Russell Westbrook had a monster triple-double, LeBron James had a baby one, and Jusuf Nurkic laid an egg against the Pelicans. On the injury front, Kristaps Porzingis and Sean Kilpatrick went down, and Jeremy Lin and Anthony Davis played through ankle injuries. And Draymond Green may have had the second best line of the night, while Stephen Curry scored 29 on his 29th birthday in a comeback win for the Dubs. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!
Thunder 122, Nets 104 – Russell Westbrook had 25 points, 12 rebounds, 19 assists, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers for his 33rd (count ‘em) triple-double of the season. If he averages 21.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists over his last 15 games he’ll finish with averages of 30.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists for the season, which would make him a lock for the MVP Award, although James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James are all going to get some votes as well. Additionally, you can bet that Westbrook is aware that Oscar Robertson’s record for TDs in a season is 41, so he’s got 15 games to get nine more triple-doubles to break the record. I wouldn’t put it past him at this point. Victor Oladipo hit 9-of-15 shots and three 3-pointers for 21 points and four steals, Taj Gibson came through with 17 points, eight boards, a steal and a block, and Steven Adams stayed relatively quiet with 11 points, five boards and two steals. Even with Gibson playing well, Enes Kanter still had 17 points and five boards in just 19 minutes, and Alex Abrines hit 5-of-7 shots and three 3-pointers for 13 points, two steals and a block. Abrines had not scored more than five points in his previous four games, so there’s no need to get excited about him in an easy win against the league’s worst team (12 wins).
For the Nets, Brook Lopez had 25 points, six boards and three 3-pointers (it’s good to see him still playing, but a shutdown could be coming), and Jeremy Lin hit 8-of-15 shots and two 3-pointers for 24 points, five assists, a steal and a block in the loss. Lin suffered a sprained ankle late, but was playing through it. Owners will want to watch for news on him tomorrow, but either way, I’ve simply been wrong about Lin since he returned to action. He’s been great and I thought he’d either be mired in a brutal timeshare or hurt again by now. Caris LeVert was nice with 16 points, five boards, two assists, three steals and a 3-pointer in a start, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was quiet with six points, but also had four boards, two steals and a block. Sean Kilpatrick went down with a hamstring injury and didn’t return. If he’s going to miss time, and it sounds like he might, LeVert might be ready to start putting up more numbers like he did tonight on a regular basis. I’d drop Kilpatrick for LeVert tonight, if I owned Kilpatrick. Point guards Isaiah Whitehead (33 minutes) and Spencer Dinwiddie (25 minutes) each got nice run off the bench, but didn’t do much and haven’t been able to negatively impact Lin up to this point. But the timeshare is still a bit of a concern for me, even though Lin has skated through it flawlessly.
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Cavaliers 128, Pistons 96 – The Cavaliers destroyed the Pistons out of the opening gate last night, opening up a 44-26 lead in the first quarter and they never looked back. LeBron James had a baby triple-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists, Kyrie Irving scored 26 points with six assists, and Iman Shumpert got loose for a season-high 18 points, five boards and two 3-pointers. This was LeBron’s 10th triple-double of the season and if Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kawhi Leonard weren’t all out of their minds, Bron would be getting a lot more MVP love for the Cavs, who have the fourth best record in the NBA, and the best record in the East. Bron has triple-doubled in three of his last four games, and in five of his last nine. Richard Jefferson scored 16 points for the second straight game, and while I’m certainly not high on him, he’s started in five straight games. If he keeps starting and plays like he did in the last two, he’ll at least be worth putting on your radar. But when Kyle Korver finally returns from his foot injury, Shumpert should become a forgotten man once again. Deron Williams hit 6-of-6 shots for 13 points, three assists and a 3-pointer, but only played 14 minutes. I’d only consider using him on a night when Irving is getting a rest. And good ol’ Larry Sanders made his Cavs’ debut, failing to score in two minutes. I still see no reason to pick him up.
The Pistons really didn’t show us much of anything to break down. Reggie Jackson was bad, hitting just 3-of-13 shots for six points and six assists, but Ish Smith had just 12 points and three assists in 21 minutes. It looks to me like Jackson is going to start at point guard the rest of the way, which means a lot of misses (and a few hits) for Smith while coming off the bench. Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were all marginal, at best, while Stanley Johnson came off the bench to hit just 1-of-10 shots for five points, a steal and a 3-pointer. I am still intrigued by Johnson, but this blowout might have been his best chance at a huge game this season. And he dropped the ball.
Knicks 87, Pacers 81 – Kristaps Porzingis left this game with a thigh contusion, but it doesn’t appear to be serious. He had 11 points and a full stat line, but hit just 5-of-17 shots. Consider him questionable for Thursday’s game against the Nets. Center Willy Hernangomez didn’t start, but went off with 13 points, 16 boards, four assists, three steals and a block from the bench in 31 minutes. And if KP’s going to miss time, Willy would be the big winner. Carmelo Anthony had 22 points, 13 boards and three 3-pointers, Derrick Rose scored 16, while Lance Thomas and Courtney Lee were a bit quiet, combining to hit just 5-of-18 shots. The Knicks aren’t going to make the playoffs, so expect them to err on the side of caution with Porzingis.
For the Pacers, Paul George had 22 points, 10 boards and three 3-pointers, and Myles Turner finally broke out of his funk, racking up 17 points, 12 rebounds, a steal and three blocks in 31 minutes. This was his highest point total since Feb. 25 and his highest board total since he had 12 way back on Jan. 16. Maybe he’ll finally start living up to the hype again. But the good news ends there for Indy. Thaddeus Young had four points and six boards in 37 wasted minutes, C.J. Miles hit 2-of-9 shots for six points, and Jeff Teague missed 11 of his 15 shots for nine points, eight boards, six assists and seven turnovers in the ugly loss. And the bench didn’t do much of anything. The No. 6 Pacers sit just 2.0 games in front of the No. 9 Bulls, so they can’t afford many more losses like this one, if any.
Pelicans 100, Blazers 77 – DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points, nine boards, three assists, three steals and two blocks in 30 minutes, and wasn’t benched down the stretch in this one. Anthony Davis missed a big chunk of the second quarter with a sprained ankle, but started the second half and even entered the game with six minutes remaining and the Pelicans holding a 20-point lead. He’s fine. He finished with 15 points, 15 boards, two steals and three blocks. Jrue Holiday had just 10 points, two assists, three steals and a 3-pointer, and still may not be comfortable playing with Cousins. He’s only looked good in one of his last four games, but he still has time to turn the ship around. Jordan Crawford made it four straight games in double figures this season for the Pelicans, scoring 13 points with two 3-pointers. He won’t help you anywhere but in those two categories, but if you’re holding a cold player, like Allen Crabbe, for help in threes, you might want to think about grabbing Crawford instead.
For the Blazers, Jusuf Nurkic was a huge disappointment, hitting just 1-of-8 shots for two points, eight boards and nothing else in 22 minutes. While the Nurk Alert has basically been a beast ever since landing in Portland, he has struggled in two of his last three games. Those two bad games featured 3-of-16 shooting totals, along with just nine points and 15 total rebounds. But he also had a double-double in between the two bad games and it was less than a week ago that he went off for 28 points, 20 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and six blocks. He'll break out of his funk soon. Damian Lillard was fun with 29 points and four 3-pointers, but just two assists, while the rest of the Blazers played more like Nurkic. Moe Harkless scored four points, C.J. McCollum hit just 4-of-12 shots for eight points, his lowest total since Nov. 9, and Al-Farouq Aminu missed all three of his shots for one point, 10 boards and no blocks. I still don’t understand why he doesn’t start over Noah Vonleh, but that’s probably why I’m not an NBA coach. And Allen Crabbe, who was red hot a few days ago, hit just 1-of-8 shots (a 3-pointer) for four points, two rebounds and one assist. After scoring 23, 18 and 14 points in three straight games, Crabbe has scored a total of 11 points, hit 4-of-16 shots and just 2-of-10 3-pointers over his last two games. He's streaky and coming off the bench, and as we've seen, he can get hot or cold at any given moment. And right now he’s just cold.
Warriors 106, Sixers 104 – Stephen Curry scored 29 points on his 29th birthday and the Warriors outscored Philly 28-14 in the fourth quarter to eke out the two-point win and avoid a four-game losing streak. They also overtook the Spurs for the best record in the league, although the Spurs may take it back on Wednesday. While Curry’s 29-6-5-3 line with five 3-pointers will make the birthday headlines, Draymond Green had one of the lines of the night with his 20 points, eight boards, eight assists, four steals and a career-high six blocks. He hit just 4-of-12 shots, but also hit a 3-pointer. And if he’s going to do that to a stat sheet, I couldn’t care less what he shoots on his way to doing it. Klay Thompson scored 28 with five 3-pointers, but missed some big ones down the stretch, Patrick McCaw didn’t do much in his 14-minute start, and Matt Barnes came through with 10 points, nine rebounds, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers. Barnes has played very well in two straight games, so maybe he’s finally ready to start doing it on a regular basis. But the reality is that he and Andre Iguodala aren’t likely to both play well on the same night, at least statistically, which means both are going to be hit-or-miss going forward. Iguodala was back from a day of rest, but had just seven points on 3-of-8 shooting, which can be directly tied to Barnes.
For the Sixers, Dario Saric looks like the Rookie of the Year to me, and it’s not close. He went off (again) for 25 points and two 3-pointers on 11-of-20 shooting, adding seven rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks in 37 minutes. He’s been money ever since Ersan Ilyasova was traded to the Hawks. Robert Covington struggled by hitting just 1-of-8 shots, but still came through with seven points, nine boards, three assists, two steals, a block and a 3-pointer after missing his last game with a sore knee. Covington has really come through for owners who stuck with him back when he shot it like this every night, without the benefit of the peripheral stats. Jahlil Okafor was great with 22 points, six boards and four blocks, and has played very well in four straight games. Hopefully his knees hold up and he finishes up the season on a tear, although I’m still not sure why Brett Brown went with Richaun Holmes down the stretch of such a tight game. Holmes was nice too with 14 points, eight boards, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer, and the two big men should both be worth owning over the rest of the season. T.J. McConnell hit 3-of-7 shots for seven points, seven boards, 10 assists and two steals, and while his shot has been broken lately, he has hit 8-of-18 of them over his last two games. I’m hanging onto him. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarro started for the second straight game and had 10 points and a decent line. If you’re in a deep league and he continues to start, think about grabbing him. We’ll find out if he’s still starting when the Sixers face the Mavs on Friday. Justin Anderson played just seven minutes and didn’t do anything. I still think he’ll have some big games down the stretch, but I’ve dropped him everywhere, with plans of picking him back up later if I’m right.