With 12 games and limited space, I’m going to try to ignore the guys owned in all leagues and focus on the ones who could be a difference maker right now (Salah Mejri), or the ones who got injured. Here we go and you can follow me on Twitter by clicking here.
Blazers 109, Mavericks 103 – Dallas desperately wanted to win this game to avoid a first-round matchup with the Spurs, but it wasn’t meant to be. The Blazers started Moe Harkless in this one (benching Noah Vonleh) and it paid off, as Harkless had 14 points and a decent line, and Al-Farouq Aminu came through with 10 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer, despite hitting just 3-of-12 shots. Both are worth keeping an eye on, but neither is a must-own player. Mason Plumlee came through with a solid 10 points, eight boards, three steals and two blocks, and is a serviceable center right now, and Damian Lillard had another big game. C.J. McCollum was quiet, but still had 14 points and four assists in one of his worst games of the season (5-of-14 shooting). Ed Davis is worth keeping a close eye on with Meyers Leonard out (shoulder) and had 16 points, nine boards and three steals for one of his best games of the season, but he also hit 6-of-7 shots (fluky).
Center Salah Mejri was one of the stories of the night, backing up Sunday’s 13 points, 14 boards and six blocks with 14 points, 12 boards and a block last night. He played 30 minutes and is starting, while David Lee and Zaza Pachulia are fading. Mejri now looks like the pickup of the night, so go get him! Deron Williams double-doubled, Wes Matthews scored 22 and Dirk Nowitzki had 21 in the loss. J.J. Barea and Devin Harris are also worth keeping an eye on after playing well last night off the bench.
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Spurs 112, Heat 88 – The Spurs destroyed the Heat and Kawhi Leonard went off for career high-tying 32 points, eight boards and three 3-pointers, but also suffered a quad injury that forced him from the game (it doesn’t look serious). You have to think the Spurs will be careful with him, so watch for updates. LaMarcus Aldridge was very quiet in the blowout and Leonard was the only starter to hit double figures in scoring. Boban Marjanovic led the bench with 19 points, four boards and zero blocks in just 14 minutes, and Kevin Martin scored 12, but trying to figure out who to use in fantasy for the Spurs on a nightly basis is next to impossible. The Spurs improved to 36-0 at home.
The Heat were bad and only Dwyane Wade scored in double figures for the starters, meaning Joe Johnson and Goran Dragic had off nights. Luol Deng sat out with a sore quad and Hassan Whiteside had another double-double off the bench. I’m still not sure why they don’t start him. Justin Richardson was quiet for much of the game but ended up with 17 points, four assists, three steals, a block and three 3-pointers. He disappeared in his previous game, but bounced back nicely last night and I still like the idea of owning him in standard leagues. I just don’t trust him in DFS as much.
Warriors 114, Clippers 98 – The Warriors improved to 33-0 at home, Stephen Curry broke out of his mini-funk, and they’re just eight wins from tying the Bulls for the best record of all time. I could see Curry getting a rest against the Sixers on Sunday, but that’s just me thinking ahead, and not coming from Steve Kerr. Here’s the remaining schedule: Dallas, Philly, Washington, @Utah, Boston, Portland, Minnesota, Spurs, @Memphis, @Spurs, Memphis. It’s not going to be easy, but the record is clearly in reach. I could also see them really trying to win at San Antonio in April, as the Spurs are also still undefeated at home, and the Minnesota game is another spot Curry could get a rest. Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were all great last night.
The Clippers got a monster 19 & 20 line from DeAndre Jordan and the Dubs bottled up Chris Paul for 13 points, six boards and eight dimes on 4-of-16 shooting. J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford shot it poorly, while Jeff Green had 13 points and four steals in 25 minutes off the bench. If Green ends up back in the starting lineup, he’s probably worth a look, as Paul Pierce and Luc Mbah a Moute don’t offer much. Austin Rivers had 16 and has hit double digits in three of his last four, making him worth a deep-league look.
Cavaliers 113, Bucks 104 – Kevin Love returned from an illness and played well with 24 points, 10 boards, a steal, two blocks and four 3-pointers. Why can’t we get this Love every night? J.R. Smith had 13 points and three 3-pointers and has now scored 13 and 15 in his last two on 50 percent shooting. Maybe he’s ready to get hot. Tristan Thompson came off the bench but played 30 minutes and had a 13 & 10 double-double, along with two blocks. He struggled in his previous two games, but now has a dub-dub in two of his last four. And with Love back, Channing Frye is shaky, at best. He was 0-for-5 in 13 minutes off the bench. LeBron James played well and made waves by saying he’d take a paycut to play with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade. I’ll believe it when I see it. Kyrie Irving flirted with a triple-double in the win.
Jerryd Bayless finally got hot and hit 6-of-9 shots and three 3-pointers for 15 points, but just one assist. Bayless struggled in his previous two, but is still the only point guard in Milwaukee. He was the only Bucks sleeper to play well, while Giannis Antetokounmpo played with LeBron to a virtual tie. Khris Middleton also had a career-high 11 assists to go with nine points.
Celtics 91, Raptors 79 – The Celtics got a big win as all five starters played very well. Amir Johnson double-doubled against his old team, Jared Sullinger just missed one, while Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas and Evan Turner all put up nice stats. The bench, including Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart, was pretty bad and the starters are who you want to mess with in Boston right now, although I don’t trust Amir.
Kyle Lowry sat out with a sore elbow and the Raps paid the price in a loss. Jonas Valanciunas played through a hand injury and had 10 points, seven boards and two blocks, but Bismack Biyombo still managed 13 boards and a block off the pine, although he didn’t score. Cory Joseph started for Lowry and had nine points, six boards and four dimes, but hit just 4-of-16 shots, and Lowry should be back Saturday against Houston. Terrence Ross is worth monitoring after playing 36 minutes and hitting 5-of-18 shots for 13 points, three boards and a steal. He continues to get run, but doesn’t do much with it. Patrick Patterson was out again with a sprained ankle so Jason Thompson had six points, 10 boards and a block.
Pistons 118, Magic 102 – All five Pistons starters scored in double digits and Andre Drummond had a big double-double with 30 & 14. Darrun Hilliard started in place of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was ill. Hilliard had 11 points and six boards, but KCP should be back soon. Stanley Johnson had 13 points, eight boards and three 3-pointers off the bench, but will take a hit when KCP returns.
Aaron Gordon broke out of a funk with 15 points, 11 boards and a 3-pointer and might be turning the corner. Elfrid Payton came off the bench again and got hot for a 20-10-10 triple-double, and should be starting very soon. Brandon Jennings did nothing in his start, Evan Fournier and a red-hot Victor Oladipo each scored just 14, as Dipo hit just 5-of-18 shots. If Payton was dropped in your league, go get him.
Hawks 122, 101 Wizards – The Hawks had no double-doubles and Kent Bazemore’s problems continued, as he hit just 1-of-3 shots in 11 minutes. With Bazemore struggling, Dennis Schroder played through an ankle injury and went off for 23 points and eight assists. As we’ve seen all season, the chances of him doing it again aren’t great. Tim Hardaway Jr. was quiet, but did have 14 points and two 3-pointers in 25 minutes off the bench, and Kyle Korver had 15 points and five 3-pointers, which was a welcomed sight by his owners. If you feel like you have to cut Bazemore, go for it, as there seem to be a lot of hot free agents out there now.
Markieff Morris had 18 & 9 with three 3-pointers, so think about grabbing him if available. He’s playing well again. Marcin Gortat and John Wall double-doubled, Otto Porter scored 11 and Bradley Beal cooled off with seven points on 2-of-8 shooting. Marcus Thornton caught fire for 23 points and five 3-pointers off the bench, but don’t take the bait as long as Beal is healthy. But make sure Beal is good to go this Fri-Sat back-to-back set. Thornton didn’t even play in his previous two games.
Knicks 115, Bulls 107 – Kristaps Porzingis came to life with a career-high 29 points, 10 boards and three 3-pointers, and we can only hope he’s ready to finish strong. Carmelo Anthony, the shutdown candidate, returned from a migraine and scored 24, Robin Lopez double-doubled with three blocks and Jose Calderon scored 11 with eight dimes.
This was a bad loss for the Bulls as starters Pau Gasol, Jimmy Butler and Mike Dunleavy combined for just 18 points on horrible shooting. Taj Gibson wasn’t much better and Derrick Rose came through with 21 points and four assists. Nikola Mirotic went bonkers with a career-best 35 points, six boards and nine 3-pointers. We know he has this in him, but he so rarely shows it. Maybe the Bulls are ready to turn him loose. Doug McDermott was also quiet with seven points on 2-of-5 shooting, so go pick up Mirotic if you can.
Jazz 89, Rockets 87 – Derrick Favors won this game with a late dunk and finished with 17 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack both played well, while Rudy Gobert and Rodney Hood both struggled. Gobert has been decent, but not spectacular, while Hood has really struggled with his shot in four straight. Nothing to see from the Jazz bench last night.
James Harden did it all, as usual, while Dwight Howard, Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley were all disappointing in the loss. Michael Beasley played just 20 minutes and scored 10 points, but needs more minutes than he’s getting lately to be effective. I still think he’s worth holding.
Timberwolves 113, Kings 104 – The Kings are a mess and Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns double-doubled, while Ricky Rubio had 12 assists with seven points. Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins both scored 23 points, and LaVine’s four 3-pointers were canceled out by his six turnovers. The Wolves’ bench was invisible and the five starters are the only players worth owning in Minnesota.
DeMarcus Cousins sat out with a knee injury and Kosta Koufos racked up 15 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks in the start. Cousins is day-to-day, so watch for updates. Rudy Gay was a popular DFS play with Boogie out, but was pretty bad, finishing with 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting, and not much else. He’s miserable in Sacramento right now, calling it his most difficult season. Rajon Rondo flirted with a monster triple-double, while Justin Anderson and Quincy Acy were nearly invisible starters. Omri Casspi (12 points, one 3-pointer), Darren Collison (12-3-4) and Marco Belinelli (14 points, two 3-pointers) were all decent off the bench, while Willie Cauley-Stein was bad with two points and five boards on 1-of-5 shooting. Even when Boogie’s out, WCS just isn’t worth it. Casspi and Collison are still worth a look in fantasy, but no longer must-owns.
Nuggets 104, Sixers 103 – Emmanuel Mudiay hit one of the greatest buzzer-beaters of all time to win this one and finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three 3-pointers. Mudiay was pretty bad against the Cavs on Monday (1-of-11), but has generally been playing well this season, and was great tonight. Nikola Jokic stayed hot with 18 points, eight boards, five assists and a steal, so make sure he’s not available, and Gary Harris had 18 points, five boards and a 3-pointer. Darrell Arthur bounced back from a bad game with 11 points, seven boards, two steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer. He’s still a nice option as long as Kenneth Faried is sitting with his back injury. Will Barton was awful, missing all three of his shots for two points and five turnovers, after playing well in his previous game. He’s as risky as they come right now and you just can’t trust him. D.J. Augustin cooled down on 1-of-5 shooting, but still had nine points, five assists and two steals, making him worth a look as Mudiay’s back up.
Nerlens Noel was a late scratch with a sore knee so Carl Landry came through with 16 points and seven boards in a start. Jerami Grant and Ish Smith both struggled, Hollis Thompson had 14 and four 3-pointers, and Isaiah Canaan had 11 points, three assists and three 3-pointers. Robert Covington returned from his concussion with 16 points, nine boards and a full stat line (apologies to my buddy, Jeff Snyder) and T.J. McConnell somehow broke free for 17 points and a nice line off the bench. Grab Covington if he’s on waivers and just keep an eye on the rest of these guys, as things are getting really sloppy in Philly - not like they were a picture of grace before.
Suns 119, Lakers 107 – Jon Leuer started at PF with Tyson Chandler (back) out and went off for 22 points, 14 boards, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers. I had Leuer queued up in DFS, but switched him out when I rolled with Kosta Koufos at center. And the new lineup scored 32 fewer points than my original, which is the story of my DFS life. Devin Booker stayed red-hot and Brandon Knight had a great game, while Alex Len only managed 10 points, eight boards and zero blocks in his move to center. Len and Leuer should be owned until we see Chandler play again. P.J. Tucker was nice with six points, 13 rebounds, six assists and a steal in 43 minutes, and is also worth picking up if available. Mirza Teletovic had 17 points and five treys off the bench, and could be heating up.
Julius Randle stayed hot with 19 & 15, Kobe Bryant said goodbye in Phoenix with 17 on 5-of-13 shooting, Jordan Clarkson hit 5-of-14 shots for 13 points, and D’Angelo Russell played through his shin injury and had 14 points on 6-of-18 shooting. The Lakers bench was bad and saw the return of Larry Nance (4 points, 5 boards), while Lou Williams was quiet with 11 points in 20 minutes. Russell, Clarkson and Randle are the must-owns in L.A. right now.