It was a quick four-game night, but there was plenty of news floating around. Would Rudy Gobert play? Was Rajon Rondo’s “back injury” OK? Is Kelly Olynyk someone I should add? Is Kobe Bryant still a stud? Dose takes a look at all of it. Enjoy. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!
Hawks 126, Sixers 98 – Kent Bazemore, of all people, led the Hawks over the Sixers with 22 points, six boards, four assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers in just 25 minutes. Bazemore has been feeling it and should be owned in all leagues. Paul Millsap and Al Horford each scored 18 points with nice stat lines, and Jeff Teague continued to struggle, hitting 3-of-7 shots for seven points and four assists in 22 minutes. Look, I know Teague has been struggling, but he’s still the point guard for the Hawks and will bounce out of this funk sooner than later. Yes, Dennis Schroder played 19 minutes and had 14 points, four boards, six assists, two steals and two 3-pointers, but he played just 19 minutes. He’s completely unreliable as long as Teague is healthy. The same goes for Thabo Sefolosha, who had six points, five boards, four assists and three steals in 22 minutes. This game was a blowout, and coach Bud comes from the Spurs’ school of resting guys - Don’t play them if you don’t have to - Kyle Korver played 21 minutes and had five points and a 3-pointer. If I own him, I’m so ready to pluck that hot free agent off the wire in his place, as he just doesn’t seem to have it anymore. Al Horford was money with 18 points, nine boards, three steals and three blocks, while Mike Scott came off the bench for 11 points. Schroder and Scott are worth a watchful eye, but as long as the starters are healthy, I just don’t see the point.
The Sixers got nice lines from both Nerlens Noel (9 points, 13 boards, 2 steals, 1 block) and Jahlil Okafor (21 points, 7 rebounds), while Ish Smith was decent with 12 points and seven assists. These are the three guys you want to own on the Sixers. Nik Stauskas started again, but hit just 3-of-7 shots for nine points and two 3-pointers, and JaKarr Sampson had just four points on 0-of-4 shooting in a starting gig. Robert Covington played just 13 minutes off the bench and had eight points and two 3-pointers on 3-of-9 shooting, and I see no reason to hold him right now. The rest of the Sixers’ bench was a mess, and the only players you want to own on this team are Noel, Okafor and Smith, until further notice. Elton Brand didn’t play for Philly, but there’s no fantasy reason that he should ever get a second look from you, even when he does show up, great shape or not.
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Bulls 101, Celtics 92 – Jimmy Butler led the way with 19 points, five boards and 10 assists, Derrick Rose had 18 points, seven boards, and three assists, and Pau Gasol had 17 points, 18 rebounds and a block in the win. Taj Gibson had just 10 points and five boards, and Nikola Mirotic hit just 3-of-10 shots and two 3-pointers for 11 points, eight boards, a steal and a block. Mirotic looks like a must-own player at this point, despite last night’s struggles, while Gibson is a drop candidate with Joakim Noah due back sooner than later. Bobby Portis continues to be a luxury hold, as he had just four points, eight rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes. Once Noah is back, it’s going to be tough to rely on Portis, as he’s struggling for consistency without Noah to clutter things up right now. Maybe the Bulls will trade a big man and open things up.
The Celtics got double-digit scoring from all five of their starters, which included Amir Johnson, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Isaiah Thomas and Evan Turner, while Jared Sullinger had the only double-double off the bench with 13 points, 11 boards and a block. Marcus Smart scored 10 with five rebounds and two assists off the bench. Sullinger makes for a nice stash, especially if he’s going to fight to get his job back from Olynyk. Olynyk looks like the Celtics’ center to own right now, but Sullinger has more talent, and Crowder is quietly one of the better forwards in the league. Once Avery Bradley is back from his hip injury, Turner’s going to take a big hit. Smart played 30 minutes, but hit just 3-of-10 shots. The minutes make him a strong hold candidate, but he’s yet to respond for those of you hanging in there with him. I just don’t trust him under Stevens’ rein. Especially with Thomas ballin’.
Rockets 103, Jazz 94 – The Rockets got 33 points and a fun stat line from James Harden, although he hit just 13-of-25 shots and was 0-for-7 from downtown. If he ever gets hot, look out. Starters Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley were disappointing, as usual, while Terrence Jones somehow got loose for 14 points and eight boards in 32 minutes and a start. Keep in mind that Dwight Howard sat this one out with a sore lower back, or Jones probably wouldn’t have done much. I’m not in Jones’ court right now, and your money can be spent elsewhere, like on the waiver wire. Marcus Thornton scored 12 points in 18 minutes with a 3-pointer and Jason Terry had 12 points and two 3-pointers, but their minutes are just too iffy to rely upon. As for Jones, I don’t trust him as long as Howard is healthy. Don’t feel bad if you recently dropped Jones – this is fluky.
Yes, Rudy Gobert finally played, but got just 15 minutes and finished with six points and three boards off the bench. He missed his huge five-game week opportunity, just like the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe, but this is a good sign that he’s ready to come back and help your team. Trey Lyles started again and had nine points, nine boards, two steals and two blocks, but will take a big hit once Derrick Favors is finally back. Gordon Hayward was quiet with 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting, and Hayward was a DFS killer last night. He’ll bounce back quickly. Jeff Withey’s swan song produced just eight points and four rebounds in 17 minutes, and if you picked him up for the five-game week, it’s time to let go. Gobert is finally back and Favors should be right behind him. Rodney Hood was disappointing with 10 points on 2-of-7 shooting in 22 minutes, but I have faith in him. However, he sprained an ankle last night, so check back for news on that front. The Jazz bench saw major minutes in this loss, with Trevor Booker, Chris Johnson and Trey Burke all hitting double figures in scoring. I was surprised that Burke was so quiet with 10 points and three dimes, but the defensive prowess of Beverley had a lot to do with that. I love the idea of holding Burke with Alec Burks out indefinitely, and Booker’s 12 points and nine boards are a case of too little, too late.
Kings 118, Lakers 115 – The Kings were blowing the Lakers out for much of this game, but blew a 27-point lead and watched Kobe Bryant and D’Angelo Russell get hot and bring the Lakers close late in the game. DeMarcus Cousins went off for 29 points, 10 boards, seven dimes, a steal and two 3-pointers, and his 3-point shooting is one of the unsung stories of the season. He’s hit two 3-pointers in each of his last three games and it’s clearly become part of his game, adding to his already ridiculous value. Sure, it hurts his field-goal percentage, but I love Boogie shooting the trey. Rudy Gay scored 18 and had a fine line, Rajon Rondo returned from a “back injury” and had nine points, six boards, and 12 assists, and Ben McLemore returned from a back injury and had 16 points and a nice line. If you somehow played B-Mac in a DFS league, you might have won. Quincy Acy hit 8-of-9 shots in a start for 18 points, but didn’t do much else, and Gay was solid, as normal, with 18 points four boards, six assists, a block and a 3-pointer. Kosta Koufos got some nice run when the game was a blowout, finishing with 14 points, two rebounds and a block, but didn’t do anything down the stretch when the Lakers made it a game. As long as Cousins is playing, Koufos is an afterthought, even in blowouts. Darren Collison was awful, hitting just 1-of-3 shots for three points in 18 minutes. He’s had a fine fantasy season, but as long as Rondo is healthy, Collison is a risky nightly play. Marco Belinelli cooled off with 11 points, a few boards and assists, and a 3-pointer, but still played 27 minutes. His minutes easily led the bench brigade and I’m good with hanging onto him and using him in standard fantasy leagues.
The Lakers got 28 points from Kobe Bryant, who hit 10-of-18 shots and two 3-pointers for a big game. He had missed his previous three games with a shoulder injury, but looked just fine tonight. If he was dropped in your league, pick him up. D’Angelo Russell went off, hitting 11-of-16 shots and three 3-pointers for 27 points, four assists and two steals, but sprained his ankle. Watch for news tomorrow. He, along with Kobe, was a big reason the Lakers came back, but it was too little, too late. Russell could be setting up for a big second half, meaning he should be owned in all leagues. Larry Nance Jr. cooled off with just nine points and four boards, but I still really like him. He played just 18 minutes tonight, but let’s see what he does in his next game before making any rash decisions. Roy Hibbert got just 12 minutes and didn’t do anything, and it might finally be time to cut him loose for the final time. Jordan Clarkson had 15 points and Lou Williams came through with 20 points and three 3-pointers in stars for the Lakers. Williams and Clarkson look like must-own players going forward, along with Bryant and Russell. Julius Randle had six points and 10 rebounds off the bench, but Nance Jr. is starting. The fact Nance played just 18 minutes is a concern, and a finger-point to Randle, but we need to see what happens in the next couple games. Maybe Randle isn’t done just yet. Brandon Bass stayed hot with 10 points, six boards, four assists, five steals and two blocks, but I just don’t trust the guy, at all. Especially with Nance and Randle playing so well. Bass played a team-high 36 minutes last night, but that can’t last, right? He had gotten just 17, 19, 25 and 24 minutes over his last four games, so I’m counting last night’s 36-minute job as a fluke.