“Another one.” Say it with me in your best DJ Khaled voice.
Draymond Green now has eight 3x2 games before the season reaches the halfway point, and he’s silenced anyone who doubted his superstar credentials after receiving a max deal. On a night where there were revenge games around the NBA, Green, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry showed why they serve as the standard of which every other team should be measuring themselves against.
For teams that didn’t play tonight: Blake Griffin (quad) is running on an anti-gravity treadmill and continues to improve, but he’s not expected to be reevaluated for about a week…The Clippers play four times in the next seven days. Randy Wittman relayed that Bradley Beal (leg), who has missed more than a month, is “getting close” to a return, but considering Beal hadn’t even started on-court work less than one week ago, I’d like to see a more definitive update before getting too worked up.
Heading into Saturday’s contests, Nicolas Batum (toe), Rodney Hood (ankle, X-rays negative) and Derrick Favors (back) are all listed as questionable…it would be shocking to see Hood on the floor, so those relying on Rodney will want to make contingency plans. It’s worth noting Rudy Gobert (knee) said he could play up to 30 minutes on Saturday, but Quin Snyder sounds like he’ll take a more conservative approach. George Karl expects Omri Casspi (back) to return to the lineup, so his absence will extend just three games.
In a departure from the previous format where studs and duds were separated by team, we’ll now present that statistical information at the foot of this article.
Toronto @ Washington: Raptors 97, Wizards 88
This was a game to avoid, and one look at the box score can explain why. Outside of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, it’s hard to get excited about anything going on with Toronto’s raster for our purposes. Lowry, who has been flirting with a triple-double over his last five games, has averaged 20.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 2.8 steals and 2.2 triples during that stretch, while the season-high 35 points from DeRozan marks the first time he’s exceeded the 30-point plateau since the calendar flipped to 2016.
Terrence Ross (sore lower back), who was too popularly picked up for the wrong reasons after DeMarre Carroll underwent knee surgery, was unable to return to Friday’s win, meaning James Johnson and Cory Joseph should be looking at even more minutes if Ross misses time. Despite season-high marks in blocks (four) and assists (three), Jonas Valanciunas’ seven-point, three-rebound effort is a letdown after exploding for 22 & 11 vs. Brooklyn on Wednesday.
John Wall now has seven turnovers in back-to-back contests, and after setting the world on fire in December, it looks like he could really use Bradley Beal’s return to help take some pressure off of him in the backcourt. Marcin Gortat (12 pts, 10 reb, 3 blk) now has a double-double in five of his last six games, flashing the consistency that was missing earlier in the season. Otto Porter’s improvement is real, and the statistical versatility he showed on Friday is exactly why he’s become a fantasy darling in his third season: 16 points, five boards, three dimes, two steals a triple and a block with just a single turnover on 6-of-10 shooting.
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Orlando @ Brooklyn: Magic 83, Nets 77
Since re-entering the starting lineup with Elfrid Payton (ankle) unavailable, Victor Oladipo has averaged 19.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 3.7 3-pointers on 60% shooting...I’ll be surprised if Payton gets his starting job back—Scott Skiles was contemplating this change prior to EP’s injury. Tobias Harris has struggled to stay consistent all season long, and I’m not optimistic Friday’s game (nine points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, two blocks, 3-of-15 FG) will spark him to suddenly find the rhythm. Evan Fournier (toe) was able to play 33 minutes, but Champagne is someone you should have sold high on when he was spraying his game around the league earlier this season.
It’s going to look like this on some nights for Brooklyn, especially when Brook Lopez (17 points, 6-of-15 FG) and Thaddeus Young (11 points, 5-of-7 FG) combine to score under 30 points. Shane Larkin (12 points, four rebounds, three assists, four turnovers) hasn’t done much since taking over the starting job, but the opportunity is there (30 minutes) and his only competition for minutes is journeyman Donald Sloan, and the Nets have no incentive to pull the plug on Barry’s son as he tries to fill the hole.
Indiana @ New Orleans: Pacers 91, Pelicans 86
Anthony Davis (back) dove for a loose ball, and his night subsequently ended after just three and a half minutes on the floor…I’m done playing AD in DFS lineups, and it’s getting a lot harder to keep overlooking these “minor” things that add up to one major headache. The only real positives from the Pelicans’ side were the performances of Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday (15 points, four assists, four steals, two blocks), but Ryno’s outlook would really improve if traded elsewhere (barring AD missing extended time) while I don’t trust the health of Evans’ surgically-repaired right knee…If Holiday is going to start flirting with 30 minutes regularly (season-high 35 on Friday), his arrow is going to keep pointing up. But like Evans, there are questions about Holiday’s durability.
Alvin Gentry’s (temporary?) answer to create more space in his team’s starting lineup? Dante Cunningham for Alonzo Gee. That’s fine, but it doesn’t move the needle and Omer Asik—quickly becoming a candidate for the NBA’s most overpaid player given the role fulfills for the Pelicans—needs to take a seat.
Paul George cooled off in a favorable matchup, returning to Earth after briefly visiting the surface of the sun, while Ian Mahinmi again showed why he should be on more fantasy teams despite the inconsistency in his production. Monta Ellis (10 points, eight assists, six turnovers) has now racked up seven-plus dimes in three straight while shooting 45% or better in every one of those contests, and the buy low window on Monta is just about closed despite turnovers—20 over his last five games—being a recent issue.
Dallas @ Milwaukee: Bucks 96, Mavs 95
Giannis Antetokounmpo picked a good time to have his first single-digit scoring game since Christmas with O.J. Mayo (11 points, five boards, six assists, one steal, one block, three 3PM, three TO, 4-of-8 FG) and John Henson (16 pts, 8-of-9 FG) combining for 27 points off the bench, and that helped cover for Greg Monroe’s lackluster performance, as well. While The Greek Freak has been more projectable in his performance during his third season while trending in the right direction, Monroe has now failed to crack 30 minutes in five straight games, shooting sub-50% (48.4) in the process, including just 8-of-28 (28.6%) in his last two.
The reemergence of Michael Carter-Williams is very real, and while it may not be spectacular, there’s no doubting MCW has been productive. Over his last three games, MCW averaged 17.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 2.7 steals on 55.5% shooting. If Carter-Williams can keep up this kind of efficiency, it would significantly improve his appeal. Prior to this season, MCW has never shot better than 43% from the field or turned the ball over fewer than three times per game.
Chandler Parsons finally had a good night when the rest of the Mavs took the night off on Wednesday, but it was a familiar feeling of disappointment in Friday’s one-point loss, and I’m not waiting on Parsons suddenly blossoming into a player he hasn’t shown to be since his Dallas arrival. I expected a little more from Zaza Pachulia (nine points, 15 rebounds) in a favorable matchup, but it’s impossible to complain about what the veteran center has provided this season. Wesley Matthews (12 points, three 3PM) and Devin Harris (19 points) were the only players outside of Dirk to eclipse 10 points, and the Mavs aren’t likely to win when Deron Williams—who is dealing with a sore shooting arm that was numb after the game—and the Parsons Project combine to score eight points on 13 shots. In his last nine, Matthews is rewarding those with patience, having averaged 15.4 points, 2.7 boards, 0.9 steals and 3.4 triples.
Cleveland @ Minnesota: Cavs 125, Timberwolves 99
Kevin Love shook off twisting his ankle to show out in a revenge game, and you knew LeBron James—who did a Draymond Green impression on a night his shot wasn’t falling—would make a concerted effort to get the ‘focal point’ involved against his former team. When J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert combine for 50 points and eight 3-pointers on 62.5% shooting, nobody is going to talk about Kyrie Irving having more turnovers than assists and just one more point than shot attempted.
Andrew Wiggins always gets up for games against the club that never gave him a chance, and his career-high 35 points is just a small sample of what his future holds. A legitimate top-five building block in Dynasty formats, Wiggins is still six weeks removed from his 21st birthday. A season-high 22 points for Shabazz Muhammad gives him 20-plus in two of his last three, and Muhammad is undoubtedly moving in the right direction for a team that is playing to build the future and has nothing but incentive to give him minutes as the year progresses. Muhammad’s game is limited to just scoring right now, so he’s more valuable in a points format than standard leagues at this time.
Denver @ Memphis: Grizzlies 91, Nuggets 84
Down Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle) and Kenneth Faried (new baby) out, the Danilo Gallinari Show continued in every Nuggets theatre where his game tape could be shown. The Italian Stallion has now scored 20 or more in four straight games and has averaged an impressive 25.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 3-pointers on 48.4% from the field. There is no reason to sell high here.
Nikola Jokic (9 points, five rebounds, 4-of-4 FG, 18.5 min) needs more time on the floor, but it’s not going to happen if Joffrey Lauvergne (six points, seven rebounds, 19 min) is going to be in the rotation with Jusuf Nurkic (18.5 min) back in action…Jokic is still worth holding onto, but he’s a stash until a clearer path to minutes develops. Will Barton is mired in a slump with just 18 points on 27 shots over his last three games combined, but he’s proven his talent level is above his current production, presenting a good chance to buy very low on the waiver wire gem of the year who should get plenty of second half run.
Marc Gasol is really struggling with his efficiency over the last three (9.0 points, 25%), and the big man has now eclipsed the 50% shooting mark just once over his last nine games. Gasol is shooting a career-low 45.5% this season, but he’s obviously going to be better than he’s shown of late. Without two starters in Mike Conley (Achilles) and Courtney Lee (hip), the Grizzlies got double-digit scoring from everyone in the first five, with the frontcourt rotation of Zach Randolph, Matt Barnes and Jeff Green (16 points, nine boards, three triples) leading the way.
New York @ San Antonio: Spurs 100, Knicks 99
Tony Parker’s hip injury didn’t look like it limited him, but playing the Knicks is a nice cure for whatever ails any opposing point guard. Kawhi Leonard and Carmelo Anthony (20 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks, 5-of-15 FG, 8-of-10 FT) traded double-double showings, an impressive feat for Melo despite the subpar shooting considering Kawhi’s lockdown defense and how he’s limited opposing SF’s this season. This was the type of game so many expected to see more of from Danny Green (eight points, four boards, three dimes, two steals, three blocks, two triples), but it just hasn’t happened and I don’t see how it’s suddenly going to come together on a Spurs team that has too many offensive options. That includes the still effective Manu Ginobili (16 points, five boards, three assists, one block, two triples, 6-of-12 FG), who remains a master of per-minute production.
Those worried about Kristaps Porzingis slowing down have quieted of late, and KP6 now has two double-doubles in his last four games, a stretch in which he’s averaged 17.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, a block and 1.3 3-pointers. The Porzingis Parkway is going to be paved with pebbles, so while it may be bumpy at times, it’s worth continuing to drive down as his difference-making potential is too great to trade off of your roster.
Miami @ Phoenix: Heat 103, Suns 95
You knew Goran Dragic was going to want to play well after calling out the Suns earlier this week, and that’s exactly what he, Dwyane Wade and Gerald Green did on a night where the Heat’s starting frontcourt of Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside were invisible. It was a bad matchup for Whiteside vs. a Suns team trotting out weird lineups, but that’s now two consecutive underwhelming games (6.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 0.5 blocks) since his knee injury became a cause for concern.
Devin Booker (16 points, six rebounds, 6-of-17 FG) got back into the starting lineup without Ronnie Price (toe) available, and hopefully Jeff Hornacek realizes that’s where the rookie belongs with nothing to play for and a need to evaluate what the future may look like. Booker’s 37.5 minutes are a great sign, and there is no reason for the 19-year-old to be left on the waiver wire in any format. With Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic sharing minutes, the upside of both players remains limited. T.J. Warren is going to be a lot more appealing in the season’s second half, especially once P.J. Tucker (thigh)—who played a team-high 41 minutes—is moved before the February trade deadline.
Golden State @ Portland: Warriors 128, Blazers 108
You have to wonder how much room there is for someone like Harrison Barnes—who is in a contract year—to contribute on a Warriors team where the core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Green is firmly in place, an interesting subplot to monitor as the Warriors continue to dominate the league. It was another day, another triple-double for Dray Day, and Green now has eight In-N-Out specials this season, the most for a non-guard since Grant Hill 20 years ago. Meanwhile, Thompson’s slow start—and bad back—is ancient history, and he’s doing his best Chef Curry impression over the last five games, having scored 30-plus in four of those contests, averaging 33.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and an insane 5.4 3-pointers during that stretch.
Damian Lillard got back in the mix with a huge double-double and a loaded stat line, and his 40 points were more than he had scored in his previous two games combined. Allen Crabbe (18 points, two steals, 8-of-14 FG) and C.J. McCollum were the only others to eclipse 10 points in a forgettable game for Portland, but the dominant 34-2 Warriors can have that effect on just about any team.
Oklahoma City @ Los Angeles (L): Thunder 117, Lakers 113
This was a far more competitive game than anyone expected, and it was because Lou Williams exploded for a career-high 44 points. LouWillVille came into Friday’s game averaging 21.0 points, 3.3 boards, 3.3 assists, 2.8 triples and 0.8 steals in January, and there is every reason to have him on your team even with Kobe Bryant’s (shoulder) active presence in the lineup. Jordan Clarkson (17 points, three boards, two steals, two triples, 6-of-12 FG) turned in another solid game as well, but D’Angelo Russell (ankle) couldn’t shake his injury and lasted just eight minutes before retiring for the night.
On an efficient night from Kevin Durant, it was Russell Westbrook and his near triple-double that served as the exclamation point. It was a true two-man show from the Thunder stars, as Serge Ibaka was nowhere to be found in a ridiculously favorable matchup, something that has too often been the case this season with the Serge Protector. Ibaka has just four double-digit rebound games this season with his last one coming on December 10, and he just doesn’t do enough to fall flat on his face in that category.
Kyle Lowry, PG TOR: 21 pts, 10 reb, 4 ast, 4 stl, 3 3PM, 6 TO, 8-of-18 FGs
DeMar DeRozan, G/F TOR: 35 pts, 8 reb, 1 stl, 1 blk, 1 TO, 11-of-24 FG, 12-of-13 FT
Victor Oladipo, G Orlando Magic: 20 pts, 9 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk, 6 3PM, 4 TO, 7-of-11 FG
Nikola Vucevic, C Orlando Magic: 20 pts, 10 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk, 2 TO, 9-of-23 FG
Ian Mahinmi, C Indiana Pacers: 17 pts, 10 reb, 4 blk, 7-of-12 FG
Tyreke Evans, G/F New Orleans Pelicans: 27 pts, 7 reb, 5 ast, 4 stl, 3 3pm, 4 TO, 10-of-19 FG
Ryan Anderson, PF New Orleans Pelicans: 21 pts, 6 reb, 2 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk, 4 3PM, 3 TO, 7-of-17 FG
Dirk Nowitzki, F Dallas Mavericks: 20 pts, 9 reb, 1 stl, 1 blk, 4 3PM, 2 TO, 6-of-17 FG
Michael Carter-Williams, PG Milwaukee Bucks: 15 pts, 12 reb, 8 ast, 5 stl, 1 blk, 3 TO, 5-of-12 FG
Khris Middleton, G/F Milwaukee Bucks: 27 pts, 3 reb, 5 ast, 1 TO, 10-of-18 FG
LeBron James, F Cleveland Cavaliers: 13 pts, 12 reb, 8 ast, 1 stl, 2 blk, 3 TO, 5-of-12 FG
Kevin Love, F/C Cleveland Cavaliers: 20 pts, 9 reb, 4 ast, 1 blk, 2 3PM, 4-of-11 FG, 10-of-11 FT
J.R. Smith, G/F Cleveland Cavaliers: 27 pts, 2 stl, 5 3PM, 10-of-12 FG
Iman Shumpert, G/F Cleveland Cavaliers: 23 pts, 3 reb, 4 stl, 3 3PM, 9-of-19 FG
Andrew Wiggins, G/F Minnesota Timberwolves: 35 pts, 2 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk, 3 3PM, 3 TO, 12-of-19 FG, 8-of-12 FT
Shabazz Muhammad, G/F Minnesota Timberwolves: 22 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast, 2 3PM, 6-of-13 FG, 8-of-10 FT
Karl-Anthony Towns, C Minnesota Timberwolves: 22 pts, 6 reb, 3 ast, 2 TO, 11-of-14 FG
Danilo Gallinari, F Denver Nuggets: 29 pts, 8 reb, 3 ast, 2 3PM, 2 TO, 8-of-18 FG, 11-of-11 FT
Matt Barnes, F Memphis Grizzlies: 15 pts, 7 reb, 3 ast, 1 blk, 3 3PM, 1 TO, 4-of-7 FG
Zach Randolph, PF Memphis Grizzlies: 24 pts, 6 reb, 3 blk, 9-of-19 FG, 6-of-8 FT
Kristaps Porzingis, F/C New York Knicks: 28 pts, 11 reb, 3 3PM, 3 TO, 11-of-21 FG
Kawhi Leonard, F San Antonio Spurs: 19 pts, 12 reb, 2 stl, 2 blk, 1 TO, 8-of-19 FG
Tony Parker, PG San Antonio Spurs: 16 pts, 5 reb, 8 ast, 1 TO, 7-of-16 FG
Goran Dragic, PG Miami Heat: 22 pts, 7 ast, 2 stl, 3 3PM, 2 TO, 8-of-15 FG
Dwyane Wade, SG Miami Heat: 27 pts, 2 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, 2 blk, 5 TO, 9-of-14 FG, 9-of-10 FT
Gerald Green, G/F Miami Heat: 21 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 2 3PM, 7-of-11 FG
Draymond Green, F Golden State Warriors: 11 pts, 13 reb, 10 ast, 1 blk, 2 TO, 4-of-6 FG
Brandon Rush, G/F Golden State Warriors: 20 pts, 4 reb, 1 stl, 1 blk, 4 3PM, 1 TO, 8-of-9 FG
Klay Thompson, G/F Golden State Warriors: 36 pts, 6 reb, 5 ast, 7 3Pm, 13-of-22 FG
Stephen Curry, PG Golden State Warriors: 26 pts, 9 ast, 1 stl, 4 3PM, 1 TO, 8-of-18 FG
Damian Lillard, PG Portland Trail Blazers: 40 pts, 10 ast, 3 stl, 2 blk, 6 3PM, 3 TO, 12-of-27 FG, 10-of-12 FT
Kevin Durant, F Oklahoma City Thunder: 24 pts, 7 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl, 1 blk, 2 3PM, 2 TO, 10-of-15 FG
Russell Westbrook, PG Oklahoma City Thunder: 26 pts, 12 reb, 7 ast, 1 stl, 6 TO, 11-of-24 FG
Lou Williams, G Los Angeles Lakers: 44 pts, 2 stl, 5 3PM, 12-of-25 FG, 15-of-15 FT
Jonas Valanciunas, C Toronto Raptors: 7 pts, 3 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 4 blk, 6 TO, 1-of-4 FG
Bojan Bogdanovic, G/F Brooklyn Nets: 2 pts, 1 reb, 0-of-6 FG
Eric Gordon, SG New Orleans Pelicans: 8 pts, 3 reb, 3 ast, 1 stl, 1 TO, 3-of-11 FG
Norris Cole, G New Orleans Pelicans: 4 pts, 2 stl, 1-of-9 FG
Paul George, F Indiana Pacers: 13 pts, 7 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl, 4 TO, 3-of-13 FG
George Hill, G Indiana Pacers: 7 pts, 5 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, 3 TO, 2-of-9 FG
Giannis Antetokounmpo, G/F Milwaukee Bucks: 5 pts, 5 reb, 1 stl, 1 blk, 3 TO, 2-of-8 FG
Greg Monroe, F/C Milwaukee Bucks: 9 pts, 12 reb, 1 stl, 3 TO, 3-of-10 FG
Chandler Parsons, F Dallas Mavericks: 3 pts, 3 reb, 3 ast, 2 blk, 1 TO, 1-of-8 FG
Deron Williams, PG Dallas Mavericks: 5 pts, 6 ast, 4 TO, 2-of-5 FG
Kyrie Irving, PG Cleveland Cavaliers: 13 pts, 2 ast, 4 TO, 5-of-12 FG
Gorgui Dieng, F/C Minnesota Timberwolves: 2 pts, 6 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, 1-of-3 FG
Will Barton, G/F Denver Nuggets: 6 pts, 9 reb, 3-of-11 FG
Jusuf Nurkic, C Denver Nuggets: 6 pts, 6 reb, 1 blk, 2-of-8 FG
Marc Gasol, C Memphis Grizzlies: 12 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 5 stl, 1 blk, 5-of-17 FG
Mario Chalmers, PG Memphis Grizzlies: 12 pts, 6 reb, 4 ast, 2 3PM, 4 TO, 3-of-13 FG
Arron Afflalo, G/F New York Knicks: 8 pts, 4 reb, 4 ast, 1 blk, 2 3PM, 3-of-8 FG
Jose Calderon, PG New York Knicks: 4 pts, 3 reb, 5 ast, 3 TO, 2-of-9 FG
Chris Bosh, F/C Miami Heat: 14 pts, 3 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl, 2 3PM, 5-of-11 FG
Hassan Whiteside, C Miami Heat: 5 pts, 9 reb, 1 TO, 2-of-8 FG
T.J. Warren, F Phoenix Suns: 2 pts, 2 reb, 1-of-6 FG
Harrison Barnes, F Golden State Warriors: 7 pts, 3 ast, 1 stl, 2-of-10 FG
Andre Iguodala, G/F Golden State Warriors: 2 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 3 TO, 0-of-1 FG
Mason Plumlee, F/C Portland Trail Blazers: 7 pts, 5 reb, 1 TO, 2-of-8 FG
C.J. McCollum, G Portland Trail Blazers: 17 pts, 3 reb, 3 ast, 3 3PM, 1 TO, 7-of-23 FG
Serge Ibaka, F/C Oklahoma City Thunder: 7 pts, 1 reb, 3-of-7 FG
Julius Randle, F Los Angeles Lakers: 2 pts, 8 reb, 3 TO, 1-of-7 FG