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Klay Thompson returns, Ja Morant soars, and Karl-Anthony Towns gets 40

Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Nets 121, Spurs 119

Cam Thomas kicked off the day with a bang. He scored the final two of his 11 points on his game-winning shot in overtime to beat the Spurs in the noon game. Kevin Durant scored a game-high 28 points and had three blocks for the fourth time this season. He’s scored at least 25 points in 10 straight games now. James Harden got back on track after a few down games to record a 26/7/12 double-double. The six turnovers weren’t pretty, but with Harden as their only real playmaker, they’re bound to happen. Nicolas Claxton has been an excellent piece for both the Nets and fantasy teams lately. With LaMarcus Aldridge sidelined, Claxton tied his season-high with 33 minutes played. He also recorded a season-best 14 rebounds, which is likely directly correlated to the minutes played. Unfortunately, he didn’t record a block in this one, but he’s been quite the shot-blocker this season. He’s averaged 15.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes this season. Hopefully the Nets will keep playing him a lot even when LA returns, because he deserves the minutes. He’s also rostered in less than half of Yahoo! leagues. Patty Mills had been in a slump over the past three games, but got back on track in this game with 15 points, even if it wasn’t the prettiest shooting numbers. The Nets have a make-up game in Portland Monday, and Steve Nash said that Kyrie Irving will likely see some extended minutes since this game went to overtime.

Dejounte Murray fell just short of a triple-double with a 19/9/12 line with two steals and a block. If the Spurs had more wins, we might be talking about Dejounte Murray as an All-Star. Unfortunately, he’s a longshot to make the game because of the Spurs’ record and other guards emerging out West. Lonnie Walker scored a season-high 25 points, including the first 12 for the Spurs out of the gate. With six players in protocols, including some main scoring options like Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, Doug McDermott, and Devin Vassell, Walker was given some extra shot opportunities and took advantage. Jakob Poeltl has continued to be one of the best value finds of the season… if you’re punting free throw percentage. As impressive as he’s been for the Spurs this season, his 36.8% free throw percentage may be even more impressive. Poeltl shoots 2.5 free throws per game and makes 0.9 of them. Joel Embiid makes a higher percentage of his 3-pointers at 38.9% while shooting them at a higher (3.3 attempts per game). Ben Wallace, who is the worst statistical free throw shooter in NBA history, shot 2.5 free throws per game over his career and hit 41.4% of them. The legend of Jock Landale continues to grow. He scored 10 points in 17 minutes in this one.

Clippers 106, Hawks 93

Amir Coffey tied his career-high with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting to help beat the slumping Hawks in a rematch of underperforming teams that lost in the conference finals last season. Coffey is the latest player to have a career game against the Hawks, after Anfernee Simons spoiled Trae Young’s 56/14 performance with 43 points, and Malik Monk scored 29 to help beat the Hawks on Friday. Reggie Jackson and Terance Mann showered Coffey with water from Gatorade bottles to celebrate him during his postgame interview. Unfortunately, this was the end result. Serge Ibaka only missed one of his eight shots as he finished with 16 points off the bench to be the second leading scorer for the Clips. Jackson, Mann, Marcus Morris, Nicolas Batum, and Eric Bledsoe filled out the seven players that scored in double figures for L.A. Justise Winslow entered protocols before the game, which left extra minutes for Batum, Morris, Mann, and Brandon Boston Jr. Unfortunately for Boston Jr., he shot 0-for-6 from the field after being a pretty consistent scoring option for the team over the past six games.

Trae Young’s streak of 17 straight games with at least 25 points ended in LA as he finished with only 19 points and seven assists. The last time he scored less than 20 was on November 20th in a win over the Hornets. This was also his lowest assist output in nearly a month. As a fantasy star, Trae should have no problem bouncing back. But the frustrations are rising in Atlanta as the losses pile up. Onyeka Okongwu started in place of Clint Capela, who was out with an ankle injury. OO put up a season-high 10 rebounds in his second start of the year. He should be a nice source of rebounds if Capela misses more time. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 19 points and was one of the only hawks to shoot efficiently. Cam Reddish put up no stats and was a -9 in three minutes before exiting with an ankle injury. It’s tough to see his fall from grace after he scored over 30 twice while the Hawks had a majority of the team in protocols. He went scoreless in 13 minutes the game before against the Lakers. He’s been in trade rumors for the past two years, but if the Hawks continue to refuse to give him an opportunity, it may be best for his career if he is moved. If that’s to a tanking team where he’ll get a much better role, he should become a hot commodity once again. Unfortunately, Lou Williams was inactive for this game in what would’ve been his first time playing the Clippers since they traded him to the Hawks last season.

Wizards 102, Magic 100

If you heard someone put up a 27/22 stat line tonight, would your first guess have been Kyle Kuzma? Kuz’s 22 rebounds were a career-high for him, and this is just the latest of impressive stat lines for him lately. He’s averaging 27.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game this month. That includes his 36/14 performance from a week ago. Would the Lakers be doing better if they kept Kuz along with Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope? Bradley Beal didn’t have his best shooting performance as he scored 20 points on 7-for-22 shooting. But he’s been on as of late, averaging 28.6 points, 7.8 assists, and 4.7 rebounds over his last nine games. Spencer Dinwiddie had 10 assists in his second game back from protocols. It seems like he and Beal are figuring out how to play together as sidekicks behind franchise superstar Kyle Kuzma. Hopefully their chemistry will keep growing, and they continue to flourish. Rui Hachimura made his season debut and had six points and three rebounds in 14 minutes. Once he gets back into the swing of things, he should be a fantasy stud. He’s also rostered in only 15% of Yahoo! leagues.

Terrence Ross seems to only do this on Sunday’s, but he scored 30 again, including 20 straight points for the Magic. However, the only real fantasy value he provides are points. Still, if he’s shooting this well, he could be worth a stream. He’s averaging 19.8 points per game this month. Franz Wagner had a decent game, but he’s cooled off since the Magic got their roster out of protocols. He scored 16 on Sunday. Chuma Okeke got the start with Wendell Carter Jr. sidelined. He didn’t shoot well (eight points on 3-for-12 shooting), but he did put up six rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block in 34 minutes. When he was playing more minutes earlier this season, he had two games with six steals. If WCJ keeps missing time, Okeke may be worth the stream. He’s rostered in only 24% of Yahoo! leagues. Mo Bamba and Cole Anthony both struggled from the field, and Bamba failed to record a block, but both should bounce back. They’ve been the top two fantasy options on the team this year. Oh, and this pass from Anthony was cool.

Raptors 105, Pelicans 101

After scoring 32 points on Sunday, Fred VanVleet is now averaging 30.6 points, 7.4 assists, and five rebounds per game during the Raptors’ seven game win streak. Those are All-Star starter numbers. Pascal Siakam also had a monster night with 29/10/7 with two steals and hit all 10 of his free throws. OG Anunoby was the only other Raptor to score in double figures as he finished with 12 points. Scottie Barnes hasn’t been much of a scorer lately, and he only put up seven points in this one. Whether it’s because everyone’s healthy for the first time all year, or that he’s still recovering from being in protocols, his lack of scoring hurts both his fantasy value and case for Rookie of the Year. Precious Achiuwa and Chris Boucher each chipped in three stocks off the bench.

Jonas Valanciunas’s return to Toronto may have ended with him losing, but he still put up a masterful performance. JV put up a 20/17 double-double in his first game in Toronto since December 9th, 2018. He was traded in February of 2019 to the Grizzlies after being drafted by the Raptors in 2011. He has been the best fantasy asset on the team this year and that continued in this game. Brandon Ingram put up 22/5/4 which is roughly one less than average in all of those categories. Nickeil Alexander-Walker provided 11 points off the bench, but played less than 20 minutes for the third straight game. Those are the only three games all season that he’s played less than 20 minutes. Herbert Jones had a 13/2/1/1/1 line and is now averaging 3.3 steals and 1.5 blocks in five games this month.

Timberwolves 141, Rockets 123

Karl-Anthony Towns exploded for a season-high 40 points to go along with nine rebounds and seven assists. This was his 10th career 40 point game, which ties Kevin Love for the most in team history. Fantasy value hero Jarred Vanderbilt just put up his best numbers of the season. The 21 points, 19 rebounds, and four assists are all season-highs. Factor in the two blocks and two steals in just 31 minutes, and he just won games in fantasy leagues on a Sunday night. Anthony Edwards didn’t have his best scoring night, but he put up a 19/3/6/2/2 line. The stocks are always a plus. D’Angelo Russell seems to be back on track after missing time in protocols. His 22 points and 10 assists give him back-to-back 20/10 double-doubles for the first time all season.

If Kevin Porter Jr. and David Nwaba each had made one of the free throws they missed, the Rockets would’ve had nine players score in double figures. It doesn’t mean much when you lose the way they did, but they had a nice, balanced attack. Christian Wood was the only one to score more than 20 as he finished with 22/8/3 to go along with two steals and four 3-pointers. Josh Christopher scored a career-high 19 points off the bench. Jalen Green had been scoring really efficiently since he returned from a hamstring injury that kept him out for a month, but he struggled in this one with only 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting. Garrison Mathews, KJ Martin, Jae’Sean Tate, and Eric Gordon were the other Rockets to score 10 or more.

Nuggets 99, Thunder 95

Generally when teams lose their second and third best players it derails their playoff hopes. However, the Nuggets are 6th in the West without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. because of Nikola Jokic’s MVP performances every single night. He had 22/18/6 to help beat the Thunder, and he’s now averaging 26.1 points, 17.3 rebounds, six assists, 1.6 steals and a block over the past eight games. On the ten-year anniversary of his open heart surgery, Jeff Green chipped in 16 points off the bench. Austin Rivers put up multiple season-highs with 22 points, six 3-pointers, and three steals. After it seemed he had carved out a role on the team in December, he struggled to start out 2022. We’ll see if this is a sign of things to come for him. Jokic may be getting some more help soon in the form of DeMarcus Cousins, who is rumored to be signing with the Nuggets soon.

Josh Giddey continued to impress with his 11/7/8 performance on Sunday. Since 2022 began, Giddey has averaged 13.7 points, 11 rebounds, 8.3 assists, and two steals per game. Over the past two weeks, Giddey has provided top-40 value, which is lightyears ahead of every other player on the team. Nobody else cracks the top-100. The main reason that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander doesn’t is because of his poor shooting as of late, which continued in this game. SGA put up a 8/5/4/1/2 line but shot 2-of-14 from the floor. He’s shot 33% from the floor over the past five games. If you’re punting field goal percentage, then SGA is a top-80 guy. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl put up a nice 12/4/2 line with three steals. Luguentz Dort scored 14 points on 4-for-13 shooting and only hit one of his nine attempts from beyond the arc. Dort has been struggling with shooting percentages since December, so hopefully he can get that turned around soon.

Mavericks 113, Bulls 99

Luka Doncic had another masterful performance. This time, it helped end the Bulls’ nine-game win streak, as the Mavs pushed their win streak to six games. Luka put up a 22/14/14 line, though he didn’t have any defensive stats, turned it over four times, and shot 8-for-23 from the floor. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get any bonus fantasy points for pulling off moves like this. Jalen Brunson shot a hyper efficient 8-for-10 from the floor on his way to a 17/4/4 line. Maxi Kleber scored 18 points, and Dorian Finney-Smith scored 12 points, as both players combined to hit 10 shots from deep, since both only hit 3-pointers. Josh Green scored a career-high 18 points just two days after setting a career-high with 17 points. Over the past two games, Green has shot a ridiculous 14-for-17 from the floor. And he also dunks.

Despite their winning streak coming to an end, MVP-candidate DeMar DeRozan still put up a 20/4/8 stat line on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor. He likely doesn’t have a real chance to win the MVP award because of the insane performances from the other top candidates, but DeRozan deserves to be in the conversation. The Bulls still sit atop the East standings, which is quite the improvement from the lottery team that they were last season. Zach LaVine scored 20 points like DeRozan did, but he shot 7-of-21 from the floor and turned it over four times. LaVine will be an All-Star and should be considered for a starting spot. Unfortunately, he won’t get it because of his teammate DeMar being listed as a guard, even though he’s the team’s small forward. Everywhere you look, DeMar is a forward. Except All-Star voting. After a slow start to the season, Coby White turned in another nice scoring performance with 13 points. He’s averaging 19.3/2/3.3 in 2022 on only one turnover per game. That’s ideal coming off the bench.

Warriors 96, Cavaliers 82

The return! Klay Thompson finally played in an NBA game after 941 days and scored 17 points in 20 minutes. As he gets back into the swing of things, the fantasy numbers should pick up. While you could see the rust on some plays, the shot certainly looked as pretty as ever, and so did this dunk. Stephen Curry put up 28/5/5 with four 3-pointers and five turnovers. His numbers have taken a dip since it was first mentioned that he could break the all-time 3-pointers made record if he hit 16 of them in the next game, and he made it seem like he was going to try. He’s had a few nice games, but he’s shot below 39.1% from the field since that moment. Draymond Green would’ve been a late scratch because of some tightness in his calf if it wasn’t Klay Day, so he made a 4-second appearance before committing a foul and not returning. Kevon Looney recorded a career-high 18 rebounds. He also tied his career-high with four steals. Jordan Poole scored 14 points, but there is a big question mark surrounding his role once Klay is fully back. He should still be a nice scoring option off the bench for the team, but he may not be for your fantasy team.

Lamar Stevens scored a career-high 17 points for the Cavs in the loss. There’s not many fantasy points to go around when a team only scores 82 points, but Stevens showed up by also collecting four rebounds, an assist, and two steals. Jarrett Allen had 12 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. A below average performance, but at least he had the two blocks, right? Darius Garland really struggled, as he only had nine points, four assists, and four turnovers. Kevin Love also had a bad shooting night, finishing with two points on 1-of-7 shooting. He did gather seven rebounds in 14 minutes, but this is back-to-back single digit performances for Love after he scored in double figures in 14 straight games. Maybe nobody wanted to be the guy to ruin Klay Day? Except Rajon Rondo, who had 15/3/5 off the bench and made all three of his 3-pointers.

Trail Blazers 103, Kings 88

Anfernee Simons has to have the Blazers seriously rethinking their future. Of course you want to win with Damian Lillard, but they should feel a lot more comfortable about their future if they trade him and CJ McCollum because of Simons. In 2022, Simons is averaging 29 points, 6.5 assists, and 5.8 3-pointers per game on 54/51/100 shooting splits. He had 31 points and six assists in this one while hitting 7-of-11 from deep. Simons is in his fourth season, but won’t turn 23 until Portland’s season is over. He can be a cornerstone for the franchise should they choose to rebuild and could be in the conversation for the Most Improved Player award by the end of the year. Jusuf Nurkic had a monster performance with his 13/16/9/2/1 statline, with the nine assists being his season-high. Robert Covington should be called “The Stock Broker” with how many steals and blocks he collects. He’s a defensive stat king and he did it again on Sunday with three steals and three blocks.

Tyrese Haliburton continues to be one of the lone Kings that have been worth rostering this season. He’s provided value just outside the top-25 and had a decent game Sunday with 17 points, nine assists, and two steals. Alex Len started at center with Damian Jones and Richaun Holmes both in league protocols. Len had a 16/10 double-double in just 23 minutes of playing time. Harrison Barnes is one of the other Kings that has provided top-100 value this year. He had a statline of 13/7/2/1/1 with only one turnover. De’Aaron Fox was listed as questionable with a shoulder injury but played through it. He finished with 14 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Though he is the star of the Kings, he isn’t a fantasy star.

Grizzlies 127, Lakers 119

Ja Morant actually flew. Plain and simple. He put up a 16/5/7/1/1 line, but that one block screamed louder than anything else in this game. Morant should be a starter in the All-Star game, especially with the Grizzlies sitting at fourth in the West. Desmond Bane continued to make his case for the Most Improved Player award with 23 points, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals in only 26 minutes. Seriously, how is he still available in 19% of Yahoo! leagues? Jaren Jackson Jr. had a monster game with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and six blocks in only 29 minutes. Kyle Anderson put up a 14/7/8/2/2 line, which was a season-high in assists for him. Brandon Clarke had a line of 14/3/1/1/1 in 16 minutes off the bench.

This was an incredibly weird game for Lakers players not named LeBron James. LeBron was the only starter to score in double figures, and he had a 35/9/7 line on 14-of-19 shooting, but was a -30 in 33 minutes. Russell Westbrook, Malik Monk, Avery Bradley, and Stanley Johnson shot a combined 8-for-39 for 22 points. The game was entirely out of hand heading into the fourth quarter, which is why the Grizzlies’ starters played less minutes than you’d expect. That is until a late 21-0 run by a lineup of Wayne Ellington, Austin Reaves, DeAndre Jordan, Kent Bazemore, and Trevor Ariza. Exactly what you’d expect right? Ellington and Reaves ended up scoring 16 apiece, while Talen Horton-Tucker scored 13 points in 19 minutes. The other bright spot is that Desmond Bane learned not to mess with the King.