Kyle Lowry and Anthony Davis had the fantasy lines of the night, Kristaps Porzingis is struggling, and Alex Len and Corey Brewer were the surprises of the night. Thursday’s four-game slate is broken down in Friday’s Daily Dose. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.
Pistons 111, Knicks 105
The Pistons blew a 27-point lead to let the Knicks have a chance to win this game late, but a pair of Reggie Jackson threes slammed the door. Stanley Johnson started and finished with a career-high 22 points along with nine rebounds, five assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer in the win. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope isn’t expected to play again until after the All-Star break (or longer), so Johnson is obviously a must-own player for now. Andre Drummond hit 7-of-12 shots and 3-of-9 free throws for 17 points, 13 rebounds, a steal and a block, and all five Pistons’ starters scored in double figures. Jackson hit 6-of-16 shots and three 3-pointers (just 6-of-10 free throws) for 21 points, five assists and two steals, Marcus Morris had 13 points, four boards, four assists, a steal and a 3-pointer, and Ersan Ilyasova cooled off after a very quick start, finishing with 12 points, five rebounds, a steal and two 3-pointers. Brandon Jennings played just 16 minutes off the bench, but had 11 points, three boards, two assists and a 3-pointer. Johnson is the guy you want to pick up right now, while Jennings should be monitored in deep leagues. And I’m still holding Ilyasova, for now.
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The Knicks got 26 points, 16 rebounds, two assists and a steal from Robin Lopez, who hit 11-of-14 shots in one of his best games ever. The points and boards were both season highs for Ro-Lo, who is quietly having a very nice season. After Zaza Pachulia, Lopez looks like one of the better value/waiver-wire centers of the season. Arron Afflalo got hot for 24 points, three boards, three dimes, two steals and a 3-pointer on 8-of-15 shooting, and Carmelo Anthony added 19 points, 11 boards, eight assists, a steal and a 3-pointer, just missing a triple-double. Jose Calderon returned to action from a groin injury but missed all three of his shots and finished with three assists in just 13 minutes. He sent Langston Galloway back to the bench, but Gallo still played 39 minutes and hit 7-of-9 shots for 17 points, five boards, two assists, a steal and two 3-pointers before fouling out. If you picked up Galloway while Calderon was out, just hold him until we see how this plays out. The biggest mystery in New York right now is starter Kristaps Porzingis, who played just 24 minutes and hit 2-of-9 shots for five points, four boards and a 3-pointer. Since sitting out on Jan. 28 with an illness, Porzingis is averaging just 9.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks and 0.8 3-pointers on 33 percent shooting. I don’t love his minutes right now, but I’m going to call this a slump and owners just have to hope he breaks out of it sooner than later. He’s struggling too much to trade right now (his value is diminished), but that also makes him a buy-low target if you can talk a frustrated owner out of him. Derrick Williams played just six minutes and Lance Thomas was quiet with just nine points and one rebound in 31 minutes. Both of them can be dropped as long as Melo is healthy.
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Rockets 111, Suns 105
Corey Brewer, and not James Harden, led the Rockets with 24 points, four steals and three 3-pointers on 9-of-12 shooting in one of his best games of the season. Brewer has scored 10 or fewer points in three of his last five games so this was a bit fluky, but he’s playing well enough to be given consideration in deep leagues if you have someone you’ve been wanting to drop. Trevor Ariza played 37 minutes and finished with 22 points, four steals and three 3-pointers, while Harden hit just 4-of-19 shots for 17 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals and two 3-pointers. Harden had shot it very well in his previous two games, but never got it going in this one. Dwight Howard returned from a suspension and wasn’t much better, hitting 2-of-4 shots for five points, 16 rebounds, two steals and a block, and Patrick Beverley added six points, five rebounds, six dimes, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer in 26 minutes. Ty Lawson played 22 minutes and had 12 points, four assists and four 3-pointers off the bench, and Josh Smith hit 1-of-4 shots (3-pointer) for six points, three boards, three assists, a steal and a block. Terrence Jones was out after being hospitalized briefly after a car accident, but reports indicate he’s not injured. The Rockets were down 15-5 early and B.J. Bickerstaff pulled his entire starting five after four minutes, and Harden wasn’t happy about it. The Rockets came back and got the win and the takeaway from this game is that Brewer is worth keeping an eye on right now, and Lawson might be worth a stash in case Beverley gets hurt, or Lawson gets traded. Own Smith at your own risk.
The Suns hung in there, but lost for the 21st time in 23 games. Archie Goodwin had 22 points, seven assists and two 3-pointers, and remains a must-own player with Brandon Knight likely out through the break with a groin injury, and no one knows what his role will be when he’s ready to play again. Devin Booker banged his knee, but played through it and had 17 points, three boards, four assists, two 3-pointers and five turnovers on 3-of-12 shooting. This was his worst game in recent memory and he played 41 minutes, so don’t be discouraged by his off night. Markieff Morris had 14 points, five rebounds, a block and a 3-pointer in 29 minutes, and P.J. Tucker had 13 points, nine boards, five steals and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes. With T.J. Warren out for the season, Tucker looks like an add across the board, while Morris should continue to be a very hot pickup even though he didn’t blow anyone’s socks off last night. Tyson Chandler started and had four points, 10 rebounds and no blocks, while Alex Len hit 5-of-11 shots for 12 points and a career-high 18 rebounds off the bench in 27 minutes. Given that Len hadn’t scored more than six points or grabbed more than eight boards in four straight games coming in, there’s a decent chance he was dropped in your league. I’m not going to call him a must-own player at this point, as long as Chandler is starting, but this was a good sign that he might be getting ready to get hot again. And yes, I’d rather own Len than Chandler or Roy Hibbert. There’s also a chance that Chandler comes off the bench and Len is given the starting job and more minutes at some point, and last night might have been the beginning of that process. Mirza Teletovic came of the bench for 15 points, four rebounds and three 3-pointers in just 19 minutes, and he’ll need more run than that to become a reliable fantasy asset. Ronnie Price is due back from toe surgery next week and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact, if any, he has on Goodwin and Booker.
Lakers 99, Pelicans 96
Kobe Bryant turned back the clock again and hit 10-of-24 shots and four 3-pointers for 27 points, 12 rebounds and two steals, including a dagger 3-pointer from way downtown near the end of the game. Bryant is averaging 29.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 5.0 3-pointers on 44 percent shooting over his last three games. It looks like I picked the wrong week to bench him in a weekly league, but so it goes. And unfortunately, his next day of rest could be just around the corner, as he is perpetually day-to-day. Jordan Clarkson had 18 points, five boards, two assists and two 3-pointers on 8-of-14 shooting, and Julius Randle had 11 points and eight boards. Roy Hibbert was terribly quiet, as usual, and Lou Williams had eight points, five turnovers and not much else in 32 minutes. D’Angelo Russell played 29 minutes off the bench for 13 points, three rebounds and three assists, and is still worth rostering in 12-team leagues.
Anthony Davis stayed hot with 39 points, 11 rebounds and a block on 16-of-25 shooting, and is averaging 27.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.0 blocks on 52 percent shooting over his last four games. Hopefully he just keeps it rolling. Starters Alonzo Gee and Omer Asik didn’t even score, and Norris Cole, who came in on a hot streak, played just 13 minutes and hit 1-of-10 shots. Yeah, it’s discouraging, but I’m not giving up on him after one bad night. He had scored in double figures in seven straight games and had played at least 30 minutes in his previous five. Stay patient. Bryce Dejean-Jones, who is playing on a second 10-day contract, played a career-high 43 minutes to lead the team and finished with a career-best 17 points, nine rebounds, two steals and a 3-pointer on 6-of-10 shooting. He’s still only worth a look in deeper leagues and has to get signed by the Pelicans for the rest of the season before he’ll be worth a serious look. But this performance was certainly eye opening. Ryan Anderson scored 17 with a couple threes off the bench, and Jrue Holiday stayed hot with 19 points, nine dimes, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in 34 minutes off the pine.
Raptors 110, Blazers 103
The Raptors held on for a late win over the Blazers, led by Kyle Lowry’s 30 points, six boards, eight assists, two steals, two blocks and seven 3-pointers, giving him the fantasy line of the night. DeMar DeRozan had 29 points and a nice line, but cooled off a bit in the second half. Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points, 11 boards and two blocks, and those are the three guys you want to own in Toronto. Luis Scola started and had six points, five boards and a block, and Terrence Ross scored 12 points in 30 minutes. Ross is a guy to keep an eye on, but he didn’t do much tonight while Lowry and DeRozan took care of the offense. Cory Joseph played 26 minutes off the bench and had 12 points, three boards and three assists, while Patrick Patterson had six points, three steals and two 3-pointers in 28 minutes. Both are worth keeping an eye on, but neither is worth grabbing at this point.
Damian Lillard (27-5-11) and C.J. McCollum (21-6-2) led the way for the Blazers, combining for six 3-pointers. Starters Al-Farouq Aminu, Moe Harkless and Mason Plumlee combined for just 15 points and not much else, which is why the Blazers lost. Allen Crabbe stayed relevant with 17 points off the bench, while Meyers Leonard hit just 4-of-11 shots and a 3-pointer for nine points, five boards and three assists. Aminu runs hot and cold, and is averaging 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 3-pointers over his last five games, which is what you should expect from him if you own him. Leonard is always intriguing, but is struggling to get it going, averaging 9.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.2 3-pointers over his last five. I’m fine with holding either player and they will hopefully get it going after the All-Star break. Plumlee’s better than this, but is struggling right now, averaging just 5.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks over his last three. He’s due to get hot again any day now, but has had a very rough three-game stretch.
News & Notes
Kemba Walker is expected back on Friday, which should send Jeremy Lin to the bench. Lin is still worth a hold, as he plays a nice role off the bench, but his minutes could take a hit with the Hornets nearing full strength.
Jimmy Butler is questionable Friday with his knee injury, but says he’s going to take a cautious approach to his return. He sounds like a true game-time decision, so watch for updates.