It was a relatively quiet five-game night in the Association that featured the Cavs handling their business against the Clippers, the Hawks falling to the Kings, and the Spurs destroying the injury-depleted Suns, limiting some of the regulars along the way. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!
Cavaliers 115, Clippers 102 – The Cavs rolled the Clippers, who are patiently waiting for Blake Griffin to return from his quad injury. Kevin Love stayed hot with 18 points, 16 rebounds and three 3-pointers, and I would love to see him finish out with a bang this time. LeBron had 22 points, five boards, 12 dimes and a 3-pointer, and you can say what you want about him, but he rarely, if ever, lets his owners down. Timofey Mozgov started again and scored 11 with two steals and two blocks, making him worth a look if you’re desperate at center. Kyrie Irving bounced back with 21 points, four assists and two 3-pointers, and J.R. Smith came through with 22 points and six 3-pointers. Smith had just four points in his previous game and this was his first 20-point outing since Jan. 8. He has been playing well though, scoring in double figures in 11 of his last 13 games. Tristan Thompson had eight points and 12 boards off the bench, and is averaging 11 points and 11 rebounds over his last two games. Just something to think about if you’re in a very deep league and need a big.
The Clippers are hoping to get Blake Griffin back on Sunday, but they’ve fared pretty well without him. They won 10 straight before losing two of their last four games and sit in fourth place in the West. Starters Luc Mbah a Moute (5 points) and Paul Pierce (0) were awful, but Chris Paul racked up 30 points and nine dimes, J.J. Redick scored 17, and DeAndre Jordan had 10 points, 13 boards and zero blocks in the loss. Jamal Crawford had 16 points and two 3-pointers off the bench, while Cole Aldrich added 11 points and four boards in just 15 minutes. As long as Jordan is healthy, Aldrich is an afterthought.
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Pelicans 115, Pistons 99 – The Pelicans actually looked good last night and have quietly won four of their last five games. They’re only four games out of the playoffs now and if they keep winning games, maybe they won’t shut everyone down, but I’m not holding my breath for that to happen. Just know that it’s possible. Anthony Davis led the way with 32 points, seven boards, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer, Omer Asik had 12 points, eight boards and a block, and Tyreke Evans isn’t done just yet. He had 22 points, four rebounds, 10 assists and two 3-pointers on 8-of-14 shooting. I still think he’s one of the top shutdown candidates out there, but he looked good last night. Norris Cole started in place of Eric Gordon (4-6 weeks, broken finger) and racked up 12 points, eight boards and seven assists. I’m not going to lie – I was thrilled to see this, as I’ve been touting him as a hot pickup lately and he’s going to look even better if Evans’ knee ever knocks him out of the rotation. Cole is a fine pickup right now and is probably available in most leagues. Jrue Holiday cooled off, hitting just 3-of-11 shots for six points and four assists off the bench. He came in cooking, scoring between 13 and 19 points in his previous three games and had racked up at least nine assists in four straight games. Look for him to bounce back in the next one. Ryan Anderson played 31 minutes, but hit just 5-of-9 shots with no 3-pointers for 13 points and two rebounds. Davis was rolling, so Anderson chilled last night.
For the Pistons, Ersan Ilyasova cooled off with 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting, but still played 37 minutes, so don’t panic on him. He’s been playing very well. Marcus Morris was also quiet with just four points and six boards in 35 minutes, and Reggie Jackson also had a bad night, hitting just 4-of-11 shots for eight points and five assists. He’ll be fine. Andre Drummond backed up his historically bad night at the free throw line with 19 points, 22 rebounds and four steals, but didn’t block a single shot. He also hit 3-of-5 free throws, which was cute after he went 13-for-36 on Wednesday. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 23 points and three 3-pointers in 41 minutes. Stanley Johnson played 20 minutes, but scored just six points, while Brandon Jennings hit 6-of-11 shots and three 3-pointers for 20 points and five dimes in 20 minutes. Jennings had scored a total of seven points in his previous two games, so don’t get excited.
Grizzlies 102, Nuggets 101 – The Grizzlies got 13 points and six boards from Zach Randolph, who is finally back in the starting lineup. Marc Gasol went off for 27 points, four boards, six dimes, a steal and three blocks, Mike Conley was decent with 20 points, but had just two assists, a steal and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes, and Courtney Lee added 10 points as a starter. Matt Barnes was back in the starting unit and scored just seven points, but also had seven rebounds, five assists, three steals, a block and a 3-pointer. His line would have looked a whole lot better had he hit more than one of his seven 3-point attempts. Jeff Green was quiet off the bench with nine points and four rebounds, and he’s basically a borderline fantasy play as long as he’s not starting. Mario Chalmers had five points and six dimes off the bench, but isn’t worth owning as long as Conley is healthy.
For the Nuggets, Kenneth Faried stayed hot with 17 points, 12 boards and a block, and is finally heating up. Faried is averaging 15.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks over his last four games. Finally. Danilo Gallinari was quiet with 17 points, three rebounds and three 3-pointers on 5-of-15 shooting in 31 minutes, and Emmanuel Mudiay started and came through with 14 points, eight assists and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes. With Jameer Nelson out with a wrist injury, Mudiay should be a very hot pickup right now. Gary Harris started at shooting guard, but had just seven points in 21 minutes, and Nikola Jokic started at center and had nine points and zero blocks in just 14 minutes. Jusuf Nurkic actually played, but lasted just three minutes and didn’t post a positive stat. He still hasn’t gotten over his knee injury and it’s been a long and painful wait for his owners. Keep waiting. Will Barton came off the bench for 14 points, six boards, two steals and a 3-pointer, and while he’s not rolling like he was earlier in the season, he’s still productive. Joffrey Lauvergne played 28 minutes off the bench and had nine points and eight boards, so keep your eye on him, especially if Nurkic continues to struggle.
Spurs 117, Suns 89 – As expected, the Spurs trounced the Suns behind 21 points, three boards, three assists and a 3-pointer from Kawhi Leonard. I stayed away from Spurs in DFS last night, mainly because this game had blowout written all over it. Ray McCallum started for Tony Parker (hip) and had 11 points and three assists in 29 minutes. If you started Patty Mills with Parker out, he came off the bench for just eight points, two steals and two 3-pointers in just 19 minutes. Good luck figuring the Spurs’ rotation out, especially on blowout nights. LaMarcus Aldridge had just seven points and five boards, in 22 minutes, and David West started in place of Tim Duncan (rest) and had eight points and a full stat line in 19 minutes. Danny Green was awful again with four points in just 13 minutes, and just to be clear, I think you will sleep better at night if you cut him. I sure do. Big man Boban Marjanovic went off for 17 points, 13 boards and a steal in 22 minutes off the bench. He’s a blast to watch, but is also far too unreliable to put into a lineup right now. But if Gregg Popovich ever decides to start him, he could be a fascinating fantasy pick up. Jonathan Simmons played 25 minutes off the bench and had 13 points and a 3-pointer, but like most Spurs bench riders, can be ignored.
The Suns got 24 points, five assists and two 3-pointers from my guy Devin Booker, and he’s averaging 19 points and 1.8 3-pointers on 51 percent shooting over his last five games. He’s not doing anything else though, so he’s a better points-league play than Roto. Tyson Chandler somehow went off for eight points, a season-high 20 rebounds and a block. Maybe he’s ready to get hot for the Suns. Alex Len also started and had 13 points, eight boards, a steal and two blocks, and is also worth a fantasy look now that he’s healthy again. Archie Goodwin was one of the stories of the night, starting in place of Brandon Knight, who was out with a sore hip. Goodwin had 20 points, three boards, two assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers, but hit just 5-of-14 shots in 39 minutes. I’m cool with starting Goodwin on nights when Knight won’t play, but he’s just day-to-day with his injury. Knight, Markieff Morris, Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic were all out with injuries last night, which is why we saw so much Chandler and Len. P.J. Tucker started, but played just six minutes before leaving with a chest injury. With the injuries piling up in Phoenix, T.J. Warren came off the bench for 18 points and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes. He didn’t do much more, but he’s worth a look as long as the Suns are so banged up. He also started the third quarter in place of Tucker, which is another reason to think about picking him up.
Kings 91, Hawks 88 – The Kings got a tough win over the Hawks, snapping ATL’s three-game winning streak. Omri Casspi was back in the starting lineup and had 13 points, five rebounds, two assists, five steals and three 3-pointers in 38 minutes. Pick him up if he’s available. He’s healthy again and should start rolling. DeMarcus Cousins stayed hot with 24 points, 15 rebounds, five dimes, three steals, two blocks and another 3-pointer, and Willie Cauley-Stein kept it rolling with 12 points, 11 boards and two steals. WCS is happening right now, averaging 10.5 points and 12 rebounds over his last two games, so maybe he can keep it going. Rudy Gay was out with a heel injury, which helped Casspi. Rajon Rondo triple-doubled with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, and Ben McLemore played 34 minutes and had 14 points, four assists, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers. He also benefitted from the absence of Gay, so don’t get too excited about his line. Marco Belinelli missed all seven of his shots and scored four points in just 19 minutes. He’s cooled off to the point where you can drop him. Darren Collison hit just 1-of-5 shots for three points and nothing else in 16 minutes, and just isn’t worth the risk as long as Rondo is healthy.
Jeff Teague is becoming a problem for both the Hawks and his owners, and played just 20 minutes last night, getting benched down the stretch. He was pretty awful, hitting just 2-of-8 shots for four points and four assists. I still think he’ll come around and his trade value is shot after this one. Target him as a buy-low steal opportunity and hope he gets it going. Paul Millsap had 14 points, 14 boards, five steals and four blocks, Kent Bazemore had 11 points and a little bit of everything, Al Horford had 11 points and eight boards, and Kyle Korver had nine points, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers on 3-of-11 shooting. He’s better than Danny Green, but that’s about the only positive thing I can think to say about Korver. Dennis Schroder hit just 5-of-14 shots and a 3-pointer for 12 points and four assists in 25 minutes. With Teague struggling and Schroder playing decent minutes every night, he might be worth stashing in case Teague’s funk doesn’t end. But I hesitate to tell you to start Schroder with confidence.