Porzingis is thriving lately, Dozier and Brunson exit with injuries
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Tuesday night had far less excitement than Monday’s chaos, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to unfold in a four-game slate. Away we go.
Heat 100, Pistons 92
This game looked like an upset in the making as the Pistons were up nine points heading into the final period, but a 15-point, 6-of-20 fourth quarter from the Pistons did them no favors. Tyler Herro did it again and almost single-handedly got his team competitive again on Tuesday, finishing with a season-high 31 points (12-of-21 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), eight rebounds, three assists, four 3-pointers and three turnovers in 33 minutes, and no one on the team even scored half of the points that Herro did. He scored a regular-season career-high tying 14 points in the final frame alone and continues to crush his ADP with elite scoring (22nd in the whole league on a pet-game basis) and solid boards (5.6 per game, a career high). However… he still has no blocks on the season. ZERO. I promised I’d keep pointing out this trend, and this makes it 571 minutes without a block this season. It just keeps getting more impressive in a way, but obviously blocking shots isn’t a part of his game and those who roster him don’t mind one bit. Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler posted identical 15/9/5 lines with a steal, but Bam was a bit more efficient with a 6-of-10 mark as opposed to Jimmy’s 4-of-13 clip. These two were both drafted in the second round more often than not, but so far, Jimmy has been outperforming Bam (and almost everyone else) with top-3 value, and Bam’s lackluster 0.4 blocks per contest are keeping him outside the top-50 despite a revamped offensive arsenal and career-high 19.1 points per game. Kyle Lowry also joined the trio of 15-pointers and added a full line including six rebounds, eight assists, two steals, two blocks, one triple and and five turnovers in 35 minutes, and while his offense hasn’t always been there (15 points in his last two combined before this, for example), his counting stats have been pretty steady and he’s returning eighth-round value on the season as of this point. Duncan Robinson had 11 points with three boards and three triples but that’s it, and he may remain a three-point specialist in fantasy for as long as he’s in the league.
Cade Cunningham tallied his first of many career triple-doubles this past Sunday against the Lakers, but newsflash, the Heat are just a little better at defense than L.A. and held the No. 1 pick to just six points on 2-of-10 shooting, three rebounds, six assists, one steal, one 3-pointer and four turnovers in 29 minutes. Cade’s game before this was coming along rather nicely, including top-15 value over the past week behind an inefficient yet still highly impressive 16.0/8.7/7.3/2.3/1.0 line. This Heat defense gets some credit per usual and rightfully so, as they have the fifth best defensive rating in the NBA and have a habit of quieting other team’s star player night after night. Jerami Grant hit just six of his 17 shots (but 8-of-9 FTs to offset that a tad) for 21 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals, three 3-pointers and no turnovers in 35 minutes, and he could be fantastic if he made his shots (in fact, a fourth-rounder if you punt field goal percentage, according to Basketball Monster), but he’s shot over 50% in just four of his 16 games. Saddiq Bey wasn’t efficient either and had a rather empty line with 15 points, three boards and three triples with no assists or defensive stats, while Cory Joseph almost double-doubled in a start for Killian Hayes (thumb) with nine points, nine dimes and three steals, and with Hayes out for at least one more game, Joseph has some streaming appeal on Wednesday’s second leg of a back-to-back against the Bucks. Frank Jackson had 13 points before fouling out, Hamidou Diallo had 10 points with a block, Trey Lyles grabbed nine boards and Luka Garza made his first career start for Isaiah Stewart (suspension, still wants to deck LeBron) and had seven points and three boards in 17 minutes. Diallo is on my radar, but those other three guys can be safely ignored.
Knicks 106, Lakers 100
The Knicks had full control of this game and were up 24 points in the second quarter, and then they remembered who they were and struggled in the third but ultimately got the job done to secure the win. I’m not too sure if they got the job done or if the Lakers just failed to do so, but a win is a win no matter how you look at it. Julius Randle battled foul trouble a bit and sat out in some of crunch time, but still went for 20 points (7-of-17 FGs, 5-of-8 FTs), 16 rebounds, five assists, one steal, one trey and four turnovers in 34 minutes, which has become about as prototypical of a Randle line as you can get. Evan Fournier has been ice cold and must’ve been licking his chops when he knew he was playing the Lakeshow, as he drained six triples on the way to 26 points (most this season besides the 32-point season opener), four rebounds and two assists in a game-high 42 minutes, but he’s so volatile it hurts. The other three starters were pretty quiet on offense, as RJ Barrett tallied a 12/7/3 line with three treys, Nerlens Noel had just four points but five combined steals and blocks and Kemba Walker scored just six points in 23 minutes (no thanks). The Knicks bench actually saved them as all four reserves had higher net ratings than the five starters, with Obi Toppin leading the way in that regard with a plus-15 and a nice 12/4/1/1/1 line to go along with it, but he’s not someone worth rostering. Immanuel Quickley got hot in the fourth and made all five of his three-pointers in that period, scoring 14 points with three boards and three dimes, and Alec Burks had 12 points, six boards, three assists and two steals and is just a low-end guy for some triples and a handful of steals.
For once, the Lakers showed up in the third quarter with a 30-20 margin, but then proceeded to have an awful 19-point fourth quarter and got the loss to bring them below .500. They just haven’t clicked yet, but at least Vegas still has faith in them as they still have the third highest odds to win the championship at +700 (odds via PointsBet), and luckily there’s still time for them to fix the kinks and develop chemistry. With the exception of his six turnovers, Russell Westbrook was pretty awesome, triple-doubling to the tune of 31 points (18 in the third quarter) on 10-of-18 shooting, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and three triples in 37 minutes, and he gets a nice boost whenever LeBron James (suspension, hiding from Beef Stew) is sidelined. Anthony Davis played through his second non-COVID illness of the season and was pretty quiet for his standards with 20 points (7-of-17 FGs, 5-of-11 FTs, yikes) with six boards, three assists and and no defensive stats or turnovers in 34 minutes, and he just wasn’t his aggressive self but at least we know why. Avery Bradley had his once-in-a-blue-moon good game with 15 points, nine boards, one assist, two steals, three 3-pointers and one turnover in 30 minutes, but he can be ignored. Talen Horton-Tucker was about as bad as he could be in a prime opportunity without LeBron James active, not scoring a single point in his 29 minutes (0-of-8 FGs, 0-of-0 FTs) and adding just two rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block. If you deployed him in DFS, I send my condolences, because he seemed like a no-brainer on the cheaper side on a rather light slate. DeAndre Jordan grabbed 11 rebounds in 25 minutes, while Carmelo Anthony and Malik Monk scored 12 apiece off the bench but combined to shoot just 8-of-28 from the floor. As always, nothing else to see here.
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Trail Blazers 119, Nuggets 100
The Blazers are now 9-1 at home but just 1-7 on the road, and unluckily for them, their next three games will be part of a three-game road trip during which they’ll play both the Warriors and the Jazz, so it’ll be a good test to see if they can start improving away from Moda Center. While the Nuggets were short-handed (and, spoiler, got even more short-handed during the game), Portland really excelled getting out in transition and won the fast break points battle by a convincing 28-2 count, including 17-0 in the first half alone. CJ McCollum led all players in scoring with 32 points on 13-of-19 from the floor, also chipping in three rebounds, three dimes, two steals, five 3-pointers and no turnovers in 34 minutes, and while he saw a 4.3% decrease in field goal percentage between October and November, this ultra-efficient performance will help that and maybe push him into the top-35. Damian Lillard may be back, ladies and gentlemen, as his shot also fell on Tuesday at a 9-of-13 clip for a 25/3/5 line with one steal and five treys, and he’s now shot at least 47% from the field in six of his last eight games. There’s no arguing the brutal start, and if you bought low amidst Dame’s struggles, you had the right idea. Jusuf Nurkic has still yet to play 30 minutes in any game this season, which is a shame because he’s finally healthy, and he had just six points with seven boards, a steal and a block in 24 minutes on Tuesday. He’s coming off of two double-doubles and has one block in three straight, which is a trend his managers hope continues or even improves. Robert Covington brought the D-stats with a 9/7/2/1/3 line with a trey, while Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little each played 23 minutes and scored 14 and 13 points, respectively. Covington isn’t a scorer but will always contribute elsewhere despite shaky percentages, while Simons and Little aren’t must-roster guys but should only get better and are worth holding onto in deeper leagues. Simons is especially someone to watch should Dame ever miss time with his lingering abdomen injury, in which case he’d become a very popular pickup. Oh, and Greg Brown III checked into the game for the last four minutes and did this, which was simply awesome. RoCo said postgame that “That’s just Greg”.
Sadly, the storyline of the night for Denver was P.J. Dozier going out with a left knee injury. He took a shot very late in the first quarter and landed awkwardly with his knee seeming to buckle, and it could be anything from a hyperextension to an ACL tear. The only positive of this is that Dozier was not immediately ruled out and was even questionable to return after getting helped to the locker room, but he never came back and made it through just four minutes of action for two points and two boards. This won’t affect fantasy teams, but it very much affects the state of the Nuggets as they’re already without Nikola Jokic (wrist, should be back very soon), Michael Porter Jr. (back, could potentially miss the rest of the season) and Bones Hyland (ankle). Jeff Green took full advantage of all the injuries in a start, leading the team with 24 points, four rebounds, three assists, three blocks and three triples in 35 minutes, but he’ll take a huge hit when the Joker returns as soon as Friday against the Bucks. All of the other starters had somewhat boring lines, with Will Barton’s 11/8/7 line being the best but he added four turnovers and no defensive stats, and he and Aaron Gordon (11/3/3) will both continue to benefit for as long as MPJ is out, with Barton being the superior option. Zeke Nnaji returned from a four-game absence due to an ankle sprain and wasn’t bad with eight points, seven rebounds and two blocks, but he’ll be irrelevant as soon as Jokic returns.
Mavericks 112, Clippers 104
Paul George sent this game to overtime on a wild corner three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left in regulation, but he scored his team’s only point in overtime as Dallas prevailed in Luka Doncic’s return to action after missing three games with knee/ankle injuries. Luka looked just fine with a 9-of-21 shooting mark and nearly triple-doubled in his return with a 26/9/9/1/2 line with four 3-pointers and six turnovers in 41 minutes, but the story of the night was Kristaps Porzingis. He’s been on one of the hottest runs of his career and is one of the hottest players in the league right now, further proving that on Tuesday behind his 30 points (9-of-16 FGs, 10-of-10 FTs), seven rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block, two threes and five turnovers in 40 minutes, and right now something’s clicking for KP that we haven’t seen click in a while. Porzingis has now scored at least 20 points in a career-best seven straight games and is the second best fantasy player in the entire NBA over the last two weeks. If you were patient with him, it’s paying off better than even the most optimistic expected. Dorian Finney-Smith played 49 minutes and recorded 17 points with three boards, three steals, one block and two 3-pointers, Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 13 of his own but went 5-of-17 from the floor and Willie Cauley-Stein was invisible in a start with just two points in 17 minutes. Maxi Kleber led the way off the bench and played 36 minutes as a reserve with a quietly nice 8/9/6/2/1 line with a big triple in overtime. It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies for Dallas, however, as yet another key rotation player got hurt on Tuesday night, this time with Jalen Brunson leaving the game after just 13 minutes after getting stepped on by Ivica Zubac, who is not small. Similar to Dozier, he was also questionable to return, so we’re hoping he escaped anything serious, and it helps that the Mavs don’t play until Saturday which should give Brunson time to heal up and continue his incredible play off the pine.
The Clippers were down 10 points with about 90 seconds left in regulation, and they crawled back into it but ultimately fell apart in overtime via a 0-of-7 mark in those five minutes. Paul George would have been the hero had L.A. pulled this one out, but did struggle a bit more than usual by hitting just seven of his 23 shot attempts for 26 points, nine rebounds, six assists, one block, three turnovers, and one very important triple. He played 48 minutes too, and he’ll love having two days off after giving it his all. Reggie Jackson was phenomenal as well and went for a game and season-high 31 points (12-of-23 FGs, 4-of-6 FTs), 10 rebounds, two assists, three steals, three 3-pointers, four turnovers and two very rare wedgies in the overtime period alone (those should count for something, right?). His efficiency has been brutal all in all but he’s 20-of-37 over his last two, but we can’t expect that to stick. Marcus Morris Sr. made his return after exactly a month of being sidelined due to a knee injury, making the start and going for 10 points, five rebounds, two blocks, two treys and four turnovers in 31 minutes. Not bad, and while I’m not sprinting to the wire to grab him, he could provide some late-round value if you have someone on your bench who isn’t getting it done. Luke Kennard scored just six points in 32 minutes but hit a big three late in regulation, Eric Bledsoe was basically invisible and was just attending the Reggie Jackson show and Ivica Zubac had 10 points with seven boards. All of these guys are sitting in the 10th-12th round range, so they aren’t league winners but are likely worth holding onto depending on your league.
Busy Wednesday ahead
We have a gargantuan 13-game slate Wednesday night before everyone gets the day off on Thanksgiving, so make sure all of your lineups are locked and loaded. And just like these players get a break from basketball, you deserve a break too, so be sure to enjoy the holiday with family, friends, and loved ones as the best sport in the world appropriately takes a distant backseat for a day.