Check your watch. Chances are the time that it is reading right now is Lillard Time. Damian Lillard was spectacular once again on Tuesday during a 116-109 win over the Wizards, scoring 41 points with five rebounds, 11 assists, one steal six 3-pointers and one turnover.
Lillard has been an MVP candidate since the break, averaging 33.5 points, 3.8 boards, 5.3 dimes, 0.9 steals and 4.0 treys. He has a whopping 35.1 usage rate matched only by his sterling efficiency of a 64.0 true shooting percentage. He can spit a hot verse and his game on the court has been worth five microphones.
Beside Dame, C.J. McCollum has really only been the consistent guy in Portland with 18 points, three rebounds, two assists and two 3-pointers in 36 minutes. He’ll continue to hang in that 25-50 range as one of the steals in the draft.
Ed Davis has been a boss lately, too. He put up nine points, 15 boards, four assists, one steal and one block. The Wizards went big, so that was important for Davis. He’s easily been the best big in the last couple weeks, so he’s actually a decent pickup even though the consistency won’t be there.
Bradley Beal (hip) missed his first game due to a pelvis sprain and it was Ramon Sessions stepping up with 21 points, four rebounds, five assists and one 3-pointer. Beal should be back soon, so Sessions isn’t the greatest add. Garrett Temple was only mediocre with eight points, so he’s not an add either.
Otto Porter did get the minutes with 30 on Tuesday, but only posted a line of seven points, four rebounds, two steals and one 3-pointer. You should still stick with him unless there is a red hot free agent out there. John Wall (20 points, five rebounds, 11 assists, two steals, three blocks and three 3-pointers) and Marcin Gortat (19 points, 10 rebounds, one assist and one block) performed as expected. Markieff Morris continues to leave fantasy owners unfulfilled with a line of eight points, seven rebounds, one block and three turnovers. He hasn’t been able to flip the switch and I don’t think he will.
Over Loading (Magic 98 at Lakers 107)
D’Angelo Russell sure likes Tuesday. Last Tuesday he put up a career-high 39 and he put up a 27 spot on 11-of-19 from the field on Tuesday. Russell added two rebounds, three assists, three steals and two 3-pointers. He has clicked in a big way and a lot of it has to do with shot selection. Russell is also finding ways to get to the basket and isn’t forcing shots nearly as much. He is clearly showing why he was picked second. Next year he could be a top-50 player.
Julius Randle is basically a rookie and he’s flourishing, too. He posted 23 points, 11 rebounds, one assist and two steals in 30 minutes. Coach Byron Scott is sticking to his guns and playing his kids 30 minutes, so Randle and Russell should be terrific the rest of the way. Jordan Clarkson wasn’t too shabby either with 24 points, five rebounds, three assists and five 3-pointers. Marcelo Huertas is filling in for Lou Williams, but he’s been sloppy. He turned the ball over six times with five points, six rebounds and five assists. He’s fun, but he’s not a fantasy asset.
The Magic were without Nikola Vucevic again, so Jason Smith started with 10 points, two rebounds and one block. He was terrible out there, so maybe coach Scott Skiles will appreciate his starters more. Aaron Gordon had a tiny usage rate on Tuesday, making 2-of-4 from the field, 1-of-2 from the line and not turning the ball over in 28 minutes. He had five points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. He should still be great the rest of the way.
Elfrid Payton was bad once again with 20 minutes while C.J. Watson soaked up 25 minutes. Brandon Jennings played just four. Skiles and current Magic point guards mix like oil and water.
At least Victor Oladipo (26 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers) and Evan Fournier (23 points, four rebounds, three assists and one 3-pointer) were good.
Big Honey Is Money (Knicks 94 at Nuggets 110)
The Nuggets have been a fantasy goldmine lately (GET IT?). Nikola Jokic destroyed the Knicks with 20 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. The Nuggets do go small at times, but Jokic should be cleared for minutes in the 20-35 range most nights. His big lines like this one will make it easier to stomach the bad ones. Kenneth Faried followed up a 25-point, 20-board game from Sunday with 24 points and 10 boards. He is locked and loaded with Danilo Gallinari out. Darrell Arthur was also OK with 10 points, one assist and two 3-pointers. He should be a top 100-150 guy and that Sunday nine-minute effort was a fluke.
What’s up with Will Barton? Everyone had Barton pegged to blow up since Gallo went down, but he had just six points with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. HIs averages in those five games are just 11.0 points, 5.6 boards, 2.6 assists, 0.6 steals and 0.6 treys. He should be better. Meanwhile, Gary Harris continues to amaze, dropping a line of 16 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers. He’s as must own as it gets.
As for the point guards, Emmanuel Mudiay took a step back with 15 points on 6-of-19 from the field with seven rebounds, five assists and one 3-pointer. The turnovers were down to just one at least. D.J. Augustin only picked up four minutes next to Mudiay, scoring 10 points with two rebounds, six assists, one steal and one 3-pointer. He’s a solid player to own in 14-team leagues.
For more on the Nuggets, I wrote about them on Tuesday here.
Oh, the Knicks. Carmelo Anthony scored 30 points with seven boards, four assists and one 3-pointer. Besides him, it was a night to forget. Kristaps Porzingis was really bad in his return with six points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and two blocks. His ability to fill the stat sheet will be his saving grace, so keep starting him.
The Knicks will eventually play their young guys, but they’ve been too bad to stash. Lance Thomas hurt his knee and he is out indefinitely, too. That might help Derrick Williams a bit.
Battle Tested (Hawks 91 at Jazz 84)
Jeff Teague sure knows when the heat is on for a position battle. Every time it seems like his job is in jeopardy to even the smallest degree, he turns it on. He did that again on Tuesday with 24 points, three rebounds, six assists, two steals, one block and three 3-pointers in 32 minutes. He’s vastly underrated and should cruise to top 40 value going forward — maybe more. Dennis Schroder scored seven points with one rebound, four assists, one steal and one 3-pointer.
Kent Bazemore was sub-par with six points, five boards, one assist and one steal in 29 minutes. He played well on defense, so his role is safe. Besides that, there wasn’t much going on here.
The Rudy Gobert turnovers are back again with six on Tuesday, adding six points, 15 boards, two steals and no blocks. Gobert looked like the light switch turned on for him last month, but he’s been underwhelming lately. There is still hope. Meanwhile Derrick Favors was been great, scoring 16 points with eight rebounds, two steals and three blocks. He may have bought a new mattress, because he looks ready to rock.
The Shelvin Mack hype train has been derailed. The former Hawk made 2-of-13 from the field for five points with seven rebounds, four assists and one 3-pointer. He’s like a worse version of Trey Burke right now. Burke was a DNP-CD, by the way.
Rodney Hood has also been in a brutal slump, making just 32.7 percent from the field with averages of 9.8 points, 3.8 boards, 4.2 assists, 0.6 steals and 1.4 treys over his last five. He should still be better and the return of Alec Burks (leg) shouldn’t be a concern.
Age Is Just a Number (Spurs 116 at Wolves 91)
No Big Three, no problem. The Spurs rested their big three with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker (toe) getting the night off. Parker was hurt on Monday, but it’s minor. That allowed LaMarcus Aldridge to go off with 29 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and four blocks on a tidy 11-of-13 from the field. LMA continues to hang big lines when Duncan is off with a 28-point effort the last time.
The Professor got out of his adjunct office on his new campus with a 25-minute start. He finished with a season-high 13 points, adding two rebounds five assists, one steal and one 3-pointer. San Antonio is magical. Prof. Dre going off limited Patty Mills to just 18 minutes with seven points, two rebounds, four assists and one 3-pointer. It’s also worth noting Jonathon Simmons picked up five minutes at the point.
A night after Kawhi Leonard relinquished his lead on 3-point percentage, he missed his only attempt. Leonard wasn’t great with 15 points, five rebounds, two assist, one steal and no turnovers in 25 minutes. He’ll be better his next time out. David West was very effective in his start with 18 points, as well. Of course, he is inconsistent when Duncan sits.
There’s a lot of news about Mr. Rubio these days. No, not that one. Ricky Rubio. Well, like Marco, it hasn’t been going well for Ricky. He had a massive dud on Tuesday with two points, four rebounds, three assists and two turnovers in 21 minutes. He’ll be better, but I’d only expect him to be in the 50-75 range for fantasy value — at least he’s been healthy. Tyus Jones saw big run with 27 minutes, 10 points, six assists and two 3-pointers. Just keep an eye on him in very deep leagues. Karl-Anthony Towns had a down game with just 19 points, nine rebounds and one assist. Apparently, the Spurs are good on defense no matter who is out there.
Jurassic 5 Game Lead on the Celtics (Nets 99 at Raptors 104)
The Raptors pulled some surprises on Tuesday with a couple different starters. Jason Thompson and Norman Powell both got the starts on Tuesday and Thompson was actually pretty decent. He scored nine points with five rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks in his 24 minutes. He basically slotted into Luis Scola’s minutes with the Argentine taking a night off for rest.
Besides that, it was a pretty boring win for Toronto. Kyle Lowry had a solid game with 23 points, four rebounds, nine assists, one steal and four 3-pointers. DeMar DeRozan put up 25 points, three rebounds, two assists, four steals and five turnovers. DeRozan’s line probably should have been bigger because the Nets didn’t defend him well at times.
Bismack Biyombo actually took some minutes away from Jonas Valanciunas thanks to his rim protection. Biyombo scored six points with 10 rebounds, one assist, two steals and two blocks. He’s really just a block specialist in fantasy. JV should be able to bounce back after putting up a very nice past few weeks.
Brook Lopez was awesome with 35 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and seven blocks on 13-of-17 from the field. He continues to stay healthy and missed his first game of the season on Saturday due to rest. He should be a monster the rest of the way and the Nets don’t even have a back-to-back set until Mar. 28-29.
Besides him, there wasn’t much going on. Thaddeus Young was so-so with 14 points, four rebounds, one assist and one block in 32 minutes. His usage rate has been climbing since Joe Johnson left and he should be a top-50 player as long as missed free throws don’t kill him.
The wings were a strange story. Sean Kilpatrick looked pretty good in his 15 minutes with eight points and two 3-pointers, but he didn’t take run away from Bojan Bogdanovic (12 points, five boards, two assists, two steals and two 3-pointers). Bojan is really just a late-round guy. Wayne Ellington was killed early on defense, but he still managed to lock down 29 minutes with eight points, four rebounds, two assists and two 3-pointers. Markel Brown couldn’t hit his layup, finishing with just four points, three assists and one turnover. This should be a timeshare, but the Nets might let Brown go more when he has it in going. Lastly, Shane Larkin lost his momentum with four points, three assists and two turnovers. This is a situation to avoid in fantasy.
News and Notes from Tuesday
The Wizards are hopeful Bradley Beal (hip) can return on Friday. It’s a little odd he didn’t even travel with the team for Tuesday, but being off Wednesday and Thursday is big. There really won’t be one player stepping up anyway, so fantasy owners can just bench Beal.
Andre Iguodala (hamstring) is questionable for Wednesday. The Warriors will be taking it easy on him the rest of the way because they won’t want him to pull a hamstring again. Harrison Barnes hasn’t been great while Ian Clark and Brandon Rush will get more run, too.
The Pelicans picked up Orlando Johnson. He is now their only healthy wing on the roster, but he won’t be too involved in the offense anyway — I’m not counting Dante Cunningham as a wing. Norris Cole (back) is still questionable, but he should be OK.
Jared Sullinger (skin infection) is questionable for Wednesday against the Grizzlies. He should be OK now that he’s out of the hospital, but you never know. Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) is also 50-50 to play. If both can’t go, we’ll see a lot of Jonas Jerebko to go with more Amir Johnson. Jordan Mickey?