The Brooklyn Nets trailed by 21 points at halftime and were losing for the first 47 minutes and 29 seconds of their 48-minute game against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were both sidelined due to injuries and the Suns entered the night on a six-game win streak. Devin Booker caught fire in the opening quarter and scored 16 points himself to Brooklyn's 22. Based on all the evidence provided here you probably think you know the outcome of this game. But then James Harden happened.
With 31 seconds to play down by one point, Harden trotted down the court and took a slight step to his left before pushing back to launch into a 3-point shot over the outstretched arms of Mikal Bridges. Swoosh.
The Nets won, 128-124 in a game they had no business crawling back into. They gave up 75 points in the first half and were without two of the best players in the world yet outscored one of the best teams in the league, 40-24, in the final 12 minutes.
The Nets needed a win like this to switch up the narrative. Surely the team's defense was not good for most of the night, but even without Durant and Irving, their offense kept rolling. Harden scored 38 points on 14-of-22 shooting (five 3-pointers) with 11 assists and seven rebounds. He can still carry a team but he wasn't entirely alone. Joe Harris was huge scoring 22 points on 8-of-13 shots and Tyler Johnson contributed 17 points (five 3-pointers), too. Brooklyn shot 57.3% from the field and made 20-of-40 3-pointers. I'm not sure who needs to hear this, but offense wins games, too.
For fantasy purposes, Johnson's the one to keep an eye on. His numbers could benefit the most if Irving continues to sit. Landry Shamet could also be a worthy play for teams in need of 3-point shooting. He knocked down 3-of-6 tries spacing out the floor with Harden. It was his second consecutive game with three triples for 13 points.
Let's talk about all six games from Tuesday night.
Celtics 112, Nuggets 99
Nikola Jokic — The Nuggets aren't what they were last year but Jokic is better than he's ever been. In the first half, he scored 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting. That's in ONE HALF! His stat-line was silly as he pulled out every trick in the book to dupe Boston's interior defense. He finished with 43 points on 16-of-23 shooting with six rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block, and three turnovers in 38 minutes. This was his third 40-point game of the season. He had four his entire career before the 2020-21 campaign. Keep him in the MVP conversation.
Jaylen Brown — Brown led the Celtics with 27 points, and he sunk five 3-pointers in the process, matching his second-highest total this season. He also had five rebounds and five assists though he turned the ball over seven times.
Jamal Murray —The turnovers were an issue considering he racked up nine of them, but punting that category, Murray had a nice night scoring 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting with six assists, six rebounds, and three steals.
Facundo Campazzo —In his first NBA start with Monte Morris, Gary Harris, and Will Barton all sidelined, Campazzo played well. He scored 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting including two 3-pointers with eight assists, three rebounds, and two steals.
Jayson Tatum — It wasn't his best game, but Tatum made 6-of-18 shots for 21 points with eight assists and six rebounds. He also sunk a 3-pointer and all eight of his free throws. It was a better showing than his six-point performance from Sunday.
Michael Porter Jr. — MPJ was nowhere to be found ... again. He went scoreless in 24 minutes as a starter, missing all eight shots with seven rebounds, three assists, and one block. He scored just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting in his last game.
Pelicans 144, Grizzlies 113
Zion Williamson — Williamson was unbelievable in the dominant win over Memphis. He scored 31 points on 13-of-16 shooting, getting to the rim at will and finishing over everyone. And he made a 3-pointer! He also added seven rebounds, six assists, and three steals with three turnovers.
Brandon Ingram — Ingram was Williamson's complementary slasher on Tuesday, scoring 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting with seven assists, four rebounds two assists, and a block.
Josh Hart — When Hart gets hot shooting the ball, watch out. He sunk 6-of-11 3-pointers off the bench against the Grizzlies, scoring 27 points with nine rebounds and two assists. He's streaky, though. In two of his last five games, he's scored 47 points on nine made 3-pointers. In the other three, he scored 22 points with one made triple.
Ja Morant — After seven straight games shooting 43% or worse, Morant's jumper regained its rhythm. He scored 28 points on 12-of-16 shooting with eight assists and seven rebounds. He turned the ball over a season-high six times though.
Kyle Anderson — Slo-mo had a nice night, scoring 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting including a pair of triples to go along with six rebounds, three assists, and a steal.
Dillon Brooks — For the second straight game, Brooks shot 50% from deep but this time he knocked down four triples for 18 points. He also added four rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
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Raptors 124, Bucks 113
Fred VanVleet — VanVleet scored an impressive 33 points on 12-of-22 shooting and five made triples. He also added seven assists, four rebounds, and two steals taking over the reins with Kyle Lowry injured for a good portion of this one.
Chris Boucher — His box score wasn't out-of-this-world but his five blocks were gold for fantasy managers. He also scored four 3-pointers to total 14 points with six rebounds and an assist in 30 minutes off the bench.
Giannis Antetokounmpo — Toronto won but it was Giannis's night. He scored 34 points on 11-of-20 shooting including 10-of-14 from the free-throw line and 2-of-4 from range. He also added 10 rebounds, eight assists, five steals, and two blocks.
Pascal Siakam — He didn't shoot well, sinking just 8-of-23 looks, but Siakam did score 23 points on two made 3-pointers with 13 rebounds, six assists, and one steal.
Pat Connaughton — Connaughton made the board tonight because of a great 4-of-10 shooting from 3-point range. He scored a season-high 20 points with five rebounds, one assist, and three blocks.
Kyle Lowry — Lowry sprained his ankle in the second quarter, and though he returned to start the second half, he subbed out limping in the third and never returned. He scored 18 points with six rebounds and six assists in 22 minutes. Keep an eye out for his status for Thursday's game.
Blazers 115, Thunder 104
Damian Lillard — The 28-foot step-back in Lu Dort's face to push Portland's lead up to seven with a minute and 44 seconds left sealed this one. Lillard was tremendous yet again, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter alone. He finished with 31 points on 12-of-25 shooting (five 3-pointers) with 10 assists, seven rebounds, two steals, and three turnovers.
Anfernee Simons — With C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Rodney Hood, and Zach Collins all sidelined, the Blazers have needed other guys to step up. Simons has been one of them. He scored 15 points off the bench on Tuesday off five made 3-pointers. He's made 13 3-pointers in his last three games combined.
Luguentz Dort — With Shai Gilgeous-Alexander sidelined, Dort's had to become a scorer. On Tuesday he sunk 8-of-18 shots including three triples for 23 points. He also had six rebounds, three assists, and a steal.
Hamidou Diallo — Diallo's been another impact player off the bench. In the loss, he scored 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting including two made triples, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, and a block.
Lakers 112, Timberwolves 104
LeBron James —With Anthony Davis possibly sidelined until after the All-Star break due to his Achilles injury, James will have to step up for the Lakers to stay in the hunt for the top seed. Does anyone doubt he'll follow through? No? We've established by now that he doesn't disappoint? OK well anyway, he was awesome on Tuesday, scoring 30 points on 13-of-20 shooting with 13 rebounds, seven assists, and one block. His fantasy value should be at its highest without his co-star.
Dennis Schroder — James can't do it alone, and this time it was Schroder who helped out. He scored 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting with three assists, one rebound, four steals, and one block.
Anthony Edwards — Edwards had the best game of his rookie year scoring a career-best 28 points on 10-of-20 shooting including five triples, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals, and a block. The grin on his face as he knocked down a 3-pointer with LeBron in his face said it all.
Montrezl Harrell — Replacing some of Davis's production, Harrell scored 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting (7-of-7 from the free-throw line) with six rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block.
Karl-Anthony Towns — It wasn't his best night, but Towns scored 15 points on 7-of-10 looks and added six rebounds, four assists, and one steal.
Nets 128, Suns 124
James Harden — Yeah, he was unreal. He scored 38 points on 14-of-22 shooting (five 3-pointers) with 11 rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and just two turnovers in 38 minutes.
Chris Paul — Paul kept the dwindling Suns in the game late and finished with a team-high 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting (four 3-pointers), seven assists, four rebounds, and a steal.
Devin Booker — He started off hot scoring 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first quarter but finished with 22 points on 9-of-20 shooting. He added seven assists, two rebounds, and a steal.