Kawhi Leonard returned to San Antonio, but it was the Spurs and DeMar DeRozan’s first triple-double, and another James Harden destroyer mission that stole the show. Dose breaks down a three-game night. I was planning on leading off with the Kawhi story, but Harden quickly changed those plans in the middle of the night.
Rockets 135, Warriors 134 OT – Welp, James Harden did it again, hitting an incredible 3-pointer in the face of Draymond Green to beat the Warriors in overtime. He was likely fouled on the play, despite the no-call, and the Rockets were down by 20 in the third quarter. Harden finished with 44 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists, a steal, two blocks and 10 (of 23) 3-pointers on 13-of-32 shooting. The Rockets have won 11 of their last 12, and six straight games, and Harden is in the zone, to say the least. He’s triple-doubled in three of his last 12 games, has scored 30 points in 11 straight games, has scored 40 in five straight, and has nine straight games with at least 35 points and five dimes, which has never been done in the NBA before. Harden hit an incredible late 3-pointer in the face of Kevin Durant that kept the Rockets alive, and then sealed the deal with the shot over Green for the come-back win. He’s the MVP at this point, hands down, and the Rockets are now 22-15, good for the No. 4 seed in the West – a vast improvement from where they were a month ago. Harden even left Thursday’s game to be observed for a possible concussion, but quickly returned to keep firing them up. It was an inefficient mess of a shooting line, but he still go it done. If you can watch Harden play, he’s must-see TV at this point.
Clint Capela had one of the most ignored 29-point (tied career high), 21-rebound games you’ll ever see, and also had two steals and a block, and Austin Rivers came through with 18 points, four boards, four assists, a steal and four 3-pointers, one of which was also instrumental in extending the game. With Chris Paul (hamstring) without a timetable for return, Rivers is worth grabbing right now. Danuel House had 17 points, four boards, three assists and two 3-pointers in another start, but James Ennis was back from his hamstring injury tonight. House is averaging 16 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.0 3-pointers over his last three games, but I’m afraid Ennis, who played just eight minutes last night, is going to rain on his parade. P.J. Tucker didn’t do much of anything in his 36 minutes, and Gerald Green had 16 points, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers off the bench. I still like Green and House in DFS, but they’re going to be shaky in standard leagues, especially with Ennis back, and Eric Gordon (knee) and CP3 coming back at some point.
The Warriors got big games from Stephen Curry (35 points, 6 assists, 5 3-pointers), Kevin Durant (26 points, 7 rebounds, a block and a 3-pointer) and Klay Thompson (26 points, 5 boards, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks and 4 3-pointers), while Draymond Green came through with nine points, 11 boards, eight assists, two steals and two blocks, and more obnoxious screaming rants than I care to recount. There’s not much to say about the Warriors from a fantasy standpoint, but the no-call on Kevin Durant’s out-of-bounds save was possibly the worst call in the history of the NBA. I’m surprised that Ernie, Charles, Kenny and Shaq didn’t talk about it more after the game, as it was really, really bad. But Harden didn’t let it stop him from doing his thing and winning the game.
This was one of the more entertaining games you’ll see this year, so be sure to catch the replay if you get the chance.
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Spurs 125, Raptors 107 – Kawhi Leonard’s return to the scene of the crime (San Antonio) was the headline of the night heading into Thursday, but it was DeMar DeRozan and the Spurs who had the last laugh. LaMarcus Aldridge, DeRozan and Bryn Forbes all scored at least 20 points, and a suddenly hot Derrick White added 19 points, four assists and two 3-pointers as the Spurs dominated the Raptors from the opening tip. DeRozan came through with the first triple-double of his career, finishing with 21 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists and two steals, and we should have all seen this coming. While all the focus was on Kawhi, it was DeRozan who took out serious revenge on his former team, as the Spurs handed the Raptors just their 12th loss of the season. The Raptors sit in second place in the East, but lead the league in wins at 28, and like the honey badger, the Spurs just didn’t care. The Spurs are now 22-17 on the season, 7-3 over their last 10 games, and have climbed into the No. 7 spot in the West, just above the Lakers and just behind the Clippers.
Forbes was also fun, hitting 7-of-10 shots and six triples on his way to 20 points, three boards, three assists and a steal in the win. Rudy Gay returned from his one-game absence with a wrist injury and had 13 points, seven boards, three assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in 23 minutes. The Spurs have been a virtual black hole for fantasy pickups this season, but White and Forbes, as hinted at by Matt Stroup in our last podcast, can now be added to the list of playable Spurs that includes Aldridge, DeRozan and Gay. White is quietly averaging 14 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.2 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.4 3-pointers on 62 percent shooting over his last five games. Forbes is at 14.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 3.2 3-pointers on 51 percent shooting over his last five. For the record, I like White over Forbes as of now.
The Spurs play four games in each of the next two weeks, then have back-to-back three-game weeks, then another four-gamer, making White and Forbes looking like solid pickups right now. Go get ‘em.
For the Raptors, Leonard, Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell, Greg Monroe and Delon Wright all scored in double figures. Leonard was solid with 21 points, five assists and two steals on 8-of-13 shooting, but only had one rebound. He’s scoring at will right now, but is averaging just 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.2 blocks over his last five. And those are not really the peripherals we’ve come to expect from Leonard. But it was a much better performance than teammate Danny Green gave. So much for the revenge factor with Green, as he went 0-for-7 and failed to score in 26 minutes against his former team. Yuck. Green has scored zero or two points in three of his last four games, and is averaging just 6.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.2 3-pointers on 37 percent shooting over his last five games. If his owners hadn’t dropped him before Thursday’s night’s gutter ball, you can expect him to be on waivers everywhere by Friday night. And I support that move. VanVleet started again for Kyle Lowry (back), but there’s a chance Lowry could be back on Saturday, or the near future. If it happens, FVV obviously takes a big hit. Also, the Raptors bench did some work on Thursday, but it’s important to remember that this was a big-time blowout and there was some serious garbage time going on throughout the night. Just keep an eye on Powell and company.
Nuggets 117, Kings 113 – Jamal Murray went off for 36 points, seven boards, six assists, a steal and six triples, Nikola Jokic added 26 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers, and Mason Plumlee added 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block in another start. Juancho Hernangomez played just 16 minutes for five points, and is a drop guy now that Gary Harris and Paul Millsap are healthy. Harris had 14 points, three boards and two 3-pointers, Millsap had 10 points, six boards and a 3-pointer, and Malik Beasley was quiet in this one. Beasley played 25 minutes and had seven points on 3-of-9 shooting, and didn’t do much more. With Harris and Millsap back, and Will Barton on his way, I’m afraid the Beasley run is over. He was awesome for the last 10 days or so, but I think it’s time to move on. Plumlee’s interesting, but I’m not ready to pick him up just yet, as his five-game averages are just 7.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 0.6 blocks, and the Nuggets are quickly getting healthy. Just keep an eye on him. Harris should be about ready to blow up after being back for two games.
For the Kings, Buddy Hield went off for 29 points and five 3-pointers, De’Aaron Fox had 16 points and eight assists on 7-of-10 shooting, Nemanja Bjelica added 17 points, six boards, three assists, a block and three 3-pointers on 7-of-14 shooting, and Iman Shumpert disappeared, missing all seven of his shots. Shumpert came in kind of hot, but cost me in FanDuel, big time. Bogdan Bogdanovic made some great plays and finished with 14 points, five rebounds, two assists, a steal and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes, and I think he’s worth owning everywhere. Yeah, Bogey and Buddy Hield are going to cancel each other out at times, but both of them are really good. Shumpert has been fading in each of his last three games, and while he’ll get hot again, I think he’s a drop candidate if you want to pick up a hot free agent. As for Bjelica, as long as Melvin Gordon (knee) is out, I’m rolling with him.
The Bulls traded Justin Holiday to the Grizzlies for two second-round picks, MarShon Brooks (who they’ll move) and Wayne Selden, and also cut Cameron Payne. I really don’t see any fantasy impacts from this move, and I think it will hurt the value of Holiday. Having said that, it’s also possible that Holiday could be better than we think he’ll be in Memphis, but if I own him and there’s a hot free agent I want to pick up, dropping Holiday seems like a no-brainer at this point.
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