My Internet is working again in my house, so I’m out of McDonald’s and back in my home office. I couldn’t be happier about it and the time is right for a seven-game NBA breakdown on a Monday night that saw the Bears shock the Chargers in the NFL.
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Pacers top Magic 97-84 – Paul George stayed red-hot against the Magic and hit 7-of-17 shots and three 3-pointers for 27 points, four rebounds, seven assists and six turnovers. The turnovers and his shooting have been a concern for most of the season, but I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong, and it’s no secret that I wasn’t feeling George when the season started. There’s a long way to go, so I’m still not kicking myself in the head for sleeping on PG-13, but he is playing at a pretty high level. George Hill had another big game and remains one of the most underrated point guards in the game and fantasy, Ian Mahinmi reestablished himself with eight points, nine boards, a steal and two blocks, and Monta Ellis killed the good vibes he was feeling from Sunday (25 points) with two points on 1-of-9 shooting. Yeah, he’s off to a rough start, but I still think he’ll be fine. C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey both returned from ankle injuries last night, and while neither is a must-own player, Miles is worth a look in deeper leagues. He had nine points, two steals and two 3-pointers in a 27-minute start.
The Magic got another big game from Evan Fournier with 21 points and four 3-pointers. He cooled off for a minute last week, but has bounced back in his last two games. I’m pretty thrilled to own him in a few leagues, as he played 40 minutes again tonight. Dewayne Dedmon started again for Nikola Vucevic (knee) and had five points, nine boards, two steals and zero blocks. Not a great night for Dedmon, but he’s still worth a spot start on nights when Vucevic is out. Channing Frye came out of nowhere with 14 points, eight boards and four 3-pointers in 23 minutes off the bench, but I need to see this a couple more times before I take notice. Aaron Gordon played just 17 minutes and struggled. As long as he’s not consistently getting 25 minutes a game, I’ll keep him on my team, but he’ll be on my bench.
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Bulls beat Sixers 11-88 – The Bulls crushed the Sixers, as expected, as Pau Gasol ripped off 16 points, nine boards and six blocks. Derrick Rose had 12 points, five boards and seven assists, and Doug McDermott scored a career-high 18 points with three 3-pointers and not much else. The surprises of the night came from Jimmy Butler, who struggled for the second straight game with seven points on 2-of-6 shooting, but the good news is he’s not hurt. He’s just in a two-game slump, so be ready to ride him out of it. Nikola Mirotic, who was rumored to be headed for the bench prior to the game, started and hit 6-of-11 shots and three 3-pointers for 20 points, 10 boards and two steals. This was reminiscent of his early-season start and maybe the benching rumors got him motivated. Hopefully he builds on this one. Joakim Noah didn’t play due to a sore left knee, as his disastrous season continues. As I said in the blurb, I’m not going to tell you to straight up cut him, but I’m not going to be mad at you if you do it.
The Sixers, as usual, are a mess to write about from a fantasy perspective. Nerlens Noel was out with a wrist injury, so Richaun Holmes started and had 11 points and two blocks in 28 minutes. I doubt Noel’s out for very long, so there’s no reason to get excited about Holmes. Jerami Grant started again and had 11 points and three blocks, but I’m worried about him once Robert Covington returns, possibly this Saturday. Jahlil Okafor made for a daily-league star with 21 points, a career-high 15 rebounds and two blocks. He’s scored in double figures every game, but this was his first double-double, which was directly related to the absence of Noel.
T.J. McConnell was solid again with six points, five boards, eight assists and two blocks. He’s shooting 48 percent from the floor, but isn’t taking enough shots to make it matter. If you need a point guard, grab him. Nik Stauskas hit just 2-of-13 shots and had a 3-pointer, five points, five boards, two assists and three steals. The steals and three helped to offset the bad night, but regardless of how bad he’s shooting it, he’s averaging 13 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.4 3-pointers, hitting just 34 percent from the floor. The kid can shoot and is still learning his way around an NBA court, so I’m just going to keep running him out there until he figures it out. It feels like a huge explosion is coming from him, sooner than later. After a big game on Saturday, Isaiah Canaan was awful, shooting 1-of-5 for three points, Phil Pressey was decent as the backup point guard with 11 points and five dimes in just 13 minutes, and Christian Wood backed up Holmes with nine points and eight boards in 22 minutes off the bench. Again, Noel’s return will render him useless, while Pressey should just be given a watchful eye. Canaan is in a lineup or two for me and I’m expecting plenty of inconsistency along the way.
Wolves blow lead, beat Hawks 117-107 – The Hawks were down 30 at halftime and 34 at one point in the third quarter, but actually came back to take the lead in this game. They couldn’t hang on, but it was a valiant comeback attempt. The Wolves got 17 points, 12 boards and three blocks from Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins tied a career high with 33 points, five boards, four assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer. He’s hot right now, so ride him. Additionally, Kevin Martin played just 24 minutes and had an empty 13 points, which could continue as long as Wiggins is on fire. Wire darling Nemanja Bjelica came through with three 3-pointers, 11 points, five rebounds and four dimes in 30 minutes, and I love the idea of owning him right now – especially since the Wolves are at the front end of a five-game week. Gorgui Dieng played just 16 minutes, and much like Noah, owners have to make a decision as to whether to ride it out or throw him back on the wire and find some consistent production. Unfortunately, I think I’m ready to move on without him.
The Hawks got a stellar line from Paul Millsap, who had 22 points, five boards, six assists, two steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers on 9-of-15 shooting. Al Horford added 14 points, six boards and two 3-pointers, and Jeff Teague went off with 24 points, nine assists, a steal, three blocks and a 3-pointer on 10-of-17 shooting. He also had six turnovers, but that’s not typical for him. Kent Bazemore stayed hot and filled the stat sheet before fouling out, finishing with nine points, six boards, three assists, five steals, a block and a 3-pointer, and is now averaging 12.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.8 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.8 3-pointers on 51 percent shooting from the floor, and 88 percent shooting from the stripe in his last five games. Hopefully you picked him up. Tiago Splitter played through a calf injury, but had just four points and three boards in 16 minutes. As long as Horford is healthy, you can forget about Splitter. Kyle Korver was bad again and got chastised by his coach for a lack of defense, and he just hasn’t been right since the end of last season.
Nuggets shock Blazers 108-104 – Emmanuel Mudiay was great against Damian Lillard with 18 points, six boards, five assists, two blocks, a 3-pointer and just two turnovers, and also hit 6-of-12 shots. He’s starting to figure it out. Danilo Gallinari struggled with five points on 2-of-10 shooting, but should bounce back, and J.J. Hickson made the most of his start with 19 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks in 30 minutes. He’s a nice fantasy play as long as Jusuf Nurkic and Joffrey Lauvergne are hurt. Will Barton came off the bench to make way for Hickson and had 11 points, three boards and a 3-pointer. He’s hit double figures in every game and is worth a look in most leagues, although the move to the bench could hurt a little. Randy Foye had a season-high 13 points with three dimes and three 3-pointers, so just put him on your radar.
The Blazers got another 30-point game from Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum hit 6-of-15 shots and two 3-pointers for 16 points, three boards and two assists, and Mason Plumlee came through with 15 points, seven boards, two assists, two steals and two blocks on 5-of-7 shooting. Meyers Leonard was solid with 11 points, nine boards, four assists and a 3-pointer, and is playing well enough to be scooped up if he was dropped in your league. Moe Harkless appears to be cooling off, while Allen Crabbe is coming on. Crabbe is averaging 12.3 points, 2.0 boards, 2.0 assists, 0.7 steals and 1.0 3-pointers over his last three games, making him worth a look, especially in daily play.
Spurs stop Kings 106-88, Cousins back in action – Kawhi Leonard had 24 points and a full stat line in 32 minutes and hit 10-of-13 shots and 3-of-4 3-pointers as his full breakout season rolls on. LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points, nine boards and two blocks, and Tim Duncan added 11 points and 14 boards in the win. Danny Green’s ridiculous slump continued tonight and I’m glad I benched him in a couple weekly leagues. But don’t get crazy and dump him, as he simply has to get better.
DeMarcus Cousins was finally back from his Achilles injury, but hit just 5-of-20 shots. He still finished with 21 points12 boards, two steals and a block, so he should be good to go as long as he didn’t suffer a setback. Rajon Rondo played all 48 minutes, finishing with eight points, 12 assists, six boards and three steals, but also had nine turnovers. The Kings are depleted at PG right now and Rondo is a fine play in all formats, despite tonight’s negatives. Willie Cauley-Stein had just four points, six boards and a steal, and is hit-or-miss, especially with Cousins back in action. James Anderson started over Ben McLemore, but BMac was back in there to start the third quarter. It’s a mess and both players should be avoided for now. Kosta Koufos went back to the bench and didn’t do much, which isn’t a surprise with Cousins back. Marco Belinelli is a guy to keep an eye on or pick up, as he had 17 points and three 3-pointers off the bench. He’s averaging 14 points and two 3-pointers over his last five games, making him worth a deep-league grab.
Warriors stay undefeated with 109-95 win over Pistons – The Dubs cruised to their eighth straight win behind 24 points and four 3-pointers from Klay Thompson (finally) and 22 points, five boards, five assists, three steals and three 3-pointers from Stephen Curry. Draymond Green flirted with a triple-double and filled the stat sheet, Harrison Barnes scored 12, and Andrew Bogut returned from a concussion for eight points and nine boards off the bench. His return really hurts Festus Ezeli, who started and had eight points, two boards and two blocks.
The Pistons got nice games from Marcus Morris (15 points, full line), Andre Drummond (double-double), Reggie Jackson (20 and a bunch of goodies), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (15 points, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer), and Stanley Johnson (20 points, seven boards, two 3-pointers off the bench). Maybe this was Stanley’s coming out party, but you should expect plenty of inconsistency along the way. Ersan Ilyasova was awful, hitting 2-of-5 shots in just 17 minutes, and I’m considering dropping him in the very near future, especially if Johnson is ready to take off.
Clippers stop struggling Grizzlies 94-92 – The Clips improved to 5-2 with a close win over the Grizzlies. Chris Paul suffered an eye injury, but played through it, and had 14 points, four boards, four assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in 33 minutes. Keep an eye on his status over the next couple days, as his eye didn’t look great on TV. Blake Griffin had 24 points, 12 boards and a bunch of goodies, DeAndre Jordan had 13 points, 12 boards and four blocks, and J.J. Redick hit two 3-pointers on his way to 16 points. Jamal Crawford finally came alive with 13 points, but still hit just 2-of-7 shots and one 3-pointer in the win. JC is now just 4-of-20 from downtown this season. Lance Stephenson is still starting, but was off again with three points on 1-of-4 shooting. No thanks.
Zach Randolph had 26 points, nine boards and three steals, Marc Gasol added 18 points, seven boards and no blocks, and Mike Conley was nice with 16 points, six boards, five dimes, a steal and a 3-pointer. Those were the only three Grizzlies to score in double figures tonight, and with just three wins on the season, coach Dave Joerger is under the gun in Memphis.
Tuesday night brings us seven games on the schedule, which is as follows:
Jazz @ Cavs
Thunder @ Wiz
Lakers @ Heat
Knicks @ Raptors
Celtics @ Bucks
Hornets @ Timberwolves
Mavericks @ Pelicans