Had the NBA draft lottery played out as so many anticipated and the New York Knicks landed inside the top three selections, would Phil Jackson and Co. have taken Kristaps Porzingis? The Knicks are certainly glad they don’t have to answer that question, and the rookie has already become a sensation in the league before he’s even got 20 NBA games under his belt. Not bad for a “project,” right?
Rajon Rondo’s redemption keeps rolling along, Paul George is building his MVP candidacy every single night and the Cleveland Cavaliers should really consider keeping Tristan Thompson in the starting lineup even after Timofey Mozgov is ready and able to return.
We’ve got 2,500-plus words on a seven-pack Saturday that promises to whet your palate in advance of the Thanksgiving festivities beginning.
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Sacramento @ Orlando: Kings 97, Magic 91
Duds: Darren Collison
The return of Darren Collison (nine points, four turnovers, 2-of-11 shooting, 36 minutes) has done nothing to slow down Rajon Rondo (13 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, three steals, three 3-pointers)…I’m not on the sell-high train when it comes to RR, and his redemption is well underway after he was buried and left for dead by so many last season. DeMarcus Cousins (29 points, 12 rebounds, six dimes, three steals, three blocks) is a near-lock for monster lines every time he hits the floor, and Boogie—who came into this game averaging an astounding 20.0 field goal attempts—hasn’t taken fewer than 14 shots in any game to date..
Without Rudy Gay, Collison moved into the starting five along with Ben McLemore (eight points, 3-of-12 shooting) at small forward, but it was again Omri Casspi (11 points, 11 rebounds, 5-of-11 FGs) who produced when given the extended opportunity. The Kings went to a tight eight-man rotation with both Marco Belinelli (13 points, 27 minutes) and Kosta Koufos (12 points, five boards, 21 minutes) scoring in double figures, as well.
Victor Oladipo had just one point in his inaugural game back from a concussion, and Saturday night (11 points, six boards, 4-of-11 FGs) didn’t go much better…it’s probably going to take a few games before VO gets back on track, and throwing a buy-low offer into the water to see if you can get a bite isn’t a bad idea. Elfrid Payton (seven points, five boards, nine dimes, 3-of-12 FGs, five turnovers) also struggled with his efficiency, while Tobias Harris (24 points, three steals, three blocks, 10-of-16 FGs) and Nikola Vucevic (11 points, 11 rebounds, 5-of-10 FGs) were the only players with more than one shot attempt who connected at a rate of at least 50%. Both Vooch and Oladipo had their minutes cut once again by Scott Skiles, and it’s a pretty weird tactic to not put your best talent on the floor.
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Milwaukee @ Indiana: Pacers 123, Bucks 86
After trailing by just four points at halftime, the Bucks were obliterated by a score of 68-35 in the second half. Woof, Milwaukee.
Greg Monroe looked like he was on his way to a monster game, and although he was productive with 11 points, 14 rebounds, a steal and a block, it is somewhat of a disappointment considering what could have been. Nobody could really get going for the Bucks, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with just nine points, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 29 minutes. Jabari Parker (10 points, four boards, two steals, one block) and Khris Middleton (eight points, two steals, one block) at least provided some sort of value, but Michael Carter-Williams (seven points, three assists, five turnovers) continues to look like an empty investment. It’s hard to understand why this franchise wanted to replace Brandon Knight with MCW.
Paul George’s MVP resume continues to grow, and he came through with another versatile line (20 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals, three triples) in just 29 minutes of action. Playing without George Hill (illness), C.J. Miles took more shots (16) than anyone other than George, rewarding those who rolled the dice on him in DFS with a very useful 21 points, three steals and three triples. Playing a team-high 30.5 minutes, Monta Ellis finished with 12 points (one 3-pointer), five rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block…despite the lack of scoring, it’s hard to complain about that tidy line.
With this game put away long before the final buzzer ever sounded, Indiana’s bench was cookin’ led by head chef Jordan Hill’s 20 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and a block on 9-of-10 from the floor. Considering Hill also didn’t turn the ball over a single time, it’s a near perfect performance from a guy few expected to have any impact on this game. Aiding Hill was Glenn Robinson III, a player who continues to take advantage of his new opportunity. Playing with his confidence high and finally with the backing of an organization that believes in him, G-Rob went off for 17 points (6-of-7 FGs, four triples) and two steals in just 20.5 minutes. He’s a player I believe in as well having drafted him in our 30-DEEP league, and I think he’s going to trend upward as the season progresses.
Atlanta @ Cleveland: Cavs 109, Hawks 97
You know things are going well for Paul Millsap when he can shoot 3-of-13 from the floor and still wind up in the studs category, and that’s exactly what happened on Saturday as a result of his 14 points, 11 rebounds, five dimes, four steals and two blocks…eight-of-nine from the charity stripe was icing on the cake for Prince Paul. Al Horford added a double-double of his own with 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and a block (4-of-12 FGs), but it wasn’t enough to knock off Cleveland on the road.
Jeff Teague (left ankle) came off the bench behind Dennis Schroder (seven points, two dimes, two steals, two turnovers) to begin the game, but Teague started the second half and shouldn’t be limited going forward. Unfortunately the point guard wasn’t all that productive in his return (13 points, four assists, two steals, two triples, 3-of-12 FGs), but the good news is that he’s back on the floor.
Cleveland got a slow start from LeBron James, but Kevin Love (24 points, 11 rebounds, one steal, one block, two triples, 9-of-15 FGs) was on fire from the opening tip. The same can be said for new starting center Tristan Thompson (nine points, 16 rebounds, five assists, two blocks, 40.5 minutes), and TT promises to have a tremendous boost to his short-term value while Timofey Mozgov (shoulder) remains out of the lineup. Despite the sluggish start for James, the hometown hero finished with a performance that could have aired on Saturday Night Live: 19 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and two blocks on 8-of-15 shooting.
J.R. Smith was a big player in the first half, but he went ice cold in the second and finished with just 15 points on a team-high 18 shots. Filling in for Kyrie Irving (knee) and Mo Williams (ankle), Matthew Dellavedova finished with a very ordinary 12 points and three assists in his 28 minutes. At least he didn’t get into it with Kyle Korver this time around.
Washington @ Detroit: Wizards 97, Pistons 95
It took until the 13th game of the season for Andre Drummond (eight points, 13 rebounds) to not have a double-double, and his historic season won’t be stunted by what will be just a minor speed bump in the road. This was a tough home loss for a Pistons team that has returned to Earth after a fiery start, but both Marcus Morris (18 points, nine rebounds, four dimes, two triples) and Ersan Ilyasova (18 points, five boards, 7-of-10 FGs) found a way to provide a nice evening…Reggie Jackson (20 points, nine assists, six turnovers) had a pretty hollow line, and that’s not why Detroit maxed him out—nor why he was an early investment in fantasy drafts—after acquiring him last season.
Perhaps this is what the Wizards need to finally get going, because a road win on a night when John Wall (eight points, seven dimes, two steals) and Bradley Beal (seven points) combine for 15 points on 19 shots is a very impressive accomplishment…it’s going to be tough for Washington, a team that plays the Pacers, Hornets, Celtics, Raptors, Cavs and Suns in six of their next seven contests. In a sentence from 2010, it was Nene (18 points, seven rebounds, two steals, 9-of-10 FGs) who led the charge, with Ramon Sessions (14 points, nine assists) outplaying Wall. Fortunately for the Wizards, Otto Porter’s (17 points, five rebounds, two steals, two triples) maturation is arriving exactly on time. With a big time win in the books and Beal (shoulder) back in the lineup, I’m sure nobody in the Wizards locker room cared about their stats in this one.
New York @ Houston: Knicks 107, Rockets 102
Duds: Carmelo Anthony
As we prepare for Thanksgiving week to begin, Kristaps Porzingis (24 points, 14 rebounds, seven blocks, two 3-pointers, 8-of-12 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs) began his feast early. Sitting at the head of a table that included Carmelo Anthony (14 points, six rebounds), Porzingis did everything for both the Knicks and those fortunate enough to have him on the fantasy roster…I wouldn’t trade Porzingis unless someone wanted to send back a top-25 talent in return. The Knicks backcourt was also surprisingly productive with Arron Afflalo (16 points, six rebounds, three dimes, four triples) and Jose Calderon (11 points, seven assists, three triples) contributing, and Derek Fisher’s team is now an impressive 8-6 to begin the year.
On a night where Dwight Howard rested for the second game of a back-to-back set, Clint Capela (16 points, 14 rebounds, 7-of-9 shooting) showed his impressive upside in a starting role. Capela is close to serious fantasy significance as Howard’s understudy, but it’s going to take D12 going down for CC to bring his fastball with any sort of consistency, leaving him better suited for those in deeper formats. Terrence Jones (18 points, nine rebounds) is rewarding those who stuck with him through his painfully slow start, and James Harden (24 points, seven rebounds, 10 dimes, three steals, two blocks, three 3-pointers) continued to lead the way for a 5-9 directionless team. Wondering about Ty Lawson? He played 17 minutes and had more turnovers (four) than assists (two) without scoring a single point. The Rockets are better when he doesn’t play.
Philadelphia @ Miami: Heat 96, Sixers 91
The Heat used a 64-44 second half performance to keep the 0-14 Sixers winless, and every member of the starting five except Goran Dragic (six points, seven rebounds, four assists, three turnovers) scored in double figures. It’s been a nightmare start for The Dragon, and it’s going to be almost impossible for him to return his ADP as a result…I still think it’s going to get better, but that’s based solely on gut feeling. The numbers aren’t in his favor, and Dragon is a long-term investment for those who feel like gambling.
While Chris Bosh registered a versatile double-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds, a steal, three blocks and two triples, the story of the game has to be Hassan Whiteside (13 points, nine rebounds, eight blocks) given that he nearly had his second triple-double with blocks in the span of week. Dwyane Wade had been really struggling with his shot, so it was good to see him get back on track in a favorable matchup vs. the lowly Sixers with 27 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block with just a single turnover.
Nerlens Noel’s temporary ban to the bench lasted all of one game, and he was right back in there despite his poor offensive fit alongside Jahlil Okafor. It seems that Brett Brown is grasping at straws as he tries to figure out something that works, and it’s hard to criticize that strategy when you look at the Sixers roster. Okafor needed 20 shots to score 16 points, and despite grabbing 11 rebounds and having three blocks, the big man had his own shot swatted away an unfathomable five times in this contest…it’s been a problem for Big Jah all season long.
Robert Covington came off the bench for 21 points, six rebounds, two steals and a block (three triples) in what was easily his best game of the season, but his role may change on a nightly basis as the Sixers try and figure it out. Regardless of whether or not he starts, RoCo should provide value to your team. It was an Isaiah Canaan night (22 points, five triples), so T.J. McConnell (six points, five rebounds, five assists, five turnovers) took a back seat. Here’s a stat to chew on: McConnell has now played more than 400 NBA minutes without attempting a single free throw.
Memphis @ San Antonio: Spurs 92, Grizzlies 82
Studs: Tim Duncan
In a predictably low-scoring affair, the San Antonio Spurs made sure to stop the losing streak at exactly one game.
Playing without LaMarcus Aldridge (left ankle sprain), Tim Duncan saw a season-high 36 minutes and responded with an impressive double-double: 10 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks on 5-of-8 from the floor. Tony Parker also poured in an efficient 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, while veteran David West drew the start in LMA’s place, finishing with eight points, five rebounds and a block in 24.5 minutes. Manu Ginobili (hip) returned in this one as well, scoring 15 points off the bench to go along with four rebounds, a steal and two triples on 6-of-11 shooting…that’s a near best-case scenario from the bat-swatting veteran these days.
The Grizzlies were also shorthanded, playing their second straight without Zach Randolph, who said that his right knee was still “too sore” before the game began to get back on the floor. JaMychal Green (eight points, five rebounds) again drew the start in his place, but Courtney Lee (15 points, two steals) and Matt Barnes (10 points, one steal, one block) were the ones who got the bump in playing time.
Fresh off of the first triple-double of his career, Marc Gasol again provided a versatile line (eight points, eight rebounds, six assists, three steals), but he turned the ball over five times in the process and shot just 3-of-9 from the field. Mike Conley had been riding hot for the Grizzlies and entered Saturday with three straight games of 20-plus points on 50%-plus shooting, but he took a small step back against a tough Spurs team with 16 points, five dimes, two steals and a block on 5-of-12 in the loss.
Injury Report (Teams that played on 11/21, does not include players considered out indefinitely)
Kent Bazemore (right ankle sprain): Bazemore said on Saturday that he should be back “soon,” which really doesn’t mean anything more than he’s day-to-day.
Tiago Splitter (right hip pain): Splitter departed with the injury on Saturday and is considered day-to-day.
Mo Williams (posterior right ankle inflammation): The veteran missed his second straight game on Saturday and is doubtful to play on Monday, as well. Considering he has continued soreness and has dealt with lower leg/ankle issues previously, Mo Butta could spend several games on the shelf.
Patrick Beverley (left ankle sprain): Beverley is hoping to return for Wednesday’s game vs. Memphis. He’s expected to supplant Jason Terry in the starting lineup with Ty Lawson now coming off the bench.
Dwight Howard (rest): Howard sat on the second night of a back-to-back, but the move was simply precautionary.
George Hill (illness): Hill was only available in emergency duty, but he should be ready for Tuesday’s game vs. Washington.
Zach Randolph (sore right knee): Z-Bo said before the game that his knee was still “too sore” to play on Saturday, and we’ll consider him questionable for Memphis’ pre-Thanksgiving back-to-back set on Tuesday (vs. DAL) and Wednesday (vs. HOU).
Brandan Wright (right knee soreness): Wright will no longer appeal in the Dose injury report unless we get an update on his condition.
Jordan Adams (right knee soreness): For the second straight day, See Wright, Brandan
C.J. Watson (sore left calf): Watson has been day-to-day for almost two weeks.
Richaun Holmes (hamstring): The rookie is tentatively targeting a return next week.
Rudy Gay (left shoulder strain): Gay is considered day-to-day after an MRI revealed a left shoulder strain.
San Antonio Spurs
LaMarcus Aldridge (left ankle sprain): Day-to-day.