• Hello, Hoop-Ballers. It’s me again, Erik with Friday’s Daily Dish, covering Thursday night’s games.

    While I wish I could say that it was a quiet and uneventful night, the news was not very encouraging. Why? Well, injuries, what else?

    Bobby Portis (sprained MCL) is going to be out for at least a month opening opportunities for Jabari Parker to get back into the Bulls’ starting lineup. This is tough news both for the Bulls and for Portis owners. The team is already without Lauri Markkanen (elbow) and Kris Dunn (MCL). Cameron Payne has been a serviceable add in Dunn’s absence but with Portis out we should see more from the aforementioned Parker as well as, hopefully, some Wendell Carter Jr.

    James Harden (hamstring strain) is out for at least two games with his injury which means we should see a bump in the production from Chris Paul and Eric Gordon.

    The latest buzz in the ongoing Jimmy Butler trade saga is that the Houston Rockets have reportedly offered a package of four first-round picks for the disgruntled star. Butler would be a good fit for the Rockets as he could add some defensive grit to the offensively-minded team. If he does land here, P.J. Tucker will take the biggest hit. That’s it for now. Stay tuned for the next (hopefully last) episode of this basketball telenovela.

    Well, onto the games.

    Blake Griffin continues to produce at an unprecedented level 26 points, 10 boards and a full line against the Cavaliers. Yes, the Love-less Cavs ended up falling to the Motown Madness 103-110. Considering their lack of veteran manpower, they still had a good showing for themselves, avoiding a nasty blowout. Andre Drummond was Lord of the Paint with his 26-and-22 performance. Oh, the 4-of-6 shooting from the free throw line was a sweet bonus as well.

    Sans Kevin Love, the Cavs oddly started old man Channing Frye, who did a lot of nothing impressive. Larry Nance (11-6-5-3) was finally getting into a groove as well as Collin Sexton (14-5-2). We should see more of them in the coming weeks and months. Both are worth stashing for the opportunities to mount late-season runs.

    The Celtics are too good for their own good. Fears are being validated early that they are, indeed, too stacked. Despite Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving have off nights, the Celtics down Russell Westbrook and the Thunder 101-95. Jayson Tatum and Al Horford shined through in this one for the win.

    The fantasy highlight on the end of the Thunder was Jerami Grant sliding into the starting lineup. He had a nice game in 31 minutes, dropping 10 points, six rebounds, a trey, two steals and a block. I alluded to Rasheed Wallace when I was beaming about him when I guested in the Boxscore Breakdown podcast. He’s a solid glue guy in fantasy as he provides 1-1-1 in the money categories while being easy on the turnover rate.

    Damian Lillard blew up for 41 points against the Magic and as expected he powered the Blazers to the 128-114 win with his performance. The fantasy eye-opener of the game belonged to Zach Collins, who had a perfect shooting night and finished with 17 points and a full line. He’s a nice deep-league add and a must-watch guy in standard leagues.

    The Magic got a surprising 21-point performance from Terrence Ross who was a little less than an afterthought in most fantasy drafts. The Jonathan Isaac watch continues with his 10 points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 30 minutes. He’s steadily getting more comfortable. Once he’s fully acclimated, expect that breakout to finally come to fruition.

    The Lakers halted their losing skid with a 114-121 win over the Nuggets. Even with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray dropping double-double performances, the Lakers managed to still prevail thanks to LeBron James waking up with a 28-11-11 triple-double. Josh Hart supplanted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the starting lineup. Now whether this is merely an adjustment to the absence of Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo, who are both serving out suspensions, remains to be seen. Hart is ready to prove that his Summer League MVP-win was no fluke and that he’s going to be a force for this Lakers club moving forward.

    Part of me was disappointed the Lakers won. I was half-buying into the meme that Kobe Bryant would come out of retirement if the Lakers started the season 0-5. Maybe LeBron saw it and did not want to share the limelight in Tinsel Town. Oh well. Oh yeah, Lonzo Ball had another sweet game with 10-6-8 and five steals.

    That’s it for now. Catch you all next week.

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