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Jayson Tatum scorches Nets, Nikola Jokic posts historic numbers

Jayson Tatum

Jayson Tatum

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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Celtics 126, Nets 120

“I think how you earn the respect of people that you look up to is you’ve got to compete against them. You got to go at them for them to give you that respect that you looking for.”

That was what Jayson Tatum said back in October, and Celtics Insider Chris Forsberg brought the quote back up ahead of the Celtics matchup with the Nets. Tatum showed that he meant that, scoring a season-high 54 points on eight triples during their win over the Nets that pushed the Celtics to only a game and a half back of the second seed in the East. Tatum is peaking at the right time for both the Celtics and fantasy managers alike. He tied Larry Bird for most 50-point games in Celtics history with four. Tying Larry Legend in any record is always noteworthy.

Jaylen Brown returned from a one-game absence after spraining his ankle last Tuesday. He looked right at home, burying a dagger triple late to put the Celtics up six. Aaron Nesmith had been starting in place of Brown, but he ended up missing this game with an ankle injury of his own. Before Brown’s injury, Nesmith was only playing a few minutes per game, if any. He’ll likely return to a similar role, which basically destroys any fantasy value he had. Derrick White was reportedly in line to start if Brown was out again. Instead, he turned in one of his worst performances since joining the team, finishing with six points and three rebounds in 20 minutes. We’ll see if he’s able to bounce back, though it’s not looking super promising.

Al Horford has been on fire from deep lately. He’s 9-of-18 on triples over the past three games. He also has 13 blocks over his past six games. His impact on the game doesn’t always show up in the stat sheet, so it’s nice when it does like this. He’s such an important piece for the Celtics, so his effectiveness in fantasy hoops shouldn’t go away anytime soon.

For most players, blocking five shots in a game is incredibly noteworthy. But Robert Williams has 14 blocks over his past four games and six games with at least five blocks this season. Factor in his seven steals and 69.2% shooting from the floor over the past four games, and you get one of the most dominant players in fantasy hoops. If you drafted this guy, you’re truly reaping the benefits at the right time.

Marcus Smart nearly double-doubled on his birthday, but at least they got the win. I’m sure that’s good enough for him.

There were some good things for Brooklyn today. Steve Nash returned to the sidelines after a stint in league protocols. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving started together for the fourth time this season, including their first time with new additions Seth Curry, Goran Dragic, and Andre Drummond.

But there was far more bad. Adrian Wojnarowski reported that there’s “no chance” that Ben Simmons plays against the 76ers on March 10th, though he should be with the team on the sidelines. He’s putting himself in a position to get booed by a likely sold-out Wells Fargo Center with no chance to back it up with his play. Even without Simmons playing, that game should be a blast with some of the brightest stars in the league battling it out in a game that will mean a little more than most regular season matchups.

The Nets are now 3-17 in their last 20 games. The Houston Rockets, who have the rights to the Nets first round pick this year, have gone 4-16 over their last 20 games. They certainly have the talent to turn things around quickly, but they’re running out of time.

Kevin Durant is an anomaly. I don’t think anyone would question that, but it’s unfair that he can be this dominant after missing a month and a half of basketball. He posted a line of 37/6/8/1/2 against the best defense in the league. He came back at just the right time for fantasy managers and should have no problem keeping it up next week. Their three games are against the Hornets, 76ers, and Knicks. They’re currently tied with the Hornets and Hawks for the eight seed in the East, there’s obvious bad blood in the Philly matchup, and who doesn’t light up the Knicks? Kyrie Irving will be able to play the first two games but won’t be able to play against the Knicks, which just means that KD should be in line for an even bigger game.

Kyrie may not have posted the best line (19 points, six assist, three steals), but he still hit a few big shots late. The Nets are trying to figure out how to play with their current lineup, so I expect Kyrie to become more aggressive as the team builds chemistry. It’s also never easy playing with Marcus Smart, Derrick White, and Jaylen Brown taking turns guarding you. But the biggest shot that Kyrie took was easily the one in the postgame press conference.

LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 14 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench which means he played the most minutes among Nets’ bigmen yet again. Andre Drummond may be the starting center, but LA has been getting a lot more opportunities to help out fantasy teams. It may have something to do with their recent matchups having bigs that move really well (Bam Adebayo, Robert Williams), but it appears that Drummond and Nicolas Claxton won’t be the fantasy assets that LA will be the rest of the season.

Cam Thomas left the game after four minutes with a back contusion. There’s not reports about how long he’ll be out, but that should open up a few extra minutes for Patty Mills and Goran Dragic off the bench. Mills’ role seems to be determined by the presence of Irving, though maybe he’ll get a little more opportunity if Thomas is out of the lineup. Dragic appears to have taken over backup point guard duties, though he did get the start in their game against Miami with Kyrie unable to play at home.

KD’s face after the game perfectly sums up what every fantasy manager that played against Tatum was feeling. We understand KD.

Bucks 132, Suns 122

Another day, another comeback win for the defending champs. After wins over the Heat and Bulls, the Bucks stormed back to defeat the Suns in a Finals rematch. Unlike the Finals, it wasn’t Giannis Antetokounmpo that led the Bucks to victory. It was Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. Middleton scored a season-high 44 points and hit some late shots to seal the game away. Jrue Holiday scored 17 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to help lead the comeback. He ended up finishing with nine assists and four steals as well. Unfortunately, Giannis was in foul trouble most of the game, so he was only able to play 31 minutes before fouling out. In that time, he still managed to put up a line of 19/13/6/1/3. The only other time he scored less than 20 points in 2022 was on February 10th… against the Suns. So after scoring 50 points on them in the Finals-clinching win, he’s scored a combined 37 points in two games against them. With no more games against Phoenix on their schedule, that shouldn’t be an issue moving forward. He should still be a premier fantasy asset.

Bobby Portis had been on fire coming out of the All-Star break, but he cooled off a bit in this game with only nine points, six rebounds, and two triples. It was actually two players off the Bucks’ bench that provided a boost. Serge Ibaka had his best game since being traded to Milwaukee, finishing with a 14/10 double-double with two blocks. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely we get that type of production from him consistently, since Giannis won’t always be in foul trouble. Still, it’s nice to know that he’s a solid option if someone goes down. Jordan Nwora had his best game since before the All-Star break, finishing with 12 points, five boards, and a steal. Nwora’s minutes aren’t consistent enough for him to be rostered, but it was a solid game for him.

So maybe no Chris Paul, no Devin Booker, and no Cameron Johnson makes a difference for the Suns, who failed to close out the win in Milwaukee. It’s surprising that the Suns were even able to make it as close of a game as they did. A big reason for that was the play of Deandre Ayton, who has feasted against the Bucks this season. In two games against Milwaukee this year, Ayton has finished with 57 points on 26/33 shooting and 15 rebounds in just 59 minutes of playing time. The surprising number is the rebounding. Ayton collected eight rebounds in this game, and the team collected a grand total of 27 boards. The Suns average 45.6 rebounds per game this season, so this was surprisingly far below average. In case you’re curious, the Brooklyn Nets set the NBA record for fewest rebounds in a game back in 2014 when they were only able to corral in 17 rebounds. In that game, the Thunder only missed 28 shots and three free throws, whereas the Bucks missed 40 shots and six free throws. Incredibly enough, Serge Ibaka played for that Thunder team and made all 12 of his shot attempts. Paul Pierce led the Nets in rebounding that game with five boards.

Cameron Payne had another big game, finishing with 23 points and eight assists. He’s been truly fitting in perfectly, running the offense about as well as you could ask of someone filling the shoes of CP3. Still only rostered in 54% of Yahoo! leagues, this guy is a league winner. Get him. Landry Shamet had his best game since January, finishing with 17 points on three triples. His value will tank when Devin Booker returns next game, so don’t worry about him.

Considering he played 42 minutes, it’s disappointing that Mikal Bridges only finished with 14 points, six assists, and a steal. He ended up picking the scoring up late, but it’s honestly impressive that he played 42 minutes without grabbing one rebound. Jae Crowder had one of his best fantasy performances of the season, dishing out a season-high seven dimes. Don’t expect him to take over playmaking duties and continue that production. This should be considered a one-game treat.

Aaron Holiday had eight points, four assists, and two steals against his brother Jrue’s team. But this is what he’ll remember most from this game.

Wizards 133, Pacers 123

Finally! It happened! Kristaps Porzingis played basketball! And he looked good. He was on a minutes restriction, so he only ended up playing only 21 minutes. In that time, he finished with 25 points, five rebounds, two blocks, and three triples. In his first game with a new team after not playing for a month, this was a solid start. If you held onto him in an IL spot, you’re in luck. There’s a solid chance they give him some nights off, but when he plays, he should be the focal point of the offense while also collecting plenty of rebounds and blocks.

Kyle Kuzma’s numbers weren’t limited by the return of KP. In fact, he built off an 11-assist performance by dropping eight more dimes this game. Kuz has been elite since the All-Star break, averaging a line of 27.2/8/6.8/0.8/1.8 with 2.8 triples on 49/41.2/88 shooting splits. Yes, he’s been playing at first round value since the break. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, like Kuz, has been on fire since the break. KCP has averaged 19.8 points, four assists, and 2.2 rebounds with 3.2 triples in the five games since the break. He chipped in 19 points and five assists this game.

Corey Kispert ran around for 23 minutes and did nothing but foul and shoot triples. He finished 3-for-6 shooting (all threes) and fouled twice. That’s it. Deni Avdija ended up playing 31 minutes, finishing with a 10/7/3 line, which is much nicer for fantasy managers to see.

Raul Neto started at point guard for Washington, but left the game with an ankle sprain after 11 minutes of playing time. That opened the floor for Ish Smith, who nearly triple-doubled in 28 minutes. He finished with a 13/7/9 line with two steals. Tomas Satoransky also helped out at the guard spot with a season-high 10 points and five assists.

In the post, Daniel Gafford ended up seeing the most minutes off the bench, finishing with 10 points and three boards in 17 minutes. Rui Hachimura didn’t really do much in his 16 minutes, but at least he played. Thomas Bryant ended up getting the DNP- Coach’s Decision. Gafford should see a decrease in minutes as KP gets off a minutes restriction, but that’ll likely be after your fantasy playoffs have ended.

The Pacers were able to be in this game because of the play of their backup bigs, not their starting guards as you may expect. Isaiah Jackson’s night was limited to only eight minutes because he was in foul trouble (he still had six points, five boards, and two blocks because of course he did). That left the door open for Goga Bitadze and Jalen Smith. Bitadze ended up scoring 17 of his career-high 20 points in the first half, shooting 7-for-7 from the floor with six rebounds and three triples. Smith ended up missing two shots, but still finished with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting with six boards and three assists. It’s all fun and games right now with multiple fantasy options down low for Indiana, but with Myles Turner’s return looming, that could all go away quickly.

The guard tandem for the Pacers was still incredibly productive. Malcolm Brogdon scored a game-high 27 points to go with four boards and four assists. Tyrese Haliburton finished with a 15/7/11 line with three steals. Buddy Hield put up a 19/8/7 line in 40 minutes. All three should be excellent fantasy options for the remainder of the season, though each may have to give up a few minutes when Chris Duarte returns from this toe injury.

Rockets 123, Grizzlies 112

Yes, you read that score correctly. The Grizzlies were favored by 10.5 points, but lost to the lowly Rockets. Houston won for the first time since February 2nd. It was Houston’s young core that helped lead them to victory. Kevin Porter Jr. scored 19 of his 29 points in the third quarter, while also contributing two rebounds and five assists. This was by far his best game since the All-Star break. Christian Wood put up a 28/13/1/1/2 line with four triples. He’s now scored at least 20 points in three straight games. Jalen Green finished with a 28/8/4 line. If this rookie class wasn’t so stacked, Green could be making a late push for Rookie of the Year. Instead, he’ll likely have to settle for a 2nd team appearance on the All-Rookie team. Despite a slow start to the season, Green’s shooting numbers have improved drastically lately. He’s averaging a 20.3/4.5/3.5line with 1.5 steals on 47.1% shooting since the All-Star break. If you factor out his 4-of-18 shooting game against the Clippers, that number goes up. He’s making that second-half push that rookies often do, so take advantage.

Some extra guard minutes were opened up by another absence from Dennis Schroder (ankle). Eric Gordon scored 12 points and added six rebounds. Garrison Mathews scored 10 points on 3-for-3 shooting. Alperen Sengun and Josh Christopher played decent minutes off the bench, but both struggled to contribute anything for fantasy managers.

It’s hard for the Grizzlies to win when Ja Morant struggles and Jaren Jackson Jr. is in foul trouble. Still, it’s a tough game for them to lose, especially when they had just gotten the 2-seed out West. Morant ended up posting a 22/4/6 line, but he shot 7-for-20. No massive numbers or eye-popping highlights from him in this game, unfortunately. JJJ’s fouling issues have plagued him throughout his career. He’s so productive when he’s on the, but until he gets this figured out, he’ll be limited by his inability to be in the game.

Steven Adams had a monster game, putting up a line of 23/12/5/1/3 on 9-of-11 shooting. The points were a season-high for him, as he took advantage of his matchup with Wood. Desmond Bane ended up scoring a team-high 28 points with four triples. Tyus Jones finished with nine points, six assists, and two steals off the bench. Really, this was a game to forget for the Grizzlies, but they should bounce back with added focus against the Pelicans on Tuesday.

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Jazz 116, Thunder 103

After an ugly loss to the Pelicans on Friday, the Jazz knew they needed to play a lot better in order to get back on track. They did just that. Bojan Bogdanovic set a Jazz franchise-record by hitting 11 triples. He ended up scoring 35 points after hitting two free throws, but when you’re that hot from deep, there’s no reason to take it inside. He’s actually the first player in NBA history to hit 11 or more triples without hitting a two-pointer. Donovan Mitchell tied his season-high with 10 assists that he set on Wednesday. He also finished with 24 points and four triples. After shooting 5-for-18 last game, he rebounded well. Rudy Gobert finished with a 12/17 double-double, though he was only able to contribute one block.

Trent Forrest got the starting nod with Mike Conley sidelined on a rest night. He finished with six points and six assists. That won’t be typical, as Conley should return for their next game. Jordan Clarkson added 20 points off the bench in typical Clarkson fashion. Meaning he didn’t add much else for fantasy managers. Just two boards, two assists, and two turnovers.

Another game, another big night for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He finished with a 33/7/8/4/1 line without turning the ball over. He had averaged SIX turnovers per game since returning from his long term absence, so that was a huge step in the right direction for him. He’s now averaging a line of 33.3/6/6.7/2/0.8 over the last six games, which makes him a first round asset in 8-cat leagues.

Aaron Wiggins returned from a three game absence, finishing with an 11/4/2 line with two steals. Aleksej Pokusevski put up a 12/11/4/1/1 line, while Darius Bazley had a line of 11/5/2/1/3 and hit the only triple from a starter. The OKC starters shot a combined 1-for-25 from deep, while the bench shot 7-for-15. Tre Mann had been excellent since before the All-Star break, but had a dud of a game this time. Hopefully he can bounce back.

Cavaliers 104, Raptors 96

In a battle of Rookie of the Year candidates, Evan Mobley may have gotten the upper hand, but the injury news to Jarrett Allen overshadowed it all. The first time All-Star left the game with a bruised quad, but ended up being diagnosed with a broken finger and will be out indefinitely. They got an important win, but losing their center in the midst of a playoff push is bad news. They’re 2.5 games out of 2nd place, but only three games ahead of the play-in. Kevin Love should slide into the starting lineup alongside Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen, so they should be able to continue to play big.

Mobley ended up having a monster game, finishing with a 20/17/4 line with three blocks. The 17 rebounds tied his career-high. Markkanen added a 22/12 double-double, while Love finished with a 15/9 line off the bench. Cedi Osman finished with 17 points, three triples, and two steals in 32 minutes. He may have to step up even more with Allen joining a long list of injured Cavs.

The other first time All-Star Darius Garland finished with a 17/10 line with seven turnovers. He’s now turned it over 19 times in three games since the All-Star break. He’s still healing from the back issue, so he should get those numbers down moving forward.

Malachi Flynn had been starting with Fred VanVleet sidelined with a knee injury, but Flynn will now be out for at least 10 days with a hamstring injury. Nick Nurse ended up rolling with Scottie Barnes as the starting point guard. Barnes ended up posting a 19/12/6 line with three steals. As long as FVV is sidelined, Barnes should see a boost in the dimes category.

Pascal Siakam ended up posting a 24/4/4/1/1 line, while Chris Boucher finished with a 21/7/1/3/1 line. The defensive stats are always nice, but you’d like some extra rebounds out of them, especially since Siakam had 14 rebounds last game. Khem Birch played 26 minutes, which is the most he’s played since January. He finished with five points, eight rebounds, and two steals, which is nice considering he’s often played minutes in the teens despite starting.

After being on fire late in January, Gary Trent Jr. cooled off in February, but he’s been just off since the All-Star break. He finished with 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting, which actually helped his field goal percentage. He’s now shooting 29.1% from the floor and 22.2% from deep since the break.

Precious Achiuwa was the only bench player to score for the Raptors as he finished with eight points, six boards, and two steals.

Nuggets 138, Pelicans 130

A complete list of players who have finished an NBA game with 40 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, and three blocks:

End of list.

The Joker finished with 30 points, three rebounds, and three assists… in just the fourth quarter and overtime. Over the course of the game, he finished with a line of 46/12/11/3/4 with three triples on 16-of-22 shooting. According to StatMuse, the only other player in NBA history with a 45-point triple-double on 70% shooting was Wilt Chamberlain. The Nuggets were up 75-74 with 3:50 left in the third quarter when Jokic subbed out. At the end of the third, they were down 94-84 and Mike Malone had been ejected. Still, Jokic helped lead the comeback. He’s truly playing like a guy on track to win another MVP award.

Aaron Gordon had a big game with a 28/8/2/1/2 line, while Monte Morris added 18 points and eight assists. Both guys should be solid fantasy options down the stretch as Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. don’t seem to be on track to return until after the fantasy playoffs. Despite his big game when Jokic was sidelined, DeMarcus Cousins only scored one point in this game. He should be a solid steaming option if Jokic is out, but don’t rely on him if he’s not starting. Austin Rivers, who missed last game with the same illness that kept Jokic out of the lineup, returned to the rotation but was held scoreless.

Jokic’s big game will be what everyone talks about, but Brandon Ingram had an impressive outing himself. He scored 38 points and dished out nine assists in the loss. He also finished with the shot of the night. Or maybe even the season.

Jonas Valanciunas finished with a 19/14 double-double before fouling out. That gave Willy Hernangomez an opportunity for extra minutes, as he finished with a line of 8/8/2/1/2 while closing out the game. That shouldn’t continue moving forward as JV and Jaxson Hayes should play the majority of minutes down low. C.J. McCollum finished with a 24/5/9 line. He’s been excellent since joining New Orleans, posting 2nd round value over the past month.

Knicks 116, Clippers 93

RJ Barrett has been a menace since the All-Star break, as he has averaged 28.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in five games since then. That continued tonight as he posted a line of 24/9/4 in 33 minutes. Barrett played a lot of minutes with the bench unit, which was the group that really won them the game. Immanuel Quickley grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds to go along with 21 points and six assists in what was one of his best games of the season. Cam Reddish’s Knicks’ tenure has been defined by short stints when he plays, but he ended up scoring 17 points in 25 minutes off the bench in this game. It’s unlikely Tom Thibodeau would’ve played him that much if the score was closer, but it was nice to see him do well. Hopefully he can build off of this game. Jericho Sims came off the bench and grabbed 11 rebounds in 20 minutes. Miles McBride ended up playing 18 minutes, but he only finished with three points and a rebound.

Despite everyone else on the team playing well, Julius Randle ended up struggling from the floor. After being fined $50k for his incident with Cameron Johnson when they played the Suns, Randle finished with a 10/8/4 line on 4-of-16 shooting. After two bad games after the All-Star break, Randle had put together two solid performances before this game. Hopefully, he can get back to playing how he had been before the All-Star break. Mitchell Robinson finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks, but he ended up shooting 0-for-6 from the free throw line. Robinson is a career 55.1% free throw shooter, so it shouldn’t be surprising he shot poorly from the line, but missing all six attempts is horrific. In case you’re curious, the record for most missed free throws in a game without a make is 11, which Shaquille O’Neal did during the 2000-2001 season.

This was an ugly game for the Clippers. One they’ll hope to move past quickly.

The positives:

  • Isaiah Hartenstein had a solid game with 14 points, two rebounds, and four assists on 5-of-6 shooting in 21 minutes off the bench.
  • Robert Covington somehow managed to come away with two steals and two blocks in just 18 minutes, because he’s that kind of defensive animal.
  • Luke Kennard scored 10 points on three triples.
  • Amir Coffey scored 16 points off the bench.

The negatives:

With a good head coach like Tyronn Lue leading them, they should bounce back against the Warriors on Tuesday. This won’t be the norm for them, just an off night.