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Kyrie Irving
Basketball Daily Dose

Kyrie Irving Surprisingly Set To Return Sunday

by Tommy Beer
Updated On: January 12, 2020, 8:09 am ET

Saturday's seven-game slate provided plenty of highlights, including a career-high 41 points from Jayson Tatum, a Greek Freak Special from Giannis, Lonzo Ball nearly triple-doubling, and the Lakers supporting cast stepping up with both LeBron and AD sidelined. 

After recapping the important storylines from Saturday, we'll wrap up the Dose by taking a look at the players facing injury issues for Sunday's games, which is highlighted by the expected return of Brooklyn PG Kyrie Irving.

Saturday's Standouts:
A trio of Rockets posted prodigious numbers in Houston's blowout victory over the Wolves on Saturday. James Harden racked up 32 points (8-of-17 FGs, 10-of-13 FTs), 12 rebounds, eight assists, two steals, and 11 turnovers and six 3-pointers in only 28 minutes. He also became the just 45th (and the youngest) player in NBA history to score at least 20,000 points in a career. Not to be outdone, Russell Westbrook tallied 30 points (10-of-23 FGs, 9-of-10 FTs), six rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and one three-pointer. While The Beard and Brodie notching monster fantasy lines is to be expected, the third Houston standout was certainly a surprise. 

Isaiah Hartenstein, making just his second career start with Clint Capela (right heel contusion) scratched, scored 17 points (8-of-9 FGs), grabbed 15 rebounds, blocked five shots, and tacked on one assist and two steals in 27 minutes on Saturday. The blocks and steals were career-highs for Hartenstein. He's obviously a terrific plug-and-play whenever Capela is out of action, but Hartenstein will likely carve out consistent minutes going forward even when Houston is at full strength if he continues to play this well..

Jayson Tatum exploded for a career-high 41 points (on 16-of-22 shooting) in Saturday's demolition of the Pelicans, adding six rebounds, four assists, three steals and a career-high six 3-pointers. He needed just 30 minutes to do all that damage. Tatum would have had a chance at a 50-burger if the contest was more competitive. It was JT's fifth career game with at least 30 points, but the first time he's cracked the 40-point barrier. Tatum been remarkably consistent all season and has now reached double figures in 28 consecutive games. Enes Kanter was a bully in down low for Boston, finishing with a season-high 22 points (10-of-13 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), a season-high 19 rebounds, and one assist in 23 minutes. 

Lonzo Ball stayed hot Saturday night, nearly recording a triple-double by tallying 10 points, 13 boards and nine assists, with one block and one 3-pointer in 33 minutes. Ball has been stuffing the stat sheet all month long, averaging 18.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 8.1 dimes, 1.1 steals and 3.1 triples over the Pels last seven contests. 

With LeBron James (illness) and Anthony Davis (gluteal contusion) sidelined Saturday, LA needed their supporting cast to step up, and that's just what happened in the Lakers surprising shellacking of OKC. Rajon Rondo started and racked up 21 points (10-of-22 FGs), 12 rebounds, eight assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 33 minutes. However, he did suffer a strained ring finger on his right hand and is considered questionable for Monday's game vs. the Cavs. Kyle Kuzma, in his third start of the season, provided plenty of efficient offense, shooting 15-of-24 from the field en route to a season-high 36 points and four triples with seven rebounds. Dwight Howard registered 12 points (4-of-8 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots in 26 minutes off the bench. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo looked every bit like the league's MVP in Saturday victory over Portland, scoring 32 points, ripping down 17 rebounds, dishing out six assists and knocking down two 3-pointers in 29 minutes in a victory over the Blazers. Incredibly, it was Giannis' fifth game with at least 30 points, 15 boards and five dimes this season. To put that in context, no other player in the league has more than one 30/15/5 game. In addition, Antetokounmpo has now made hit multiple triples in the same games 18 times this season, after totaling only 13 such games all of last season.

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On the Radar:
The Bulls got a much-needed victory on Saturday vs. an undermanned Pistons squad. It snapped a six-game losing skid for Chicago. Zach LaVine led the way, tallying 25 points, four rebounds, six assists, one steal, two blocked shots and one three-pointer in 35 minutes. Unfortunately, LaVine was just 8-of-21 from the floor and 1-of-9 from downtown. Lauri Markkanen had 14/7/2 and two 3-pointers in 28 minutes. Daniel Gafford drew another start in place of Wendell Carter Jr. (ankle) and tallied 14 points (7-of-9 FGs), seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and one blocked shot in 23 minutes. Luke Kornet also saw an uptick in playing time with WCJ out, logging 25 minutes and finishing with 15 points (6-of-13 FGs) with six rebounds, one assist, two steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers.

Andre Drummond was ejected from Saturday's game vs. the Bulls in the third quarter after earning his second technical when he plunked Daniel Gafford in the head with the ball. That allowed Christian Wood to step in, and Wood racked up 17 points (8-of-12 FGs), 14 rebounds, three assists, one steal and three blocked shots in 26 minutes. Derrick Rose scored a team-high 20 points (7-of-11 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs) with two rebounds, seven assists and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes. It was Rose's fifth straight game with 20+ points, his longest streak since 2012. Markieff Morris (left foot sprain) made his first appearance since Dec. 26th and finished with three points, three rebounds and one steal in 14 minutes. 

Jarrett Culver played well again on Saturday, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three 3-pointers in 33 minutes. It was his seventh straight game in double-figures, and he has at least five boards in six of those seven contests as well. Josh Okogie scored 16 points (5-of-11 FGs, 4-of-5 FTs) and added five rebounds, five assists, four steals, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers in 30 minutes.