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Clint Capela
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Basketball Daily Dose

Harden and Capela make their returns

by Raphielle Johnson
Updated On: January 1, 2020, 7:53 am ET

The final game night of the decade consisted of seven games, with many played earlier in the day to give people time to get to their New Year’s Eve parties. James Harden, Clint Capela and Danilo Gallinari all made their returns to action, while Joel Embiid and Kristaps Porzingis were both sidelined due to knee soreness. And a trivia note: Chris Paul is responsible for the last made field goal of the decade. 

Rockets 130, Nuggets 104 — Houston welcomed back both James Harden and Clint Capela, and neither seemed to miss a beat. Harden accounted for 35 points, three rebounds, six assists, one steal, two blocks and six 3-pointers, while Capela finished with 16 points, ten rebounds and three assists. Russell Westbrook added 28 points, three rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block, while Eric Gordon returned to the bench and scored 12 points with three 3-pointers, one rebound and one assist. 

Ben McLemore’s value takes a hit with the Rockets’ rotation now whole, but he still made three 3-pointers and finished with nine points and three rebounds in 18 minutes. The player to keep an eye on, even with Capela back, is Isaiah Hartenstein. He posted a line of 16 points, 12 rebounds, one steal and one block in 18 minutes Tuesday night, and he’s been a top-100 player in both eight- and nine-category formats over the last week. Those rankings will likely drop in the coming weeks, but at the very least he’s given Mike D’Antoni a reason to keep him in the rotation.

Should that happen it would mean fewer minutes at center for P.J. Tucker, which is probably a good thing even though the setup can cause issues for some opposing teams. 

With Gary Harris missing another game due to injury, Torrey Craig received the starting nod for Denver. He accounted for just three points and three rebounds in 21 minutes, and really isn’t worth rostering at this point. The back end of the Denver rotation has been unpredictable for much of this season, as evidenced by Michael Porter Jr. (seven points, three rebounds) playing just 11 minutes on Tuesday, but MPJ’s value is far greater than that of Craig. 

Nikola Jokic (21 points, eight rebounds, four assists) led the way for Denver, while in his return to the lineup Paul Millsap filled the stat sheet with 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal, two blocks and one three-pointer. His return lowers the fantasy value of both Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee, who scored four points apiece against the Rockets. Monte Morris had a good night, shooting 8-of-12 from the field and finishing with 18 points, three rebounds, four assists, three steals and one three-pointer, while Malik Beasley added ten points and two 3-pointers. 

But that wasn’t enough to overcome poor shooting nights from Jamal Murray (six assists, one steal and two 3-pointers) and Will Barton (nine rebounds, seven assists, one steal and two blocks), who combined to score 22 points on 10-of-30 from the field.  

Pacers 115, 76ers 97Joel Embiid was held out due to left knee soreness, just a couple days after playing both ends of a back-to-back. Kyle O'Quinn made a spot start as a result, and in 26 minutes he accounted for four points, ten rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots. Philadelphia doesn’t play again until Friday, and if Embiid is once again unable to go O’Quinn is worth a look for non-scoring stats. The 76ers certainly missed their All-Star center, as both Al Horford and Tobias Harris had off days. 

Horford shot 2-of-12 from the field, finishing with five points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal and one three-pointer, while Harris finished with nine points (4-of-9 FGs), two rebounds, two assists and one three-pointer. While both have been top-50 players for the season in nine-category formats per Basketball Monster, over the last two weeks Horford has shot 37.2 percent from the field and sits outside of the top-100 as a result. Harris has been a top-100 player during this two-week stretch, but Philadelphia is going to need more production from both players (who have been outside of the top-100 in eight-cat over the last two weeks) moving forward. 

Ben Simmons posted a line of 18 points, ten rebounds three assists and one blocked shot in 32 minutes, but he also turned the ball over a team-high six times. In nine-category formats he’s outside of the top-50 for the last two weeks, with the average of 3.8 turnovers per game being the biggest issue. Simmons and Josh Richardson were the only double-digit scorers for the 76ers, with the latter accounted for 20 points, two rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block and one three-pointer.   

On the Pacers side of the equation, Domantas Sabonis continued his impressive season with a line of 23 points, ten rebounds, five assists, one steal, one blocked shot and one three-pointer in 30 minutes. He’s been a top-50 player in both eight- and nine-category formats this season, and is one of the big reasons why the Pacers have more than held their own without the injured Victor Oladipo

But there is a concern, as Malcolm Brogdon was limited to just eight minutes in his return to the lineup by back spasms. Aaron Holiday, who started in Brogdon’s place, finished with five points, seven assists, five rebounds, two blocks and one three-pointer, is of even greater value if Indiana’s starting point guard has to miss more time. T.J. McConnell (11 points, four rebounds and ten assists) is also worth a look, especially in deeper leagues, but Holiday is the first choice. 

McConnell was one of seven Pacers to score in double figures. T.J. Warren, who’s just outside of the top-50 in nine-cat over the last two weeks, added 21 points, four rebounds, two assists and two 3-pointers, while Myles Turner shot 3-of-5 from three and finished with 14 points, five rebounds and one blocked shot. Jeremy Lamb (13 points, three rebounds, six assists, one steal and two 3-pointers), Doug McDermott (12 points, two rebounds and one assist) and Justin Holiday (ten points, one rebound, one assist, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers) were the other double-digit scorers. 

Thunder 106, Mavericks 101Danilo Gallinari is back, and he had a good night in his return to the lineup. In 31 minutes the veteran forward tallied 20 points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal, and three 3-pointers, shooting 8-of-14 from the field. With Gallo back in the fold that means a return to the bench — and fantasy irrelevancy — for Darius Bazley. He played 12 minutes, scoring two points with three rebounds and one blocked shot.

While the Gallinari storyline is certainly important, the play of Chris Paul down the stretch is what pushed the Thunder past the Mavericks. He finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 36 minutes, making a couple big shots in the fourth quarter. The contributions of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder shouldn’t be overlooked either, as SGA posted a line of 19 points, ten rebounds, three assists, two steals and one blocked shot and Schroder accounted for 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers off the bench. 

Oklahoma City also got double-doubles from both of their centers, with Steven Adams scoring ten points with 11 rebounds, two assists and one steal and Nerlens Noel adding 12 points, 12 rebounds, one steal and two blocked shots. Interestingly enough Noel is the better option in most fantasy leagues, as he has been the more productive of the two with regard to both steals and blocked shots, but the gap isn’t large by any stretch of the imagination. Hamidou Diallo made his first appearance in more than a month, playing 19 minutes and scoring four points. 

Luka Doncic didn’t have his best night shooting the basketball, as he was just 12-of-29 from the field, but he finished with 35 points, ten rebounds, seven assists, one steal and three 3-pointers. And there were even more shots available than usual, as Kristaps Porzingis was a late scratch due to right knee soreness. His absence meant a spot start for Maxi Kleber, who accounted for 14 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers in 35 minutes. 

Kleber’s production has been down in recent weeks, but he would certainly be worth a pickup if Porzingis has to miss time beyond Tuesday. Dwight Powell added 11 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block in 29 minutes, and his value would also be enhanced in this scenario. 

Also filling in for an injured starter was Jalen Brunson, who played 23 minutes and finished with seven points, two rebounds, one assist and one three-pointer. With Tim Hardaway Jr. dealing with a hamstring injury, that spot could rotate between Brunson and Seth Curry (nine points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers) until Hardaway Jr. is healthy enough to return. And Curry may be a better fit next to Doncic given his ability as a catch-and-shoot option. 

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Celtics 109, Hornets 92 — Boston was without Jaylen Brown (illness) for this one, which opened up a spot in the starting lineup for Marcus Smart. In his second game back from an eye infection, he shot 3-of-12 from the field and finished with seven points, five rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 30 minutes. Smart is certainly worth rostering, but the offense won’t be the reason why. He’ll consistently produce in non-scoring areas, while a good field goal percentage is a bonus when you can get it. 

Jayson Tatum (24 points, seven rebounds, one assist, three steals, one blocks and four 3-pointers), Kemba Walker (22 points, four rebounds, seven assists, three steals, one block and three 3-pointers) and Gordon Hayward (21 points, ten rebounds, six assists and three 3-pointers) all surpassed the 20-point mark, but the biggest performance may have been that of Enes Kanter. In 23 minutes off the bench he posted a line of 13 points, 14 rebounds, two assists and a career-high six blocked shots. 

Much has been made about Boston’s options at the center position, with Daniel Theis (five points, six rebounds, two steals and one block) serving as the starter and Kanter backing him up. Whether or not that, along with Robert Williams whenever he’s healthy enough to return, is enough for Boston in the postseason remains to be seen. But things have worked out so far, and if Kanter can have even a modest impact as a defender that would enhance his fantasy value considerably. 

Over the last two weeks he’s been a top-100 player in both eight- and nine-category formats, and should be rostered in standard leagues due in large part to his ability as a rebounder. 

Charlotte’s starting backcourt of Devonte' Graham (11 points, four rebounds, seven assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers) and Terry Rozier (10 points, two rebounds, five assists and two 3-pointers) struggled, as they combined to shoot 7-of-25 from the field (5-of-14 3-pointers). While both should certainly be rostered, at this point you’re running the risk of punting field goal percentage. Graham has been especially bad in recent games, as he’s shooting just 28.3 percent from the field over the last two weeks. Rozier has been better, but the 43.0 percent mark isn’t much to write home about either. For the season Graham remains a top-100 player in both eight- and nine-category formats, but the field goal percentage is tough to ignore. 

P.J. Washington led the Hornets with 15 points while also accounting for five rebounds, three assists, three steals, one blocked shot and three 3-pointers in 36 minutes, a solid line for the rookie forward. Miles Bridges, who kept Charlotte within striking distance in the first half, accounted for 14 points, ten rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and one three-pointer in 32 minutes. Washington, who is three games removed from a stint on the sidelines due to a broken finger, and Bridges have been efficient options and they have to be given Charlotte’s perimeter production. 

Dwayne Bacon’s minutes increased, likely because of the fact that the game was effectively over by the end of the third quarter, as he played 18 minutes and tallied 11 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and two 3-pointers. He can be left on the waiver wire, but at the very least his play on Tuesday may lead to his getting a few more minutes moving forward. Over the last two weeks he’s played an average of 8.5 minutes per game. Cody Zeller posted a line of ten points, four rebounds and one assist in 18 minutes, while starting center Bismack Biyombo finished with eight points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal. At this stage, it isn’t necessary to roster either in standard leagues. 

Clippers 105, Kings 87 — Los Angeles was without both Patrick Beverley (wrist) and Lou Williams (personal), which meant a move into the starting lineup for Landry Shamet and more minutes for Derrick Walton Jr. Shamet, who’s essentially a points and threes guy, shot 3-of-4 from deep and finished with nine points, two rebounds and one assist in 25 minutes. Walton played 19 minutes off the bench, scoring ten points with two rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers. While Shamet has some appeal, even when Beverley and Williams return, Walton (who likely earned himself another look) but can be left on the waiver wire.

The play of the Clippers’ supporting cast allowed Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to ease into the game, after both struggled mightily with their shots at the start. Leonard (24 points, two rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one three-pointer) shot 8-of-21 from the field and George (21 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and three 3-pointers) was even worse, as he was 6-of-25. Field goal percentages aside, both managed to put up solid stat lines on the day. 

Moe Harkless shot 5-of-6 from the field, scoring 12 points, with seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and one three-pointer in 22 minutes, with this being just his sixth double-digit scoring effort of the season. And with Montrezl Harrell (seven points, six rebounds, one assist and one steal) being quieter than usual, Harkless’ performance was just what the doctor ordered. Ivica Zubac grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds to go along with eight points and one blocked shot, and he isn’t a bad supplementary big to have rostered. He certainly isn’t a top-end center, but if you already have a solid option at the position Zubac can help out as a utility guy. 

One of the few bright spots for the Kings this season has been Richaun Holmes, and on Tuesday he posted a line of 22 points, ten rebounds, one steal and three blocked shots in 31 minutes. He’s been a top-25 player in nine-category formats this season, and top-10 over the last two weeks, so he would qualify for “sell high” status. That being said, given the state of the Kings frontcourt rotation with Marvin Bagley currently injured it would be a bad idea to part with Holmes unless you can get a king’s ransom in return. 

Buddy Hield added 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and three 3-pointers in 37 minutes, with he along with Holmes being the only reasons why Sacramento was able to keep the margin respectable. De'Aaron Fox shot just 3-of-10 from the field, finishing with nine points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals and one three-pointer, while Nemanja Bjelica tallied eight points, seven rebounds, one steal and two 3-pointers. Bjelica has some value with Bagley sidelined, but that will most likely change once the second-year forward returns to action. 

And Bogdan Bogdanovic’s struggles continue, as he shot 3-of-7 and accounted for six points, three rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 24 minutes. Over the last two weeks, he’s been well outside of the top-100 in both eight- and nine-category formats. While his place in the rotation justifies rostering Bogdanovic, there hasn’t been much value to be had recently. 

Spurs 117, Warriors 113 (OT)DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points with five rebounds, four assists and three steals to lead five double-digit scorers for San Antonio. Patty Mills played 33 minutes off the bench, scoring 18 points with four rebounds, four assists, one steal and five 3-pointers. The veteran guard’s value to the Spurs rotation is greater than his fantasy value, even though he can have nights like Tuesday when given extended minutes. 

LaMarcus Aldridge (17 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and one three-pointer), Dejounte Murray (15/6/5/2 with one three-pointer) and Bryn Forbes (14/3/1 with four 3-pointers) also scored in double figures for San Antonio, while Derrick White chipped in with seven points, six rebounds, four assists, one block and one three-pointer in 26 minutes off the bench. Murray should be rostered in all leagues, as his offensive production has improved in recent games. 

Over the last two weeks he’s been a top-50 player in both eight- and nine-category formats. As for Aldridge, he’s been a top-10 player over the last two weeks and is averaging 1.7 three-pointers per game during that period. 

Golden State was down two starters, as D’Angelo Russell (illness/shoulder) and Willie Cauley-Stein (illness) were both ruled out. As a result Alec Burks and Marquese Chriss were promoted, with Burks finishing with 28 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and four 3-pointers and Chriss tallying seven points, 11 rebounds, five assists, one steal and one blocked shot. While Cauley-Stein’s issue appears to be short-term, Russell’s shoulder could be more of an issue. Should he miss any additional time Burks becomes a more attractive option, albeit in the short-term.

Glenn Robinson III added 25 points, three rebounds, three assists, one block and three 3-pointers in 40 minutes, with Damion Lee continuing his solid run of play with 20 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two 3-pointers. Both are worth rostering, especially next week with Golden State scheduled to play four games. Draymond Green filled the stat sheet as he usually does, accounting for ten points, ten rebounds, nine assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers, while Eric Paschall (hip) and Omari Spellman (illness) made their returns to the rotation. 

Paschall, who will figure more prominently as he shakes off the rust, played 18 minutes and finished with three points and three rebounds. Spellman (four points, one rebound, one assist and one steal) doesn’t offer up as much from a value standpoint, even with Cauley-Stein and Kevon Looney (abdomen) sidelined. 

Raptors 117, Cavaliers 97 — Nick Nurse made a change to the starting lineup ahead of this game, with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson replacing OG Anunoby. And both had solid days in the Raptors’ 20-point win, as Hollis-Jefferson accounted for 14 points, five rebounds and two assists, and Anunoby 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and two 3-pointers. The latter’s lack of aggression on the offensive end had been an issue, especially with the Raptors being without Pascal Siakam, but he looked good on Tuesday. Due to Toronto’s depth issues, both Anunoby and Hollis-Jefferson merit short-term consideration especially if Nurse sticks with this particular lineup. 

Another line worth mentioning is that of Terence Davis, who shot 4-of-7 from three and finished with 19 points, four rebounds and one assist in 25 minutes off the bench. He’s had 12th-round value in nine-category formats over the last two weeks, which isn’t great but he won’t lack for opportunities with Siakam being joined on the injury report by Norman Powell. Kyle Lowry (24 points, one rebound, eight assists, one steal and four 3-pointers) and Serge Ibaka (20/10/2/1/1 with two 3-pointers) led the way offensively for the Raptors, with Fred VanVleet adding 12 points, four rebounds, seven assists, four blocked shots and three 3-pointers. The four blocks represent a career-high for the VanVleet. 

While Collin Sexton scored 22 points on the day, the bigger talking point regarding the Cavaliers is the status of Tristan Thompson. He finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds in 32 minutes, and it was reported on Tuesday that some contenders have expressed interest in the veteran big man. Should a move be made that would free up opportunities for Larry Nance Jr., enhancing his fantasy value, while Ante Zizic and John Henson would need to be left on the waiver wire. 

So in addition to Kevin Love (ten points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one three-pointer) keep an eye on Thompson, and with the Cavs having already made one move (Jordan Clarkson) it wouldn’t be a surprise if they were more active ahead of the February trade deadline. 

Cedi Osman added 14 points, four rebounds, four assists, one block and four 3-pointers, while Darius Garland tallied 12 points, one rebound, four assists, one steal and two 3-pointers. Another Cavaliers rookie worth considering in deeper leagues is Kevin Porter Jr., who in 28 minutes accounted for 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and one three-pointer. While the 6-of-17 night wasn’t good he isn’t going to lack for scoring opportunities, especially as part of a second unit that lacks scoring punch. 

Wednesday’s Schedule (all times Eastern) 

Orlando at Washington, 6 PM 

Portland at New York, 7:30 PM 

Minnesota at Milwaukee, 8 PM 

Phoenix at LA Lakers, 10:30 PM 

Raphielle Johnson
Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.