If I told you before the season that the Heat would be relying on Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson and Michael Beasley to carry them into the playoffs, you would probably think I was delirious. But if Saturday’s overtime win over the Kings is any indication, the Heat simply can’t stop finding diamonds in the rough as Tyler Johnson nailed a dagger 3-pointer to seal the win over the helpless Kings.
On an eight-game night that was relatively quiet in terms of injuries (finally), there was no shortage of fascinating stories such as Andrea Bargnani’s career resurgence, Khris Middleton’s career night, Michael Beasley’s comeback story, and James Harden and Anthony Davis continuing to make their case for the MVP Award. The legend known as Ethan Norof is currently away on vacation, so I will break down the fantasy implications of tonight’s games in this Sunday’s version of the Dose.
Pelicans 95, Grizzlies 89
The Pelicans rallied from 18 points down to surge past the Grizzlies in a crucial win on Saturday, led by the man they call Anthony Davis and Tyreke Evans. Davis was as brilliant as ever with 23 points, 10 boards, one assist and five blocks in a whopping 40 minutes, and the good news is that his shoulder no longer seems to be an issue. Evans kept up his torrid pace with 26 points, seven assists, three boards, three steals, one block and three 3-pointers, and he simply could not be stopped on his way to the rim throughout the game. The Pelicans have one more loss than the Thunder who currently sit in eighth place in the loaded Western Conference, but I don’t expect Davis or Evans to slow down unless the Pelicans fall out of playoff contention.
Eric Gordon was solid again with 16 points and six assists in the win, while Norris Cole contributed 12 points with two boards and three assists and even forced Mike Conley to miss a key 3-pointer late in the game due to his tenacious defense. Jrue Holiday (leg) remains without a timetable to return, so Cole will likely continue to log big minutes off the bench for the foreseeable future, though I’m still not touching him outside of deeper leagues.
The Grizzlies were led by Jeff Green who was able to drop 20 points on 8-of-18 shooting, but he has been way too inconsistent to move the needle on him in standard leagues. Marc Gasol flirted with a 5 x 5 line with totals of eight points, seven boards, six assists, three steals and five blocks, while Mike Conley finished with 17 points, four boards, three assists, one steal and three 3-pointers. Zach Randolph was the most disappointing Grizzly by far, scoring just seven points with two rebounds, but with three games in the span of four nights, fatigue was probably a factor here.
Cavaliers 89, Suns 79
This game got out of hand in a hurry, and the score could have been much worse if the Suns hadn’t outscored the Cavaliers 27-9 in the fourth quarter. LeBron James was quiet by his standards with 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting with eight assists and six boards, while Kevin Love notched a double-double and finished with 13 points, 10 boards, four assists, and three 3-pointers to help lead the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving scored just eight points with three assists, but it should be noted that he was limited by foul trouble in the first half and played just 26 minutes in the win. There has been no report of an injury to Irving, so his owners shouldn’t be concerned. Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson both did their part as well, with Mozgov scoring 19 points with four boards and Thompson registering a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double off the bench.
The Suns clearly missed Alex Len’s (ankle) presence in the paint on Saturday, and Earl Barron lasted just 13 minutes in the starting lineup before picking up four quick fouls. Brandan Wright did his best to fill the void with seven points, seven boards, two steals and three blocks in 30 minutes off the bench, and he will certainly be worth a look in most leagues If Len misses any more time. P.J. Tucker moved back into the starting lineup and scored 11 points with nine boards and two 3-pointers, and he is worth owning in most leagues as long as catches the team bus on time from here on out. Eric Bledsoe disappointed with just seven points on 3-of-12 shooting with nine assists, while Brandon Knight chipped in with 10 points, five assists and four boards.
Heat 114, Kings 109
The Heat were without Luol Deng (thigh), Goran Dragic (back) and Hassan Whiteside (ankle) for Saturday’s overtime win over the Kings, but it was former D-League guard Tyler Johnson who catapulted them to a win with a clutch 3-pointer in the closing moments of the game. The Heat struck gold when they snagged Whiteside out of the D-League, and while it’s way too early to call Johnson a revelation, he is suddenly on the radar in deeper leagues. Johnson finished with 24 points, six boards, six assists and three 3-pointers in 44 minutes, so he could have a larger role in store for him even when the Heat gets some healthy bodies back.
The other big story in Miami was the impressive performance by mercurial forward Michael Beasley, who scored 18 points with seven boards, two steals and one block before fouling out in 38 minutes. His current 10-day contract is set to expire on Sunday, but I’d be shocked if the Heat didn’t bring him back. Dwyane Wade returned from a one-game absence and buried 28 points in the win, and the good news is that he said that his hip is no longer an issue moving forward.
DeMarcus Cousins appeared to tweak his left ankle but played through the pain to the tune of 27 points and 11 rebounds, but his owners will want to keep their head on a swivel for an update on his status prior to Monday’s game vs. the Hawks. Rudy Gay notched 27 points with eight boards, five assists, and three 3-pointers in the loss, and it looks like he is really enjoying life under head coach George Karl. Ben McLemore has shown a lot of improvement this season, and he was able to contribute 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting (3-of-8 from deep) in 45 minutes.
Pacers 92, Knicks 86
David West saved the Pacers from an embarrassing loss to the Knicks on Saturday with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while George Hill contributed 15 points with five boards and three assists. Now that Hill’s groin issues are in the rear-view mirror, he should continue to improve as the Pacers seek a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Rodney Stuckey added 17 points off the bench while Roy Hibbert pulled down 11 boards with two blocks, though he scored just three points on the night.
Andrea Bargnani has resurrected his NBA career recently, and he continued his hot streak on Saturday with 21 points, five boards and two blocks in 32 minutes. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but after scoring 19 or more points in four out of his last five games, Bargnani is now worth owning in most leagues as the primary option on offense for the Knicks (yes, they are that bad).
Tim Hardaway Jr. missed all nine of his shots from the field on Saturday, and it’s pretty obvious that he has a lot of work to do if he wants to make a living in the NBA. Alexey Shved continued to impress with 15 points, five boards and three assists, and while he is starting to grasp onto some value in points formats, his shooting percentages will keep him off the radar in standard leagues. Cole Aldrich scored eight points with 11 boards and one block in 27 minutes, and he could be line for more minutes if Lou Amundson (back) misses more time. With the Knicks set to play five games next week, Aldrich is worth a look in deeper leagues.
76ers 92, Hawks 84
Before you freak out about this result, the Hawks opted to rest Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver in what they thought would be an easy win, but clearly they didn’t plan on Luc Mbah a Moute dropping 19 points against them. Jeff Teague paced the Hawks with 17 points and four assists, while Al Horford contributed 12 points, five boards, four assists, two steals and three blocks in a solid all-around game. Dennis Schroder scored 16 points with six assists off the bench, and he is quietly averaging 13.2 points, 7.0 assists and 1.2 3-pointers in 26.2 minutes over his last five games. If Teague ever goes down, Schroder becomes a must-add player in all leagues.
The 76ers were led by a 19-point performance by veteran Luc Mbah a Moute, and he has somehow been able to scrape together some low-end value in standard leagues. Isaiah Canaan contributed 12 points with eight assists, five boards, and two more 3-pointers in 37 minutes, and as long as head coach Brett Brown continues to give him the green light from beyond the arc, I believe he will only get better as the season progresses. Nerlens Noel grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds with 11 points, five steals and one block on the night, and the 76ers have to be thrilled with his rapid development this season. Robert Covington played through his elbow contusion and scored 12 points with four boards, two steals and two 3-pointers, and it doesn’t look like his elbow will be an issue moving forward. Thomas Robinson scored 10 points with a couple of boards in 18 minutes off the bench, and he is someone worth monitoring if head coach Brett Brown increases his minutes like he said he would.
Timberwolves 121, Trail Blazers 113
Arron Afflalo drew the start in place of Wesley Matthews (Achilles) on Saturday and scored 14 points with one assist and three 3-pointers before fouling out after 32 minutes. He will usually be better than this on most nights, and with Matthews ruled out for the season, Afflalo will have plenty of chances to get his legs under him with his new team. Damian Lillard nearly triple-doubled with 32 points, seven boards, eight assists and four 3-pointers, and it’s suddenly even more obvious why he belonged in the All-Star game all along. Nicolas Batum continued his impressive post All-Star break play with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting, adding seven boards, three assists and three 3-pointers. LaMarcus Aldridge was relatively quiet with 21 points and eight boards, though his owners will be happy as long as he stays on the floor.
The Timberwolves were led by Ricky Rubio who nearly triple-doubled with 13 points, 15 assists, eight boards and one 3-pointer, while Kevin Martin did his part as well with 29 points and six boards. Nikola Pekovic played through his troublesome ankle to the tune of 11 points and eight boards in 26 minutes, but I still think he ends up sitting out towards the end of the season to avoid any further damage. Gorgui Dieng was quiet with six points, five boards, four assists and one block in 27 minutes off the bench, but he is still worth owning in all leagues even with Pekovic active. Andrew Wiggins added 18 points with four boards, two assists, three steals, one block and one 3-pointer, and the Rookie of the Year Award should have already been given to him at this point
Bucks 91, Wizards 85
Khris Middleton paved the way for the Bucks on Saturday with a career-high 30 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the field (6-of-9 from deep). He also added nine boards, one assist and two steals, and he is one of the many reasons why the Bucks are so fun to watch this season. Michael Carter-Williams scored 12 points with nine assists and three boards on the night, but his turnovers are still a major concern, as he coughed up the ball four times. Ersan Ilyasova started at power forward again and scored 10 points with five boards, two assists and two 3-pointers, but his next injury is probably right around the corner. John Henson blocked four shots and added six points and seven boards, and he is still the center to own in Milwaukee despite coming off the bench behind Zaza Pachulia.
John Wall did his best to keep the Wizards in this game with 11 points, nine assists, six boards, two steals and two 3-pointers, but he shot just 3-of-14 from the field and turned the ball over three times. Marcin Gortat nearly double-doubled with 10 points and nine boards, while Paul Pierce added 14 points, eight boards, three assists and three 3-pointers. Otto Porter started in place of Bradley Beal (leg) on Saturday, but he played just 12 minutes and scored just two points on the night. Even if Beal misses any additional action, Porter isn’t worth owning in most leagues.
Rockets 114, Nuggets 100
Terrence Jones (back) and Patrick Beverley (foot) both fought through injuries in this one, but the good news is that the Rockets are off until Wednesday vs. Portland. Jones managed to score seven points with 11 rebounds and one block in 27 minutes, but he has been an absolute stud since the All-Star break and the added rest should do him some good. Beverley finished with eight points, five boards and a couple of 3-pointers, but he should continue to get better as heals up in the coming days. Josh Smith double-doubled with 10 points, 10 boards and four assists off the bench, but in typical fashion, he turned the ball over six times and missed all three of his 3-pointers. Trevor Ariza broke out of his recent shooting slump with 19 points and three 3-pointers, while James Harden continued to light it up with 28 points, seven assists, four boards, two steals and two 3-pointers to easily dispatch the Nuggets.
Ty Lawson nearly triple-doubled for the Nuggets with 13 points, 10 assists and eight boards, and it’s safe to say that he is meshing well with interim head coach Melvin Hunt. Randy Foye exploded for 20 points in another start at shooting guard, but I’d have to see another performance like that before I can get behind an add in standard leagues. Wilson Chandler had an impressive 26-point game vs. the Rockets, and now that he is finally healthy, I view him a must-own player for the rest of the season. Kenneth Faried struggled with just four points and nine boards, but he saved his line with three blocks and two steals in 34 minutes. Faried is coming off three straight double-doubles, and now that Brian Shaw can no longer hold him back, I’m not concerned about the Manimal moving forward.