There were only four games on Thursday night, but Dirk Nowitzki (rest), Darren Collison (abdomen), Alex Len (right ankle) and Bradley Beal (toe) all went down, while Chris Paul and DeMarcus Cousins had meltdowns after their losses. Oh, and the Cavaliers didn’t do much, other than win their 12th straight game. While all the attention on Friday night will be on the Warriors’ visit to Atlanta to face the Hawks, you have to think Mike Budenholzer’s boys have the Cavs squarely in focus in their rearview mirror right now. The Hawks have to play @Memphis on Sunday, and will later face the Cavaliers on Friday, March 6, which should be another big one. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!
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Hornets 94, Wizards 87
Gerald Henderson caught fire early for the Hornets and he finished with a season-high 27 points, four rebounds, two steals and two blocks on 10-of-15 shooting. This was easily Hendo’s best line of the season, but he has been playing well for most of the year, and is averaging 16.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals on 46 percent shooting over his last five games. Cody Zeller was a fantasy disaster with zero points, five boards and a block in 23 minutes, Al Jefferson hit just 3-of-12 shots for eight points, 10 rebounds, a steal and a block, and Brian Roberts hit just 5-of-13 shots for 12 points, three boards, five assists and a 3-pointer. Roberts ran into a brick wall on a pick set by DeJuan Blair, but was able to play through it, despite a sizable knot on his head. And despite the bad games from Zeller and Jefferson, the Bobcats still beat the Wizards.
Lance Stephenson had 11 points, two rebounds, four assists and three 3-pointers on 4-of-11 shooting in 28 minutes, but that’s still not nearly good enough for where his owners (or should I say, former owners?) drafted him. And Jason Maxiell somehow came off the bench for 11 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks in 21 minutes. Zeller was struggling and the Hornets are thin at power forward, so Maxiell was able to get loose last night. Maxiell also had 14 points, seven rebounds and four blocks on Saturday (against, you guessed it – Denver). But despite those two huge lines, Max is averaging just 7.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.6 blocks over his last five games. Keep an eye on him, but I’m guessing his best games of the season have already happened, unless he somehow ends up in the starting lineup at some point.
For the Wizards, John Wall played through his ankle and migraine issues and had a double-double with 15 points and 13 assists. He had just two points in the second half, but it’s hard to be mad at him after a solid line that included a steal and 6-of-13 shooting. Bradley Beal left early with a toe injury and didn’t return, finishing with just one point in 11 minutes. He says he hopes to play on Saturday, but added that his toe is “pretty messed up.” Paul Pierce was nice with 19 points, two rebounds, two assists, a block and two 3-pointers, which was a quality bounce back after a pair of duds. Pierce made his NBA debut 16 years ago last night. With Beal (and his DFS owners) down and out, Rasual Butler stepped up with 11 points, four rebounds and a 3-pointer in 29 minutes, and I use the term “stepped up” loosely. The Wizards box score isn’t too impressive to look at, and owners of Beal and Wall have to hope they’re ready to go on Saturday against the Nets. The Wizards have lost five straight games, while the Hornets are now somehow an impressive 6-1 without Kemba Walker.
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Cavaliers 105, Clippers 94
This game wasn’t nearly as close as the final score, as the Clippers were dominated all night and the Cavs led by 32 at one point in the game. Kevin Love led the way with 24 points, nine boards and two 3-pointers, LeBron James had 23 points and nine assists, and all five starters scored at least 10 points. J.R. Smith hit 6-of-10 shots and four 3-pointers for 16 points, five boards, two assists and five steals, and could be ready to get hot for his new team, now that he’s healthy. Kyrie Irving was quiet with just 10 points, six rebounds and four assists on 1-of-5 shooting, but he’ll bounce back in the next one. Tristan Thompson had a nice game with nine points, 10 boards and two blocks, but his good games have become few and far between with Timofey Mozgov, LeBron and Love filling the paint. The Cavs have now won 12 straight games, as we have a new streak to obsess about in the NBA. The Cavs have also held 10 straight opponents to fewer than 100 points, and less than 45 percent shooting, which is a franchise record (per TNT).
Matt Barnes was ejected with two technical fouls, DeAndre Jordan and Doc Rivers each had one, and Chris Paul was called for a tech, as well as a flagrant foul. While rookie referee Lauren Holtkamp didn’t call all of them, she did T-up CP3 and ticked him off. “This (business) might not be for her,” he said after the game, which is going to bring a hefty fine. Blake Griffin led the team in scoring with just 16 points and Jamal Crawford was somewhat disappointing in another start for J.J. Redick (back spasms), and had 13 points, one steal and one 3-pointer. Austin Rivers came off the bench for 10 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and a 3-pointer in 22 minutes, but I doubt he does that again any time soon. The Clippers have lost two straight games, tying a season-high losing streak.
Mavericks 101, Kings 78
News broke right around 7 p.m. (and after lineup deadlines) that Dirk Nowitzki would be rested for this one (he was in a lineup or two for me). Al-Farouq Aminu started in his place, which appeared to be great news considering how well AFA was playing coming in. It didn’t work out though, as Aminu hit just 1-of-6 shots for two points, but was at least able to add four rebounds, two steals and three blocks. Just keep an eye on him, as usual. Chandler Parsons hit just 2-of-9 shots for six points, and despite those two duds, the Mavs were still able to easily roll the Kings. Parsons had scored 24 and 18 points in his last two games, so last night was a massive letdown, especially sans Dirk.
Tyson Chandler stayed red-hot with 16 points, 16 rebounds, a steal and no blocks on 7-of-9 shooting, while Monta Ellis hit 9-of-16 shots and three 3-pointers for 21 points, two rebounds, six assists and three steals. J.J. Barea made another start for Rajon Rondo (face) and played well, finishing with 15 points, three rebounds, five assists and a 3-pointer, and I think he’s worth a look in nearly any league as long as Rondo’s out. Devin Harris played just 19 minutes, but was able to hit 4-of-8 shots and three 3-pointers for 15 points and two assists. While some other Rotoworld writers might disagree with me, I’m a JJB for as long as he’s starting and Rondo is in street clothes. Richard Jefferson added 14 points in 29 minutes of garbage time for the Mavs.
The Kings struggled badly last night and have now lost six straight home games and 11-of-12 overall. Think of the Cavaliers, and then think the opposite of that. Additionally, the Kings were 11-13 under Mike Malone when he was fired, and are now 6-18 under new coach Tyrone Corbin. Darren Collison left this game with an abdominal strain, and those are never good in the NBA. Ramon Sessions and Ray McCallum would probably fall into a timeshare if Collison is going to miss time, and I’m guessing he will. Sessions started the second half and finished with seven points and two assists in 19 minutes, while McCallum hit 2-of-10 shots for four points and no assists in 15 minutes. Neither player is a must-own, but if I were to grab one, it would be Sessions.
Rudy Gay his just 2-of-13 shots for 11 points, nine rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block, while DeMarcus Cousins was the Kings’ best player with 23 points, 11 rebounds, a steal and two blocks on 8-of-16 shooting. The firing of his coach, the losing, and his teammates’ attitudes are wearing Cousins out, and he lost it to reporters after the game. “Act like you care,” he said of his teammates. “If we get blown out and play hard, that’s fine…but man up and play.” Considering how bad the Kings looked last night, it’s possible that he could be talking about any and all of his teammates, and I’m guessing the only remaining part of the season he’s looking forward to is All-Star Weekend. And I hesitate to throw this out there and cause an unnecessary panic, but when guys of his caliber get fed up with their situation and have nothing to play for, mysterious injuries can creep up and shut them down. No, I’m not saying Boogie is going to quit on the season, but I do think it’s a possibility as we get deeper into it. It’s way too early for you to start sending me the “should I trade Cousins” questions, but it’s just something to keep in the back of your mind.
Blazers 108, Suns 87
While this final score wasn’t close, the game was actually much better than you might think. The Blazers opened up a big lead and then gave it away in the third quarter, only to pull away in the end for a blowout win. LaMarcus Aldridge recorded his fifth straight double-double, which was his 25th of the season, and he now has a franchise record 220 of them on his career, passing Sidney Wicks. For the record, I am not worried about his thumb injury going forward. He’s wearing a protective splint on it and seems more than determined to play out the season and the playoffs. Nicolas Batum had one of his best lines of the season with 20 points, four rebounds, seven assists, a steal and two 3-pointers on 6-of-13 shooting, and this was just his second 20-point game of the season. The good news is that they’ve both come in his last six games, so maybe he’s finally ready to do some scoring for his owners. Then again, he scored just 10, 5, 7 and 7 points in his previous four games, so I have my doubts that he’s suddenly going to become an offensive force.
Damian Lillard was 0-for-5 from downtown and his threes have really dried up. So much so that he’s hit just two of his last 33 attempts from beyond the arc. In my opinion, that means he should be about ready to break out of the funk. He had 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block on 6-of-13 shooting in the win. Robin Lopez looks like RoLo again and had 11 points, 12 boards and four blocks, so make sure he’s not floating out there on your wire. Wesley Matthews rounded out the double-digit scoring for all five starters with 14 points, eight rebounds and two more 3-pointers, despite hitting just 5-of-15 shots. Meyers Leonard (8 points, 8 boards) and C.J. McCollum (12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 3-pointer) both played well off the bench, but are too unreliable to think about adding in most leagues.
The Suns got 18 points, eight boards and a 3-pointer from Markieff Morris, and Eric Bledsoe added 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists, a 3-pointer and six turnovers in the loss. They were the only Suns in double figures, as Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas were both disappointing in this one. The big news for the Suns was that Alex Len left with what looked like a severely sprained right ankle. X-rays were negative, but he was in a lot of pain and left the arena on crutches. I dropped him in a league and picked up Ed Davis when it happened, as I’m guessing he’ll miss weeks instead of days with the injury. Brandan Wright might be worth grabbing, while forgotten man Miles Plumlee will also see a boost in minutes if Len is sidelined for an extended period of time. Wright had just two points and three rebounds in 16 minutes, while Plumlee missed all four of his shots and finished with one point, four rebounds, two steals and a block.
Friday brings a busy 12-game night, and Bruski and Gallagher will be on duty to cover it all. Enjoy.