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Sunday Daily Dose

Dose: Blake Griffin's MVP Year

by Ethan Norof
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

A seven-pack Saturday offered plenty of action around the Association. Jamal Crawford is back on track, Kevin McHale’s Rockets team can’t get off the ground and Draymond Green’s superstar credentials can be seen for even the most casual fan to see.


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Detroit @ Los Angeles (C): Clippers 101, Pistons 96


Studs: Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford, Andre Drummond

Duds: Marcus Morris, Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson


Coming in losers of four of their last five, the Los Angeles Clippers played like a desperate team en route to a much-needed win. Filling in for J.J. Redick (back) in the starting lineup, Jamal Crawford had arguably his best game in a Clippers uniform with 37 points, six rebounds, eight assists and a block with three 3-pointers. In addition to Crawford’s huge game, DeAndre Jordan contributed a classic DJ double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds, while Blake Griffin exploded for 34 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, two steals and a block on 14-of-25 from the floor…Griffin is going to be in the MVP conversation all year long, so everyone better get used to it. Austin Rivers once again got the call in place of Chris Paul (groin), but he managed just 13 points, three rebounds and three 3-pointers in a whopping 42 minutes of action. It’s nice to be in good with the coach.


Doc Rivers decided to shuffle his deck, starting Paul Pierce (three points, three rebounds, three assists, 30.5 minutes) at small forward in a move that sent Lance Stephenson to the bench. With Crawford and Rivers playing big minutes in the backcourt, Stephenson saw just under two minutes of action, and his role is very much to be determined moving forward.


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Detroit controlled the first half, but it all came apart in the final 24 minutes of play. Andre Drummond (18 points, 19 rebounds, one steal, one block) is making a mockery of anyone who passed on him on draft day, while Reggie Jackson (20 points, six rebounds, five assists, two triples) and Ersan Ghostface Ilyasova added 20 points (three 3-pointers) of his own. Stanley The Manley Johnson played more minutes (21) than anyone else off the bench, finishing with nine points, four rebounds, a steal and a triple. Johnson isn’t a must-own player in 12-team formats, but you’re going to want him on your roster before the potential turns into production…it’s coming.


Orlando @ Washington: Wizards 108, Magic 99


Studs: Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, Otto Porter

Duds: Tobias Harris


Nikola Vucevic has been ballin’ since returning from his knee injury, and he abused Marcin Gortat for 19 points, 13 rebounds and a block in 35.5 big minutes…Vooch is one of the most under-appreciated centers in the NBA, and the Magic got a bargain when he signed a four-year, $53 million extension in October of 2014. Orlando needed every ounce of the big man’s production with Tobias Harris (10 points, five rebounds) failing to show up despite a double-double in each of his prior two games.


With Victor Oladipo (concussion) still out of the lineup, Evan Fournier again kicked to shooting guard and had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists…it’s been a true breakout season for Fournier, and after failing to reach an extension by the November 2 deadline, Fournier is going to be a very intriguing name to watch as the trade deadline approaches. Aaron Gordon once again flashed his versatility in extended run (31.5 minutes) with 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals, and there should no longer be any questions about whether or not A.G. belongs on a fantasy roster. Elfrid Payton (17 points, five rebounds, five dimes) is now averaging 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals over his last two games, but his efficiency (8-of-23 FGs, nine TOs) is still a major bummer.


Still playing a man down without Bradley Beal (left shoulder), John Wall (15 points, 11 assists, 5-of-14 shooting) again struggled to look like his usual self. Things will change once Beal gets back on the floor, so now is the time to float a buy-low offer if those currently with Wall are becoming a little worried. Rather than Gary Neal, it was Garrett Temple who drew the start in Beal’s place, going for 18 points (three triples) out of nowhere…leave him on your waiver wire. Marcin Gortat (13 points, 10 rebounds, one block) had a decent enough game, but the frontline belonged to Otto Porter (nine points, 10 rebounds, four dimes, four steals, one block, one 3-pointer) and Kris Humphries (23 points, five triples, two blocks). The veteran hadn’t scored more than nine points in any game before this one, and the 25-point outburst could very well go down as The Hump’s best performance all season. 


Dallas @ Houston: Mavericks 110, Rockets 98


Studs: Terrence Jones, Dwight Powell

Duds: Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza, Marcus Thornton, Ty Lawson


Houston, we officially have a problem.


The Rockets couldn’t get past a Dallas team playing without Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons on the second night of a back-to-back, and you have to wonder how patient General Manager Daryl Morey is going to be. New point guard Ty Lawson (seven points, five assists) has not worked out as anticipated, and with Dwight Howard (rest) still unable to go in back-to-back sets, Houston can’t afford to get buried in a Western Conference that will leave them behind.


The good news: Terrence Jones (23 points, six boards, one steal, three blocks, 10-of-15 FGs) looks very strong since returning, and his 41.5 minutes of action is extremely encouraging as the Rockets were also playing the second game of a back-to-back set. Before Saturday’s game, James Harden was shooting just 38.5 percent from the field, including 24.4 percent from distance. Despite racking up another big stat line (25 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, one block), Harden’s efficiency (5-of-21 FGs, 1-of-6 3-pointers) is hampering his otherwise excellent all-around value. The bad news: Clint Capela (seven points, 10 rebounds, one steal, 23 minutes), Trevor Ariza (four points, six rebounds, three steals, 1-of-8 FGs), Marcus Thornton (two points, 1-of-9 FGs) and Corey Brewer (six points, 23 minutes) all fell flat, and the lack of support Harden and TJ received was the reason Houston now sits at a disappointing 4-6 through 10 games.


The Mavericks scored 110 points on a team some consider a title contender by starting Charlie Villanueva, rookie Justin Anderson and Raymond Felton alongside Deron Williams and Zaza Pachulia…that’s a damning sentence to anyone who thinks the Rockets are just fine. Charlie V took a dip in the hot tub time machine, blowing up for 19 points (three triples), five rebounds and three blocks in just 25.5 minutes. After a monstrous double-double vs. the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Pachulia came back to earth with 10 points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes. Raymond Felton (23 points, five rebounds, six assists) and Devin Harris (15 points, four rebounds, two dimes) both outplayed Deron Williams (11 points, five assists), and Dwight Powell (13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two blocks, 26 minutes) is illustrating why he’s going to earn a larger role as the season progresses.


Cleveland @ Milwaukee: Bucks 108, Cavs 105 (2OT)


Studs: LeBron James, Kevin Love, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe

Duds: Khris Middleton, Timofey Mozgov, Mo Williams


When Cleveland gets a combined 61 points and 26 rebounds from LeBron James and Kevin Love but still takes the loss, it has to be a tough pill to swallow. LeBron poured in 37 points, 12 rebounds, five dimes, three blocks, a steal and five 3-pointers in 45 minutes, while Love added a massive double-double (24 points, 14 rebounds, one steal, four triples) of his own.


Outside of those two, Cleveland got absolutely nothing from anyone, including J.R. Smith (10 points, nine rebounds, one steal, two blocks) despite playing an insane 50.5 minutes. Mo Williams (four points, 2-of-8 shooting) registered his second-to-worst effort of the season, while Timofey Mozgov (eight points, four rebounds, three blocks, 15.5 minutes) showed why he belongs nowhere near a fantasy roster. Richard Jefferson (14 points) was the only Cavs player to score double-digits off the bench, and RJ playing 39 minutes is not the look the title-contending Cavaliers are going for.


Michael Carter-Williams (ankle) made his return to the starting lineup and had no restrictions, playing 40 minutes on his way to 17 points (6-of-12 FGs), four boards, five assists, two steals and two blocks with just three turnovers. With an impressive seven players scoring 10-plus points, it was once again Greg Monroe (16 points, 17 rebounds) who led the pack in production with Jerryd Bayless (17 points, five assists, three triples) and Greivis Vasquez (13 points, four assists, two 3-pointers) providing plenty of support. I’m a Khris Middleton fan, but I’m worried about the way he’s trending…despite another 42 minutes of action, Middleton managed just 11 points, four rebounds and three steals. The minutes are certainly there, but the production and opportunity have both been lacking. Those with him like myself have no real option but to remain patient.


Philadelphia @ San Antonio: Spurs 92, Sixers 83


Studs: LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Jahlil Okafor

Duds: Danny Green, Nerlens Noel, T.J. McConnell, Nik Stauskas


Remember when T.J. McConnell (eight points, five boards, one assist, two steals) was the next waiver wire gem of the season? Me neither. The undrafted rookie can’t score in the league, has no real range to speak of and the scouting report is starting to get out …I hope you sold sky-high when the opportunity was there. It’s not quite the same story for Nik Stauskas (no points, 18 minutes), but it sure is similar. Benched in the second half for in-between guard Isaiah Canaan (six points, 2-of-11 shooting), perhaps now some will start to understand why you should always order Sauce on the side. With Nerlens Noel (six points, three rebounds, two steals, 2-of-8 FGs) also turning in a clunker, the lone star on Philadelphia’s side was Jahlil Okafor, who again went off for a big performance with 21 points, 12 boards and two blocks. Over his last four games, Okafor is averaging 18.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.8 blocks. Big Jah is officially eating.


Without Kawhi Leonard (upper respiratory infection) and Manu Ginobili (adductor strain) available, it was all about LaMarcus Aldridge (17 points, 19 rebounds, 34.5 minutes) and Tim Duncan (15 points, five blocks, 7-of-12 FGs) in the San Antonio win. Kyle Anderson, who barely saw the court this season before Saturday, was quite productive in his spot-start for Leonard, scoring 10 points to go along with seven rebounds, three assists, three steals, a block and two 3-pointers. Despite an increased opportunity to produce, Danny Green (three points, five rebounds, 1-of-9 shooting) was again a source of disappointment—that’s going to be a theme all season.


Denver @ Phoenix: Suns 105, Nuggets 81


Studs: Will Barton, Eric Bledsoe

Duds: Brandon Knight, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried


To say the very least: This was a forgettable game for Mike Malone’s Denver Nuggets…with the exception of Will Barton. The Thrill went off for the second straight game with 19 points, 12 rebounds, four dimes, two steals, a block and three triples, and he’s now averaging 22.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 3.5 3-pointers over his last two. Returning third-round value this season, Barton’s emphatic case for more minutes simply cannot be denied.


Kenneth Faried left early with back spasms, finishing with just two points, seven boards and a steal while burning those who rolled him out in DFS in a favorable matchup vs. Jon Leuer. Danilo Gallinari (eight points, 2-of-12 shooting) and Emmanuel Mudiay (13 points, 6-of-18 FGs, three turnovers, one assist) will both be looking to bounce back on Tuesday vs. a New Orleans team that has really struggled defensively.


I’m just not sure what else there is to say about Eric Bledsoe that I haven’t said already. With 30 points, seven boards, four assists, two steals and three triples on an incendiary 11-of-16 shooting in just 30 minutes, Mini-LeBron has now scored 22-plus points in four straight contests while filling up the box score. Brandon Knight followed up a career performance with a disappointing 10 points and no assists, but the Suns didn’t need him to do much in the blowout victory. Markieff Morris (knee) was a game-time decision, but he sat out in favor of Jon Leuer (seven points, five rebounds, 19 minutes) and could return for Monday’s game vs. the Lakers.  


Brooklyn @ Golden State: Warriors 107, Nets 99 (OT)


Studs: Thaddeus Young, Jarrett Jack, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut

Duds: Joe Johnson, Harrison Barnes, Bojan Bogdanovic


With a chance to shock the world and take down the Golden State Warriors, the Brooklyn Nets blew it. I know that’s a shocking sentence, but the Nets were actually in position to give Golden State its first defeat before the Warriors forced overtime and eventually went on to win.


Thaddeus Young (26 points, 10 rebounds, three steals) went off in 38.5 minutes, and he’s really been playing well over his last handful of contests. Inspired by a matchup against his old team and backcourt mate Stephen Curry, Jarrett Jack (28 points, four rebounds, nine assists, two steals, two triples) was determined not to wind up as the next ingredient in Chef Curry’s Stew. Joe Johnson, who had more shots (12) than points (six) and more turnovers (five) than assists (3), failed to take advantage of his 41.5 minutes on the floor.


After taking a backseat to Bojan Bogdanovic (two points, six boards, two steals, 35 minutes) over the last couple of contests, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson made them remember the name with an eye-opening performance on Saturday: seven points, 13 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. All RHJ needs is minutes, and Lionel Hollins should love him as a guy capable of impacting the game without needing a play called for him.


Does anyone still try to debate Draymond Green’s (16 points, 10 rebounds, 12 dimes, two steals, four blocks, two triples) star status in the game? There is no doubt that what he brings is an excellent fit on his Warriors team, but this is a player who would be shining anywhere. Over his last two games, Green is averaging an absurd 19.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 12.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 3.0 blocks and 2.0 3-pointers on 15-of-28 shooting…yeah, he’s a stud.


Forced to play without Klay Thompson (back stiffness) who finally sat down after previously admitting he needed a rest, the Warriors struggled to find offense outside of Green and Stephen Curry, but even the MVP had an off night with his 34 points coming on 13-of-31 from the field. It was Brandon Rush (eight points, four rebounds, 21 minutes) who got the surprise start in place of Thompson, but Andre Iguodala (15 points, six boards, six dimes, two steals, three triples, 38 minutes) was the one who predictably saw his role increase as Luke Walton loves to lean on his veteran. Festus Ezeli (three points, five rebounds, two blocks, 18 minutes) was only a starter by name in this one, and he could soon find himself as Andrew Bogut’s (10 points, 18 rebounds, two steals, three blocks, 32 minutes) backup once again…Ezeli no longer needs to be rostered in 12-team formats. 


Injury Report (Teams that played on 11/14)


The injury report does not account for players who have been ruled out indefinitely.


Dallas Mavericks


Chandler Parsons (rest): Parsons rested on Saturday after playing 18 minutes—his highest total of the season—in Friday’s game against the Lakers.


Dirk Nowitzki (rest): Nowitzki got a DNP-Old after Friday’s contest vs. Los Angeles.


Wes Matthews (rest): After playing 30.5 minutes on Friday, Matthews sat out Saturday vs. the Rockets.


Denver Nuggets


Joffrey Lauvergne (back): Despite being upgraded to questionable prior to Saturday’s contest, Lauvergne was once again sidelined. The good news: He’s targeting a Tuesday return vs. New Orleans. He’s not a must-add player, but I’d be watching him very closely…


Kenneth Faried (back): Faried departed Saturday’s game early due to back spasms, but it was a blowout and the Nuggets may have just been erring on the side of caution. Still, it’s something worth monitoring as Faried has dealt with back issues earlier this season, as well.


Golden State Warriors


Klay Thompson (back stiffness): Back issues have bothered Thompson for a couple of weeks, and he finally took a night off after the Warriors’ 10-0 start. Golden State is now 11-0.


Houston Rockets


Dwight Howard (rest): Howard sat out Saturday’s contest vs. Brooklyn after playing in Friday’s loss to Denver. The big man has not yet been cleared to play in back-to-back sets.


Patrick Beverley (ankle): Beverley is without a timetable to return, meaning Houston will have to ride Ty Lawson and James Harden even harder. Jason Terry (crust) is not an option.


Montrezl Harris (ankle): Harris rolled his ankle in Saturday’s game, but it appears to be just a day-to-day situation.


Los Angeles Clippers


Chris Paul (groin): Day-to-day.


J.J. Redick (back): Redick has dealt with back issues previously in his career, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see him miss more than just a few games. Officially, he’s listed as day-to-day.


Milwaukee Bucks


O.J. Mayo (hamstring): Yet to debut this season, Mayo’s status with the team is unclear.


Orlando Magic


Victor Oladipo (concussion): Day-to-day.


C.J. Watson (calf): Day-to-day.


Jason Smith (left knee soreness): Day-to-day.


Philadelphia 76ers


Richaun Holmes (hamstring): Holmes is expected to miss at least another week.


Robert Covington (right MCL sprain): Covington is due back on Monday at home against Dallas.


Phoenix Suns


Ronnie Price (concussion): Day-to-day.


Markieff Morris (left knee sprain): Day-to-day. Jon Leuer started in his place on Saturday.


San Antonio Spurs


Kawhi Leonard (upper respiratory infection): Day-to-day.


Manu Ginobili (adductor strain): Day-to-day.


Washington Wizards


Bradley Beal (left shoulder): Beal took contact in pregame warmups before being ruled out, so he could return as early Tuesday’s game vs. Milwaukee.


Ethan Norof
Follow Ethan Norof on Twitter @Ethan_Norof for more fantasy basketball analysis, advice and all things Los Angeles Lakers.