Tyus Jones was a late scratch, Jimmy Butler was out again, and Derrick Rose took over in Minnesota and went off for a career-high 50 points and a bunch of goodies. He shed tears after the game and it was the feel-good story of the night, especially if you happened to start him in fantasy or DFS. Follow me on Twitter!
Timberwolves 128, Jazz 125 – Derrick Rose was the story of the night, hitting 19-of-31 shots, four 3-pointers and 8-of-11 free throws for a career-high 50 points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals, one block and six turnovers in 41 minutes in a 128-125 win over the Jazz. He was kind of lucky here, as Tyus Jones was a very late scratch due to a sore right foot, which required an MRI, and was negative. And Jimmy Butler was resting as his contract and trade situation with the Wolves continues to digress. We had the fact that Jones wasn’t starting up nice and early, but the news of him not playing at all didn’t hit until right around game time. Yeah, I had him in my DFS lineup too, just like about half of the people reading this. We’re only as good as our sources, and the Wolves sat on the Jones information until it was too late. As long as Jones and Butler are out, Rose is a strong fantasy play, and he’s even worth picking up in standard leagues until we see what happens. But this has fluke written all over it. It was a very cool story and Rose was in tears after the game, as the former MVP celebrated one more great night. But when the Wolves are at full strength, it’s hard to imagine Rose going off on a nightly basis.
Josh Okogie started at shooting guard and played 37 minutes, hitting 4-of-5 shots for 10 points, four rebounds, one assist, two steals and two blocks. As long as Butler’s out (he might play on Friday?), Okogie’s worth a look in fantasy leagues. But if the Wolves trade Butler and get a shooting guard back, Okogie will be just another guy. Andrew Wiggins (quad) was back and scored 19 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns went off (without Butler around - surprise) for 28 points, 16 boards, four assists, two steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers. Something’s got to give in Minnesota, but if you’ve been disappointed in KAT, the future is looking bright.
For the Jazz, Rudy Gobert went off for 22 points, 13 boards, three assists, a steal and three blocks on 9-of-12 shooting, and Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points with five dimes and three 3-pointers. Ricky Rubio was awful with five points, five assists and six turnovers, and it’s been well documented here that he doesn’t get going until the calendar changes to a new year. If you want to buy low on him, now’s the time. Jae Crowder outplayed Derrick Favors once again, racking up 18 points, seven boards and five 3-pointers in 30 minutes off the bench. Yes, I’d rather own Crowder, even though Favors was OK with 14 points, eight boards and a 3-pointer. Dante Exum had 14 points, four boards, three assists, a steal and a 3-pointer, but is only worth a look in really deep leagues.
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Lakers 114, Mavericks 113 – LeBron James hit a free throw to win the game for the Lakers, and all five starters (Kyle Kuzma, LeBron, Brandon Ingram, JaVale McGee, Lonzo Ball) scored in double figures in the win. McGee was a superstar again with 16 points, 15 rebounds, two steals and five blocks. I was only able to pick him up in one league, but I’m thrilled that it happened. The bad news out of LA is that Josh Hart played just 16 minutes and had three points. I’m going to try to hang onto him, but if you’re done and need to move on, it makes sense.
For the Mavericks, Harrison Barnes played well again and Wesley Matthews stayed hot with 21 points and four 3-pointers. Luka Doncic did a little bit of everything (again), and DeAndre Jordan added a double-double in the loss. But Dennis Smith Jr. was awful. He hit just 2-of-9 shots for five points and three assists, but I’m confident he’ll bounce back. Don’t do anything stupid with him. J.J. Barea had 15 points and 10 assists, but as long as DSJ is healthy, I don’t trust him.
Nets 120, Pistons 119 – Joe Harris went off for a season-high 23 points, five boards and four 3-pointers, and has now hit a 3-pointer in 23 straight games. He should be owned in most leagues. Caris LeVert had a 19-6-6-2 line with a 3-pointer, and Jarrett Allen added 14 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes before fouling out. D’Angelo Russell hit just 3-of-15 shots for six points and six assists, while Spencer Dinwiddie went off for 25 points, four assists and five 3-pointers off the bench to lead the Nets. DAR will be fine, but just didn’t have it tonight. I love Dinwiddie, but he’s tough to trust as long as Russell is healthy. Ed Davis had 10 points and 10 boards off the bench, so keep an eye on him.
For the Pistons, Blake Griffin had a great stat line with 25 points, and Andre Drummond blew up for 24 points, 23 rebounds, a steal and two blocks, and even hit 8-of-10 free throws. Stanley Johnson hit just 1-of-4 shots for six points, but also had a career-high 12 rebounds in 33 minutes. If Johnson doesn’t get it going soon, his NBA career could be a lost cause, but I’m still not going to roster him anywhere, nonetheless. Reggie Bullock had been playing well, but didn’t score before departing with a sprained left ankle. If Bullock’s going to miss time, Stan the Man should be the big winner, with a dose of Bruce Brown sprinkled in. Reggie Jackson scored 21 and Ish Smith was quiet tonight, but I wouldn’t dump Smith after one bad game. He should be fine.
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Nuggets 108, Bulls 107 – Paul Millsap’s putback gave the Nuggets the win and he had 19 points, six boards, three blocks and a 3-pointer in the win. Nikola Jokic was the man again, and Gary Harris and Jamal Murray played put up solid fantasy lines. Torrey Craig started, but it was Trey Lyles with nine points, 10 rebounds, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in 20 minutes off the bench who made a difference. Lyles is a borderline fantasy play right now, but is trending up. Monte Morris, who I’ve been high on, hit just 1-of-6 shots for four points, two rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes. He’ll be better in the next one.
Jabari Parker finally started for the Bulls, but had just six points and nine boards on 3-of-10 shooting. Wendell Carter Jr. had his coming out party with 25 points, eight boards, five assists, three steals, three blocks and two 3-pointers on 9-of-21 shooting. Make sure he’s not on your waiver wire, because he shouldn’t be. Justin Holiday was nice with a 15-5-5 line with five 3-pointers, and Zach LaVine was his usual self with 28 points and a full stat line. Antonio Blakeney added 15 points, three boards and hit 4-of-4 3-pointers in just 14 minutes, and has played well in four straight games. Put him on your radar. As for Holiday, I think he’s a must-own as long as Bobby Portis (knee) is out. Cameron Payne hit just 2-of-8 shots for five points and two assists in 25 minutes, but I still believe. Ryan Arcidiacono played 30 minutes and had three points and seven assists, but I’m not giving up on Payne until Arcidiacono takes over, which probably won’t happen.
Pacers 107, Knicks 101 – Victor Oladipo was solid and Domantas Sabonis came off the bench for a season-high 30 points with nine rebounds, three assists, and two blocks on 12-of-12 shooting, as the Pacers handled the Knicks on Wednesday. Sabonis only scored six in his last game, but was playing well before that. He’s worth grabbing if on waivers. Thaddeus Young had 13 points, 10 boards, five steals and three blocks, and while he’s been a tough pill to swallow this season, he was pretty great tonight. I’m not dropping him, unless the hot free agent I’m picking up is a no-brainer. Myles Turner, on the other hand, had just eight points, three boards, four assists and two blocks. He’s been really frustrating to own, but we’re only eight games in. I’m exercising patience with him. Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic were quiet tonight, but both are getting heavy minutes and both should be owned in most leagues. I picked Collison up off waivers after he was dropped by a frustrated owner and am feeling good about it, so far.
For the Knicks, Tim Hardaway Jr. went off for a season-high 37 points and seven 3-pointers, but also had five turnovers and didn’t do much more, outside of hitting 10-of-10 free throws. And I’m fine with that. My man, Noah Vonleh, had 14 points, 10 boards, four assists, two steals and three blocks, and he’s one of my favorite pickups right now, as long as he’s starting for the Knicks. Frank Ntilikina was quiet, but I’m good with him, and Damyean Dotson had 13 points, three boards, a steal and two 3-pointers, which I’m also good with. Mario Hezonja has been disappointing and played just 13 minutes, so drop as needed, and Allonzo Trier had 14 points, three boards and a couple 3-pointers on 6-of-7 shooting, making him a borderline own.
Warriors 131, Pelicans 121 – Stephen Curry kept it going with 37 points, nine assists and seven triples, as his MVP crusade continues, while Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson all played well for the Warriors. Green had 16 points and 14 rebounds, so hopefully that will keep his owners at bay.
Anthony Davis (elbow) was back for the Pelicans and had 17 points, 12 boards, seven assists, a block and a 3-pointer, but has looked better, while Nikola Mirotic went off for 26 points, 12 boards, two steals and two 3-pointers. Elfrid Payton was out with an ankle injury, so Tim Frazier started, but that simply allowed Jrue Holiday to go off with 28 points, nine assists and a nice line in Payton’s place. E’Twaun Moore added 21 points and three 3-pointers, tying his season high. He’s a borderline own in 12-team leagues. And Julius Randle came off the bench for 11 points and 10 boards while fighting through plantar fasciitis issues. There are enough hot free agents out there that I’d probably want to own someone else.
Spurs 120, Suns 90 – LaMarcus Aldridge (24 points) and DeMar DeRozan (25 points) both played well as the Spurs easily crushed the Suns. Rudy Gay had a decent line, and Bryn Forbes added seven points and seven assists. Marco Belinelli had 14 points, four boards, two assists and a 3-pointer, but the only Spurs I’m interested in right now are LA, DDR and Forbes. The Spurs are 5-2, as they try to prove me wrong about making the playoffs.
The Suns got 21 points and a nice line from T.J. Warren, who was finally put into the starting lineup over Ryan Anderson, who played just eight minutes. If Warren wasn’t a must-own player prior to this, he sure is now. Trevor Ariza was solid with 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two 3-pointers, and Deandre Ayton had 13 points and eight boards in 31 minutes. Josh Jackson continued to not impress, with four points on 2-of-7 shooting, while rookie Elie Okobo got the start at point guard and had eight points, four boards, five assists and a steal on 3-of-9 shooting. Isaiah Canaan was out with a sprained ankle, and while Okobo didn’t kill it tonight, he might be starting at point guard the rest of the way for the Suns. I think he’s worth picking up right now, assuming you have someone to drop. Jackson is due to blowup one of these days, and Rookie Mikal Bridges had a career-high 16 points, three assists and a 3-pointer in 27 minutes, and is now on the deep-league radar. Especially since Ryan Anderson may finally be out of rotation after just eight minutes tonight.