Rockets 126, Lakers 111 - James Harden wore a ridiculous, gold short-shorts suit to the arena, hit 50 points for the 11th time of his career, along with a triple-double, and helped the Rockets beat LeBron James and the Lakers 126-111 on Thursday night. Harden finished with 50 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists, two steals and four 3-pointers as the Rockets improved to 13-14, as they continue to dig themselves out of the bottom of the West. They’re currently the No. 13 seed, but are just 2.0 games from being in the playoffs. Something tells me they’ll be in the Top 8 when it’s all said and done. Eric Gordon started again for James Ennis (hamstring) and had 13 points in 33 minutes, while Danuel House had 15 points, three rebounds, one steal and three 3-pointers in 29 minutes off the bench. Gerald Green was quiet with six points in 16 minutes, so House looks like a better pickup than Green in deep leagues. Gordon should be owned in most leagues by now, and House is an interesting speculative add (over Green).
The Lakers got a 29-5-4-2- line from LeBron James, and he hit three 3-pointers on 12-of-18 shooting. His efficient line couldn’t hang with the heroics of Harden, but James was awesome in the loss. Kyle Kuzma came through with a 24-3-5-2-1 line, and hit a 3-pointer on 8-of-17 shooting in the loss. Lance Stephenson played 23 minutes off the bench and had 17 points, three boards, a steal and three 3-pointers, while Josh Hart hit 6-of-8 shots and two 3-pointers for 15 points, but didn’t do much else, outside of two blocks. Stephenson’s not a guy I’m targeting, as long as Hart is still starting. I still think Hart’s (who’s starting for Brandon Ingram) a guy to hang onto for as long as Ingram (ankle) is out. JaVale McGee stayed relevant, hitting 5-of-6 shots for 11 points, five boards, a steal and two blocks, and Lonzo Ball hit just 3-of-9 shots and missed all six of his 3-pointers for seven points, eight assists and a steal. Again, I still can’t figure out if I love or hate Ball, but I do know he’s not fun to own.
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Spurs 125, Clippers 87 – The Spurs crushed the Clippers to win their fourth straight game, as LaMarcus Aldridge went off for 27 points, but added just four rebounds, two steals, a 3-pointer and zero blocks to his line. All five Spurs hit double figures in scoring, but it was Rudy Gay, and not DeMar DeRozan, who had the other big line. Gay had 21 points, six boards, three assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer on 8-of-10 shooting, while DeRozan had just 14 points and seven assists. I wouldn’t give up on DeRozan, but if you own him and are annoyed, wait for him to go off before trying to move him.
Derrick White started at point guard and had 11 points, four rebounds, two assists, a steal and a 3-pointer, but was also on the court in garbage time, helping to boost his stats. Bryn Forbes was coming off a huge 24-point and 11-rebound game, but had just 10 points, zero rebounds and hit 4-of-11 shots in 22 minutes. Both White and Forbes are borderline owns in fantasy. Davis Bertans was back from his personal leave and had five points, two blocks and a 3-pointer in 17 minutes off the bench, and Jakob Poeltl had three points, six rebounds, two assists and four blocks. He’s more of a DFS flier than a standard league player. The Spurs are now 15-14 and sit as the No. 10 seed in the West.
The Clippers have lost three of their last four games, being blown out in all three losses. The starters saw limited run once again, so it’s hard to read too much into this game, as they were manhandled by the Spurs. No starter played more than 28 minutes and none of them played particularly well, although Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit 6-of-8 shots for 13 points, two rebounds, two assists, a steal and a 3-pointer, and Avery Bradley woke up for 15 points, three rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers.
The Clippers are kind of a mess right now, and it’s impacting the productivity of Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris, who are the most trustworthy Clippers. But the blowouts have to stop, unless the Clippers are going to start winning in them. As for Montrezl Harrell (6 points, 4 rebounds, 15 minutes), yes, he’s been awful. But so have the Clippers and I think it’s only a matter of time before he picks it back up. Harrell is averaging just 7.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 23 minutes over his last five games. It’s not like Marcin Gortat or Boban Marjanovic are killing it, and it’s only a matter of time before Harrell is balling again. He’s a nice buy-low guy.
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Magic 97, Bulls 91 – Evan Fournier was back from his one-game personal absence and hit 5-of-13 shots and missed all five of his 3-pointers for 10 points, three rebounds and four assists. The good news is that he’s back, despite his line. Nikola Vucevic went off (again) for 26 points, 10 boards, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers, and D.J. Augustin had 15 points, seven boards, two assists and three 3-pointers in his 33 minutes. DJA’s been dumped in a bunch of leagues, and is worth a look if you need a point guard. Aaron Gordon hit just 2-of-11 shots and a 3-pointer for eight points, five rebounds and seven assists, and Jonathan Isaac started, hitting 2-of-7 shots for 10 points, but also had three rebounds, one assist, three steals, three blocks and a 3-pointer, and that’s why we’ve been telling you to hold him. Jonathon Simmons came off the bench due to a sprained ankle (and Isaac), and had eight points, four boards, two assists and a 3-pointer in 21 minutes. I’d easily rather be holding onto Isaac than Simmons right now.
For the Bulls, Ryan Arcidiacono started at point guard, bringing Kris Dunn off the bench as he works his way back from knee injury, and Arcidiacono had five points and five dimes in the loss. Zach LaVine led the way with 23 points and a fun stat line (minus the 6 turnovers), Justin Holiday had 18 points, three steals and four 3-pointers, and Bobby Portis added 15 points, seven rebounds, a steal and a 3-pointer off the bench. Starter Lauri Markkanen hit just 2-of-10 shots, Wendell Carter Jr. played just 18 minutes after picking up four fouls, and Jabari Parker is now out of the rotation (four minutes), meaning you can cut him.
Dunn was disappointing with five points, four rebounds, two assists, a steal, a 3-pointer and four turnovers on 2-of-5 shooting in 26 minutes. I can’t say that I’m on board with Dunn right now. Jabari Parker has been removed from the rotation now that Lauri Markkanen and Bobby Portis are healthy, so it’s time to dump him if you’re still holding on. Parker needs to find a new team, STAT.
Suns 99, Mavericks 89 – I was wrong about Trevor Ariza not playing another game for the Suns, as he started and played 37 minutes for a 13-8-5-4 stat line with three 3-pointers. OK, then. I still think he’ll be traded to the Lakers soon, and starting him and giving him this much run is the most Suns’ thing ever – especially since they accidentally won the game. T.J. Warren was hot early and finished with 30 points, three boards, three assists and three 3-pointers on 11-of-17 shooting. If he was dropped when he was hurt, pick him up, even though I don’t trust many Suns right now. Deandre Ayton missed his first five shots and hit just 3-of-13 on the night, finishing with seven points, five boards, two steals and a block, and my guy, De’Anthony Melton, failed to score, finishing three steals and two blocks in 21 minutes. I don’t know what’s going to happen to Melton when Devin Booker is back, but I’d hold him until we find out.
The Suns’ bench won this game, as Richaun Holmes had 11 points, seven boards, two steals and a block, Josh Jackson hit just 5-of-18 shots, but finished with three 3-pointers, 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a steal, and Jamal Crawford played through a sore knee and had 17 points, five assists, a steal, a block. If the 5-24 Suns won the game, you can only imagine how bad the 15-12 Mavericks were. Jackson is a hold for me, or a pickup, as I think he’s primed for a big second half.
For Dallas, Dennis Smith Jr. returned after missing four straight games with a wrist injury, J.J. Barea was out with his sprained ankle, and Dirk Nowitzki finally made his season debut on Thursday night. Maxi Kleber was iffy with a toe injury, but played 10 minutes meaningless minutes off the bench. DeAndre Jordan had a 14 & 15 double-double, and DSJ had four points, eight rebounds, one assists and three steals on 2-of-6 shooting. Dirk had two points in six minutes.
Harrison Barnes was quiet, Luka Doncic hit 6-of-12 shots and a 3-pointer for a 13-5-6-2 line, and Wesley Matthews scored 11 points in the loss. Jalen Brunson came off the bench and had 13 points in 21 minutes, but didn’t do much else. He’s averaging 12 points, 3.4 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.6 3-pointers over his last five, meaning he’s worth a deep-league look, and nothing more. Keep in mind that Barea was out last night. The 15-12 Mavericks had won three straight games and have been on fire, and may have overlooked the Suns last night. Sad, if you’re a Dallas fan. And if you’re a Phoenix fan, tell them to stop winning games.
News & Notes
Jonas Valanciunas had surgery on his left thumb on Thursday and is expected to miss a month, or more time, with the injury. Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam should roll in his absence, while OG Anunoby and Greg Monroe will also see a boost for deep-league owners. But the main guy who will gain from JV’s loss should be Ibaka. I’m not considering Monroe in any of my leagues.