Unfortunately, injury news ruled the night on Thursday when there were only five games on the NBA schedule, while the Mavericks looked worse than ever, the Lakers made another statement and the Blazers blew out the Sixers in Philly.
Christian Wood went down with a severely sprained right ankle for the second time in a few weeks and I think he’s going to miss a lot more than just three games this time. He landed on Ja Morant’s foot, turned the ankle badly and was smacking the floor while he was waiting for help on Thursday night. He tried to stay in and shoot his free throws, but his teammates persuaded him to go get treatment. A couple teammates helped him off the court and into an awaiting wheelchair and then Victor Oladipo, who was sitting this one out for rest, accompanied him to the locker room. Wood will have an MRI on Friday and Dave McMenamin is hearing that Wood will miss “an extended period” with the injury. I referred to the word “monther” in his blurb and I’ll be surprised if he plays another game in February. DeMarcus Cousins is the guy you want to grab, but by the time this column is posted, Boogie is going to be gone in most leagues. And as someone who rosters Wood in most of my leagues, I kind of feel like my seasons just ended, which is sad. Cousins played just 16 minutes with five points, six rebounds, three assists and a 3-pointer on 2-of-5 shooting. He’s likely going to start and have a bigger line on Saturday, and for the rest of February, and possibly beyond.
Victor Oladipo got the night off in a back-to-back and he should be ready to go on Saturday against the Spurs.
John Wall played through a sore back last night and while he didn’t play particularly well (6-of-17 shooting, 7 turnovers) he did have 22 points and eight assists in a big win over the Grizzlies. With a day off on Friday, he should be out there on Saturday, as well.
Jae’Sean Tate made another start and hit 7-of-9 shots and two 3-pointers on his way to a career-high 19 points, seven boards, two assists, a steal and two blocks, Eric Gordon scored 20 points with two 3-pointers for his third solid game in a row, Danuel House had 13 points, three 3-pointers, two rebounds, five assists and three steals, and Sterling Brown added nine points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in the win. I was mocked on Twitter when I called Jae’Sean a must-grab player recently and he’s averaging 12.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers over his last four games.
Jonas Valanciunas was out again due to COVID protocols and Xavier Tillman started and had nine points, 10 rebounds, a steal and a 3-pointer, Brandon Clarke had 13 points, five boards, three steals and a block, and Gorgui Dieng had eight points, seven rebounds, a steal, three blocks and two 3-pointers in 23 minutes off the bench. Those are the three guys to keep using while JV is out, while Clarke should keep starting at power forward, with or without JV. Valanciunas has been out since Jan. 16 and while it feels like he’s nearing a return, we just don’t know. I’d rank those pickups as Clarke, Tillman and Dieng, but they’re all worth a look right now. Clarke, Tillman, Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Dieng, Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane and De’Anthony Melton all played well in Thursday’s loss. Meanwhile, Kyle Anderson missed all seven of his shots and had a forgettable zero points with five rebounds and five assists in the loss.
Trae Young was ruled out around 6 p.m. last night with a right calf contusion and that was another one that crushed many of my teams. Young will be questionable for Saturday’s game against the Raptors, but given his history, I bet he plays. Rajon Rondo started, but was an 0-for-7 disaster. He did have six rebounds and eight assists, but that probably wasn’t enough if you rolled in him in DFS. No other Hawk had more than three dimes and Brandon Goodwin came off the bench for six points and three assists on 1-of-10 shooting. Yuck. DeAndre Hunter (right knee) was out again and it doesn’t sound like he’ll be ready for Saturday, either. Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish will be decent options if Hunter’s out again. Huerter had 16 points, three steals, a block and a 3-pointer last night, while Reddish hit 5-of-14 shots for 12 points, three assists and a steal as the Hawks were blown out of the gym by the streaking (and injury-free) Jazz. And believe it not, Clint Capela didn’t have a double-double or a block but did grab 17 rebounds on a night when he hit just 3-of-14 shots against Rudy Gobert.
James Wiseman (wrist) is set to miss a few more games, while Kevon Looney (ankle) is going to miss a couple more weeks, and Eric Paschall (knee) will be iffy for Saturday’s rematch with the Mavericks.
Despite being so shorthanded, the Warriors destroyed Dallas as Juan Toscano-Anderson got another start on Thursday. He came through with 14 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two 3-pointers in a whopping 40 minutes. If the three bigs are out again on Saturday, JTA is worth a look in all formats. He’s averaging 15 points, 5.0 boards, 3.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.5 blocks and 2.5 3-pointers over his last two games. Additionally, holy Draymond Green! Green went off for 11 points, six rebounds and a season-high 15 assists in the easy win, which fantasy managers had to be thrilled about. And with so many Warriors hurting, Kelly Oubre finally showed up for a monster line of a career-high 40 points, eight rebounds, two assists, a steal, a block and seven 3-pointers in the win. Hopefully you didn’t give up on Oubre before Thursday’s explosion. He’s averaging 23.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 3.3 3-pointers over his last three games. And things are looking up for the Warriors as they’ll get the sieve-like Mavs again on Saturday. I’m not sure the Mavericks could guard me right now, let alone the likes of Oubre.
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The Mavericks don’t have any injuries to speak of right now but the wheels are coming off on both ends of the court and Luka Doncic looks really, really frustrated. If Luka, Kristaps Porzingis or Tim Hardaway aren’t scoring, the Mavericks look lost. Their 3-point shooting is dismal, their offense is dismal, they don’t rebound and their defense is nonexistent. Something’s going to have to give after losing seven of their last eight games and you have to wonder if Rick Carlisle’s job is in jeopardy. It looks to me like the Mavs have stopped listening to him. But at least they’re healthy, right?
Damian Lillard (abdomen), C.J. McCollum (foot), Derrick Jones Jr. (foot), Nassir Little (left knee) and Jusuf Nurkic (wrist surgery) were all out on Thursday, yet the Blazers still blistered the Sixers by a score of 121-105.
Gary Trent Jr. led the way with 24 points, four triples, three rebounds, three assists and a block, Carmelo Anthony added 22 points, four boards, five assists, a steal, two blocks and three 3-pointers on 8-of-14 shooting, and Robert Covington kept it going with nine points, six boards, one assist, four steals and a 3-pointer. Enes Kanter double-doubled with 17 points and 18 rebounds, Rodney Hood had 16 points, five boards, three assists, a steal and two 3-pointers, Anfernee Simons played through a hamstring injury and had 14 points and two 3-pointers, and a guy named C.J. Elleby came through with 15 points, seven rebounds, a steal and a 3-pointer in 31 minutes. The Blazers get the Knicks on Saturday and my guess is that Lillard will be back for that one. Jones Jr. has missed four straight games and has a chance to play on Saturday, but Trent Jr. should be rostered everywhere at this point. And if an impatient manager gave up on Covington, I think you should pick him up. RoCo is averaging 10.5 points, 6.3 boards, 2.0 assists, 2.8 steals and 2.0 3-pointers over his last four games.
Ben Simmons was out with left calf tightness on Thursday but should be back on Saturday against the Nets. Seth Curry, who has really been struggling, left early due to an illness and didn’t return to the game. And Joel Embiid appeared to hyperextend his left knee during the game but played through it and had 37 points, five boards, a steal and a block in 34 minutes. However, Dr. David J. Chao said on Twitter that he believes Embiid might have suffered a significant knee sprain after watching video replays of Embiid’s knee injury. Unlike me, Chao is an actual doctor and an expert on NFL and NBA injuries. Hopefully he misdiagnosed this one, but you have to wonder if Embiid did some damage to his knee and whether or not he’ll be out there on Saturday against the Nets. If you have Embiid on your roster, you’ll want to pay close attention to the news cycle over the next couple days. If Embiid does miss time Dwight Howard and Tony Bradley will likely share center minutes, while Danny Green gets a boost if Curry can’t go on Saturday, despite the fact he was awful on Thursday. Also, keep an eye on Furkan Korkmaz, who hit 5-of-14 shots and a 3-pointer for 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 38 minutes last night. He’s been quietly making some noise lately and had 17 points and three 3-pointers on Sunday. I don’t trust him, but it’s hard to ignore those 38 minutes in a start last night. If Simmons does miss another game, Tyrese Maxey (15 points, four assists, a steal, two 3-pointers) and Shake Milton (12 points, four assists) will be in play for Saturday.
Gary Harris was out again with his left adductor strain and we don’t know when he’ll be back. Monte Morris hit 7-of-10 shots and two 3-pointers for 16 points, one rebound, one assist and one steal in 26 minutes on Thursday and should continue to be a solid option as long as Harris is out.
Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 20 points, five assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers in a loss to the Lakers, while Nikola Jokic was quiet with 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists on 6-of-16 shooting against some stout Lakers defense. Despite the struggles, Jokic has now double-doubled in all 21 games this season, which is just stupid. And three of those have been thanks to his assists, and not rebounds. JaMychal Green and Will Barton continue to get starts and a lot more minutes than Michael Porter Jr. and MPJ has played 20 or fewer minutes in three straight games. It’s just a shame that MPJ’s nearly month on the shelf due to COVID protocols completely derailed his amazing season and I’m starting to wonder if Michael Malone actually even likes him. I know it’s tempting to drop MPJ, but once you pull the trigger you’re not putting that toothpaste back in the tube. And he’ll get hot again and end up burning you later. If you can find a way to hold on, do it.
The Lakers are healthy and LeBron James went off for his second triple-double of the season and the 96th of his career with 27 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, a block and two 3-pointers on 12-of-19 shooting. The Lakers went on a 15-0 run against the Nuggets to end the third quarter and easily put the game away in the fourth quarter. He passed Wilt Chamberlain to take over the No. 3 spot for the NBA’s ‘made field goals’ list and he had the 800th 25-point game of his career, an NBA record. Anthony Davis was quiet with 13 points, nine boards, two assists, three steals and two blocks on 5-of-8 shooting and why AD only got eight shots is beyond me. At least he filled the stat sheet. Dennis Schroder came through with 21 points, four assists and two 3-pointers on 7-of-9 shooting was a hustle machine all over the court last night. He’s scored in double figures in six straight games in all but four games this season, making him one of the fantasy surprises of the year. And Talen Horton-Tucker came off the bench for a season-high 17 points and a 3-pointer on 8-of-12 shooting with three boards, two assists, three steals and a block. He played 19 minutes on Monday against the Hawks but failed to score. He’s going to have some big games and has hit double digits in scoring in six games thus far but he’s too much of a roller coaster to roster in most leagues right now. Just keep him on your radar in case he gets hot.