Karl-Anthony Towns was out with a knee injury, Jonathan Isaac got a scare, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell went down, and Bam Adebayo, Hassan Whiteside, Terry Rozier and Davis Bertans all went off on Wednesday.
Pelicans 107, Timberwolves 99 – The Timberwolves give it up to opposing wings and Brandon Ingram went off with 34 points and a monster stat line, emerging as a DFS hero last night and helping the Pelicans snap a 13-game losing streak. J.J. Redick was back from his groin injury and scored 12, while Jrue Holiday struggled on 5-of-20 shooting for 18 points and three assists. The Pelicans have acknowledged that they’re open to trading Holiday, so you have to wonder if it was on his mind. This is not the game to trade him on, if you’re thinking of doing so. Kenrich Williams failed to score and has fallen off a cliff, averaging fewer than three points in eight December games. He’ll be back at some point, but he’s not ownable right now. Jaxson Hayes was really quiet, but I still love him as a stash, while Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart were both quietly effective off the bench. A Holiday trade could blow things open for Ball, while Hart is worth owning in most leagues right now. The Pelicans go 4-2-4 over the next three weeks.
The fantasy news of the night in pregame was the fact Karl-Anthony Towns sat out with a sore left knee and is day-to-day. I went with Gorgui Dieng (who started) in DFS based on no KAT and he had 13 points, eight boards and a 3-pointer. Andrew Wiggins came through with 27 points, and Robert Covington hit just 5-of-17 shots, but came through with 15 points, seven boards, two assists, three steals, a block and three 3-pointers, which is why he should be held through his ups and downs, of which there will be plenty more to come. Jarrett Culver sat out with the flu, but Jeff Teague, Josh Okogie and Treveon Graham were all quiet in their starts. We’ll have to see if KAT and Culver are able to play on Friday at Denver.
Celtics 109, Mavericks 103 – I’m not sure we learned anything about the banged-up Celtics on Wednesday night. Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum all went off, Enes Kanter hit 2-of-10 shots and had 13 rebounds, and no one else did much of anything, including starters Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye. Gordon Hayward will have an MRI on his left foot on Thursday, which is not great news, and Marcus Smart remains out with what appears to be pink eye, or an infection similar to it. Either way, we really don’t know when either player will see the court again, but the only Celtics you can really trust are Walker, Brown and Tatum, which a pinch of Kanter thrown in for good measure.
For the Mavs, Kristaps Porzingis looked good again with 23 points, 13 boards, two dimes, one steal, three blocks and two 3-pointers on 8-of-19 shooting before fouling out. He’s carrying a heavy load with Luka Doncic (ankle) sidelined, averaging 23.7 points, 13.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 0.7 steals, 2.3 blocks and 3.0 3-pointers in his three games without Luka, who left 90 seconds into the first one. Yeah, he’s hit just 41 percent of his shots, but he’s on a roll with three straight 20 & 10 games. As for Luka, everyone is still talking about a two-week timetable, but he was doing work prior to Wednesday’s game and I’m starting to think we’ll see him play on Sunday. Jalen Brunson came through with 10 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists and two 3-pointers on 4-of-13 shooting, Tim Hardaway hit just 4-of-17 shots and three 3-pointers for 13 points and Seth Curry got loose for 20 points and four triples on 8-of-13 shooting. Brunson’s a must-own player as long as Luka is out, and Hardaway and Curry are worth a night-to-night flier, but as evidenced by a glance at their game log, it’s tricky to catch them on the right night. Delon Wright got just 17 minutes, as usual, and I can’t figure out why Rick Carlisle won’t play him. Whatever.
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Cavaliers 100, Hornets 98 – The Cavaliers somehow got a win behind double-doubles from Kevin ‘Trade me’ Love and Tristan Thompson, while Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman each scored in double figures on a good shooting night. Darius Garland and the bench struggled, and the only trustworthy Cavs are Love (when he’s playing), Thompson and Sexton, who brings a mixed bag of good and bad on most nights. This was Osman’s best game in December so he could be heating up, Garland is always worth a look, but is not an ideal fantasy player right now, and Larry Nance is more of a stash than a play, as he’s not likely to turn it on until Love is traded.
Terry Rozier had a career-high 35 points with two assists, four steals and seven 3-pointers on 12-of-27 shooting, Cody Zeller had 15 points and nine rebounds in another start, and Marvin Williams had 10 points, rounding out the list of Hornets who scored in double figures last night. Bismack Biyombo came in hot with two straight double-doubles and a solid third game, but disappeared with four points, seven boards and a block in 19 minutes. I’m was lukewarm on him coming in and the milk got colder last night. Malik Monk left the game with a hip injury which is a bummer, as he was starting to heat up again. Miles Bridges was disappointing again with six points in 21 minutes and he’s going to be dropped in a ton of leagues, deservedly so. He’ll likely come on in the second half but has been too tough a ride for most owners to handle over the last several weeks. Devonte' Graham hit just 3-of-16 shots for nine points, nine assists, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers, finally cooling off. He’ll be fine and bounce back. Nicolas Batum (hand) was available to play but never left the bench. My guess is he’ll fill in for Monk, with Cody Martin also getting some run. Batum should be the play over Martin in fantasy as long as Monk is out. Zeller just won’t go away and has scored in double figures in eight straight games and came in averaging 8.0 boards in December. Beware that the Hornets play just two games next week.
Raptors 112, Pistons 99 – Pascal Siakam went off with a monster line that included 26 points, four blocks and six 3-pointers, Kyle Lowry had a 20-10-10 triple-double and OG Anunoby had 19 points, eight boards, a block and two 3-pointers. Anunoby is a roller coaster, but when things are going well, he gets it done in fantasyland. Marc Gasol left this one with a hamstring injury and I’m afraid he’s going to miss some time. That’s good news for Serge Ibaka and bad news for those of us who own shares of Gasol. Chris Boucher is also worth a look in deeper league if Gasol is going to miss time. Norman Powell came in on fire but hit just 2-of-7 shots for nine points before leaving with a shoulder injury. I think he’ll miss time and his carriage has officially turned into a pumpkin, as Fred VanVleet (knee) appears likely to play on Friday, which will ruin even a healthy Powell. Ibaka went nuts for 25 points, 13 rebounds, a steal and a 3-pointer and will be a must-start if Gasol’s injury keeps him out.
The Pistons welcomed back Blake Griffin (knee), who scored an empty 15 points, and Andre Drummond (eye), who racked up 22 points, 18 boards, two steals and two blocks. Starters Tony Snell, Luke Kennard and Bruce Brown were all ineffective, but my guess is Kennard and Brown will bounce back. Markieff Morris went back to the bench with Griffin’s return and disappeared, while Derrick Rose was effective again with 16 points, four boards and five assists on 8-of-17 shooting. Run Rose into the ground until he comes up lame again. The sad news out of Detroit was that popular stash Christian Wood went down with a left knee injury and didn’t return. Even when healthy he’s not usable as long as Griffin is playing.
Bulls 110, Wizards 109 OT – The Bulls overcame an 18-point deficit to win in overtime as Wendell Carter Jr. won it with a layup with 9.1 second left in OT. Carter had nine points, nine boards, a steal and three blocks, while Lauri Markkanen hit 12-of-19 shots and five 3-pointers for 31 points, nine boards, a steal and a block. He’s back! Zach LaVine had 24 points, but hit just 6-of-23 shots, Tomas Satoransky filled it up with 17 points, seven boards, six assists, a steal and two 3-pointers, and Kris Dunn had 15 points, five boards, five assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in the win. The Bulls’ bench was invisible, and I don’t really trust Dunn or Sato.
Davis Bertans started for Rui Hachimura (groin) and he’ll miss at least four more games. That makes Bertans a must-own, must-start player and he came through with 26 points, seven boards, a steal, a block and seven 3-pointers. Bradley Beal hit just 4-of-19 shots and 1-of-9 3-pointers but salvaged his line by hitting 13-of-14 free throws to finish with a 22-7-7-1-2 line. Ian Mahinmi started and had eight points, six boards and three blocks, but is still tough to trust, and starter Isaac Bonga had two points and six boards in 20 minutes. Isaiah Thomas hit 5-of-15 shots for 16 points and just one assist after going off in his last game. Troy Brown Jr. had a fun stat line off the bench and is worth a look, while two-way player Anzejs Pasecniks came through with nine points and eight boards. Ish Smith played 33 minutes and hit 3-of-10 shots for six points, five rebounds and six assists in the loss. Bertans, Beal and Thomas are the must-starts, while Mahinmi, Smith and Brown might be worth deep-league looks.
Heat 108, Sixers 104 – The Heat spoiled the Sixers’ undefeated homecourt run with the win last night. Kendrick Nunn led the way with 26 points, four boards, five assists, a steal and four 3-pointers and this is probably your sign to sell high, as Goran Dragic (groin) and Justise Winslow (back) appear to be nearing returns. Bam Adebayo had one of the lines of the night with 23 points, nine boards, five assists, two steals and two blocks, Jimmy Butler quietly had a 14-7-5-2 line against his former team, and starter Duncan Robinson hit three 3-pointers for 15 points, five boards and a block. Kelly Olynyk has fallen off a cliff lately and currently belongs on waivers while bench players Dennis Jones Jr. and Tyler Herro both came through with nice lines. The Heat are somehow 20-8 and look like one of the best teams in the East, despite being banged up.
Joel Embiid had another big night with 22 points, 19 boards, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer (thanks, Chuck & Shaq!), while Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson all came through with fun fantasy lines. Al Horford was quiet in his 32 minutes but will bounce back, while the Sixers’ bench offered nothing. Richardson didn’t shoot it well but had a nice DFS revenge game against his former team.
Thunder 126, Grizzlies 122 – Starters Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams (double-double), Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander all played well to help the Thunder overcome a 24-point deficit in the win, while Dennis Schroder led the way with 31 points and seven assists off the bench. Schroder has quietly scored in double figures in 15 straight games and the 31 points tied his season high, which he’s hit two times now. The Thunder are 6-3 in December and are now the No. 7 seed. If you own CP3, where the Thunder sit in the standings will be crucial to his fantasy value the rest of the way. So far, so good. SGA bounced back with a big line of 20 points, nine boards, two steals and two blocks after a dud in his last game, so his buy-low window was only open for about 48 hours.
The Grizzlies got big games out of starters Jonas Valanciunas and Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks played well, and Brandon Clarke hit 13-of-19 shots for a career-high 27 points and seven boards. He’s been hot for four straight games and is a hot pickup right now, although tonight’s big game was tied directly to... the fact Jaren Jackson Jr. had five fouls in 16 minutes and scored just nine points with a rebound, steal, block and a 3-pointer because of it. Jonas Nader probably cried himself to sleep last night, but JJJ should bounce back against the Cavaliers on Friday. Jae Crowder played 33 minutes in the start but hit just 1-of-6 shots for three points. He’s been in a terrible shooting slump for the entire month of December, but he should break out of it soon. The Grizzlies play four times again next week and I’m sticking with Crowder and Brooks for that one, while Clarke should be on rosters right now.
Nuggets 113, Magic 104 – Paul Millsap returned from his quad injury and had 15 points, 12 boards and a 3-pointer, saving himself from being dropped in a bunch of leagues. Nikola Jokic missed a triple-double by one rebound, Jamal Murray scored 33 points for his first 30-point game in over a month, while every other Nugget was pretty boring last night. Will Barton had nine points and nine boards on 4-of-11 shooting and Gary Harris hit 3-of-7 shots for nine points. Fantasy owners are ready to drop Harris, but there’s a reason for it. His name is bigger than his game this season and the Nuggets are probably just a little too deep for him to meet expectations. Barton will bounce back in the next one.
Aaron Gordon’s three-game slump continued (10-of-36 shooting over his last three) and Jonathan Isaac scored just seven points for his second straight game, this time due to hamstring tightness/foul trouble. He left the game but says he was just cramping and that he doesn’t expect to miss any time. Check the injury report before Friday’s game at Portland. The buy-low window is open on both Isaac and Gordon, with Isaac clearly being the preferred target. Nikola Vucevic had a nice game, D.J. Augustin (18 & 7) stayed hot, while Markelle Fultz and Evan Fournier were quiet in the loss. DJA is worth a look right now, scoring 18, 22 and 17 points in each of his last three games while racking up 18 assists in them, and Terrence Ross (eight points) should be an interesting DFS play if Isaac ends up missing a game. No one wants to play in Denver and the Magic were simply outmatched in this one.
Blazers 122, Warriors 112 – While I wasn’t sure Hassan Whiteside could play any better, he had 16 points and a season-high 23 rebounds with two blocks in the win. He might take a small hit if Jusuf Nurkic (leg) ever returns, but Whiteside is loving life in Portland and is not a sell-high player. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 61 points and 16 assists, Carmelo Anthony had 17 points, eight boards, two steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer, and the rest of the Blazers were irrelevant. I can’t believe it, but I’m kind of sad I don’t own any Melo shares anywhere.
D’Angelo Russell scored 26 with seven dimes and five 3-pointers, Glenn Robinson had 17 points, Willie Cauley-Stein added 12 points and seven boards, and Alec Burks had 16 points, six boards, four assists, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers in the loss. Draymond Green played and had seven points, five rebounds, two assists, three steals and a 3-pointer in 29 minutes. He’s on waivers in one of my leagues and I’m thankful I don’t own him anywhere. Most fringe Warriors shouldn’t be in lineups this week with just two games, but they do play four next week, putting Robinson, WCS and Burks in play. Oh, and Marquese Chriss had 10 points and 10 rebounds and Eric Paschall had 11 points in 18 minutes, but neither is trustworthy right now.