There were seven games in the NBA Tuesday night, including LeBron James’ first trip to Chicago as a member of the Lakers and a matchup of All-Star big men in Denver as Karl-Anthony Towns took on Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets. Towns, DeMar DeRozan, Ben Simmons and CJ McCollum were among the individual standouts Tuesday, with McCollum scoring 23 fourth-quarter points to propel the Trail Blazers past the Clippers. Below is a look at each of the seven games on the slate, which also included the return of Boban Marjanovic to the Sixers rotation.
76ers 106, Cavaliers 99
With Larry Nance Jr. and Matthew Dellavedova out due to injury, Kevin Love out due to rest and Marquese Chriss serving a one-game suspension, the Cavaliers entered Tuesday’s matchup in Philadelphia shorthanded. Cleveland managed to remain competitive throughout but it wasn’t enough, as Philadelphia took care of business with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid leading the way. Simmons finished with 26 points (10-of-16 FGs, 6-of-8 FTs), ten rebounds, eight assists and one steal, with Embiid adding 17 points (6-of-16 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), 19 rebounds, five assists, four blocked shots, one steal and one three-pointer. All five starters scored in double figures, and backup center Boban Marjanovic added 11 points, five rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot in 14 minutes off the bench.
The game was Marjanovic’s first since February 20, when he suffered a knee injury during a Philadelphia win over New Orleans. Boban’s return meant a change to the 76ers rotation, with Jonah Bolden and Amir Johnson both receiving the dreaded DNP-CD label. In the case of Johnson this occurred one game after he played 17 minutes and grabbed seven rebounds in a March 10 win over the Pacers. With Marjanovic back in the fold it was he and Mike Scott who received the front court minutes, with the latter playing 30 and finishing with six points, four rebounds and one assist. Brett Brown went nine players deep Tuesday, with T.J. McConnell and Jonathon Simmons rounding out the rotation.
As for the Cavaliers, the team’s lack of front court depth meant that the services of retiring big man Channing Frye were required for a longer period of time than usual. Frye played 14 minutes Tuesday, the most he’s played in a game since January 23, finishing with three points (1-of-5 3-pointers), one rebound, one assist and one steal. Cedi Osman (18 points/8 rebounds/4 assists/2 steals with four 3-pointers) and Ante Zizic (12/5/2), who was playing his third game since returning from a concussion, played 36 and 34 minutes, respectively. Rookie guard Collin Sexton scored a game-high 26 points, shooting 11-of-20 from the field, while also accounting for two rebounds, one assist and four 3-pointers.
He’s averaging 22.0 points, 3.8 assists and 2.6 3-pointers per game over his last five outings, shooting 53.2% from the field, 50.0% from three and 81.3% from the foul line during this stretch. Jordan Clarkson (13/5/2) and Nik Stauskas (9/2/4 with two 3-pointers) supplied most of the offense off the bench, with Clarkson shooting 5-of-20 from the field. Love and Chriss will be back for Cleveland’s next game, with the former’s return meaning that David Nwaba (seven points, seven assists and three steals) will be back with the second unit.
Pacers 103, Knicks 98
Bojan Bogdanovic led six Pacers in double figures with 24 points (9-of-16 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs) to go along with four rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers, with Darren Collison (16/5/9/3 with five 3-pointers) and Myles Turner (15/9/4/2/2 with two 3-pointers) next in line. Wesley Matthews (14/2/1), Thaddeus Young (10/6/4/3 with two 3-pointers) and Domantas Sabonis (10/7/2/1) also scored in double figures, with Sabonis playing 18 minutes in his second game back after missing time due to a sprained ankle. His return has meant fewer minutes for T.J. Leaf, who played three minutes Tuesday night, and Kyle O’Quinn did not play at all.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as O’Quinn’s minutes for much of this season have been heavily influenced by Sabonis’ availability. The seventh-year forward out of Norfolk State played 11 minutes or more in the five games that Sabonis missed, with his minute total dropping down to eight in Sunday’s loss to the 76ers. Doug McDermott played 14 minutes off the bench, finishing Tuesday’s win with eight points (4-of-6 FGs), three rebounds and one steal. On the perimeter Cory Joseph played 23 of the 30 minutes played by Indiana’s reserve guards, finishing the night with two points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and one blocked shot. Aaron Holiday shot 1-of-2 from the field, scoring two points in seven minutes of play.
Emmanuel Mudiay gave the Knicks solid production off the bench, scoring a team-high 21 points (7-of-14 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs) with four rebounds, four assists, two blocked shots and three 3-pointers in 32 minutes. He and Allonzo Trier led the Knicks reserves in minutes, with the rookie out of Arizona accounting for seven points (3-of-12 FGs), three rebounds, one three-pointer and four turnovers in 23 minutes played. A positive for David Fizdale’s team was the fact that Kevin Knox shot the ball well, making five of his nine field goal attempts (4-of-5 3-pointers) and finishing with 16 points, five rebounds and one assist. Over his last two games the rookie has shot a combined 10-of-20 from the field, which is nothing to scoff at given the fact that he’s making just 35.9% of his shot attempts for the season.
Damyean Dotson posted a line of 18 points, six rebounds, three assists, one steal and four 3-pointers, with DeAndre Jordan posting a double-double (12/16/5) and Mitchell Robinson blocking three more shots to go along with seven points and two rebounds.
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Lakers 123, Bulls 107
After missing the Lakers’ prior two games with an ankle injury, Kyle Kuzma was back in the starting lineup. And he had a good night in Chicago, playing 34 minutes and tallying 21 points, five rebounds, four assists, one steal and two 3-pointers. Among the Laker starters only LeBron James (36/10/4/2 with two 3-pointers) was more productive than Kuzma, who prior to Tuesday had not scored 20 points or more in a game since February 27 vs. New Orleans. With Kuzma back there was less playing time available to rookie Moe Wagner, who played ten minutes and finished with five points, one rebound and one assist. Wagner played an average of 30.5 mpg in the two games prior, accounting for totals of 33 points, nine rebounds, five assists, two blocked shots and three 3-pointers.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who scored just two points in Saturday’s loss to the Celtics, shot 7-of-11 from the field against Chicago and finished with 24 points, six rebounds, two steals, one assist and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes played. Having last reached double figures February 12, KCP is averaging just 3.4 points per game this month while shooting 31.8% from the field. Tuesday’s performance was one that Caldwell-Pope truly needed as he looks to snap out of his shooting slump. Also scoring in double figures were JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo, who both posted double-doubles. McGee posted a stat line of ten points, 11 rebounds, three blocked shots and one steal, and Rondo added 14 points, ten assists, four rebounds, two steals and two 3-pointers.
For the Bulls no Zach LaVine (knee) meant another start for Ryan Arcidiacono, who played 32 minutes and tallied 14 points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals and two 3-pointers. All five starters for Chicago scored in double figures, including Otto Porter Jr. (19/9/2 with four 3-pointers) and Kris Dunn (18/7/9/2 with two 3-pointers). Dunn shot 8-of-16 from the field overall and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, with Tuesday’s game ending a streak of four straight single-digit scoring efforts. With LaVine out for the foreseeable future Dunn will have more opportunities to hunt for his shot, and if he’s connecting at a solid clip his fantasy value stands to increase.
The majority of Chicago’s bench minutes were taken by guards, including Shaq Harrison (nine points, two rebounds, three assists and one steal). Wayne Selden played just 14 minutes, but that was due to his being ejected in the third quarter. Lauri Markkanen did not have his best night offensively, as he scored 11 points on 4-of-17 shooting from the field. Over the last five games Markkanen is averaging 14.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game with shooting splits of 36.2/19.4/93.8.
Bucks 130, Pelicans 113
As has been the case on many occasions this season Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton led the way offensively for Milwaukee, combining to score 42 points in Milwaukee’s comfortable win over the Pelicans. Giannis shot 7-of-13 from the field and 10-of-10 from the foul line, scoring 24 points to go with nine rebounds and five assists but he also turned the ball over six times. Turnovers have been an issue for Antetokounmpo in recent games, as he’s coughed the ball up five times or more in four of Milwaukee’s last five games. Middleton chipped in with 23 points, five rebounds, seven assists and two 3-pointers in 30 minutes played, shooting 9-of-18 from the field. Prior to Tuesday, the All-Star wing shot 50% or better from the field in just tow of Milwaukee’s last eight games.
Malcolm Brogdon, Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez scored 18, 14 and 13 rebounds, respectively, with Brogdon shooting 7-of-10 from the field and bouncing back from a rough outing in Sunday’s loss to the Spurs. And while he did not score in double figures, Pat Connaughton added a team-high 11 rebounds while also scoring nine points in 24 minutes. Connaughton doesn’t produce enough to be a quality fantasy option on most nights, but he figures to remain in the rotation until the injured Sterling Brown (wrist) and George Hill (groin) are able to return. Rookie Donte DiVincenzo played 13 minutes, scoring three points and grabbing two rebounds, while Nikola Mirotic led the reserves with 14 points, four rebounds and two assists. Pau Gasol and D.J. Wilson both picked up DNP-CDs, with the former not playing after getting 15 minutes in his return to San Antonio.
Playing without the injured Jrue Holiday (abdominal), E’Twaun Moore (quad) and Jahlil Okafor (ankle), New Orleans relied on Julius Randle, Elfrid Payton and Frank Jackson from a minutes standpoint. All three played at least 34 minutes Tuesday, with Randle accounting for 23 points (10-of-19 FGs, 2-of-4 FTs), six rebounds, four assists and one steal. The fifth-year guard is averaging nearly three points per game more than his season average over the course of the Pelicans’ last five games (23.0 ppg) while also accounting for 6.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists per night. With Anthony Davis (21/12/2/2 in 21 minutes) on a minutes restriction and the Pelicans being a bit banged up in other areas, Randle is not going to lack for scoring opportunities as New Orleans completes its schedule.
Payton posted his second triple-double in as many games, racking up 14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists to go along with one steal, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers. With the aforementioned Holiday out of the lineup Payton’s been slightly more productive as an assist man, averaging 7.2 assists per game over his last five, and he’s also raised his rebounding by more than three per game (8.6 compared to 4.9 rpg on the season). Frank Jackson also scored 14 points on the night, extending his run of games in double figures to four. Over the last five he’s averaging 14.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting 47.8% from the field and 28.0% from three. He isn’t providing much in the way of assists (five total over the last five games), but the playing time is enough to make it worthwhile to consider the possibility of picking Jackson up while Holiday is out of the lineup.