It wasn’t just another Monday in the NBA, as Chris Paul returned, the Spurs blew out the Sixers despite sitting out studs, Ghostface Ilya double-doubled, Kobe Bryant finally made some shots, and Danny Green’s big opportunity turned out just like the rest of his games this season. Which, as his owners know, is not good news. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.
Spurs 119, Sixers 68 – Tim Duncan got the night off for rest and Kawhi Leonard was out with an illness, while Danny Green did very Danny Green-like things again on Monday. LaMarcus Aldridge took advantage of Duncan’s absence with his best game of the season and a bunch of guys you’ve never heard of played well off the Spurs’ bench. The only thing to talk about here is Green, and the answer is ‘yes.’ While I don’t feel good about it, and certainly don’t want to say it’s a must-play, if you’re ready to cut him loose and this feels like the last straw, it’s time to act on your instinct. Yes, it could come back to burn you and he could get hot tomorrow. But the fact is we’re ¼ through the season and Green has barely shown any signs of life, let alone fantasy value. We were wrong. I was wrong. Everyone was wrong. I haven’t had time to drop him yet, and I’ll probably still wait until the end of the week, but if you’ve had it up to here, feel free to cut the cord. If nothing else, you’ll probably sleep better at night. Oh, and despite no Kawhi or Duncan, the Spurs destroyed the Sixers, so nice call, Pop!
Jahlil Okafor returned from his two-game suspension and came off the bench for 10 points and four boards, hitting just 3-of-14 shots in 29 minutes. Yuck. The Sixers were an absolute mess last night, as starting guards T.J. McConnell and Isaiah Canaan combined to miss 11-of-12 shots for two points, Jerami Grant disappeared, Robert Covington and Nerlens Noel disappointed and Tony Wroten was awful again (0-for-5 in 14 minutes off bench). I guess the highlight was Nik Stauskas and his 25 minutes, 13 points, one 3-pointer and 5-of-10 shooting, but that’s still far from something to write home about. I guess from a fantasy standpoint going forward I’d rank the Sixers as follows: Covington, Okafor, Grant, Noel, Canaan, McConnell, Stauskas, Thompson, Wroten, at this point.
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Hornets 104, Pistons 84 – Don’t look now, but the Hornets are good. They’re 12-8 and 9-3 in the house that Michael Jordan built. Cody Zeller, who you may have read about in Waiver Wired Sunday, went off for the second straight game to lead Charlotte with 20 points, six boards and two blocks on 5-of-9 shooting, and a 10-of-13 night at the line. Two straight big games are enough for me to think that he’s the big man you want to grab from Charlotte, and not Spencer Hawes or Frank Kaminsky. But if you are looking at two of them, Kaminsky is the other guy you want, as he played 31 minutes last night to Hawes’ 16. Marvin Williams dub-dubbed, Kemba Walker nearly double-doubled while playing through an illness and Nicolas Batum stayed red-hot in the vicinity of a triple-double, despite hitting just 4-of-15 shots. Jeremy Lamb hit just 3-of-11 shots, breaking a streak of seven games in double digits scoring, but it is worth noting that he’s trending down a bit. He’s seen just 21 or 22 minutes in each of his last three games, so if you’re thinking about dumping him for a hot free agent, the numbers may back up your thought process. He averaged more than 25 ticks a game in November, and eclipsed 30 three times, so it’s something to keep an eye on.
The Pistons saw off nights from Marcus Morris (11 points, 4-of-11), Andre Drummond (9 & 9 in foul trouble) and Reggie Jackson (2-of-9, 4 points), which explains the scoreboard. RJax was the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, so that was just a fluke. Ersan Ilyasova, the Ghostface Ilya, hit just 4-of-14 shots, but still managed 15 points, 13 boards, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers. Hopefully you didn’t drop him after his seven points and one rebound on Sunday.
Wizards 114, Heat 103 – The Heat were coming off wins over the Cavs and Thunder, and couldn’t hang with John Wall (26 & 7) and Bradley Beal (21), while Gary Neal hit 9-of-12 shots for 21 points, four assists and three 3-pointers off the bench in 36 minutes. Neal’s had some nice games, but is too risky to trust on a nightly basis. Otto Porter came through again with 13 points, 14 rebounds, two steals and a block, but hit just 5-of-15 shots. Marcin Gortat was out again for personal reasons but no big men showed up, including Kris Humphries, and Ramon Sessions got loose for 12 points in just 14 minutes. Jared Dudley is playing heavy minutes, but still not getting it done. Unless you call 12 points, four boards and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes ‘getting it done.’ As for Porter, if he was dropped in your league, he’s a hot grab, ballin’ out over his last three games.
The Heat got nice lines out of Chris Bosh, Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic (slump is over – season-high 20, averaging 17 & 8 over last three) and Dwyane Wade, but there wasn’t anything else to see here. Gerald Green had nine points on 4-of-8 shooting and not much else in 36 minutes and another start. But despite leading his team in minutes, his clock is ticking with Luol Deng nearing a return.
Mavericks 104, Knicks 97 – Starters Dirk Nowitzki, Raymond Felton, Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews all put up numbers (no double-doubles, and Zaza Pachulia added eight points and eight boards. Chandler Parsons returned from a rest and came off the bench for nine points, two 3-pointers and two blocks in 25 minutes, and will likely replace Felton in the starting lineup soon. Felton is worth a look as Williams’ backup, while J.J. Barea sat this one out with an ankle injury, and Devin Harris was out with a rib injury.
The Knicks got 28 points, two boards, a steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers from Kristaps Porzingis, who hit 13-of-18 shots in 35 minutes. Beast. Carmelo Anthony played through his sore knee and hit 6-of-18 shots for 17 points, six boards and eight assists, but with five turnovers and the poor shooting, his name is still bigger than his fantasy game these days. Jose Calderon played very well and is relevant again, Arron Afflalo was quiet, and Lance Thomas had 11 and two 3-pointers off the bench. Thomas is worth a look in many leagues, averaging 12.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.2 3-pointers on 50 percent shooting over his last five games. I actually started him in my 30-team league, but it would be nice if he would do something besides score and hit 3-pointers.
Raptors 102, Lakers 93 – Kyle Lowry was a beast, Terrence Ross stepped up in place of DeMarre Carroll (out indefinitely) with 22 points, six boards and four 3-pointers. He’s worth an add given Carroll’s situation, but has been pretty inconsistent throughout his career. Don’t count on this every night. Luis Scola started, but was awful, while Bismack Biyombo had his best line of the season with 15 points, 13 boards and two blocks. Lucas Nogueira, who played well in his last game, wasn’t even active last night due to a sprained ankle, which helped Biyombo’s minutes. James Johnson played just 17 useless minutes, so it’s Ross you want to grab if you’re looking for Carroll relief. Cory Joseph (another WW guy) stayed relevant with 14 points and a steal, hitting 8-of-10 free throws. He’s quietly averaging 11.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.6 blocks and is shooting 47 percent over his last five.
The Lakers benched Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell, but they both still played 21 minutes and put up decent numbers, although DR only hit 4-of-12 shots. I don’t know what to call what Byron Scott is doing anything but tanking. Larry Nance started and had six points and six boards in 29 minutes, and Lou Williams hit 5-of-11 shots and three 3-pointers for 15 points and three boards in a revenge game against the Raptors (and a start over Russell). Kobe Bryant FINALLY played well, hitting 8-of-16 shots (first time at 50% this season) and a 3-pointer for 21 points, eight boards, four assists and two steals. If you, like me, picked him up recently, this is just what the doctor ordered. I’m kind of excited about getting Kobe for free after tonight’s line. Roy Hibbert stunk it up yet again, but I’m just going to keep hanging in there for now, as centers are pretty scarce and he’s getting 28 minutes a night. Randle double-doubled off the bench, so just hang in there with him. As for Russell, it’s a personal decision you’ll have to make, and it depends on who your other PGs are. It sounds like he’ll come off the bench for at least four more games, along with Randle. Williams should be picked up in most leagues now that he’s starting for the next four games, at least.
Suns 103, Bulls 101 – Jon Leuer started again and had 12 points, eight boards, two steals and a block, and is officially pickup material. However, Markieff Morris is back, yet played just seven minutes off the bench. Eventually he’s going to crush Leuer’s value, but it’s not happening right now. He’s in the doghouse and trade rumors to Houston are flying, so maybe this is now Leuer’s job to lose? Alex Len had 15 points, six boards, a steal and a block in another start for Tyson Chandler (hamstring), while Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight both played well. Len is a fine start as long as Chandler is out. Mirza Teletovic was hot, then disappeared on Saturday, and then dropped 14 on Sunday and 20 points and the game-winner last night. He’s another Waiver Wire featured player and he came through tonight. He’s averaging 13.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.0 3-pointers over his last five, despite the seven-minute game in that mix. With Markieff in the doghouse I have no problem dropping him to pick up Teletovic or Leuer, although that may be shaky on a long-term basis. I’d rather own either Leuer or Teletovic than T.J. Warren right now, and don’t be too excited by Devin Booker’s 14-point night. It’s happening about once every 10 days.
The Bulls got nice games from Nikola Mirotic, Pau Gasol, Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, but Taj Gibson outplayed Joakim Noah. Noah just can’t get it going full time, but Gibson’s not the answer, either. I get the feeling Mirotic is about to get hot again.
Bucks 90, Blazers 88 – The Bucks got strong lines from all five starters (Jabari Parker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe, Khris Middleton and O.J. Mayo). Michael Carter-Williams came off the bench for eight points and seven assists on 2-of-9 shooting, while Jerryd Bayless missed another game with an ankle injury. We’re to the point Mayo should be owned in most leagues. John Henson had eight points, seven boards and four blocks, and is at least worth a close look right now. His low minutes scare me, but if he gets 20 a night, he might be worth owning.
C.J. McCollum hit just 5-of-21 shots and 2-of-11 3-pointers, but you can’t fault him for trying. Damian Lillard was nice, but the other three starters (Noah Vonleh, Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee) all struggled. Particularly Plumlee, who has played well all season. I’d stick with him, and probably AFA, too. Meyers Leonard had a quiet night in 23 minutes, but he should still be owned, and Allen Crabbe had another fair line with 12 points, two steals and two 3-pointers. He’s also pickup material. Ed Davis had the only double-double for the Blazers, racking up 10 points, 13 boards and two blocks in 28 minutes off the bench. He’s been must-own for the most of the season.
Clippers 110, Wolves 106 – Chris Paul returned from his rib injury and struggled a bit with five turnovers and 5-of-14 shooting, but at least he played and put up some numbers. DeAndre Jordan was a beast with 20 points, 12 boards, two steals and four blocks, J.J. Redick scored 13 despite his sprained ankle, but hit just 1-of-9 shots and missed all his 3-point attempts. He hit 11-of-11 free throws to salvage a night. Jamal Crawford had one of his better lines with 18 points, seven dimes and four 3-pointers, but he loses traction with CP3 and Redick back.
Ricky Rubio bounced back with a solid line (including 6 TOs), while Kevin Martin fell off a cliff again, playing just 14 minutes and missing all three of his shots. He’s losing minutes to Shabazz Muhammad, who had 13 points and nine boards in 26 minutes. Keep a close eye on that position battle going forward. Zach LaVine had 21 points, but the rest of his numbers were down and he hit just 7-of-16 shots in 25 minutes. He’s still worth holding. Andrew Wiggins hit just 3-of-15 shots and had eight points, but played 31 minutes. Just an off night. Gorgui Dieng had 14 points and five boards in a season-high 30 minutes, and it looks like he’s finally becoming a reliable fantasy asset.
Celtics 111, Pelicans 93 – If you told me the Celtics were 12-9 and the Pelicans were 5-16 before the season started, you’d now own my house. But those are the facts, as the Pelicans just look lost. Jae Crowder scored 17 with two 3-pointers and Jared Sullinger added 11 points, 20 rebounds and a 3-pointer. How can Brad Stevens turn away from either of them going forward? I have no idea, but he’s done it before. Avery Bradley played through his illness and Isaiah Thomas had another good game, while Kelly Olynyk, despite Sully’s heroics, had 21 points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes off the bench. He’s played very well in two of his last three games, so give him a look. While the Celtics used to be at the top of my “avoid” list, they’re slowly changing that mindset. Crowder, Sully, Bradley and Thomas all look like must-starts, while Olynyk and Evan Turner are on the borderline. Let’s see if Stevens plays along.
The Pelicans are terrible. Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson had decent lines, but Alexis Ajinca (12 & 9 in 19 minutes off the bench) and Jrue Holiday (14 points, 6 assists in 22 minutes off the bench) were the only other two players in double figures. That means that Eric Gordon (0 points, 16 minutes) and Tyreke Evans (0 points, 18 minutes) were disasters, yet no one stepped up in their place. Norris Cole tried, playing 29 minutes and hitting 4-of-15 shots for eight points, and why Alvin Gentry prefers him over Ish Smith is one of the great unsolved mysteries of the season. Ignore Cole and hang in there with the Zero Brothers as long as you can. Evans and Gordon should bounce back, and it was encouraging to see Gordon in the starting lineup, but it was because Holiday was coming off the bench. I’m out of room, so study the blurbs from last night for more answers to the mystery that is the Pelicans.