Jaren Jackson Jr. went off, the Bucks are rolling at home, the Knicks are sinking like the Titanic, and the Pacers keep chugging along without Victor Oladipo, sitting at 13-7 on the season. Mike Conley also left early with a hamstring injury as his difficult season continues. Follow me on Twitter here.
Pacers 117, Grizzlies 104 – Domantas Sabonis racked up 18 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists on 9-of-18 shooting as the Pacers improved to 13-7 for their best start since the 2013-14 season. All five Pacers starters scored in double figures with Malcolm Brogdon (19-6-9 with two 3-pointers) and Jeremy Lamb (15-7-3-2 with a 3-pointer) putting up big numbers. Justin Holiday and Aaron Holiday combined to hit eight 3-pointers off the bench and we still haven’t seen Victor Oladipo (knee surgery) this season. Once he’s back I think the Holiday bros will take a holiday, but I’m still not too worried about guys like Brogdon, T.J. Warren and Lamb. There will be fewer basketballs to go around once Oladipo is playing, but I think his minutes will be limited enough to keep the aforementioned guys relevant. If anyone’s going to take a hit though, it’s the Holiday bros and Lamb.
The Grizzlies got a season-high 31 points, four rebounds, two assists, a steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers from Jaren Jackson Jr. He picked up five fouls, hit 10-of-19 shots and 9-of-9 free throws on his way to one of the best games of his career. If he can stay out of foul trouble, look out. He was also helped by the fact that rookies Brandon Clarke (hip) and Ja Morant (back) sat this one out. Solomon Hill came out of nowhere in a start for Clarke and hit 9-of-14 shots and four 3-pointers for 22 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals in 33 minutes. He had 11 points, five boards and two 3-pointers on Sunday, but hadn’t scored in double digits since opening night before this two-game explosion. If Clarke remains out, Hill is worth a look. Tyus Jones started again for Morant but hit just 1-of-6 shots in the loss, finishing with two points, six assists and a block. He’s still worth a fantasy look as long as Morant is under load management watch with his back spasms. If you picked up Jones for this week (or month with a great schedule) there’s no need to panic, but he’s also not nearly as good a player as Morant. Dillon Brooks came through with 19 points, seven boards, two assists, a steal and two 3-pointers on 7-of-16 shooting before fouling out and I’m still a big fan. Jae Crowder, who came in hot, hit just 1-of-9 shots for three points, four boards, one assist and a block, and should be better the rest of this week. De’Anthony Melton blew up for 16 points, nine rebounds, four assists and a 3-pointer off the bench, but this one looks like a fluke. The Grizzlies go two more times this week, then play four games in each of the next three weeks, making Jones, Brooks, Crowder, Hill and Melton all worth a look, while Jackson is a must-own, must-start player over the next month.
Hawks 104, Warriors 79 – The Hawks snapped a 10-game losing streak by beating the lowly Warriors, who now officially hold the worst record in the NBA at 4-18. The Hawks got 24 points, seven assists, seven turnovers and two 3-pointers from Trae Young and De’Andre Hunter stepped up with 18 points, four rebounds and two 3-pointers before leaving with dislocated right index finger. He initially thought the finger was broken but it sounds like he’ll be OK and is likely questionable for his next game against the Nets on Wednesday. Damian Jones came through with a career-high 16 points, eight boards and a steal on 6-of-8 shooting in a start at center against his former team. His former team is horrible, and Jones hasn’t exactly been killing it, so he probably still belongs on the waiver wire in most leagues. Jabari Parker hit just 4-of-15 shots for eight points and five rebounds, but also had two steals and a block. His clock is kind of ticking with John Collins due back on Dec. 23, but Parker has played well enough to be owned in all leagues until the wheels fall off.
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Eric Paschall hit 9-of-11 shots and two 3-pointers for 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists and should be owned everywhere by now. Kevon Looney (hamstring) finally played (and started) for the first time since opening night and had two points, two rebounds and two blocks in 15 minutes. I’m not racing out to pick him up, but I am keeping an eye on him. Glenn Robinson hit just 3-of-12 shots, Alec Burks hit 5-of-16 shots and Willie Cauley-Stein was quiet in his 19 minutes. All three players are worth a look in most leagues, while Robinson and Burks should still be owned in most. Ky Bowman had 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block in 37 minutes off the bench, Omari Spellman added 10 points, nine boards, two steals and a block, and Marquese Chriss had eight points, five boards, a steal and six turnovers in 20 minutes. Anyone getting minutes for this G-League version of the Warriors is worth a look in most fantasy leagues, but only Paschall, Robinson and Burks are in must-own territory in most of them. And yes, Draymond Green sat out again and doesn’t appear to be very motivated to play this season. A shut down is looming, although it could come later in the season, and Bowman is worth using in fantasy any time Green is watching in street clothes. The Warriors play four times next week, then have just two games in Week 9.
Suns 109, Hornets 104 – All five Suns starters got it done on Monday as they overcame a seven-point deficit with a minute left against the Hornets. Kelly Oubre and Devin Booker led the way with 23 points each, Dario Saric was fun with 16 points, 10 rebounds, a block and a 3-pointer, Frank Kaminsky added 12 points, six boards, four assists and two blocks, and Ricky Rubio had nine points, 13 assists and four steals on 3-of-10 shooting. The Suns were down seven with about a minute left but came back to win after a Kaminsky two-pointer, back-to-back Oubre 3-pointers and a couple Rubio free throws. The Suns have three more games this week, meaning every player starting for them has some fantasy appeal right now. I picked up Kaminsky in deeper leagues and started him this week due to the four-game schedule and the gamble has paid off, at least after one game. After this four-game slate the Suns go 3-4-3-4 over the next four weeks.
The Hornets play four times this week and four games in each of the next two weeks, as well. Having said that, outside of Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham, they’re incredibly inconsistent as far as fantasy players go. Marvin Williams led the way with 22 points and had a full stat line, but he’s impossible to trust. Graham was awesome with 15 points and 13 assists but hit just 5-of-19 shots and 1-of-10 3-pointers, and Rozier added 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and three 3-pointers. Graham has double-doubled with assists in three of his last six games and has scored in double figures in every game since Nov. 2. Bismack Biyombo has been hot lately and came through with nine points, 11 boards and two blocks. I was so tempted to play this this week but didn’t pull the trigger after his zero points in 10 minutes on Saturday. If you were brave enough to roll him out there for four games this week, I offer you a hearty congratulations. P.J. Washington scored an empty 11 points after getting into foul trouble, Miles Bridges hit 3-of-10 shots for seven points and eight boards, and Malik Monk hit 2-of-6 shots for six points, three rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block. Cody Zeller also added 11 points, eight boards and two blocks in 18 minutes off the bench, and with four games in each of the next two weeks, almost every Hornet is worth a look in fantasy. And almost all of them are completely unreliable, outside of Graham and Rozier.
Sixers 103, Jazz 94 – The Sixers were led by Tobias Harris’ 26 points and nine rebounds, and got double-digit scoring from starters Al Horford (17-8-5), Joel Embiid (16 & 11), and Ben Simmons (14-8-9-4), while Furkan Korkmaz (7 points) got benched in the second half in favor of Mr. Hustle, Matisse Thybulle. Thybulle was fun with nine points, one rebound, two assists, three steals and three 3-pointers in 26 minutes but is still tough to own on a team dominated by Embiid, Harris, Horford and Simmons. Just keep an eye on him in case he ends up in the starting lineup. The Sixers are a league-best 10-0 in Philadelphia. The Raptors, Heat and Celtics are also undefeated at home.
I don’t know what’s going on with the Jazz, but they’ve lost four of their last five games and have to play the Lakers tonight. At least they’re back home after a five-game road trip. Rudy Gobert was great with 27 points, 12 boards and three blocks on 11-of-15 shooting, but the rest of his teammates struggled. Donovan Mitchell scored 18 on 6-of-19 shooting and Joe Ingles finally came through with a big game, racking up 13 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two 3-pointers. The Jazz are in the midst of a three-game week and then go 3-3-3-3 in the next four weeks. If some of those threes were fours, I might call Ingles a must-own player, but he’s been pretty bad all season. Keep a close eye on him in case this is the start of something good for the beleaguered Australian. Mike Conley had seven points and six dimes on 3-of-9 shooting before leaving with left hamstring tightness. He’s had an incredibly difficult up-and-down season thus far and Ingles might take off if he’s going to miss time. I’m pretty sure that Conley and Ingles have struggled because they have no chemistry together. Emmanuel Mudiay might do something if Conley misses time, but he logged just five minutes last night. If Ingles is sitting on your waiver wire and you have room, pick him up and see what happens.
Bucks 132, Knicks 88 – Giannis Antetokounmpo did his thing again with 29 points and 15 boards, and missed five of his 11 free throws, as usual. Khris Middleton added 16 points, seven boards, three assists, a steal and two 3-pointers on 7-of-10 shooting and played just 18 minutes. He returned from a thigh bruise and the Bucks were up 75-45 at one point, so Middleton was able to chill. Robin Lopez filled in for his brother (Brook Lopez) and had four points, three boards, a steal and a block in 23 minutes, while Eric Bledsoe and Wesley Matthews were incredibly quiet with six points each. Donte DiVincenzo came off the bench with the return of Middleton and had 11 points and a full stat line in 19 minutes. I still don’t think DD is a must-own player, but it’s possible he can hold onto some fantasy value, even with Middleton back. D.J. Wilson, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and George Hill all scored in double figures, but this was a massive blowout, making it tough to see what’s real and what’s not. The Bucks are on a 12-game winning streak, have the best record in the league and the easiest remaining schedule in the East. They won 20 straight in 1970-71 and are currently on their longest winning streak since the 1981-82 season. All hail Giannis.
The Knicks were embarrassed once again and were down 75-45 after Giannis drained a 3-pointer. Starter Julius Randle had 19 points and five boards on 5-of-12 shooting and hit 9-of-11 free throws in 25 minutes, but the other four starters combined for just 18 points. Alonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson each hit double digits off the bench, but this is a ship that be sinkin’. Frank Ntilikina was out with a back injury, so Dennis Smith Jr. started, but let his new DFS owners down with a 1-of-7 shooting performance and three assists. Coach David Fizdale appears to be on his last legs and I’m still pretty confused by his eye glasses, which look like they don’t even have lenses in them. Oh, and RJ Barrett was 0-for-9 with two points and Kevin Knox hit just 1-of-9 shots in a start. Gross. I rolled with DSJ in DFS and it Dfriggin’ killed me. Something’s got to give in New York, as the Knicks are now 4-17.
Bulls 113, Kings 106 – Lauri Markkanen hit 6-of-12 shots and four 3-pointers for 20 and seven rebounds and might finally be ready to break out of his horrific season-long funk. Wendell Carter Jr. had a 10 & 10 double-double, Zach LaVine hit five 3-pointers and scored 28 points, and Tomas Satoransky had 14 points and five assists in a start. Kris Dunn started again and hit 3-of-8 shots for six points, three rebounds, four assists and two steals. He’s intriguing, but I can’t pull the trigger on him just yet, even with the Bulls playing four times this week.
My guys Nemanja Bjelica, Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes all came through in this one and Buddy Hield led the Kings with 26 points, five boards, four assists, a steal and three 3-pointers. Bjelica has been quiet lately but hit for 18 points, eight boards, two assists, a steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers on 7-of-10 shooting, Holmes had 20 points, nine boards, a steal and a block on 9-of-12 shooting and Barnes had 16 points, three boards and a 3-pointer in the loss. The Kings play four times this week and I’m still rolling with Bjelica and Holmes, but Bjelica is about to go away once Marvin Bagley is back from his thumb injury. He’ll be re-evaluated at the end of this week and then might be ready to play next week. After this four-game week the Kings go 4-3-4 over their next three, making all of them worth a close look. While I think that Bjelica will fade away quickly once Bags is back, I still might take a flier on him for four more games next week, at least in some of my deeper leagues. Bogdan Bogdanovic (hamstring tightness) played 22 minutes and had 11 points, two rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers, and this looks like a good time to make a low-ball offer on him.