playing, right? The Hassan Whiteside train has slowed its roll, but he still double-doubled with 12 points and 14 boards. Averaging “just” 1.8 blocks over his last five games, you have to think another blocks explosion is coming soon.
Isaiah Canaan started and played 30 minutes, but had just 11 points and three assists. He also hit three 3-pointers, and it’s simply too early to worry about him in his new uniform. Luc Mbah a Moute returned from a personal absence and started, but hit just 3-of-11 shots for seven points and five boards in 30 minutes. And for the second straight game, Hollis Thompson came off the bench and played well, scoring 22 points with six 3-pointers. With Jason Richardson sitting out with a sore knee (shocking, right?) and Jerami Grant out with a sore back, Thompson is worth keeping an eye on going forward, but Mbah a Moute is still the guy you want to own. Reserve point guard Ish Smith had seven points, three rebounds, seven assists and three steals in 24 minutes off the bench, and is officially worth keeping an eye on.
Bulls 87, Bucks 71
By glancing at the Bulls’ box score you’d probably guess they lost this game, as Tony Snell led them in scoring with 20 points, and only reserve Nikola Mirotic (16 points, career-high 14 rebounds, two 3-pointers), Pau Gasol (15 points, 10 boards) and Jimmy Butler (11 points) were also in double figures. They also shot just 36 percent as a team, led in agony by Derrick Rose, who hit just 1-of-13 shots. I’m not sure what Rose’s deal is, but he’s really struggling right now. Rose has hit just 8-of-34 shots in his last three games, and has scored eight points in two of them. He was playing pretty well before that, so I would not be surprised to see him break out of the funk in his next one. Joakim Noah scored eight and had 16 rebounds, and has quietly grabbed 12 or more boards in four straight. He’s also had eight dimes in two of his last four, so maybe he’s feeling healthy again. As for Snell, he had scored a total of seven points in his previous two games, but had 22 and 24 in the two before that. He’s tough to trust coming off the bench, but with three 20-point games over his last five, he’s definitely a guy you should be keeping a close eye on. However, Butler was out for one of those games and got injured in the other one, and wasn’t great on Monday, either. In other words, once Butler gets back in a groove, it will be very tough for Snell to succeed, so I’m not ready to take a flier on him with Butler healthy. Mirotic got loose with Taj Gibson out sick, so I’m not too excited by his big night.
The Bucks have cooled off, losing four of their last six games. They also started Ersan Ilyasova and benched Jared Dudley, and Ilyasova went off for 15 points, 11 rebounds, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers. He’s completely unreliable, but if you’re holding Dudley and want to drop him (or another scrub on your roster) for EI, I can get behind that move. John Henson’s minutes took another dip and he had just two points and one rebound in 16 minutes. He’s not getting enough run and it appears to be time to move on. Jerryd Bayless started again and had eight points, eight boards and five assists, but will take a hit once Michael Carter-Williams is back, presumably on Wednesday. And Khris Middleton was solid again with 17 points, six rebounds and three steals in 35 minutes. He’s must-own. And in case you’re wondering who is getting big-man minutes with Henson’s low usage, the answer is no one. Miles Plumlee played 14 minutes and Zaza Pachulia only played six minutes.
Rockets 113, Wolves 102
Patrick Beverley sat out with an illness, which probably contributed to James Harden’s big night. Harden went nuts and triple-doubled with 31 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, a steal, four blocks and five 3-pointers. He hit just 7-of-20 shots, but also knocked down 12-of-15 free throws, and if you didn’t use him in DFS leagues, you lost. The other big news for Houston was that Terrence Jones started and had 15 points, 15 rebounds, a steal and two blocks in 32 minutes. He should have already been owned, but now it’s official. Josh Smith also played well again off the bench with 17 points and a full stat line, and seems to have settled into a nice bench role in Houston.
The Wolves’ starting five all hit double figures in scoring, led by Andrew Wiggins’ 30 points and six boards on his birthday. Kevin Martin scored 21, Ricky Rubio flirted with a triple-double, Nikola Pekovic had 16 points and 13 rebounds (and, of course, no blocks), and rookie Adreian Payne started and had 11 points and 10 rebounds, despite hitting 4-of-15 shots in 29 minutes. Deep leaguers have to think about grabbing him right now. And while Gorgui Dieng scored just seven off the bench, he played 27 minutes and added 14 boards, a steal and a block, which is good news. It looks like the five starters should all be owned for the time being, while taking a flier on Payne makes sense in case he keeps the job.
Pelicans 100, Raptors 97
The banged up Pelicans held on for the win and were led by an unlikely hero in the form of reserve Luke Babbitt. He hit 7-of-9 shots and four 3-pointers for a season-high 18 points and eight rebounds, and scored 10 in the fourth quarter. This has fluke written all over it, but with so many injuries (Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson), anything is possible. Alexis Ajinca added 16 points, nine boards and a block, and is always an intriguing choice any time Davis is out, while Norris Cole came off the bench for 15 points, six assists and a 3-pointer. All three of these guys came off the bench and were the team’s three leading scorers on a night the Pelicans came from 18 points down to get a tough win, and Ajinca and Babbitt are the two I’d think about grabbing, in that order. As for Cole, who has played well in two straight, just keep an eye on him. Omer Asik and Tyreke Evans double-doubled, while starters Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter didn’t do much of anything.
The Raps got Lou Williams back from a sprained ankle and he had nine points, while Patrick Patterson sat this one out with a sprained left knee. Amir Johnson didn’t take advantage of PP’s DNP with eight points and six rebounds, but James Johnson did. JJ hit 7-of-10 shots and a 3-pointer for 15 points, five rebounds and a block in 35 minutes. He’s worth a close look in all leagues right now. Jonas Valanciunas was nice with 17 points, 14 rebounds, two steals and a block, Kyle Lowry had 22 points and five dimes, and DeMar DeRozan added 14 points on an off night.
Nets 110, Nuggets 82
The Nets rolled the Nuggets, who look more like ‘coach quitters’ than tankers at this point. Deron Williams is officially back and had 16 points and 12 assists, as all five starters scored in double figures. Markel Brown is the latest Net to start at shooting guard and he was nice, going for 10 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and four blocks, all career highs. Do I trust him? No. Would I take a flier on him right now if I have someone to cut? Yep. Thaddeus Young came off the bench for 15 points, five boards, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer, and should be starting sooner than later, possibly at the expense of Brown or Alan Anderson. Brook Lopez had 19 points and nine boards off the bench, and starter Mason Plumlee added 14 points and five boards in just 16 minutes. Jarrett Jack was also out for this one, and is also a candidate to start at shooting guard once he’s healthy again, as it appears that Williams has reclaimed his starting job.
Danilo Gallinari had 22 points, two steals and three 3-pointers, and is clearly worth a pick up, while Kenneth Faried was benched in favor of Darrell Arthur. Arthur had 10 points and seven boards in 23 minutes, while Faried played just 13 minutes with four points and five rebounds. I give up, although he did leave briefly with a hand injury last night. I’m still not ready to cut Faried, but I’m a lot closer to doing so than I was a couple weeks ago. Wilson Chandler was a late scratch with a hip/groin injury, is day-to-day, and has been a buzzkill since the trade deadline. Gary Harris started in his place and scored 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting, but I’m not excited. Even Ty Lawson may not be trying for Brian Shaw, as he hit just 3-of-7 shots for six points and 10 assists. The Nuggets’ “ship be sinkin’.”
Celtics 115, Suns 110
The Celtics got 18 points and six boards from Brandon Bass, Tyler Zeller had 12 points, six boards and a block, Avery Bradley kept it rolling with 23 points, six steals and three 3-pointers, and Evan Turner had 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists, a steal and a 3-pointer. Jae Crowder stayed relevant with 12 points, seven boards, four assists, two steals and four 3-pointers, and Isaiah Thomas added 21 points, seven assists and three 3-pointers off the bench against his former team. He’s killing Marcus Smart, who had eight points and three dimes on 2-of-7 shooting. Bass, Zeller, Bradley, Turner and Thomas should all be owned, while deep-leaguers should give Crowder a look.
If Alex Len is still available in your league, get him. He had 10 points, 12 boards and six blocks in another start. Markieff Morris had an off night, P.J. Tucker had a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards, while Eric Bledsoe (near triple-double) and Brandon Knight (20 points, 4 3-pointers) both played very well in the backcourt. I don’t trust Tucker, but he’s played well in two straight, making him worth a look if you need a warm body. Gerald Green not only went back to the bench, but didn’t even get in the game. And if you own Bledsoe, he should be ready to go on a monster run with Dragic and Thomas out of the way.
Jazz 90, Spurs 81
The Jazz got 23 points (and not much else) from reserve Trey Burke, while Derrick Favors double-doubled, Gordon Hayward scored 18, and Rudy Gobert grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked three shots to go along with his seven points. Joe Ingles also started again and had 10 points, three boards, three assists, three steals and two 3-pointers, as he continues to stay relevant. The return of Rodney Hood (2 points) hasn’t hurt him – yet.
This might be the low point of the season for the Spurs, who got 14 points from Tim Duncan, 13 points from Boris Diaw and 10 points from Cory Joseph. Kawhi Leonard’s slump continued, Aron Baynes cooled off, and Tony Parker and Danny Green were awful. Yes, the Spurs are probably going to make the playoffs, but just don’t look like a championship team right now. That could change over the next six weeks, but things aren’t exactly looking up for the Spurs right now. They’ve lost three straight games and the Jazz are an ugly 21-34 on the season.
Grizzlies 90, Clippers 87
The Grizzlies made a nice second-half comeback after trailing at the break and all five starters played reasonably well. There’s really not much to dissect from a fantasy standpoint in Memphis, as only Courtney Lee is a borderline starter to own. He had nine points and a 3-pointer tonight, but played much better in his last one. Mike Conley had 18 points and seven assists, and has looked much better in his last two games. Maybe he needed a rest at the All-Star break.
The Clippers are reeling a bit without Blake Griffin, going 5-5 over their last 10 games, and lost another tough one last night. Chris Paul had 30 points, 10 dimes, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers, but Jamal Crawford was the only other player in double figures with 15 points and three 3-pointers (on 4-of-15 shooting). DeAndre Jordan stayed relatively hot with 17 rebounds, a steal and a block to go with his nine points, but J.J. Redick (8 points) and Spencer Hawes (9 points on 4-of-12 shooting) were disappointing. If you’re ready to move on from Hawes, I can’t blame you for dropping him. Just don’t be too mad if he suddenly gets it going soon, as it’s clear the Clippers need him to play much better than he has up to this point.