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Basketball Daily Dose

Dose: Free Willy Time? Maybe

by Steve Alexander
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

James Harden, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins all made headlines for the wrong reasons on Tuesday, Kyle Lowry stayed red-hot, the Zupacalypse did it again, and Willy might have finally been freed in New York. Then again, maybe he hasn’t been. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.


Wizards 117, Knicks 101 – Markieff Morris, Bradley Beal and John Wall all stayed hot and had big games, Marcin Gortat had a double-double with a steal and a block, and didn’t miss any of his seven shots, while Otto Porter was quiet again with 10 points, six rebounds, three assists and a steal. Porter didn’t hit a 3-pointer for the first time in two weeks and frankly, he looks a bit hobbled by a sore hip. For now it sounds like he plans on playing on Thursday against the tasty Lakers, but he was riding a stationary bike when he came out of the game, so owners will want to keep an eye on his status. Kelly Oubre came off the bench and had 14 points and two 3-pointers on 5-of-7 shooting in 28 minutes, and would see a boost if Porter’s going to miss time. It’s also worth noting that Porter has scored 14 or fewer points in five of his last six games despite shooting the ball well over that stretch. A lot of it has to do with how well the aforementioned starters have been playing for the Wizards, who have now won 15 straight games at home and sit just 4.5 games behind the Cavaliers for lead in the East (and behind Boston and Toronto).


The Knicks are still a mess and Carmelo Anthony led the way with 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Brandon Jennings got another start over Derrick Rose (ankle) and came through with 21 points, five boards, two assists, four steals and two 3-pointers, but hit just 5-of-16 shots. He’ll be a hot play again on Wednesday against the lowly Nets, as Rose isn’t expected to play again tonight. Courtney Lee was just 2-of-10 for five points, and Joakim Noah logged just 15 minutes and failed to score, or do much else. Here’s where things get interesting. Kristaps Porzingis was reportedly puking his guts out just prior to the game and was eventually ruled out. Therefore, Willy Hernangomez got the start alongside Noah and went nuts with 15 points, 14 rebounds and four assists on 5-of-12 shooting in 32 minutes. How he saw just three minutes against the Hawks in a four-overtime affair on Sunday is beyond me, and a better question for Phil Jackson and Jeff Hornacek. Hopefully the Knicks are finally ready to free Willy, but the bottom line is he’s still going to be unpredictable until he starts seeing consistent minutes on a nightly basis. But yes, I would pick him up if I could still find him on waivers. In more strange Knicks things, Mindaugas Kuzminskas played just 14 minutes, missed all five of his shots, and scored just one point, while Kyle O’Quinn got out of the barn and had 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in just 17 minutes. I’d rank these guys as Willy, Kuzminskas and KOQ for pick up value, mainly due to the fact I think Melo’s days with the Knicks are running out. Lastly, Justin Holiday played 20 minutes, but hit just 1-of-9 shots for five points, ruining DFS lineup along the way. Ron Burgundy Baker played 28 minutes at backup point guard, but had just five points and two assists. If Porzingis is back tonight, I’d have a hard time starting Willy or KOQ, but the move could end up paying off for the unpredictable Knicks.


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Raptors 108, Pelicans 106 OT – DeMar DeRozan was out again with his sprained ankle, missing his fourth game in his last five. That meant another start for Norman Powell and he got loose for 18 points, four boards, three assists, two steals and two blocks in 40 minutes. He’ll disappear if DeRozan plays tonight against the Celtics, just like he did on Sunday with DeRozan getting 36 minutes. Powell played just 13 minutes and had four points in that one, so you’ll have to watch the news feed to figure out if DeRozan is playing or not before deploying Powell. Kyle Lowry was in beast mode again, scoring 33 points with 10 assists and six 3-pointers on 11-of-21 shooting. He’s scored at least 30 in three straight for the first time in his career, and even hit the game-winning shot while straddling the 3-point line with 4.3 seconds left in overtime. He had hit just 1-of-21 go-ahead shots inside of 10 seconds previously in his career. Go ahead and fire him up tonight against the Celtics. Jonas Valanciunas had 20 points and 12 rebounds, scoring 20 points for the first time since Dec. 8. He’ll have a tougher matchup vs. the Celtics tonight. Patrick Patterson and DeMarre Carroll were underwhelming, despite playing 35-plus minutes.


For the Pelicans, Anthony Davis hit just 4-of-18 shots, but still finished with 18 points, 17 rebounds, a steal and three blocks. He also missed a couple crucial free throws in overtime and he’s probably not sleeping too well as I write this, assuming he’s not in a club at 3:30 a.m. Jrue Holiday hung tough with Lowry, scoring 30 points with three assists, two steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers. Holiday hasn’t missed a game since Dec. 10 and I’m starting to regret not trading Chris Paul for him in one of my leagues. He’s also scored between 23 and 33 points in four of his last five games and should stay hot tonight against the Pistons. Buddy Hield played 33 minutes and had 15 points, six boards and three 3-pointers on 6-of-9 shooting. He hadn’t played that much in forever and got a boost with Tyreke Evans getting a rest. I still don’t trust Hield and Evans is questionable for tonight. Starters Dante Cunningham and Solomon Hill were both negligible, and Terrence Jones stayed relevant with 12 points, four boards, four assists, three steals and a block on 6-of-14 shooting. I still can’t get behind bringing him off the bench, as he clearly looks like a starter to me. E’Twaun Moore got hot for 17 points, six rebounds, a steal and a season-high five 3-pointers. He played 30 minutes for the first time since November and was 0-for-3 for zero points in 22 minutes on Sunday. Use him at your own risk, and keep in mind he also got a boost with Evans sitting.


Rockets 105, Kings 83 – The Rockets destroyed the Kings last night, as James Harden joined Anthony Davis in the dud party. Ryan Anderson had his best game of the season with 25 points, 11 rebounds and six 3-pointers on 7-of-14 shooting. That was his first double-double of the season, he scored 27 points on Sunday and has hit 16-of-30 shots with 11 3-pointers over his last two games. Hopefully he can keep it going against the Hawks on Thursday. Eric Gordon also played well with 17 points and three 3-pointers on 7-of-15 shooting, while Harden hit just 3-of-9 shots for 10 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. He missed all five of his 3-pointers and went to the line just four times, so this was a pseudo-Harden game in all aspects. He banged knees with another player in the first quarter, put a brace (not a bird) on it, and played through the minor injury, albeit ineffectively. The good news is that he played a little in the fourth quarter when the other starters were on the bench in a blowout, and said after the game that he’s fine. I believe him, but will be watching for news prior to Thursday’s game just in case. Patrick Beverley hit just 2-of-11 shots and is really struggling right now, hitting just 7-of-30 shots over his last four games. He should break out of the funk soon, but he’s been a tough guy to rely on over the last week or so. Clint Capela is finally recovered from his broken leg and moved back into the starting lineup and double-doubled, and I think he’ll stay there. Montrezl Harrell played well, but saw just 15 minutes and had seven points, three boards and three assists, while Sam Dekker played just 18 minutes and scored three points. Add in the fact that Nene was back in action from a rest, and I’m afraid the clock on Harrell (and Dekker) has run out. I’m dropping him where I own him, as it’s just too crowded on the bench as long as Capela is starting.


DeMarcus Cousins, along with the Kings, struggled, hitting just 5-of-16 shots for 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 25 minutes, and the blowout cost him the fourth quarter. Darren Collison was bad again, hitting 2-of-10 shots, Arron Afflalo hit just 3-of-9 shots, and Garrett Temple, perhaps the most hyped and underperforming free agent of late, suffered a left hamstring injury and I’m afraid he could miss some time here. Maybe that will boost Afflalo, but I don’t really trust him, either. The lopsided score meant big minutes for the bench, but Anthony Tolliver had just 10 points (but also two 3-pointers, two steals and a block), Matt Barnes had five points and 11 rebounds, and Willie Cauley-Stein had 10 points, six boards and three blocks in 24 minutes. Despite Collison’s struggles, Ty Lawson played just 12 minutes, so try to hang in there with Collison. The Kings were playing the back end of a back-to-back, so I’ll blame that on Cousins’ quiet night.


Spurs 108, Thunder 94 – The Spurs snapped a two-game losing streak and Kawhi Leonard got fired up about facing Russell Westbrook, and went off for 36 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a 3-pointer on 13-of-26 shooting. LaMarcus Aldridge added 25 points, six boards, three blocks and a 3-pointer, and the rest of the Spurs were pretty ‘blah’ in the win. Dewayne Dedmon started at center, played 17 minutes and had six points, eight rebounds, three steals and a block. Tony Parker was 0-for-3 for three points, and Danny Green hit 2-of-6 shots for six points to round up the starters. David Lee played 26 minutes off the bench, but had just seven points, seven rebounds and a block. Again, the only Spurs you really want to mess with are Leonard and Aldridge, and looking at their 13-player box score will make you dizzy, and you’ll be left seeing zeros and 8s.


For the Thunder, Russell Westbrook hit 7-of-17 shots and three 3-pointers for 27 points, six rebounds, 14 assists, a steal and six turnovers in 34 minutes. Is it weird that I think it’s weird that neither Harden nor Westbrook triple-doubled last night? Domantas Sabonis had a whopping five turnovers in the first quarter and six for the game, but still came through with 13 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes. That was his second double-double of the season and first since Nov. 7, but he has averaged 29.5 minutes over his last four games, compared to 21.4 minutes on the season. He’s getting more run in the absence of Enes Kanter and has scored in double figures in three straight games. If you’re looking to dump Harrell, or anyone else, Sabonis might be worth a flier right now, but he’s just that – a flier. Steven Adams double-doubled and is fully recovered from his concussion, and Victor Oladipo had 15 points and a full stat line in the loss. The OKC bench was pretty bad, so don’t feel like you have to own Joffrey Lauvergne or Jerami Grant right now. 


Blazers 115, Hornets 98 – Starters Noah Vonleh, Mason Plumlee and Evan Turner were all pretty quiet in this one and only Plumlee is a must-own player. Damian Lillard had 27 points on 10-of-18 shooting and C.J. McCollum added 18 points and a fun stat line, while Allen Crabbe got hot for 21 points, five rebounds and three 3-pointers. If you could just bottle him up for his good nights and bench him for the rest of them, you’d be in good shape. But he’s one of the most inconsistent players in the league. Meyers Leonard, Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless were all decent off the bench, and I still trust Aminu and Harkless more than I do starter Vonleh.


For the Hornets, Marvin Williams was quiet on 3-of-9 shooting, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was nearly invisible due to foul trouble, and Roy Hibbert was, well, Roy Hibbert. Kemba Walker had 22 points and three 3-pointers and Nicolas Batum got some Portland revenge with 18 points, eight boards, six assists and four 3-pointers. He only has one steal and zero blocks over his last five games, which is weird. Cody Zeller was out again but Spencer Hawes played just 16 minutes, while Frank Kaminsky played an empty 25 minutes for 10 points. In other words, you can’t really rely on any center in Charlotte not named Zeller.


Lakers 120, Nuggets 116 – The Lakers got a win as Nick Young (23), D’Angelo Russell (22) and Lou Williams (21) all played well. Russell was particularly nice with seven rebounds, 10 assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers, so welcome back! Young hit five 3-pointers and Lou-Will hit four of them with seven dimes in the win. Julius Randle was out with pneumonia so Tarik Black started and had six points, eight boards, a steal and a block, and Timofey Mozgov also started and had 12 points and six rebounds. But the story of the night for the Lakers was Ivica Zubac, once again. The Zupacalypse came off the bench for a career-high 17 points and six rebounds on 8-of-9 shooting and played the entire fourth quarter, sans the last 12 seconds of the game. He’s scored 17, 16 and 12 points in each of his last three games, double-doubled in two of those, and had three blocks last Wednesday, to go along with his 12 points and 10 boards. He’s probably no longer available in your league, but if he is, this is your last call. And yeah, I'd rather own him than Willy.


The Nuggets were without Nikola Jokic (hip) and Will Barton (ankle), which caused a bit of a shakeup. Jusuf Nurkic started again at center and was awful, missing all seven of his shots and getting just 12 minutes. If he can’t succeed against the Lakers, it’s just not going to happen for him in Denver. Kenneth Faried started at power forward, but split his minutes at center and went off for 14 points and 17 rebounds, while Wilson Chandler came off the bench and scored 26 points with nine boards, four assists, three steals, a block and four 3-pointers on 10-of-20 shooting despite a sore neck. He played power forward when Faried was a center, and also filled Barton’s role, as well as played some small forward. Things will change when Jokic is back, but for now, Faried and Chandler look like must-starts. Emmanuel Mudiay (back) was out again so Jameer Nelson started, but hit just 4-of-15 shots for nine points, five rebounds, seven assists and a 3-pointer. It sounds like Mudiay may play on Wednesday against the Grizzlies, but that’s not a great matchup. Jokic is not expected to play tonight. Lastly, Gary Harris benefitted from the absence of Barton and had 17 points, three 3-pointers and four steals, while Jamal Murray had 14 points and four 3-pointers off the bench in 27 minutes. If Barton’s out again tonight, both players are worth a look, but again, Memphis is a tough matchup for the Nuggets.

Steve Alexander

Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for NBC Sports Edge and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2020-21 NBA season marks (at least) his 20th year of covering fantasy hoops for NBC Sports. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.