• Friday’s 11-game slate saw Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis put their feet down and propel the Mavericks to their fifth win in six games with a 143-130 victory over the Pelicans. Doncic notched a new career-high with 46 points on 17-of-30 shooting from the field while going 5-of-9 from three and adding eight rebounds, 12 assists, a steal and a block. Porzingis, on the other hand, had himself a season-high 36-point outing by way of a career-best eight 3-pointers. The Mavs have had a turbulent season as the team’s rotation has been hammered by COVID-19, while Doncic himself has been maligned for poor body language and constant complaining to refs.

    Even though Rick Carlisle wasn’t happy about their win tonight, calling it “a pillow fight on defense,” (Zion Williamson, with 36 points on 14-of-15 shooting, can attest to that fact) the team needs every victory they can get as they’re still sitting outside the Play-In tournament as the 11th seed in the West with a 13-14 record.

    Elsewhere, it was a night of outliers as blowouts and some incredible shooting led to several surprise performances. Pistons rookie Saddiq Bey went mental in a 108-102 win over the Celtics, scoring a career-high 30 points on 10-of-12 from the field and an absurd 7-of-7 from three.

    The Spurs wrecked the Hawks 125-114 on the back of a spectacular game from Jakob Poeltl, which we’ll discuss further down. On the Hawks’ side, getting outscored 19-41 in the second quarter opened the way for Skylar Mays, the 50th pick in the 2020 draft, to drop 20 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point land. Mays had played a combined total of 15 minutes this season before tonight, so don’t even think about adding him off the wire.

    The Jazz continued to solidify themselves as a contender with a 129-115 blowout of the Bucks, which was driven primarily by a superstar performance from Joe Ingles, who matched his career-high with 27 points on 78 percent shooting from three.

    The night capped off with the Cavs suffering their fifth blowout loss in six games, this time at the hands of the Blazers, 129-110. Damian Lillard’s back got a rest as Gary Trent Jr. dropped 26 with four triples and Carmelo Anthony had his third 20-plus point scoring night in a row with 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Nerlens Noel, C, New York Knicks – Advanced Ownership: 59%

    Noel only played 16 minutes in the Knicks’ 109-91 win over the Wizards tonight, putting up a pretty standard line of four points, four rebounds, one assist and three blocks in that time. But Mitchell Robinson broke his hand, which means you almost have to grab Noel if he’s still available. He’s been a top-100 player in 9-category leagues over the last month while playing under 20 minutes, due entirely to the 2.5 blocks he’s providing per game. With Robinson out, Noel should have a clear path to playing over 20 minutes most nights and his upside with that kind of playing time is too high to pass up.

    Drop Zone

    Naz Reid, C, Minnesota Timberwolves – Advanced Ownership: 76%

    Reid was a spectacular streamer while Karl-Anthony Towns was sidelined with COVID-19. But, as expected, KAT’s return on February 10th has sent Reid straight into drop territory. Reid’s playing time has fallen below 20 minutes in these last two games and tonight he only managed to produce seven points on 3-of-7 shooting, five rebounds, and four assists. Outside of nights where he’s uber-efficient, Reid just not going to be able to produce 12-team value anymore. While KAT was out, we got a glimpse at the 21-year-old’s potential as a 3-point shooting, shot-blocking big with the ability to lock in mentally and grind out games until the buzzer sounds. He shouldn’t be on your 12-team roster anymore, but he most certainly should be on your radar for future seasons.

    Injury List

    Mitchell Robinson (right hand) fractured his right hand during the first half of tonight’s game. He’ll likely miss a fair amount of time, leaving a wide-open lane for Nerlens Noel.

    Kevin Love (right calf strain) apparently may return to action during the Cavs’ four-game homestand that begins on Wednesday. Taurean Prince started at the four in tonight’s was invisible in the team’s loss to the Blazers. Prince will presumably be pushed back to the bench to make place for Love.

    Kevin Durant (health protocols) is slated for a return to action against the Warriors on Saturday. He has missed the Nets’ last three games. DeAndre Jordan (personal) has been ruled out for Saturday.

    John Wall (left ankle sprain) is probable for Saturday’s game in New York, while Victor Oladipo (sore foot and ankle) will sit out and is reportedly having tests done on his foot. Jae’sean Tate has been a top-100 player over the last two weeks and will have a much clearer path to maintaining that kind of value while Oladipo is out. P.J. Tucker (thigh) is also questionable for Saturday and his absence combined with Oladipo’s would elevate Sterling Brown as a streaming option.

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (left knee) sat out the Thunder’s 95-97 loss to the Nuggets due to a lingering knee issue. Coach Mark Daigneault said the team was just being cautious with SGA, so presumably he’ll be back for the Thunder’s next game on Sunday against the Bucks. Hamidou Diallo started in his place and had 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting with four rebounds, two assists and three steals. Isaiah Roby (right foot soreness) returned from a three-game absence tonight and was unremarkable in 19 minutes.

    De’Aaron Fox (left knee contusion) and Marvin Bagley III (left calf) were both ruled out for tonight’s 112-123 loss to the Magic. Tyrese Haliburton started for Fox, while Glenn Robinson III took Bagley’s slot and grabbed two steals but scored a mediocre three points on 1-of-5 shooting.

    Bradley Beal (rest) sat out the Wizards’ 91-109 loss to the Knicks tonight. Garrison Matthews started for Beal and drained four threes on his way to 14 points. However, he’s irrelevant for fantasy purposes when Beal plays.

    D’Angelo Russell (left leg soreness) didn’t play in the Wolves’ 114-120 loss to the Hornets and isn’t travelling with the Wolves on their current road trip, meaning he will also miss Sunday’s bout with the Raptors. Ricky Rubio started at point guard once again tonight and is averaging eight assists per game in his six starts for Russell this season.

    Kemba Walker (load management) missed the second leg of the Celtics’ back-to-back set tonight. Robert Williams (left hip soreness) didn’t play in tonight’s game either, nor did he take the court against the Raptors on Thursday. Marcus Smart (calf strain) continues to work his way back but clarified today that he isn’t close to returning.

    Tyler Herro (health protocols) missed Thursday’s game but will be ready to go for Saturday’s matchup with the Jazz. Goran Dragic (left ankle) is out for Saturday’s game and isn’t travelling with the Heat on their nine-game road trip.

    Wendell Carter Jr. (right quad) was surprisingly listed doubtful prior to the Bulls’ 106-125 loss to the Clippers tonight, but was ultimately ruled out. Carter was expected to be out most of February and the Bulls haven’t offered many updates on his recovery, but he’s seemingly ahead of schedule if the doubtful tag is anything to go off.

    Devonte’ Graham (left groin) was questionable in the lead up to Friday’s win over the Wolves, but ended up playing 27 minutes and putting up a meager eight points, two rebounds and four assists. P.J. Washington, Cody Martin and Caleb Martin (health protocols) were all ruled out for tonight’s game as well.

    Evan Fournier (lower back) and Cole Anthony (right shoulder) were both ruled out prior to the Magic’s win over the Kings tonight.

    Mason Plumlee (right elbow) missed his second game of the week tonight. It was expected that Blake Griffin would also sit this game out, as this was the second leg of a back-to-back set, but he ultimately ended up playing.

    The Future is Now

    Jakob Poeltl saw his fifth straight start for the injured LaMarcus Aldridge tonight and had his best outing of the season. He scored 14 points on a perfect 7-of-7 from the field while grabbing a season-high 12 rebounds to go with one assist, three steals and three blocks. The Spurs have ripped off four wins in the five games Aldridge has missed and Poeltl has started, laying claim to the sixth seed in the West with a two-game buffer between themselves and the ninth-seeded Grizzlies.

    This is Poeltl’s third season with the Spurs and since the day he was traded we’ve been waiting to see what he could do once he takes the reins from the elderly Aldridge. While his usage is miniscule and his scoring is entirely reliant on the kind of sky-high efficiency he managed tonight, even when his shot isn’t hitting the mark, he still manages to provide standard-league value through rebounding and defense.

    In these last five games he’s posting averages of 10.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 2.8 blocks and ranks as the 71st/67th overall player in 8/9-cat leagues. With Aldridge’s tenure as a Spur potentially coming to an end after this season, it really feels like this run from Poeltl has been a preview of one of next season’s (or perhaps the second half’s) breakout players.

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