There were only six teams in action on Thursday, but that didn’t stop the news and story angles from rolling in. The Clippers had all kind of issues, the Suns backcourt took advantage of the situation, and the Heat and Warriors both got another win. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!
Suns 118, Clippers 104 - What happens to the Clippers when they’re down a Chris Paul (groin), a J.J. Redick (back) and a half of Blake Griffin (ejected)? The Suns roll, Doc Rivers loses his mind, and the Clippers basically give up. Paul ended up being scratched after lineup deadlines due to a sore finger, swollen eye and tender groin. And according to Doc Rivers, he might also get Saturday off against the Pistons, which would give him a full week to recover, as the Clippers don’t play again until Thursday, Nov. 19 against Golden State. If I had to place a bet here, I’d say CP3 is done until Thursday, but owners will obviously want to watch the news and see what Rivers does with his star.
With CP3 and Redick out, I thought Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford would both play well, while Pablo Prigioni got the start at point guard. Prigioni had six points, four boards, three assists, three steals and two 3-pointers on 2-of-6 shooting, Rivers hit just 4-of-12 shots and a 3-pointer for 11 points, two boards, two assists and no steals, and Crawford hit 7-of-14 shots and a 3-pointer for a season-high 18 points and three steals in the loss. With CP3 and Redick both iffy (at best) for Saturday, and closer to unlikely, Prigioni, Crawford and Rivers will once again get plenty of opportunities on Saturday, and all three make for interesting daily options.
Griffin got a technical for bumping into Mirza Teletovic and then got another one for expressing his thoughts after a tough play under the basket late in the first half, and that was the end of the night for Mr. Kia. Doc Rivers was incensed, complaining that officials need to be held to the same standards as coaches and players when they lose their cool, and given how harmless the plays he was called for technicals looked, it’s hard to disagree with him. It’s possible both technicals are rescinded, or they could both stand. Either way, once Griffin left, this game was over. As for the chances of Griffin being suspended, I don’t see how it’s possible, although a fine may be coming for Rivers.
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DeAndre Jordan was quiet with 11 points, nine boards and one block, Lance Stephenson had a season-high 11 points with two steals and a block, but hit just 5-of-13 shots, and Wes Johnson actually played well with 14 points, three 3-pointers, three rebounds and a steal on 5-of-11 shooting off the bench. Oddly, even with Mr. Jordan, the Clippers have been outrebounded in every game this season.
The Suns saw Brandon Knight match a career high with 37 points, six 3-pointers, two rebounds and four assists on 14-of-22 shooting, and Eric Bledsoe added 26 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two 3-pointers on 9-of-13 shooting. Yes, the Clippers were missing their starting backcourt, badly. The worst part about this explosion from Knight and Bledsoe is that the Suns only played two games this week, meaning that they might have been on fantasy benches in weekly-lineup leagues. Sorry. Markieff Morris never got a chance, leaving after just six minutes with five points after suffering a mild left knee sprain. That gave minutes to Teletovic and Jon Leuer, and Leuer hit 4-of-13 shots for 10 points, 11 rebounds, a block and a 3-pointer in 24 minutes. If Morris is going to miss time, Leuer might be the better short-term fill-in, but Morris’ injury doesn’t sound serious.
Tyson Chandler was bad with five points, eight boards, two steals and a block in 28 minutes, while P.J. Tucker was also disappointing in another start with seven points, six boards, three steals and a 3-pointer on 3-of-7 shooting in 31 minutes. T.J. Warren made a nice showing with 18 points, a steal, block and 3-pointer on 7-of-10 shooting in 25 minutes, and he’s going to be stalking Tucker’s starting job all year. Alex Len was quiet with 1-of-4 shooting and two points and four rebounds in 19 minutes. I’m afraid he’ll need an injury to Tyson Chandler to really break loose. Lastly, Ronnie Price suffered a concussion, and Devin Booker and Sonny Weems collided and both needed stitches. This was a messy, injury-filled game, but the Suns’ backcourt was a joy to watch on Thursday night.
Heat 92, Jazz 91 – Dwyane Wade was out while tending to his son in the hospital (he’s reportedly fine), allowing Josh Richardson to get his first NBA start. Richardson had eight points, three boards and two 3-pointers in 21 minutes, but it was Tyler Johnson who took over for Wade, hitting 8-of-12 shots and a 3-pointer for a career-high 17 points, four boards, three assists and a steal, and he hit a late shot that helped seal the one-point win for Miami. Interestingly, they also had five left-handers on the court at one time, which I’m not sure has ever happened in the NBA before. Any time Wade is out this season, I’m going to be giving Ty Johnson a close look in daily leagues.
Chris Bosh was nice with 25 points, eight boards, four assists, four blocks and a 3-pointer on 9-of-18 shooting, and Hassan Whiteside did Whiteside things with nine points, 14 rebounds, a steal and five blocks (1-of-4 free throws), but the rest of the Heat weren’t great. Luol Deng had six points, three boards and a steal (I was hoping for more with no Wade), and Goran Dragic added just 14 points, four assists, two steals and no 3-pointers. Dragic just can’t get it going, but now might be a good time to buy low on him. Justise Winslow played 27 minutes for seven points and five boards, and could be a guy worth adding at some point in the next month. Lefty Beno Udrih made his Heat debut with two points and one assist in 17 minutes.
The Jazz got another monster line from Derrick Favors, who might be the most underrated fantasy player out there right now. Yeah, he’s helped by the fact Rudy Gobert is sitting with a sprained left ankle, but Favors has been killing it for most of the season. He hit 10-of-18 shots and 5-of-7 free throws for 25 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and a career-high seven blocks. He had back-to-back six-point games last Wednesday and Thursday, but has otherwise been stellar. Gobert is now a game-time decision for Friday against the Magic, and if he’s out, look for another big serving of Favors.
Gordon Hayward hit just 7-of-21 shots and missed all four of his 3-pointers, but still ended with 24 points, 11 boards, three assists and hit 10-of-12 free throws. He’s off to a rough start and is a buy-low candidate, but is too talented to struggle for much longer. Alec Burks came through with 24 points, three boards, two assists, a steal and three 3-pointers on 9-of-16 shooting in 35 minutes. Burks is cooking, averaging 18.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.8 3-pointers on 47 percent shooting over his last five games. Rodney Hood had just 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting, but added three assists, two steals and a 3-pointer, and played a whopping 38 minutes. Brighter days are hopefully ahead. Trey Burke played 27 minutes, but hit just 3-of-9 shots for six points, three boards, two assists and two steals. He’s been playing better lately though, and is averaging 15.0 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 2.2 3-pointers on 46 percent shooting over his last five. Obviously, he didn’t come through tonight, but had played very well over his previous six games. Hopefully he picks it back up on Friday at Orlando.
Warriors 129, Timberwolves 116 – This one pretty much went the way it was supposed to, with Stephen Curry going bonkers again. Curry hit 15-of-25 shots, hit eight 3-pointers from all over the arena, 8-of-8 free throws, and finished with 46 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals with just three turnovers. Anthony Davis owners cringe every time they see Curry’s stat lines, and for good reason. Draymond Green, who had scored 12 or fewer points in six straight games, finally broke loose for season highs of 23 points and 12 assists, along with eight boards, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers on 8-of-10 shooting. This was a nice breakout game for Green and will hopefully get him going. He was reportedly iffy for this one with flu symptoms, but you couldn’t tell by watching him.
Starters Harrison Barnes (14 points, full line), Festus Ezeli (10 points) and Klay Thompson (15 points, three 3-pointers, full line) also scored in double figures in the win. Thompson is still not living up to the hype, but he played 37 minutes and he’s eventually going to break out of his funk. Then again, with Curry being so spectacular, it’s not all that surprising that Klay has been reduced to a spectator at this point. Nothing of note happened on the Warriors’ bench, but they’re off to a 10-0 start, which is a franchise record.
The Wolves went on a late 18-2 run to make it a ball game, but ended up losing their 12th straight home game. Ricky Rubio, who was probable, was a surprise scratch with his hamstring injury so Zach LaVine got a start, hitting 3-of-11 shots for 13 points, one assist, one steal and no 3-pointers. At least he had only two turnovers, right? Andrew Wiggins played through his sore right knee, which kept him out on Tuesday, and bounced back with 19 points, two rebounds, five assists and a 3-pointer on 7-of-17 shooting. He’s really coming on, averaging 23.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks and 1.8 3-pointers on 45 percent shooting over his last four. Those are pretty good numbers, but I’d be hesitant to move a good player to acquire him, as his lack of steals can be annoying.
Karl-Anthony Town was nice again with 17 points and 11 boards, but didn’t have a block and committed five turnovers. What scares me the most about Sam Mitchell’s crew is that Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince are still starting for this team, and Andre Miller played 22 minutes and had 11 points and four assists. All three of those guys are old as dirt and doing nothing more than eating up development minutes that could be going to their up-and-coming younger players. Come on, Sam. It’s time to move forward.
Our man Nemanja Bjelica played 33 minutes off the bench and came through with eight points, nine boards, three assists, a steal and a 3-pointer on 3-of-5 shooting, and I still think he’s a must-own player until further notice. Shabazz Muhammad scored 16 points in just 19 minutes on 6-of-8 shooting, but will need more minutes to be a fantasy option. Gorgui Dieng was quiet again, getting just 18 minutes from Mitchell for 11 points, four boards, a steal and a block. I hate to say it, but it might be time to move on from Dieng. I’m still a little reluctant to cut him, as Mitchell may eventually turn him loose, but he’s on an 18-minute plan, which just doesn’t work in fantasy. And despite the return of Wiggins, Kevin Martin still saw 28 minutes and had 15 points, four boards, six assists and a 3-pointer on 5-of-13 shooting. But with Wiggins coming on, Martin is trending down.
To wrap things up, it was announced that Kevin Durant with miss the next 7-10 days with a hamstring injury, that is reportedly “not serious.” Maybe 7-10 days isn’t serious in the eyes of Billy Donovan, but that’s an eternity for Durant’s owners. I think Dion Waiters will be the best play in his absence, while Russell Westbrook should go nuts over the next four games or so.
Anthony Davis is doubtful for Friday with his hip injury and it remains to be seen how long he’ll be out. Ryan Anderson is your guy when Davis is out, and owners just have to pray that Friday’s his last missed game for a while.
Friday offers an 11-game slate, with the Cavaliers @ Knicks, Hornets @ Bulls and Rockets @ Nuggets looking like the best games of the night. Enjoy.
I won’t be around for the next 10 days or so and my Season Pass Live Chat that happens on Thursdays is cancelled for next week. However, Jared Johnson’s SP live chat is happening on Fridays, while Ryan Knaus is available on Monday afternoons for free live chats.