Games Played Week 24
4 Games: ATL, CHA, LAL, MIN, NOP, PHX, SAC, SAN
3 Games: BOS, BRK, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, GSW, HOU, IND, MEM, MIA, MIL, NYK, OKC, ORL, POR, TOR, UTA, WAS
2 Games: LAC, PHI
Week 25 features just two games from 28 teams, while the Suns and Spurs each play one time to end the season.
Here’s what went down on Sunday.
Rockets 115, Thunder 112 – The Rockets held on to beat the Thunder, despite hitting just 31-of-50 free throws and giving up 17offensive rebounds. James Harden, as usual, played a big part with 41 points, six boards, six dimes, three steals and six 3-pointers, hitting 12-of-22 shots and 11-of-13 free throws. Winning. Terrence Jones was quiet with six points and three rebounds, Trevor Ariza hit just 2-of-7 shots for 12 points, but did have nine rebounds, and Jason Terry struggled with nine points on 2-of-5 shooting. Despite playing just 23 minutes, Dwight Howard hit 10-of-15 shots for 22 points, eight boards and two steals. He didn’t have a block and made just 2-of-7 free throws, but at least he finally had a decent line since returning from his knee injury. Josh Smith had 14 points, four boards, four assists and two steals on 7-of-17 shooting, while Pablo Prigioni (0-for-3) and Corey Brewer (2-of-6) were both quiet off the bench, despite logging heavy minutes.
For the Thunder, Russell Westbrook had his 11th triple-double of the season and the 18th of his career with 40 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists and four 3-pointers on 12-of-29 shooting. He also only had four turnovers in 41 minutes. That’s the most TDs in a season since Jason Kidd had 13 in 2007-08, but we’re not done yet. He’s also had nine triple-doubles in his last 20 games, which is the best stretch since Michael Jordan had 11 in 15 games back in 1989.
Enes Kanter added 21 points, 17 rebounds and a block, making him one of the better value players of the season, and Anthony Morrow added 22 points and six 3-pointers off the bench. He’s very unreliable, but could be ready to go on a last-minute tear. Dion Waiters scored 14 points, and Steven Adams managed to foul out in just 14 minutes. It’s all Westbrook and Kanter, all the time in OKC these days.
Harden holds a miniscule lead over Russell Westbrook for the scoring title, averaging 27.68 to Westy’s 27.66, so it should be a crazy finish for those two as they vie for the title. The Thunder hold a slim ½ game lead over the Pelicans for the No 8 seed in the West, and the Rockets are one game up on the Grizzlies for the No. 2 seed. The fact these guys are in playoff battles and a scoring title hunt is great news for fantasy owners, and I’m guessing the owner of Westbrook or Harden is going to win your league.
Cavs 99, Bulls 94 – LeBron James, shockingly, had his first triple-double of the season with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, three steals, a block and a 3-pointer. I’m not shocked he messed around, but I am surprised it’s his first one of the year. Kevin Love played through his sore back, but had just 11 points and four rebounds. He also had two steals, a block and three 3-pointers, so it wasn’t a total loss if you played him. All five Cavs’ starters played well, as Kyrie Irving added 27 points, four dimes and a full stat line, and J.R. Smith hit 8-of-17 3-point shots for 24 points. He shot 17 3-pointers and zero 2-pointers on the day, which was an NBA record. Irving and Smith combined to hit three buzzer-beating 3-pointers, including a 40-footer and a 52-footer. The Cavs’ bench did nothing in this one, so the starters are the guys you want to ride. This was also their 18th straight home win.
The Bulls somehow got 24 points, five boards, four assists, a steal and four 3-pointers from Mike Dunleavy, who had scored seven and 11 points in his previous two games. Aaron Brooks had 17 points, five boards, six assists, a steal, two 3-pointers and seven turnovers, but the end is near, as there are reports that Derrick Rose will play this week. Plan accordingly. Jimmy Butler had 16 and a full stat line, and Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic both scored 12 points. Gasol just missed a triple-double, while Mirotic barely got one with 10 rebounds (and three 3-pointers). Taj Gibson just doesn’t have much luster with Mirotic stealing his role off the bench.
Pacers 112, Heat 89 – The Pacers spanked the Heat as Luis Scola racked up 23 points and 12 rebounds in just 19 minutes off the bench. That’s not enough minutes to rely on, and he scored just nine and seven points in his previous game. He also doesn’t block shots. The story of the night for Indy, and maybe the season, was the return of Paul George. He had 13 points, two steals and three 3-pointers on 5-of-12 shooting in 15 minutes. He might have a big game or two before it’s all said and done, but they’re simply trying to get him ready for the playoffs, in case they make it. Solomon Hill had 19 points, six boards and three 3-pointers on 6-of-10 shooting, but has been completely unreliable, and another unreliable player, C.J. Miles, hit five 3-pointers and scored 17 points in the win. Roy Hibbert was awful with seven points, seven boards and three blocks on 2-of-11 shooting, but at least had the blocks. George Hill, who has been very reliable, missed all five of his shots for three points, six boards and five assists. Rodney Stuckey was quiet again with four points and seven assists in 25 minutes, and the return of George doesn’t do him any favors. The Pacers sit a full game behind Boston for the final spot in the East.
The Heat are now in some real trouble, sitting in a tie with the Pacers a game behind the Celtics. Dwyane Wade had 27 points, two steals and a block, but not much else. He should be out there every night as the Heat try to get into the postseason. James Ennis scored 17 off the bench, Goran Dragic added 15 points and five dimes, and Udonis Haslem had 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Ennis is one of those “good one night, bad the next” guys as he alternates good and bad stat lines, and Haslem had his first good game since March 29. I don’t trust him, but I do think he and Ennis might be able to help desperate owners down the stretch. Mario Chalmers was awful with two points on 1-of-8 shooting, and he’s a mess to deal with as long as Wade is playing. And in more bad news for the Heat, Luol Deng might be done for the season due to a left knee injury. He’ll have an MRI on Monday, and the results of that will determine his fate. If he’s done, I like Ennis as the pickup, with Michael Beasley and Henry Walker as secondary options.
Spurs 107, Warriors 92 – Kawhi Leonard was a monster again with 26 points (tied career high), five boards, three assists, a career-high seven steals and a 3-pointer on 11-of-17 shooting in the win. Tim Duncan added 19 points and seven boards on 6-of-7 shooting, and Danny Green had 18 points, six boards, three blocks and four 3-pointers on 7-of-10 shooting. His ability to block shots is one of the keys to his value. Those were the three guys to own from the Spurs on Sunday, while Tony Parker and Marco Belinelli struggled. The Spurs are clicking just in time for the playoffs and have won seven straight games (and 17 of their last 20). Leonard took over this game, knocked the W’s out of it early, and didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. Imagine what his line would have looked like had this one been close. Tiago Splitter was out with a calf injury and could be out until the playoffs. Despite that, Matt Bonner and Aron Baynes didn’t do much of anything.
The Warriors had their winning streak stopped at 12 games, thanks to Leonard, who helped shut down both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Curry still had 24 points, six assists and five 3-pointers on 9-of-17 shooting, while Thompson hit just 3-of-11 shots for six points. Draymond Green struggled, hitting just 2-of-11 shots, but did finish with six points, seven rebounds, six assists and a steal. He hasn’t been the same since suffering a shin injury. He’s letting his owners down in crunch time, but has had a phenomenal season, nonetheless. Hopefully he bounces back soon. Outside of Curry, the Warriors didn’t offer much fantasy help, although Leandro Barbosa scored 12 points thanks to some garbage-time run. Andrew Bogut had 10 points, seven boards and a block, but was limping throughout the game. He gets a performance bonus if he plays in three more games, but it’s conceivable he’s shut down until the playoffs, too. Shaun Livingston sat out for a one-game suspension after hitting Dirk Nowitzki in the batteries.
Knicks 101, Sixers 91 – Andrea Bargnani hit 8-of-15 shots and two 3-pointers for 25 points, eight boards and four blocks, and is peaking at the right time. Shane Larkin had 15 points, 11 boards and seven assists in 41 minutes, so it’s time to pick him up, and Lance Thomas had 14 points, nine boards and a block in a start. Langston Galloway was quiet with eight points on 4-of-12 shooting, while Tim Hardaway Jr. is back and hit 5-of-11 shots and a 3-pointer for 12 points and four assists. I still like Galloway here.
The Sixers got 17 points and seven dimes from Ish Smith, and Hollis Thompson came off the bench for 17 points and five 3-pointers. Thompson is rolling, scoring 17, 14 and 16 points in each of his three games, and hitting 12 3-pointers along the way. Pick him up. Robert Covington hit just 4-of-13 shots and 3-of-10 3-pointers for 14 points, and just isn’t the same player he was a couple months ago. Nerlens Noel played well despite an eye injury. Furkan Aldemir and Jerami Grant started, but didn’t do a whole lot, and Jason Richardson hit 3-of-11 shots for seven points in 23 minutes. I don’t like any of them. Isaiah Canaan was out with a sprained right foot, and as long as he’s out, Smith should roll at point guard.
Jazz 101, Kings 95 – Rodney Hood scored 13 of his career-high 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Jazz held on for the win. Hood had 17 points in his previous game after returning from a concussion, and should be picked up in all leagues. He also had four steals and a 3-pointer on 9-of-17 shooting in a start. Rudy Gobert was solid against DeMarcus Cousins with 10 points, nine boards, a steal and two blocks, but Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward both struggled mightily for the Jazz. Favors played just 16 minutes and Hayward 20, but there are no reports of injuries. They both sat out the fourth quarter, so we’ll have to see if this was a one-time thing or if it will become a trend. None of the Jazz reserves really stepped up, so there wasn’t a whole lot to learn from this one.
Cousins, coming off two straight double-doubles, had 26 points, 12 boards, a steal and a block, but also picked up his 14th technical foul. Two more and he’ll miss a game, but the odds are in his favor that he’ll finish out the season. Ben McLemore scored 20 with two 3-pointers, five boards, four assists and four steals for one his best games of the season. It would be nice if he were more consistent. Ray McCallum hit just 3-of-13 shots, but still had eight points, five boards, seven assists, four steals and a 3-pointer, and Omri Casspi started and had 14 points, five boards and a three in Rudy Gay’s absence. Gay missed his third straight game with a concussion, but is expected back “this week,” while Trey Burke missed his second straight game with a back injury. Burke’s absence has contributed to Hood’s success.
Clippers 106, Lakers 78 – The Clips annihilated the Lakers in this one and it was officially over after a 34-18 third quarter in favor of L.A. Blake Griffin had 18 points, five boards, five assists, Matt Barnes had 14 and four 3-pointers, DeAndre Jordan had 16 points, 11 boards, four steals and a block, Chris Paul had seven points with 15 assists, two steals and a 3-pointer, and J.J. Redick scored 12 with two 3-pointers. Hedo Turkoglu stayed relevant with 12 points and four 3-pointers off the bench, but played just 12 minutes, and Austin Rivers scored 10 with two 3-pointers in 21 minutes. This game was a joke, but Jamal Crawford is expected to return on Tuesday from his calf injury.
The Lakers were led by Wes Johnson’s 16 points, but he didn’t do much else, except for two 3-pointers and four rebounds. Jabari Brown had 10 points in 31 minutes, but didn’t do much more, and Tarik Black had 10 points, nine boards, a steal and a block in the loss. Ryan Kelly added nine points, seven boards, six assists and two 3-pointers, but took only five shots in a start, and Jeremy Lin and Jordan Clarkson were just awful, combining for 3-of-14 shooting and eight points. I really don’t know what to tell you about the Lakers fantasy-wise, other than that I don’t trust any of them. My guess is Clarkson bounces back, and Kelly and Black are interesting pick-and-plays right now. Johnson has also played well in two straight games, but has had a tough time staying hot for long stretches this season.
Good luck if you’re still fighting for a championship!