It was an action-packed Saturday night in the Association, with seven games on the slate. The highlights included Boogie getting busy, a career-night from Eric Bledsoe, and Superman masquerading as Stephen Curry...
Kings 109, Hornets 106
Boogie was a beast yet again on Saturday. DeMarcus Cousins not only scored the go-ahead bucket with under 15 seconds left in the game, he was dominant all night long. Cousins finished with a game-high 35 points (on 13-of-22 shooting) and 18 boards, to go along with four assists, and two 3-pointers. It was DMC’s third game with at least 35 points and 15 boards this season (only Anthony Davis has more). The fantasy community assumed Cousins’ stats would spike after Rudy Gay (Achilles) was lost for the season, and that’s exactly what has happened. Cousins is averaging 30.6 points, 14.4 boards, 5.4 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.4 steals and 1.2 treys over the Kings last five contests… Darren Collison has been the third wheel in Sacramento the last few years, behind Cousins and Gay. And just like DMC, Collison’s numbers have jumped up since Rudy went down. Collison had 17 points, two assists and two 3-pointer on Saturday. He is averaging 22.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.3 three-pointers over the Kings last three games… After a terrible start to the season, Willie Cauley-Stein has picked up his play of late. He had 13 points and three rebounds in 14 minutes. He’s not yet worthy of a roster spot but is at least trending in the right direction… Anthony Tolliver (14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four 3-pointers in 30 minutes) was Sacramento’s third leading scorer on Saturday.
The Hornets have hit another rough patch. Saturday was their fourth straight loss. They also had a five-game losing streak earlier in the month. Although he’s struggled a bit of late, this loss, in particular, can’t be pinned on Kemba Walker. The newly anointed All-Star had 26 points (on 8-of-16 shooting), seven assists, three 3-pointers, and three rebounds… Nicolas Batum (19 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and three 3-pointers) also contributed his typically solid all-around stat line on Saturday… Marvin Williams scored 14 points. It was his fourth straight game scoring at least 13… Cody Zeller did not play in this one due to a quad injury, but is expected back next week. Roy Hibbert started in place of Zeller, but was unproductive, finishing with just six points and two boards in 12 minutes. Hibbert was outplayed by Spencer Hawes, who scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 28 minutes. However, Zeller remains the only Charlotte center worth owning in standard leagues.
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Heat 116, Pistons 103
Winners of seven straight, the Heat are now the proud owners of the longest winning streak in the NBA. Quite shocking, considering the Miami was 19 games under .500 (11-30) at the midpoint of the season. Dion Waiters has been one of the catalysts of this impressive Heat hot streak. Coming into Saturday, he was averaging 27.3 points (shooting 54.7 percent from the floor and 66.7 percent from downtown), 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 4.0 3-pointers in 34.1 minutes over his previous four games. However, Waiters cooled off on Saturday. He did score 17 points but was just 7-of-18 from the field and 1-of-9 from downtown. Waiters' value likely peaked earlier this week as it will be difficult for him to maintain his playing time and usage rate once Tyler Johnson (shoulder) and Josh Richardson (foot) are back in the mix. Johnson was listed as questionable and went through warmups before eventually being ruled out Saturday. He is expected to return next week. Wayne Ellington is another player that has benefited from the absence of both Johnson and Richardson. Ellington had 19 points and five 3-pointers in 34 minutes on Saturday, but will see his playing time capped significantly once the Heat roster is fully healthy… The other lynchpin in Miami’s recent run has been Goran Dragic. The Heat playmaker was at it again on Saturday, scoring a team-high 23 points to go along with four assists and two 3-pointers… After sitting out Friday night due to a nagging ankle injury, Hassan Whiteside returned to action on Saturday. He played just 29 minutes and still isn’t fully healthy, but he was still able to post a respectable nine points, 12 boards and two blocks. Whiteside’s return bumped Willie Reed back to the bench. After 20 points and five boards in Friday’s start, Reed had just two points and five rebounds in 18 minutes in this one.
Andre Drummond was dominant in the paint on Saturday, grabbing 20 rebounds and scoring 17 points. Per Basketball Reference, it was his fourth game this season with at least 20 boards and more than 15 points, which is tied for the league-lead in such games… Reggie Jackson continues to put up strong stat lines. He has scored at last 16 points in five straight games and is averaging 20.6 points, 6.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds over that stretch… Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had another rough shooting night (2-of-11 from the floor) and is now just 6-of-25 from the field and 2-of-12 from 3-point territory in the two games he’s played since returning from a shoulder injury. The good news is that KCP has avoided aggravating that injury. He’s still returning 10th round value on the season and should relocate his shooting stroke once he gets back in the groove.
Warriors 144, Clippers 98
Stephen Curry was listed as questionable prior to the start of Saturday night’s game due to a sore left quad, as it was uncertain if he would suit up or not. Well, Curry did end up playing and, similar to so many occasions last season, it appeared Steph was wearing a Superman suit on Saturday. Curry not only poured in 43 points, he also added nine rebounds, six assists, and nine 3-pointers in just 29 minutes. He scored 25 of those 43 in the third quarter, personally outscoring the Clippers (25-23). Curry is the first player in NBA history to score more than 40 points and knock down at least nine 3-pointers in less than 30 minutes. Amazingly, it was the 11th time in his career that Curry finished with 40-plus points and nine triples. Kobe Bryant is second on the NBA’s all-time list of 40-point/nine-trey outings, and Kobe has just four such games. Curry has been consistently stellar all season, but this was one of those nights that brought back memories of his epic 2015-16 MVP campaign when he was seemingly breaking records on a nightly basis… With Steph handling the bulk of the scoring and the game being a blowout, the rest of the Warriors were able to coast. Kevin Durant had 23 points, four rebounds, seven assists, three 3-pointers and no turnovers in 29 minutes. Klay Thompson had 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting but didn’t bring much else to the table (one rebound, one assist, one block, one steal). Draymond Green had five points, five rebounds, five dimes, two steals and two blocks… The Warriors (40–7) have won at least 40 of their first 50 games in each of the last three seasons. They are the first team in NBA history to accomplish that feat.
The Clippers simply were simply demolished in this one. As a result, it tough to read too much into the numbers. Blake Griffin was the team’s high-scorer, putting up 20 points with four rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes. Griffin will be expected to shoulder a larger share of the offense with Chris Paul (thumb) sidelined, but didn't have enough of an opportunity to put up better stats in this defeat. DeAndre Jordan (eight points and five rebounds) also played just 23 minutes. Jordan made all four of his field goal attempts. Over the Clippers last seven games, Jordan has converted on 45 of his 55 field goal attempts, and ridiculous 81.8 percent… Austin Rivers was the only Clipper to play more than 30 minutes. He had 10 points, two rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes.
Timberwolves 129, Nets 109
After an incredibly impressive rookie campaign, big things were expected out of Karl-Anthony Towns this season. He was solid, if not spectacular, over the first two-plus months. KAT averaged 21.4 points and 11.7 rebounds, while shooting 47.2 percent from the floor, over the first 37 games of the season. However, Towns has kicked it into high gear over the last three weeks. After scoring a game-high 37 points, hauling down 13 rebounds and blocking four shots on Saturday, KAT is now averaging 28.8 points (on 62.0 percent shooting!), 12.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.0 blocks, 1.2 3-points and 1.1 steals over the Wolves last 10 games. That’s the Towns that fantasy owners were hoping they would get when they invested a first-round pick on him back in October… The other Timber-Pups also played well on Saturday. Zach LaVine scored 20 points with six rebounds, two assists, two steals and three 3-pointers in 37 minutes. Andrew Wiggins had 20 points, four assists and three boards… Shabazz Muhammad scored 18 points with seven rebounds and two 3-pointers in 28 minutes off the bench… Gorgui Dieng had a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds) and also chipped in four assists and two steals.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Brook Lopez put up impressive fantasy numbers but got little support from his teammates and the Nets got blown out. Lopez sat out Friday due to rest, but was back in the saddle on Saturday. He finished with 25 points, seven rebounds and three 3-pointers in 30 minutes… Sean Kilpatrick scored 14 points but had just one rebound and one assist and nothing else… Rising rookie Caris LeVert scored 11 points with four rebounds and two steals in 27 minutes… Some injury news to report from the Brooklyn side of the ledger: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson suffered an injury to his right ankle and did not return to Saturday’s game. RHJ injured the same ankle back in November and it cost him three games. Knowing that the Nets err on the side of caution with all injuries, we can expect them to wait until Hollis-Jefferson is 100 percent before letting him play. If he misses time, Trevor Booker may see an uptick in minutes. Booker, who is recovering from an illness, had just six points and five boards on Saturday. He has been slumping lately, but still has a relatively high floor and is worth a roster spot.
Celtics 112, Bucks 108
Another night, another monster line from Isaiah Thomas, who finished with 37 points, eight assists, three rebounds and six 3-pointers in this overtime thriller. It was the 31st straight game in which Thomas has scored at least 20 points. Remarkably, it was also the fifth time in seven games he’s tallied at least 35 points. IT is averaging 33.7 points and 7.1 assists over that seven-game stretch… Jae Crowder (20 points, six boards, four assists) also stayed hot in this one. Over the Celts last six games, Crowder is averaging 19.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.0 3-pointers. His stock is most certainly on the rise… Al Horford (groin) and Avery Bradley (Achilles) did not play for Boston. Bradley is expected to be out for another week... Kelly Olynyk took advantage of a favorable matchup and soaked up most of Horford’s minutes on Saturday. Olynyk had 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 21 points with six rebounds and six assists on Saturday. The only bummer was that he had just one block and no steals in 45 minutes of action… Michael Beasley was the Bucks second-leading scorer. Beas had 17 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes. The reason Beasley saw extended minutes on Saturday was because starter Jabari Parker was ice cold. Parker missed 11 of the 13 shots he attempted, finishing with four points, eight rebounds and three turnovers. Parker has been terrific all season long, so obviously no need to panic… Thon Maker got his first start at center but played a total of only 10 minutes, scoring four points with two rebounds. Greg Monroe played very well off the bench behind Maker. Monroe tallied 14 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and three blocks in 35 minutes. Despite a dud on Friday night, Monroe is averaging 16.3 points and 8.5 rebounds over Milwaukee's last four games.
Grizzlies 102, Jazz 95
A blast from the past for Z-Bo on Saturday night helped carry Memphis past Utah. Zach Randolph scored a season-high 28 points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds in 34 minutes off the bench… Steady Mike Conley calmly captained the ship, finishing with 23 points, three assists, three boards, two steals and three treys in 28 minutes… Marc Gasol had 18 points, five assists and four boards. No other Memphis player scored in double figures. Chandler Parsons (rest) did not play, as this was the second night of a back-to-back.
Rodney Hood was the only member of the Jazz to score more than 16 points on Saturday. He had 20 points, four boards and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes… Gordon Hayward couldn’t locate his shot in this one. He was just 4-of-13 from the floor for 14 points. Fortunately, he grabbed eight boards and dished out five assists… George Hill had 16 points, five assists and three rebounds… Trey Lyles drew the start in place of Derrick Favors (rest) but was dreadful. He missed all three of his field-goal attempts and finished with zero points, one rebound and two assists.
Nuggets 123, Suns 112
Another win for Denver, who have now won three straight and seven of their last nine. Although they are four games under .500, they hold a one-game lead on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Danilo Gallinari led the way for the Nuggets, scoring a season-high 32 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and three 3-pointers. Gallo was also 11-for-11 from the free-throw line. It was the 10th time Gallinari made at least 10 foul shots in a game for the Nuggets without a miss. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since the Nuggets joined the NBA in the 1976–77 season, only two players have had more games of that kind for Denver, and both are Hall-of-Famers (Dan Issel and Alex English)... Jusuf Nurkic got the start at center in place of the injured Nikola Jokic (hip) but failed to capitalize. Nurk had just five points and four boards in 15 minutes. Kenneth Faried (hamstring), on the other hand, made the most of his opportunity. He started at power forward but also saw plenty of time at center to spell the struggling Nurkic. Faried finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in a team-high 37 minutes. Jokic is out at least one more game, so expect to see plenty of The Manimal on Tuesday vs. the Lakers as well… With Emmanuel Mudiay (back) missing his fourth straight game, Jameer Nelson made his fourth straight start on Saturday. He scored 17 points and dished out six assists in 33 minutes. Jamal Murray also saw extra time in the Nuggets backcourt. Murray scored 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting in 23 minutes. Mudiay has already been ruled out of Tuesday’s game, so Nelson and Murray are expected to see a similar allotment of minutes in L.A. as well… Gary Harris (15 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals) had a solid all-around game. His stock is trending upwards… On the contrary, Wilson Chandler (six points, three rebounds, zero assists) has scored in single digits in three straight games and is becoming more difficult to rely on in standard leagues.
Eric Bledsoe was the brightest star for the Suns on Saturday. He poured a career-high 41 points, handed out eight assists, grabbed six rebounds and also added two steals and three 3-pointers. Per Basketball Reference, Bledsoe joined Steve Nash as just the second Phoenix player in the last 30 years to tally at least 41 points, eight dimes and six boards in a single game. Over his last four, Bledsoe is averaging 31.8 points, 8.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 3-pointers. Can’t possibly ask for much more than that… Devin Booker cracked the 20-point plateau once again, finishing with 23 points and four boards. Booker has scored at least 20 in 12 straight contests. He is the first player with that long of a 20-point streak in his first or second season since Blake Griffin ran off 14 straight games in a row in 2010-11… Tyson Chandler bounced back from a disappointing game on Thursday, to post another impressive double-double (15 points and 13 rebounds) on Saturday. Chandler is now averaging 14.8 rebounds over the Suns last 11 contests.