After a crazy 14-game semi-opening night on Wednesday, Thursday offered just three games and six teams in action. Here’s what went down.
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Grizzlies 112, Pacers 103
After getting blown out by the Cavaliers on Wednesday, the Grizzlies bounced back to down the Pacers, who are now 0-2, on Thursday. Marc Gasol bounced back from a rough start with 20 points, eight boards and a block in 33 minutes, and Mike Conley did the same, double-doubling with 13 points, four boards, 10 assists, two steals and a 3-pointer in 30 minutes. Both guys really struggled the night before, but looked more like the players you drafted tonight. Jeff Green moved to the bench and had 12 points, three boards, three assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers, which could suggest he’ll continue to come off the bench. Especially since his team won. Tony Allen started and had nine points, seven rebounds and four steals, but unless you’re simply desperate for steals, he’ll be a tough player to start in fantasy going forward. I’d rather own Green. Beno Udrih hit 5-of-6 shots for 13 points and six assists, but played just 18 minutes off the bench. It will likely take an injury to Conley to make him worth owning.
Paul George racked up a nice number in daily leagues for the Pacers for the second straight night, but it’s misleading. He was just 5-of-15 shooting and is now 9-of-32 in two games. He still finished with 18 points, two 3-pointers, eight boards, five assists, a steal, a block and four turnovers. I have made it pretty clear I’m not on the PG train this season, and so far, he’s proven me right. However, keep in mind he had to go against Tony Allen and DeMarre Carroll in his first two games, and they’re two of the better defenders in the league. He also got to play small forward tonight, his preferred position. Oops. PG George Hill stayed hot with 20 points, three boards, four assists, a steal and three more 3-pointers in the loss. He also had five turnovers, but I’m able to overlook that given the fact he’s hit eight 3-pointers in his first two games, and played very well. In fact, George is easily won of the league’s early fantasy surprises thus far.
Ian Mahinmi is definitely worth a look if you need a center, posting his second straight solid line of 11 points, nine boards and a block. Jordan Hill started last night, sending C.J. Miles to the bench, but hit just 2-of-6 shots for four points, six boards and zero blocks. CJM, in the meantime, hit 6-of-8 shots and four more 3-pointers for 18 points, two assists and a steal in 21 minutes. He’s scored 18 in both games, one starting and one off the bench, and has hit seven 3-pointers as well. Starting or not, he’s worth a look right now while he’s hot. Monta Ellis struggled again, hitting just 3-of-12 shots for nine points, two rebounds, three assists, a 3-pointer and four turnovers in 32 minutes. The Pacers are having issues with chemistry and spreading the floor early, but you can bet that Ellis will get it figured out sooner than later, despite his horrific start (buy low). Rodney Stuckey played 26 minutes off the bench, hitting 4-of-6 shots for nine points, four boards, five assists, a steal and a block. He’s not a must-own player, but is worth keeping a close eye on right now. Finally, Myles Turner made his debut after missing the opener with a sore ankle, but had just eight points, four boards, two steals and a block in 18 minutes. He’ll get it going eventually, but for now, the center job is Mahinmi’s to lose, while Paul George is the resident power forward.
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Hawks 112, Knicks 101
The Hawks bounced back after getting rolled by the Pistons in Tuesday’s opener, but it was against the Knicks. Yes, the Knicks stomped the Bucks in their opener, but it’s probably going to be a long season.
Atlanta saw Jeff Teague bounce back from an off night and he hit 7-of-12 shots for 23 points, four rebounds, eight assists and a steal in 30 minutes. Dennis Schroder raised a lot of eyebrows on Tuesday, and while he still played pretty well, he finished with just 13 points, one rebound, two assists and a 3-pointer in 18 minutes. I think Schroder will have a big line about every 10 days, but as long as Teague is healthy, he’s the man. Al Horford hit 9-of-18 shots and two 3-pointers for 21 points, nine boards, two steals and three blocks, and is off to a hot start. Paul Millsap added 11 points, 11 boards, five rebounds, five assists and a 3-pointer, despite hitting just 3-of-11 shots. He’s about to catch fire.
Kyle Korver was also better tonight, hitting 6-of-8 shots and three 3-pointers for 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal. He’s fine. Kent Bazemore made another start, but was quiet again with five points, five assists, a steal and a 3-pointer on 2-of-6 shooting in 25 minutes. Yeah, he’s starting, but he’s an afterthought in this offense. Having said that, he’s also due to have a big game at some point as long as he sticks with the starters, but they’ll be few and far between. Thabo Sefolosha sat out as he continues to comeback from an ankle injury. Rookie Lamar Patterson had nine points and two 3-pointers off the bench, but he’ll do more to wreck Sefolosha and Bazemore than actually offer any value of his own.
The Knicks got 25 points, seven boards, three assists and three steals from Carmelo Anthony, but it wasn’t all that great. He hit just 10-of-27 shots and missed all seven of his 3-point attempts, which looks suspiciously like a line from last season. And he was even worse in the opener. Not a fan. Robin Lopez bounced back for 18 points, four rebounds and a block on 8-of-11 shooting in 21 minutes, but Kyle O’Quinn was better off the bench, notching a double-double with 10 points, 10 boards, a steal and a block in 22 minutes. KOQ is worth a pick up if you need a center, and could displace RoLo at some point. Jose Calderon was awful again, getting just 18 minutes and missing all five of his shots to finish with two points, one assist and one steal. Jerian Grant came off the bench for five points, seven rebounds and seven assists on 2-of-4 shooting in 29 minutes, and I’d simply rather own him than Calderon right now. In fact, coach Derek Fisher hinted after the game that a change to the starting lineup could be coming soon, and I’m inclined to believe that it could be Grant for Calderon. Grant is one of my favorite pickups if you need a PG and have someone to cut.
Kristaps Porzingis was solid again with 10 points, eight boards, three steals, a block and zero 3-pointers on 4-of-10 shooting in 26 minutes. He’s going to get run for this team and should be owned in all leagues. Sasha Vujacic started again, but hit just 2-of-8 shots and two 3-pointers for six points, two assists and a block. He’s only starting because Arron Afflalo is out with a hamstring injury. Once he’s back, Vujacic is an afterthought, if he isn’t already. Derrick Williams, who somehow went off for 28 points and a sweet line on Wednesday, fell back to earth with nine points, two rebounds and a steal on 3-of-9 shooting in 18 minutes. And yes, he ruined some of my daily lineups too. But I think he’s still worth holding onto for now if you picked him up. Langston Galloway played 25 minutes off the bench and had eight points, four boards, three assists and a steal on 2-of-4 shooting. The minutes have been nice, but I’d much rather take a flier on Jerian Grant right now.
Clippers 117, Mavericks 92
Dirk Nowitzki had 16 points, seven boards, two assists, a steal and a 3-pointer on 6-of-15 shooting in 25 minutes in the loss. It was a blowout, or he would have done more. John Jenkins came back from a four-minute night to start with Deron Williams (knee) and Wesley Matthews (rest) both out, and blew up for 17 points, six rebounds and three assists in 35 minutes. I drafted him in a few leagues thinking he might do something like this, but cut him too early in most of them. Oh well. I don’t think he’s a hot pickup, but he’s worth keeping an eye on. He also had a +/- of -24, which was the worst of the evening, so there’s that.
Zaza Pachulia (4 points, 8 boards) and Raymond Felton (2-of-9 for 4 points, 4 assists) were two big disappointments after a nice line in their opener. The Mavs are pretty deep everywhere, and a lot of the fringe guys are going to be a crapshoot night to night. Devin Harris was decent tonight with 12 points, six boards, two assists and two 3-pointers in 23 minutes, and J.J. Barea played 21 minutes with two 3-pointers, 12 points and nine assists. They’re the new flavor of the day, but this team is simply a fantasy mess. I didn’t think there was a more dysfunctional fantasy situation than Boston, but it looks like Dallas is right there with ‘em, and they don’t have an Isaiah Thomas. Chandler Parsons (knee surgery) coming back will help and that could happen as early as Sunday. That will signal the end of Charlie Villanueva, who hit 3-of-11 shots and missed all six of his 3-point attempts for seven points and five rebounds in 23 minutes in a garbage-time special. No thank you.
Blake Griffin went off to hit 11-of-17 shots for 26 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block, despite seeing limited minutes in a blowout. DeAndre Jordan lived through Hack-a-DeAndre with six points, 15 rebounds and four blocks, but hit just 2-of-8 free throws in 26 minutes. Chris Paul was one of the bigger disappointments of the night with nine points, three boards, five dimes, one steal and a 3-pointer on 3-of-8 shooting. He played just 24 minutes in the blowout win, so there’s no reason to get worked up about it. He’s going to be a beast on most nights that he plays, obviously. Lance Stephenson got some run again, but hit just 1-of-5 shots (a 3-pointer) for three points, two rebounds and two assists. He’s a mess, and I’m not touching him. Austin Rivers came off the bench for 14 points and two 3-pointers, and Jamal Crawford scored 15 with two 3-pointers, but this was a bit of a blowout special. In short, there wasn’t much to learn from this game, other than that John Jenkins should still be owned in 30-team leagues (oops).
News and Notes
Amare Stoudemire (old) could sit out for the Heat on Friday, to know one’s surprise.
Andrew Wiggins (back) is probable the Wolves on Friday.
Nets’ point guard Jarrett Jack (hamstring) is probable for Friday against the Spurs. He’s a sleeper based on the lack of point guards in Brooklyn this season, but his first game could be a bit of a dud.
Bobby Portis is expected to play a decent role for the Bulls this season, despite being benched for the opener. He’s worth a stash in (real) deeper leagues.
John Henson missed Bucks’ practice Thursday with a sore Achilles, but I have concerns about his minutes when he’s healthy, even though I like his game.
Philly’s Nik Stauskas is probable for Friday and it will be fun to see the 3-point specialist develop in the NBA.
Raul Neto, Utah’s new starting point guard, is iffy for Friday against the Sixers with a sore left knee. If he’s out, Trey Burke will get some nice minutes after coming off the bench and playing limited minutes in the opener.