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Basketball Daily Dose

Dose: Harden Heater Continues

by Tommy Beer
Updated On: January 20, 2019, 8:09 am ET

Saturday’s 10-game slate featured far too many injuries, which is discussed in depth below, but it was highlighted by James Harden continuing his historic scoring streak by pouring 48 points, and Nikola Jokic registering yet another triple-double.

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Saturday’s Standouts:
Paul George not only scored a team-high 31 points to go along with six rebounds, five assists, three steals and four 3-pointers in 40 minutes on Saturday, he also drilled the game-winner, an and-one 3-pointer with 5.1 seconds left to sink the Sixers. PG-13 has been OKC’s best player all season and is playing at incredibly high level on both ends of the floor. If he keeps this up, he’ll earn some well-deserved MVP consideration… Russell Westbrook shot 8-of-21 from the floor for his 21 points but did grab 10 rebounds and dish out six assists. Remarkably, Westbrook has not shot above 50 percent in a game since the calendar flipped to 2019. In the nine games the Thunder have played in January, Russ is shooting just 38.4 percent from the floor, 23.4 percent from downtown and 69.2 percent from the free-throw stripe.

Joel Embiid, who has been battling a stiff lower back, was a game-time decision for Saturday’s contest but did suit up and seemed unfazed by any back issue, finishing with 31 points, eight rebounds, six assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 34 minutes. Assuming he didn’t suffer any setbacks, he should be ready to roll on Monday vs. Houston… Ben Simmons once again stuffed the stat sheet, scoring 20 points with 15 boards, nine assists, one block and six turnovers in 36 minutes. Per Basketball-Reference, Simmons is on pace to join Wilt Chamberlain as just the second player in NBA history to average at least nine rebounds and eight assists, while shooting over 55 percent from the floor for a full season.


James Harden’s heater continued unabated Saturday night, as he amazingly scored 48 more points and tacked on eight rebounds, six assists, four steals, one block, six turnovers and eight 3-pointers. We’re simply running out of adjectives to describe Harden’s performances at this point. He has scored 163 points over Houston’s last three games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant have scored more in a three-game span in the previous 50 seasons. Incredibly, each of those 163 points has been unassisted. Harden has scored 45-plus points and knocked down five treys in each of the past three contests, which is the longest such streak in NBA history. The Beard has also scored at least 30 points in 19 straight games. Wilt Chamberlain is the only player with a longer such streak. Amazing stuff.

Giannis Antetokounmpo came into Saturday night averaging 26.4 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 4.0 turnovers in 33.0 minutes. In Saturday’s win over the Magic, the Greek Freak registered 25 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and five turnovers in 32 minutes. Talk about delivering what’s expected. Meanwhile, Eric Bledsoe exceeded expectations down in Orlando. He scored a season-high 30 points and tacked on seven rebounds, two assists, no turnovers and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes.

Blake Griffin did all he could to carry the Pistons on Saturday, scoring 38 points with six rebounds, three assists, three steals, five turnovers and one 3-pointer in 38 minutes. However, it wasn’t enough, as Detroit fell to Kings. BG has scored at least 30 points in four of his last five games and is averaging a whopping 32.6 points, 6.6 boards, 5.2 assists, 2.6 treys and 1.6 steals over this current five-game stretch. With Andre Drummond (concussion) sidelined, Griffin should continue to put up monster numbers… Luke Kennard (19 points, three boards, four triples) was the only other Piston to score more than eight points.

Buddy Hield nailed a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat the Pistons on Saturday. The red-hot Hield finished with 35 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one block, one turnover and seven 3-pointers in 38 minutes. Buddy has knocked down at least two triples in each of the Kings of last 11 games. Over this current 11-game run, Hield is averaging 23.2 points and 4.5 trifectas, while shooting an incredible 52.4 percent from the floor, 53.8 percent from 3-point range and 91.7 percent from the charity stripe.

Kyle Kuzma started Saturday’s game on fire, hitting four 3-pointers and scoring 20 points in the first quarter alone. The Rockets defense focused on limiting his scoring opportunities the rest of the way, but Kuz was still able to finish with 32 points (on 12-of-19 shooting), eight rebounds, three assists, two steals, three turnovers and four 3-pointers in 44 minutes. He’s become the focal point of the Laker’s offense with LeBron James (groin) out of action. Over L.A.’s last four games, Kuzma is averaging 27.3 points (on 51.9 percent shooting), 9.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and 3.5 triples.

Nikola Jokic scored 19 points (8-of-12 FGs), dished out 12 assists, and ripped down 11 rebounds across only 28 minutes on Saturday night. It was his sixth triple-double of the season and the 22nd of his young career. With less than 275 games under his belt, Jokic has already passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for second all-time; Wilt Chamberlain (78) is the only center in league history with more career triple-doubles.

On The Radar:
Bismack Biyombo surprisingly had his best game of the season on Saturday, as he tallied 11 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and five blocks in 27 minutes. After a scoreless dud on Thursday, this was certainly not expected, and it would be unwise to assume it will be replicated anytime soon… Kemba Walker scored 21 points (on 9-of-22 shooting), grabbed a season-high eight rebounds and added three assists, two steals, one block, five turnovers and three 3-pointers in 33 minutes… Willy Hernangomez had nine points and 13 rebounds in 17 minutes. It was the second consecutive impressive double-double for Willy, but Biyombo’s monster line is a buzzkill for those GM’s hoping Hernangomez breaks out before Cody Zeller returns to the lineup.

Devin Booker scored a game-high 32 points with two rebounds, 11 assists, no turnovers and two 3-pointers in Saturday blowout loss to Charlotte. Even though the Suns were down 20-plus points for most of the second half, Booker remained in the game until late in the fourth quarter, logging a total of 38 minutes… Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting in 30 minutes off the bench.

Victor Oladipo was unable to snap out of his nasty shooting slump on Saturday, as he made just 4-of-15 shots for 12 points to go along with eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and one 3-pointer in 32 minutes. Remarkably, ‘Dipo has shot below 47 percent in 10 of the Pacers last 12 games. During this 12-game stretch, Oladipo is shooting just 39.3 percent from the floor and 32.8 percent from downtown. Personally, I feel that Oladipo is a buy-low target, as his percentages are bound to increase towards his career numbers… Domantas Sabonis (16 points and 11 boards) recorded yet another double-double… Darren Collison scored 16 points with three rebounds, three assists, one block, two steals and two 3-pointers in 24 minutes… Tyreke Evans hot streak continued, as he tallied 19 points, two assists and two 3-pointers in 25 minutes. ‘Reke is finally showing signs of life, averaging 15.8 points and 3.0 rebounds over his last five games.

Luka Doncic was hit with his second technical and ejected late in the third quarter of Saturday's loss to the Pacers. At the time of his ejection, Luka had eight points (on 3-of-14 shooting), five rebounds, six assists and three steals in 24 minutes… DeAndre Jordan scored 15 points and pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds.

Eric Gordon drilled a 3-pointer with two seconds left to force overtime on Saturday and finished with 30 points, five rebounds, four assists and five 3-pointers in 32 minutes. Gordon will continue to see plenty of playing time and field goal attempts with Chris Paul (hamstring) sidelined… P.J. Tucker had another solid all-around game, tallying nine points, nine rebounds, two assists, five steals, one block and one 3-pointer in 42 minutes.

Kyrie Irving efficiently reached the 30-point plateau for the second straight game on Saturday, as he poured in 32 points (11-of-19 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs) with five assists, three rebounds, one steal and five 3-pointers in a close win over the Hawks. Kyrie had 38 on Friday night and has scored at least 22 points in five straight. During this stretch, he is averaging 28.8 points, 9.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds, while shooting a scorching 57.3 percent from the field and 48.0 from 3-point territory… After a 0-for-6 dud on Friday, Jayson Tatum bounced back with 19 points (on 7-of-13 shooting and 5-of-5 FTs), five rebounds, two assists, one steal and three blocks in 35 minutes… Marcus Smart was ejected in the third quarter of Saturday's game vs. the Hawks after getting into an altercation with DeAndre' Bembry. Smart furiously charged at Bembry and had to be restrained by players, coaches and referees. It’s possible he gets hit with a short suspension for his actions.

Danny Green paced the Raptors in their easy with over Memphis, putting up a season-high 24 points to go along with seven rebounds, three assists, one block, two steals and eight 3-pointers in 23 minutes against Memphis. All eight of Green’s made FG’s were trifectas, which tied a career-high… Fred VanVleet started in place of Kawhi Leonard (rest) and missed seven of his eight field goal attempts en route to his four points, but tacked on two rebounds, seven assists, one block, two steals and one 3-pointer in 26 minutes… Norman Powell also benefited from Kawhi’s absence by making 6-of-7 shots for 14 points with one rebound, four assists, three steals and two 3-pointers in 19 minutes.

Nikola Vucevic was at it again on Saturday, racking up 27 points, six rebounds, four boards and two blocks. Vooch has been incredibly consistent all year long. The question to be answered by February 7th is whether or not the Magic will trade him before the deadline.

Josh Richardson (illness) was questionable for Saturday’s game, but was able to play and ended up with a game-high 26 points (10-of-15 FGs and 2-of-2 FTs) three rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers in 30 minutes… Coming into this weekend, Dion Waiters scored more than eight points just once this season, but erupted for 21 points (on 9-of-13 shooting) with six rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers in 22 minutes… Justise Winslow logged just 25 minutes in the blowout win and finished the game with 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and one steal. It’s the first time in four games he didn’t have at least 15 points, five boards and three treys.

Ivica Zubac played only five minutes over the first three quarters on Saturday but played the entire fourth quarter and all of overtime. He finished with 17 points seven rebounds, one assist, one block and no turnovers in 21 total minutes. On the heels of a career-high 26 points on Thursday, Zubac’s fantasy stock is rising… Brandon Ingram registered 21 points with five rebounds, four assists, six turnovers and one 3-pointer in 36 minutes…

Zach LaVine scored a team-high 22 points. He was 7-of-19 from the field but made 6-of-7 free throws and added six assists, three rebounds, one steal and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes… Lauri Markkanen also shot 7-of-19 for his 20 points with nine rebounds, two steals, one blocked shot and four 3-pointers… With Wendell Carter Jr. (thumb) sidelined, Bobby Portis looked good, finishing with 21 points (8-of-12 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), six rebounds, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 24 minutes.

Ante Zizic poured in a career-high 23 points (on 9-of-12 shooting) with six rebounds in 31 minutes. Zizic continues to eat with Tristan Thompson (foot), and Larry Nance sidelined. He’s scored at least 15 points in three straight games… Cedi Osman had 17 points, three rebounds, and one assist in 30 minutes… Collin Sexton had a dished out a career-high seven assists to go along with 10 points (4-of-13 FGs) four rebounds, one steal and one three-pointer in 33 minutes.

Injury Tracker:
Anthony Davis was injured in the fourth quarter of Friday's loss to the Blazers, and on Saturday the team announced that he sustained a left index finger sprain and is expected to be out approximately 1-2 weeks. However, it’s worth noting that AD's agent, Rich Paul, said that Davis will re-evaluate the injury in 3-to-4 days and decide whether he needs to see a hand specialist. While we await a further update, it seems certain that Davis will miss at least three contests, as the Pelicans play on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week. His earliest possible return date appears to be next Saturday vs. the Spurs. And that’s assuming all goes well over the next week. With Davis sidelined, Julius Randle and Nikola Mirotic are the primary beneficiaries and should see their fantasy production increase sharply.

LeBron James (groin) did not play vs. the Rockets as expected, but coach Luke Walton did say on Saturday morning that he hopes to have a full practice with both LeBron and Rajon Rondo (hand) on Sunday. However, Walton does not anticipate either of them playing Monday vs. Golden State. If King James misses Monday's contest, it would be his 14th straight game on the shelf, which represents the longest extended absence of his career… Rondo underwent surgery on Dec. 28 and was given a 4-5 week timetable, so the fact that he is this close to being cleared for practice seems to indicate he is ahead of schedule at this point. We should have another update on both LeBron and Rondo's status after Sunday's practice.

Lonzo Ball injured his left ankle when he stepped on an opponents foot in the third quarter of Saturday’s loss to the Rockets. He was in visible pain, and because he could not put pressure on his foot, Ball had to be carried to the locker room by two teammates. It had the look of a multi-game injury. If both Ball and Rondo are unable to play next week, coach Luke Walton will likely ask Brandon Ingram to play point guard. Josh Hart, Svi Mykhailiuk and Lance Stephenson would also see an uptick in playing time.

Gordon Hayward (personal) did not play in Saturday's game vs. the Hawks. He is not with the team due to undisclosed personal reasons.

Andre Drummond (concussion) was ruled out of Saturday's game vs. the Kings. Drummond was elbowed in the face on Friday night by Miami’s James Johnson. He was bleeding from the nose when he exited the game and was unable to return. At first, it was classified as a nasal injury, but on Saturday we learned that Drummond had entered the concussion protocol and will likely miss multiple games. Zaza Pachulia started at center on Saturday and logged 35 minutes, finishing with seven points, 12 rebounds and three assists.

Ish Smith (right adductor tightness) did not play against the Kings on Saturday. Unfortunately, on Friday night, Smith appeared to aggravate the same abductor injury that sidelined him for most of December.

Aaron Gordon (back) was unable to play Saturday against the Bucks. Air Gordon said he felt his back lock up in the third quarter of Friday night's loss to the Nets and added the injury felt similar to the back pain he had in November which forced him to miss a game. Thus, it certainly wasn’t shocking to see him sidelined for the second night of a back-to-back. Jonathon Simmons started in place of Gordon (back) on Saturday and tallied 10 points, two rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers in 19 minutes. Jonathan Isaac started at power forward, scoring six points with six rebounds, two assists and one steal in 29 minutes.

Kawhi Leonard (rest) was ruled out play Saturday’s matchup vs. Memphis. This was surprising, as Kawhi sat out Thursday's game against the Suns (which was the second night of a back-to-back) and the Raptors don't play again until Tuesday. However, Toronto is clearly serious about getting Leonard as much rest as possible, and this two-game absence will give him five full days off.

Marc Gasol (upper back soreness) joined the large list of stars that did not suit up Saturday. Gasol grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out a game-high 12 assists in 35 minutes on Friday, but sat out the back end of a back-to-back. Unfortunately, there is a chance that Gasol gets shut down late in the season if he is not traded before the deadline and the Grizzlies fall out of the playoff picture entirely. Jaren Jackson Jr. started at center on Saturday and scored 16 points (6-of-12 FGs, 3-of-5 FTs) with nine rebounds, one assist and one 3-pointer. JaMychal Green was also in the starting lineup but logged only 14 minutes in Memphis’ blowout loss, finishing with three points and five rebounds. Ivan Rabb had 13 points (5-of-10 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs) and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench.

Deandre Ayton sprained his left ankle in Phoenix’s blowout loss on Saturday and did not return to the game. The Suns were down 23 points at the end of the third quarter, and they play a back-to-back on Sunday, so it’s possible that Phoenix was just erring on the side of caution by keeping him out. He is officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s game vs. the Wolves.

Richaun Holmes (left foot sprain) was also injured on Saturday and ruled out early in the fourth quarter. Again, like Ayton, this may simply be the Suns paying it safe, as neither player appeared to be in a great deal of pain. Holmes is also listed as questionable. If both Ayton and Holmes are unable to suit up on Sunday, Quincy Acy would be forced to handle major minutes down low.

Joakim Noah (personal) was ruled out Saturday vs. the Grizzlies. Minimal fantasy impact here, as Noah is logging less than 12 minutes a night.

Markelle Fultz (shoulder) has returned to Philadelphia to continue his rehabilitation with the Sixers and attended Saturday’s game vs. OKC. However, there is still no timetable for his return to the lineup. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Fultz has been undergoing therapy for thoracic outlet syndrome in L.A. since leaving the Sixers in early December. The team has had staff in California observing his progress, and now Fultz will work at team's facility to try to ramp up for an eventual return to the season. He should be left on waivers.