Just when you thought that the injuries would slow down around the NBA, Victor Oladipo was diagnosed with a knee sprain and has already been ruled out of Monday’s game vs. the Hawks. The worst part about this injury is that Dipo was playing the best basketball of his season, averaging 20.4 points, 6.0 boards, 4.2 assists, 1.8 steals and 3.6 3-pointers over his last five games. The Magic haven’t released a timetable, but hopefully it’s just a minor sprain. Elfrid Payton will draw the start in his absence, so plug him back into lineups if you’re looking for assists and steals.
As for Sunday’s games, Tony Parker (sore hip), Gerald Green (knee tendinitis) and Julius Randle all suffered injuries, but fortunately they all sound relatively minor. Russell Westbrook is still a monster and recorded another triple-double, The Wolves and Spurs both won in emphatic fashion, while the Rockets and Nuggets also added another W to the win column tonight. Let’s get right to the action.
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Wolves 117, Suns 87
It’s not often that the Wolves blow out an opponent, but the Suns aren’t exactly the most talented team in the NBA. Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio both played well in limited minutes, scoring 18 points each. Rubio added three assists, two boards, two steals and two triples, while Wiggins had four boards and four assists. Karl-Anthony Towns scored 14 with eight boards and three blocks, and he could return top-20 value to his owners the rest of the way. It’s early, but I wouldn’t hesitate to take him in the first round of drafts next season.
Zach LaVine and Gorgui Dieng both took advantage of some garbage time with LaVine scoring 11 points with three assists, four steals and two 3-pointers, while Dieng finished with 15 points, six boards, one block and a steal in 18 minutes. I’m not calling LaVine a must-own guy if you need production right now, but he is an elite stash for the final stretch. I feel the same way about Dieng, but it worries me that he wasn’t the first big off the bench on Sunday (Nemanja Bjelica was).
Shabazz Muhammad was also solid with 11 points and eight boards in 26 minutes, but will someone please tell coach Sam Mitchell that Tayshaun Prince (27 minutes) is past his prime. There is no reason for a 35-year-old veteran to play that many minutes in a rebuilding season. OK, I’m done venting.
Brandon Knight dropped 20 points on 9-of-20 shooting to pace the Suns, but he turned the ball over six times and had just one assist. That’s obviously not what you want from your starting point guard, and while he should be a lot better moving forward, I’m worried that the Suns could reduce his role down the stretch because the Suns will inevitably start tanking. Markieff Morris started again and scored 17 points with five boards, three assists and three steals, but the Suns are just showcasing him for potential trades. Let someone else deal with that headache. At least he stopped throwing towels at his coach for now.
Devin Booker scored 11 points with no other stats, but his future is bright and he is still a hold in standard leagues. Tyson Chandler (eight points, eight boards), P.J. Tucker (four points, seven boards, five assists) and Mirza Teletovic (two points, one board) were all underwhelming, and I don’t trust any of them moving forward. T.J. Warren played just 21 minutes with seven points and two blocks, but he is just a stash for when Morris is traded.
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Thunder 99, Heat 74
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder to their fourth straight win, recording his second straight triple-double in the process. He finished with 13 points, 15 assists, 10 boards, two steals and one 3-pointer, though he did shoot just 5-of-16 from the field with three turnovers. He was obviously camping under the rim for multiple possessions and leaving his defender to get his 10th rebound, but he can do what he wants when his team is up 20. Westbrook is a beast.
Kevin Durant was excellent as usual with 24 points, 10 boards, three assists, three steals and three triples, while Serge Ibaka scored 19 with seven boards. Ibaka didn’t record any blocks, though. Dion Waiters added 18 points off the bench, while impressive rookie Cameron Payne took a step back with zero points and two assists in 15 minutes. Payne is just a handcuff for Westbrook, but keep an eye on him.
Dwyane Wade played through two sore shoulders on his way to 22 points and three assists, so he is going to be fine for Tuesday’s game vs. the Bucks. Tyler Johnson started at point guard with Goran Dragic (calf) and Beno Udrih (neck) both out of commission, and he played really well with 16 points, six boards, four assists and two treys in 39 minutes. Dragic could be out a little while and Udrih could miss more time as well, so Johnson is worth a serious look if you need a guard.
Chris Bosh was relatively quiet with 12 points and four boards with a couple of blocks and steals, but he won’t be going up against Ibaka every night. Durant defended him well, too. Gerald Green left the game after 12 minutes with knee tendinitis and never returned, so he should be considered questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. the Bucks. The injury doesn’t sound serious, but Justise Winslow will benefit if he misses time.
Spurs 112, Mavericks 83
Led by LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs easily defeated the Mavs on Sunday and were able to get their starters some valuable rest in the fourth quarter. Aldridge scored 23 points with seven boards and a block, while Leonard scored 15 points with four boards, two steals and a 3-pointer. Aldridge has no shot of reaching his ADP, but he has scored 22 or more points in three out of his last four games.
Danny Green is still awful and finished with four points and seven boards, but you should’ve move on already. Tim Duncan was quiet once again with two points and five boards, but something tells me that he will come alive as we get closer to the playoffs. Tony Parker did leave with a sore hip, but the Spurs were up big when he left the game and they probably held him out as a precaution. Luckily for the Spurs, they don’t play again until Thursday. The legend known as Boban Marjanovic scored seven points with four boards in nine minutes, but he still only plays in garbage time.
Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, Chandler Parsons and Zaza Pachulia were all held to single-digit points in the scoring column, so I’ll chalk this game up as a fluke. The Spurs owned the Mavs all night, so there’s really no need to read too much into the box score. Parsons still hasn’t found his stride yet and has had two sub-par performances in a row, so there’s still a buy-low window. Williams has also struggled since returning from his hamstring injury, but his hot start to the season was probably too good to be true anyways.
Dwight Powell took advantage of some garbage time with 15 points and two boards, and he is still an intriguing asset to stash in dynasty leagues. Dirk can’t play forever…
Nuggets 129, Pacers 126
Things are looking pretty bleak for the Pacers at the moment. George Hill (personal), Ian Mahinmi (left heel) and Rodney Stuckey (foot) were all out on Sunday, meaning the Pacers rolled out a starting lineup consisting of Monta Ellis, Glenn Robinson III, Paul George, Lavoy Allen and Jordan Hill. George was probable with a calf issue coming into this one, but he scored 19 points with five assists, three steals and three treys in 36 minutes. Needless to say, George is fine. Ellis was fantastic with 24 points and five assists, but he couldn’t prevent the Pacers from losing their third straight game.
Rookie Myles Turner exploded onto the scene with a career-high 25 points with seven boards and two blocks, but keep in mind that the Nuggets don’t have any great interior defenders. I loved Turner coming into the season as did a lot of my colleagues, but I’m only looking to add him if Mahinmi misses more time. He is a must-own player in dynasty leagues, though. Another Pacers rookie made a name for himself as well, as Joe Young scored 15 points with seven dimes in 18 minutes. Young lit it up in college, but this was the first standout performance of his NBA career. Hill should be back any day, so just keep an eye on Young for now.
As for the Nuggets, Nikola Jokic replaced Darrell Arthur in the starting lineup and played well, finishing with 18 points, three assists, two boards, four steals and one 3-pointer in 24 minutes. Jusuf Nurkic (knee, ankle) won’t come back until he’s 100 percent which could be a while, so Jokic is worth owning if he continues to see minutes in the 20s. He is not a good defender yet, but his game translates really well to fantasy. Emmanuel Mudiay started in place of the injured Jameer Nelson (wrist) and scored 10 points with six assists, but he also turned the ball over seven times. I wouldn’t want to own Nelson or Mudiay right now.
Gary Harris was fantastic with 20 points and one 3-pointer, while Danilo Gallinari stayed hot with 23 points before fouling out in 23 minutes. The only thing Gallo has to do is stay healthy. Kenneth Faried scored 13 points with nine boards and one steal, while Will Barton got back on track with 21 points, six boards, three steals and three triples in 31 minutes. He’s still the sixth man of the year in my mind.
Rockets 112, Lakers 95
Dwight Howard was considered a game-time call due to on oblique strain, but he dominated his former team with 14 points, 15 boards and three blocks in 26 minutes. The Rockets are back in action on Monday vs. the Clippers, so it’s a good thing that he didn’t have a significant workload in this one. Clint Capela double-doubled with 14 points and 11 boards, but this doesn’t move the needle for me because the Lakers have arguably the worst frontcourt in the league.
James Harden was solid with 31 points, five assists and four treys, but Jason Terry flopped in a start for the injured Patrick Beverley (ankle) and scored just two points in 17 minutes. Terrence Jones posted his second dud in a row with just two points, two boards and one steal in 22 minutes, so I can understand if you want to move on. I’ve been defending Jones all season, but his inconsistency is maddening. I’m really only stashing him in the hope that he is traded out of Houston.
Kobe Bryant played through his strained Achilles and scored five points on 2-of-5 shooting with nine assists, two boards, one steal and four turnovers. He said after the game that he felt fine, and he seems determined to continue to play through the ailment even though it’s clearly bothering him. I’d hate to own him in fantasy right now, but I’m cherishing every moment of his farewell tour.
Larry Nance sat out with a sore right knee, opening the door for Julius Randle (12 points and 11 boards in 26 minutes) to start. Randle did play well, but coach Byron Scott said after the game that Nance will remain the starter. Randle also may have broken his nose in the loss, but the Lakers didn’t seem concerned. His outlook should improve after the All-Star break, but Scott’s refusal to play him big minutes is both confusing and infuriating. D’Angelo Russell was finally unleashed and played 30 minutes, scoring 12 points with five assists, two boards and two treys. It’s only going to get better from here…
Lou Williams scored 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, but he should be a popular name at the trade deadline since the Lakers are looking towards the future. Jordan Clarkson added 16 points and three assists, while Hibbert scored eight points with four blocks. If you’re looking for blocks, John Henson is a better option that Hibbert.