There were only three NBA games on Tuesday, but Devin Booker and Jusuf Nurkic (and Moe Harkless) went down, Bradley Beal broke out of a funk with a career-high 51-point game, Russell Westbrook had another monster triple-double, and rookie Donovan Mitchell isn’t giving way to Ben Simmons without a fight. After writing the player news blurbs and the Season Pass ‘Pickups of the Day’ column on Tuesday night, I feel like I’ve already written the Daily Dose twice. Maybe the third time will be a charm.
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Bradley Beal scores career-high 51 points in win
Beal had been in a funk prior to Tuesday’s explosion for a career-high 51 points with five 3-pointers on 21-of-37 shooting with three rebounds and two assists in a win over the Blazers. Beal was struggling coming in, hitting just 33 percent of his shots in his previous four games, and scoring 11 or fewer points in three of his last four. Instead of keeping the slump going, Beal went nuclear and set a Wizards’ franchise record for most points for a guard on the road in a non-overtime game. Hopefully he can keep it going against the Suns on Thursday, who will likely be without Devin Booker, who suffered an apparently bad groin injury last night. Otto Porter was bad last night, hitting just 1-of-8 shots for two points, 10 rebounds, a steal and two blocks, but he’s been playing well and just had a bad night while watching Beal go nuts. Marcin Gortat, on the other hand, is 1-of-10 over his last two games, but has been racking up boards, assists and steals at a solid rate. He should break out of his funk in the near future. On a side note, Markieff Morris didn’t play well last night, hitting just 2-of-10 shots, but had two 3-pointers and three blocks, and I feel like he’s about ready to finally get hot.
Devin Booker suffers groin injury and it doesn’t look good
Booker went nuts again with 19 points, five boards, eight assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer, but went down on a non-contact play near the end of the game, grabbing his crotch in pain with a groin injury. He had to be carried off the court and I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t miss several games with the injury. He was great on Tuesday after racking up 46 points and a monster line on Monday, so the timing couldn’t be worse.
Mike James’ contract with the Suns is up today, but if Booker’s going to miss time, I don’t see how they don’t sign him. If they do, Greg Monroe could be the odd man out, which would also help Alex Len and Tyson Chandler (or Monroe, if Chandler goes). If you own Len, just sit tight with him for 24 more hours until we find out what happens. The Suns are playing musical centers right now, benching one, starting one and bringing one off the bench in a somewhat organized rotation, but if they sign James (who has been struggling), the center rotation could open up in Phoenix. So, if the Suns sign James, I can see a James/Tyler Ulis starting backcourt until Booker is healthy again (Ulis struggled last night, but I don’t care). That would also possibly free up some more minutes for rookie Josh Jackson and vet Troy Daniels, who had 13 points, three boards, one assist and three 3-pointers last night. I’d rank wing pickups in Phoenix as follows, assuming James gets signed: James, Ulis, Jackson, Jared Dudley and Daniels, with a coin flip being appropriate when deciding between James and Ulis. Let’s just hope Booker’s not going to miss as much time as I think he will, as I’m guessing he’ll miss at least two weeks at a minimum, and the injury could bother him for the rest of the season.
T.J. Warren got ejected early in this one, but he’ll be back for the next game and will be looking to make up for lost time. Warren should go bonkers if Booker is in street clothes.
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Jusuf Nurkic sprains right ankle, could miss time
With just over six minutes left in Portland’s loss to Washington, Nurkic appeared to turn his right ankle pretty badly, shot a free throw, and then hobbled his way to the locker room. X-rays were negative and he finished with 15 points, nine rebounds, two assists and three blocks, but Nurkic was grabbing the high part of his ankle, leading me to believe that it’s a high ankle sprain (I’m apparently really good at deductive reasoning). As football fans know, high ankle sprains are on a different level than regular sprains, and generally cause guys to miss weeks instead of days. There’s not a clear-cut winner given Portland’s rather weak core of backup centers, but my guess is Meyers Leonard would start, Ed Davis would be the backup, and Noah Vonleh would fill in as needed (tip of the cap to Mike Gallagher, who helped me come to that conclusion). Vonleh just hasn’t spent much time at center this year, so I’d expect Leonard and Davis to get most of the minutes in the middle if Nurkic is going to miss time. I’d rank them as Leonard, Davis and Vonleh, while Al-Farouq Aminu would also get a likely boost. However, I’m not racing to pick up any Portland centers, and it’s possible that Nurk’s injury isn’t as bad as I fear it might be.
Speaking of Aminu, he was solid last night, hitting 6-of-10 shots and five 3-pointers for 17 points, six rebounds and a block in a start after coming off the bench over the last few games. Make sure Aminu’s not available in your league and get him back into your starting lineup if you haven’t already. Damian Lillard was great and scored 30 with a fat line, while C.J. McCollum struggled with his shot once again. He’s hit just 25-of-73 shots over his last four games and hasn’t scored more than 17 points during that stretch, but he’s due to break out in his next game. Lastly, Moe Harkless got the start, but left before halftime with a quad contusion and didn’t return. Evan Turner started for him in the third quarter, but didn’t do much of anything. Turner’s simply worth keeping an eye on if Harkless is going to miss time.
Russell Westbrook records seventh triple-double with 34-13-14 line
The 11-12 Thunder might have 99 problems, but Westbrook isn’t one. He had his seventh triple-double of the season and it was a doozy with 34 points, 13 rebounds, 14 assists, a steal, a block, a couple threes and seven turnovers. Sure, the TOs stink, but if you own Westbrook, you’ve learned to ignore them and to focus on all the good things that happen on nights when he plays. The Thunder didn’t blowout the Jazz and are still struggling to make sure Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams all succeed in the offense, but they still have plenty of time to turn it around. Melo has been up and down, George was awful in the first half, and Adams is rolling over his last three games, along with Westbrook, who has double-digit assists in each of his last three games.
Joe Ingles had a nice 16 points, two rebounds, four assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers in 34 minutes for the Jazz on Tuesday. He’s back and playing well, averaging 11.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 0.8 steals and 2.8 3-pointers over his last five. Pick him up if he was dropped in your league. Alec Burks finally cooled off, hitting just 2-of-9 shots and no 3-pointers for 11 points, two rebounds, five assists and a steal in 22 minutes. Rodney Hood was out again with an ankle injury, but should be back soon. However, Burks had scored at least 24 points with eight 3-pointers in his previous three games, and will try to get going again against the Rockets on Thursday. If you picked him up for this week, I’d recommend sticking with him and then making a move on Sunday if he’s still struggling (and Hood is back). And good ol’ Donovan Mitchell (or should I say ‘young’) hit 11-of-22 shots for 31 points, four assists, five steals and five 3-pointers in 36 minutes. He’s averaging a ridiculous 26.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.6 steals and 4.2 3-pointers on 52 percent shooting over his last five. Ben Simmons better keep the hammer down, or Mitchell just might steal his hardware, right (my buddy) Doctor Walters?
Thabo Sefolosha played through a hand injury and hit 5-of-8 shots and a 3-pointer for 11 points, eight boards, four steals and two blocks in 21 minutes. He’s never going to be a big scorer, but steals and blocks are his forte, even though he didn’t have one in his previous three games. I’m not picking him up, but he deserves to be watched after tonight’s game (Hood’s return should hurt him a little). Rudy Gobert was pretty quiet again, but owners have to exercise patience. If you’re interested in obtaining at stud center at half price, make some offers on Gobert right now. He’s going to be a stud again in less than 10 days.
Jakob Poeltl had 13 points, five rebounds and a block for the Raptors on Tuesday and had 18 points, six boards and two blocks in his previous game. Jonas Valanciunas’ minutes are way down (18 last night) and he’s struggling, so Poeltl could be someone to give a close look if you need a center. The timeshare appears to be on in Toronto. OG Anunoby also had 16 points, four 3-pointers, two rebounds and a steal in another start on Tuesday. He’s not playing consistently well enough to be a must-own player, but as long as he’s starting, he has the potential to be worth rostering. Just keep an eye on him, but know he doesn’t tend to do much besides hit threes. Having said that, he’s also had at least one steal in four straight games. Fred VanVleet added 13 points, six assists and a 3-pointer on Tuesday in 21 minutes. He’s played well in two straight games and will continue to get run in Delon Wright’s (shoulder) absence. He’s another guy to keep an eye on, or think about grabbing if you’re in a deeper league. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan both posted fun lines for the Raptors last night.