There were only five games on Monday and some big lines, as well as some duds, but the action picks up on Tuesday night with 11 games. This is a weird week with the NBA getting the day off on Saturday (Christmas Eve), so a lot of action is going to be crammed into the other days of the week. Paul Millsap, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Teague, Rajon Rondo, Eric Bledsoe, Karl-Anthony Towns, Deron Williams and Nikola Jokic were the night’s heroes, while Kenneth Faried, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Anthony Morrow were some of the more disappointing players. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!
Pacers 107, Wizards 105 – Paul George (27), Myles Turner 20 points, 8 boards, 5 blocks) and Jeff Teague (23 points, 10 assists) all played well for the Pacers and they got a tough home win against the Wizards. While those three were great last night, Thaddeus Young was the hero, hitting the game-winner with 0.9 seconds left on the clock and finishing with a double-double of 12 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and two 3-pointers. Young’s been quiet since a big game on Dec. 10, so it was nice to see him bounce back. Monta Ellis (groin) and Rodney Stuckey (hamstring) were out and may miss the week, allowing Glenn Robinson III and C.J. Miles to get extra minutes. GR3 started and had just five points and four rebounds in 31 minutes, while Miles scored 10 points in 30 minutes. I feel like Miles is about ready to get hot, while GRob is currently struggling. In fantasy, the only guys you can really rely on here are George, Turner and Teague, while Young is a ‘hold’ and Miles is worth a look if you’ve got a dead roster spot.
This was a tough loss for the Wizards who got 22 points from Bradley Beal on a poor shooting night, and double-doubles from John Wall (19 & 10) and Marcin Gortat 21 & 13). Otto Porter Jr. was nice with 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, and Markieff Morris hit just 2-of-9 shots to join brother Marcus in struggling. More on him later. Kelly Oubre, who was heating up before missing a game due to a concussion, returned to action, but hit just 2-of-8 shots for five points, seven boards and a block in 19 minutes. I love Oubre, but I picked up healthy guys like Garrett Temple for this week instead. Oubre should get better as he continues to recover from the concussion, but he’s not as must-own as he was last week. Despite his poor shooting, Beal is killing it right now, scoring at least 20 in seven straight games and going off for 41 points and six 3-pointers on Sunday. He’s hit at least two 3-pointers in 16 of his last 17 games and had one in the other, which all came after he missed three games in mid-November.
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Bulls 113, Pistons 82 – All five starters scored in double figures and Rajon Rondo flirted with a triple-double with 10-8-14. Taj Gibson hit all eight of his shots and scored 16 points in just 19 minutes. He was iffy coming in with a hip injury and played limited minutes more because of the lopsided score than the injury. Jimmy Butler hit 6-of-7 shots and a 3-pointer, but had just 19 points and six dimes in the blowout. From the bench, we got a Nikola Mirotic sighting with 13 points, four boards, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 21 minutes, but I’m going to call this a garbage-time special. I’m not biting. Doug McDermott scored 13 points but hadn’t scored more than eight in his previous five games. He’s getting healthy though, so just keep an eye on him. There wasn’t much to learn about the Bulls in this one.
“I guarantee you on Wednesday we’re not trotting that five out there,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said of his starters after the game. “That five” is Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond. My gut says that we’ll see Jon Leuer starting over Morris on Wednesday, but it’s just a guess. Morris has been trending down and hit just 2-of-9 shots for six points and not much else last night. Meanwhile, Leuer, who was dealing with a back injury, hit 7-of-9 shots for 16 points and five rebounds. He’s played pretty well all season and deserves a chance to start. I don’t know if he’ll keep it going, but if you have a dead roster spot and want to take a flier on Leuer, it makes sense. Harris was the only starter to hit double figures with 10 points, while Drummond, Jackson and KCP all played 24 minutes or less in the blowout. I think Jackson’s job is safe, but the fact the Pistons are now 3-6 since he returned to action is a bit disturbing. Even with the starters doing nothing, the bench was equally as bad, as only Leuer scored more than seven points. Ish Smith had four points and seven dimes, but I still don’t see how the Pistons bring Jackson off the bench. Look for Harris, Drummond, Jackson (who was hot) and KCP all to bounce back on Wednesday against the Grizzlies, and look for a lineup change for SVG.
Hawks 110, Thunder 108 – Dwight Howard sat out with a sore back but it sounds like he nearly played and should be back on Wednesday against the Timberwolves and Karl-Anthony Towns. Kyle Korver, of all people, started in his place, while Paul Millsap got the call at center last night. Korver did his best Danny Green impression (I’m gone with both of them) with eight points in 31 minutes, while Millsap went off with one of his best lines of the season. He had 30 points, 11 boards, three 3-pointers, a steal and a block, and also hit the game-winning shot with 12.7 seconds left on the clock. Thabo Sefolosha stuck in the starting unit and had 15 points, six rebounds, a steal and a 3-pointer, and Kent Bazemore returned to the starting unit, replacing Tim Hardaway Jr. Baze was nice with 12 points, five rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block on 4-of-9 shooting in 40 minutes. It’s probably time to pick him back up now that his back injury is behind him. Dennis Schroder was great with 11 points and eight dimes, and has hit 57 percent of his shots over his last five games. Hardaway played 22 minutes and scored just seven points after hitting double figures in his previous four games, and with his move back to the bench, the Hawks you want to target off waivers are Bazemore and Sefolosha, in order.
The Thunder got a ridiculous 46-11-7 line from Russell Westbrook, as usual, and he’s cut down on his turnovers over his last several games, which has been nice to see. Westy missed his last three shots of the night and wasn’t happy about it, as he had a chance to win the game or at least send it to overtime. Andre Roberson had 14 points and five rebounds, tying his season high in scoring, and makes for nothing more than an interesting punt play in DFS on most nights. Steven Adams has been hot, but didn’t breakout against the Dwight-less Hawks (6 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block), while Anthony Morrow hit just 1-of-5 shots for four points in 19 minutes. He’s been starting while Victor Oladipo is out with his wrist injury. We still don’t have a clue as to when Dipo will be back, but Morrow has proven to be unreliable, at best. Jerami Grant is interesting after going for 15 points, a steal and three 3-pointers last night. He’s averaging 10.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 3-pointers over his last four games, so just keep an eye on him. Enes Kanter played just 15 minutes but still had eight points and seven rebounds, but if his minutes don’t spike up soon, he’s going to start floundering. He’s played 19 or fewer minutes in four straight games and I actually cut him in one league on Monday. And while PG Semaj Christon played 25 minutes last night, he only had two points and three assists.
Timberwolves 115, Suns 108 – For those of you who have been unhappy with the performance of Karl-Anthony Towns, things are looking up. He had 28 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and a 3-pointer and is now averaging 25 points, 14.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 0.8 3-pointers on 50 percent shooting over his last five. Andrew Wiggins is hot again and had 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting, but still doesn’t do much besides score, and Zach LaVine stayed hot with 23 points, a full stat line and four 3-pointers in 36 minutes. Ricky Rubio had eight points and 12 assists on 1-of-5 shooting, but has been playing better. He’s at 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 1.6 steals over his last five, but he’s hitting just 39 percent of his shots over that stretch. If you need a point guard and he was dropped, now looks like a good time to pick him up. Gorgui Dieng had 10 points, nine rebounds, a steal and two blocks, but has been underwhelming. He hasn’t hit double figures in rebounds since prior to Thanksgiving, and is averaging just 9.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in December. If you can move him for a hot player, I’m all for it. The Wolves bench is a black hole.
For the Suns, Marquese Chriss, P.J. Tucker, Jared Dudley and Alex Len are all interesting players, but I don’t trust any of them right now. None of them did much of anything last night and the return of T.J. Warren isn’t great news for several of them. Warren played just 10 minutes and missed all five of his shots, but at least it was nice to see him again. Just plan on him being worked back in slowly after he missed forever with a mysterious head injury. Eric Bledsoe came through with 27 points, three assists, two steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers, Devin Booker stuck to his one-dimensional ways and added 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting, and Tyson Chandler stayed relevant with nine points and 12 boards, but didn’t have a block. Brandon Knight was nice with 21 points and four assists on 8-of-13 shooting, marking the first time he’s scored more than 15 points in the month of December. With Warren on his way back, Knight is another player trending down, despite last night’s numbers (sell high). Chandler has really cooled off in his three games since back-to-back 21 & 23-rebound games, but as long as he’s starting, he’s worth owning. The Suns are 8-20 and will eventually have to ditch Chandler, Tucker and Dudley and let the kids shine. But for now, Bledsoe, Booker, Chandler and Warren are the guys you want to own, while Chriss and Len are the guys you want to stash.
Nuggets 117, Mavericks 107 – Nikola Jokic’s quiet start that led to some Rotoworld bashing is officially over and he just missed a triple-double by one assist last night. There’s not much more to say about him, other than congratulations if you own him. There’s a lot to love about the Nuggets right now. Jokic is on fire, Emmanuel Mudiay is averaging 16.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.8 3-pointers over his last four games, Wilson Chandler is starting and is averaging 15.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 1.3 3-pointers in those three games, and freaking Gary Harris is going bonkers. Harris scored a career-high 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting and is sitting at 67 percent field goal percentage in his three games this season. This is a sell-high moment on Harris, but he still won’t bring you enough to make it worthwhile. He’s locked in and worth holding in my book. In his three games, he’s averaging 19.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.3 3-pointers. Kenneth Faried got me in FanDuel last night, missing his only shots and playing just 10 minutes. With Jokic and Chandler rolling, it may be a tough road for Faried, but keep in mind he had 25 points and a fun stat line on Saturday. It’s not often a guy has his best and worst night back-to-back, but Faried pulled it off. I’m going to give him one more game where I own him. Jusuf Nurkic was a DNP-CD, and I’m not giving him another game. I am dropping him and moving on. As for Will Barton, he played 24 minutes and despite Harris’ heroics, I think he’s worth holding onto until we see how this all plays out. And just a hint. If you’re thinking about picking up Willy Hernangomez from the Knicks, make sure you don’t accidentally pick up the Nuggets’ Juancho Hernangomez instead. It could be a costly mistake.
For the Mavs, Deron Williams stayed hot with 23 points, eight assists and three 3-pointers, and is must-own right now, while Harrison Barnes scored 19 points without doing much more. Wesley Matthews hit just 3-of-11 shots for nine points, but is still a guy you want to own, while Dorian Finney-Smith started, but had just five points, four rebounds and a block. He scored 17 in his last game and is worth keeping an eye on, but he’s just not ready for fantasy use yet due to the inconsistency he brings consistently. I like the idea of picking Dwight Powell up right now and he came through with 11 points, nine boards and three blocks last night off the bench. He played 29 minutes and even hit a 3-pointer. With Dirk Nowitzki showing no signs of returning any time soon, Powell’s a decent add, especially since he qualifies at center in many leagues. And Seth Curry got hot with 14 points, four boards, two assists and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes off the bench. He’s scored 14, 13 and 13 points in each of his last three games with eight 3-pointers, so it’s time to give him a look again. But with J.J. Barea back in action, he will likely put the squeeze on Curry eventually. JJB had 11 points in his return last night, and is another guy you should think about targeting off of waivers.
Get ready for a busy 11-game night in the Association on Tuesday!