• All good things come to an end, including your weekly Daily Dish on Mondays. It’s been my pleasure this season to start your week off with my latest musing on Sunday’s action while sharing my passion for the NBA with you. Two dozen times this season you put up with my affinity for bad puns and somehow you survived, and hopefully emerged on the other side slightly more informed.

    Thank you for giving me, and all of the others here at Hoop-Ball, a community to share our two cents with.

    Good luck in this final week and a half of basketball before we start the real NBA (post)season.

    The birds and the bees and the bucks

    The Hawks earned a win in overtime on Sunday against the East-leading Bucks, 136-135 in overtime. The caveat is that the only starter to play for the Bucks was Brook Lopez, who logged 27 minutes. Regardless, three Hawks double-doubled while five made it into double-figures as fantasy owners rejoiced. John Collins scored 23 points with three swats, three triples and 12 boards. The increase in triples has been nice for Collins, who is still shooting over 53 percent throughout the last month of games. Look for Collins to push for a top-40 projection next season as some more offseason work could see him refine his touch from deep while resolving any lingering effects of his injuries to start the year. Trae Young continued his solid play despite the 5-of-19 shooting with 12 points, 16 assists, two steals, two triples and five boards.

    Pass the Buck down the bench

    The Bucks started Sterling Brown, Tim Frazier, Bonzie Colson (I had no idea who this was), D.J. Wilson and Brook Lopez on Sunday. Colson had logged seven minutes coming into Sunday’s competition where he set all of his career-highs with 41 minutes, 15 points, 16 boards, two assists, a triple, a steal and a block. He also hit 4-of-4 from the line to rewrite all eight categories of his career-highs (tied in triples). It’s hard to put too much fantasy analysis into the box score for the Bucks but there could be gold in them hills if you’re a DFS player. Tim Frazier logged a wire-to-wire game with 53 minutes, 20 points, 15 assists, seven boards, two triples and a steal. Brook Lopez might actually be in some of your lineups so you’ll be happy to learn that he contributed 19 points, three triples, six boards and a steal in the 135-136 loss.

    Dirk the diggler, gobbles up all the boards

    Luka Doncic (right thigh contusion) missed Sunday’s matchup with the Thunder so Dirk Nowitzki turned back the clock with a 13-board, seven-point effort. Dirk also tied Maxi Kleber with a block apiece to lead the Mavs in two categories this writer did not expect. The most important contribution was the final score, as Dirk’s Mavs took out the Thunder 106-103 as the Thunder continue to fight for playoff positioning. Trey Burke led the Mavs in scoring with 25 points, eight assists and four triples. Jalen Brunson did his thing with 18 points, four assists, a triple and two boards. Brunson is the guy to own, but the Mavs have had success playing small so multiple guys could see a boon while Doncic’s ball handling is out of the lineup.

    A triple-double, all for naught

    Russell Westbrook and Paul George were the most talented players on the court in Oklahoma City on Sunday, but this failed to earn their team a win. Russell delivered a 25-point, 11-board, 11-assist triple-double while nabbing two steals and nailing three triples. George struggled a bit from the field, hitting 8-of-20 shots to score a team-high 27 with 11 boards, five triples, two steals and a block. The pair will continue to lead their team on a nightly basis will delivering these types of lines but the Thunder aren’t sharing the wealth. No player off the bench was able to shoot over 35 percent on the evening and the role players have lost confidence in their shot. Dennis Schroder was abysmal with eight points, four assists and four boards on 3-of-11 shooting off the bench. On the bright side, Steven Adams was active with 20 points, 15 boards and two blocks. Look for him to continue to deliver on a nightly basis down the stretch.

    Rajon’s Revenge is served off the dish and from deep

    Rajon Rondo has been known to hold a grudge, on Sunday he delivered the best fantasy line of the night against his former employer, the Pelicans. Rondo led the LeBron-less Lakers 130-102 with 24 points, 12 assists, three steals, four triples and five rebounds while hitting 9-of-14 shots and 2-of-2 from the line. Many of those assists went to JaVale “Money Bags” McGee, who’s playing his best ball now that the Lakers are eliminated and it’s almost time for his next contract. McGee delivered 23 points, 16 boards, three assists, a steal and a block. Alex Caruso is a name you should watch and pickup for the final few days of the season. He was productive to finish last season and he’s at it again with 23 points, six assists, four steals and four triples.

    Your New, New Orleans Pelicans

    The Pelicans are a team just waiting out the conclusion of the season. Julius Randle is playing for his next contract, but he sprained his left index finger, to finish with 17 points, five boards, three assists, two triples and a steal in 23 minutes. The other try-hards featured Christian Wood, who was called up from the G-League to double-double with 15 points, 11 boards and a pair of counters and Cheick Diallo (12 points, 10 boards) who is in his third season after being the 33rd pick in the 2016 draft. Both guys will get you buckets and boards but Wood has the ability to fill up the defensive categories if you need a streamer for the final week. Stay away from Solomon Hill and Ian Clark, both guys are too erratic to trust.

    Kings of the Alamo

    The Kings were a perfect 3-0 against the Spurs this season, winning 113-106 on Sunday in Texas. Buddy Hield led the way with 26 points, five boards, four triples, three assists and a steal. De’Aaron Fox scored 12 points for an underwhelming game but was able to convert a late floater that put the Spurs away for good. Fox has learned how to play the game at his pace and under control, so look for him to take another leap next season into the top-30 as he’s already a top-50 guy right now. Bogdan Bogdanovic had another good game with 15 points, two triples, five assists, two steals and three boards. His minutes will disappear every once in awhile with him playing under 20 minutes in three of his last eleven games. Hopefully next season the Kings unleash him similarly to Hield this year.

    Ejected, dejected and rejected

    The Spurs suffered a tough loss on Sunday, and the refs didn’t fare much better in Gregg Popovich’s eyes as he earned an early boot after three straight miffs by the zebras. The Spurs held it together though, getting back into the game, with LaMarcus Aldridge delivering 27 points, 18 boards, two steals, a block and three assists. Rudy Gay pulled down nine boards with 18 points while DeMar DeRozan swiped three steals to go with seven assists and 16 points. No one saw DeRozan as a point-forward coming into the season but the Spurs brain trust has him averaging a career high 6.2 assists a game. DeRozan should continue to be a top-30/40 option moving forward as his scoring could take a step-up next season with the Spurs point guards getting healthy.

    Magic happenings in the Mile-High city

    The Washington Wizards cast a spell over the referees on Sunday, and earned themselves a 95-90 win in Denver. Led by Troy Brown Jr.’s 24 points, five triples and seven boards the Wizards continue to hurt their lottery chances. Thomas Bryant double-doubled with 20 points, 14 boards, three blocks and three assists while Jabari matched his scoring with six boards, three steals, an assist, a triple and a block. Considering Parker claimed that he wasn’t paid to play defense, it’s nice to see him fill up the box. Bradley Beal was a bit off from the field but he still scored 17 points with six assists, three steals and three boards.

    There’s nothing like getting intentionally fouled, and then ejected after the refs miss a call

    Our friend Nikola Jokic can attest to this statement as it’s exactly what happened with about four minutes remaining in the contest. After Jokic was two hand slammed in the back he protested the lack of a call, the ref game him a technical and asked if he wanted another, the Joker said he didn’t care, and earned an early trip to the shower. I believe that the refs in the NBA have gotten out of line with how many unwarranted ejections they hand out, and believe that individual refs need to face monetary penalty if their ejections are deemed unwarranted. Whenever a player is fined the money goes to charity. I believe a similar situation should apply when the NBA finds that a player’s ejection was unwarranted — take money out of the offending referee’s paycheck and donate it to charity.

    Jokic ended the eve with 23 points, 14 boards, four assists, two steal and a block in 30 minutes. Jamal Murray tweaked his left ankle early in the game and had it re-taped, only to abandon the game in the third quarter for good. Murray finished with 12 points, a block and two triples. I expect him to sit out multiple games next week to get ready for the playoffs.

    Chef Curry with the Pot

    Stephen Curry can get hot at moment’s notice and on Sunday he didn’t have to maintain it for long as the Warriors blew out the Hornets 137-90. In 27 minutes, Curry managed to score 25 points with five triples, five boards, six assists, two steals and a block. Fellow Splash Bro Klay Thompson hit six triples to score 24. Draymond Green celebrated a Michigan State win with 10 points, nine assists and five boards. Prior to Ja Morant’s triple-double in the NCAA tournament this year, Draymond was the last one to accomplish the feat in 2012. DeMarcus Cousins didn’t play much on Sunday as he was ejected due to a flagrant two foul in the second quarter. He finished with three swats, a steal, eight points and three boards. Quinn Cook also rolled up his sleeves in the kitchen with 21 points, five triples, four boards and four assists. If the Warriors rest any starters in the final stretch Cook could see some more run.

    Move along, nothing to see here

    The Hornets are now three games outside of the eight seed in the East. Get ready to see some ugly lineups if they start resting Kemba and the rest of their starters. Nicolas Batum made it back into the lineup after receiving a DNP-CD in his prior game. Look for the Hornets to move Batum and Michael-Kidd Gilchrist in the offseason as neither guy fits their plans moving forward. If Kemba Walker leaves in free agency, expect a full-blown rebuild in Charlotte. Looking at the box score there is very little that would keep me in Charlotte if I was Mr. Walker. Willy Hernangomez led the way with 22 points and five boards on Sunday but he’s been inconsistent all year. Jeremy Lamb filled up the box score but his play isn’t enough to get the Hornets over the hump. Right now, the air in Charlotte is starting to turn stale like it already is in New Orleans. The only problem is one star has requested a trade while the other simply has a fanbase that dreads what’s coming.

    Sailing off into the sunset

    The Clippers probably saw that the Grizzlies were missing over a half-dozen players heading into Sunday and expected an easy win, and with a bench featuring the two top bench scorers in the NBA they were able to take care of business 113-92. Danilo Gallinari (ankle) was questionable coming into the game but he led the way with 27 points, 15 boards and five assists. Lou Williams scored 17 with a triple and a steal while Montrezl Harrell added 20 with a block. Ivica Zubac had one of the highlights of the night with a one-handed alley-oop that dazzled the crowd, he scored 13 points with a steal, a block and four boards. JaMychal Green also got into the action against his former team, scoring 15 with three triples and five boards.

    Just adding insult to injury at this point

    The Grizzlies came into the game shorthanded and left even more so after Jonas Valanciunas sprained his ankle in the third quarter. He finished with nine points and seven boards and might miss the remainder of the season as there’s not much to play for in Memphis. Delon Wright led the way for the Grizzlies with 20 points, eight boards, four assists, three steals, two triples and a block. It’s nice to get across the board production from your floor general and Wright should be locked and loaded to finish the season. Chandler Parsons continued his streak of games with 17 points, three boards and a triple. He’s still not moving fluidly on defense but at least he’s found a way to get comfortable on offence. Bruno Caboclo logged 20 minutes to score eight points with two triples, two blocks, two boards and two assists. His game is fantasy friendly but he could disappear at any point given the Grizzlies’ approach of feeding the hot hand.

Fantasy News

  • Ricky Rubio - G - Utah Jazz

    Ricky Rubio put up 17 points with four rebounds, nine assists and four steals in a loss to the Rockets in Game 2 on Wednesday.

    He shot 7-of-17 from the field and had the unfortunate matchup against James Harden for much of this game. Harden hit him with a crossover that sent Rubio to the floor, but he missed the shot. The Jazz have been getting good performances from Rubio and Derrick Favors, but the inconsistent play from the remainder of their roster has left them with a two-game series deficit. The Jazz are heading back to Utah for Game 3 as they will try to steal their first game of the series.

  • Donovan Mitchell - G - Utah Jazz

    Donovan Mitchell had another poor shooting night as he went 5-of-18 from the field on his way to 11 points in a Game 2 blowout loss to the Rockets on Wednesday.

    Mitchell shot just 1-of-8 from 3-point territory and 0-of-2 from the stripe. He also had five fouls and four turnovers while playing a team-high 37 minutes. He did add six assists and two steals, but this was a disappointing performance from the second-year rising star. Eric Gordon has been outshining him, but Mitchell has a chance to rectify things as the Jazz head home for Game 3.

  • Derrick Favors - F/C - Utah Jazz

    Derrick Favors played well in his 22 minutes of action in a Game 2 loss to the Rockets on Wednesday, with 14 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

    Although Favors is putting up good numbers in such limited minutes, you should not expect to see him go above 25 minutes at all in this series. He shot 7-of-11 from the field and missed both of his attempts from deep. Also, the Rockets play a lot of small ball as PJ Tucker is their power forward, so Favors is often at a defensive disadvantage when on the court.

  • Rudy Gobert - C - Utah Jazz

    Rudy Gobert did not have a great showing in Wednesday's Game 2 loss to the Rockets as he managed just 11 points and 12 rebounds on 3-of-6 shooting.

    He made five of his seven attempts from the stripe and added one assist and two steals to the stat sheet. He did not record a block in this one which is rare to see from Gobert as he averaged 2.3 blocks per game on the season. Clint Capela has been defending Gobert well, which is making things a lot tougher on the Jazz to score and rebound the ball. Gobert will look to bounce back as the Jazz head home for Game 3.

  • Royce O'Neale - F - Utah Jazz

    Royce O'Neale played well on Wednesday in a Game 2 blowout loss to the Rockets as he had 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting with three triples and four assists.

    O'Neale stepped up as Joe Ingles managed just seven points on 3-of-8 shooting with five steals. He saw 27 minutes of action in this one after seeing just 15 minutes in Game 1. He has guarded James Harden on numerous possessions thus far and it seems as though Harden goes at him every chance he gets. This may be the best game we see from O'Neale all series, but he has given the Jazz some solid run off the bench thus far.

  • James Harden - G - Houston Rockets

    James Harden dominated the Jazz in Game 2 on Wednesday as he triple-doubled with 32 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

    Aside from his eight turnovers, there was not much to complain about Harden’s performance. Rather, there were elements of Harden’s showing that deserve high praise such as his six triples, one block and toughness throughout the entire game. He would not back down from Ricky Rubio and actually crossed him up in the first half. The Beard is continuing his MVP-like season into the playoffs, which is no surprise given how truly great his 2018-19 campaign was.

  • Chris Paul - G - Houston Rockets

    Chris Paul put up 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting with two steals and two blocks in a blowout win over the Jazz on Wednesday.

    He made just one of his six 3-point attempts and turned the ball over six times. However, he did add four rebounds and three assists to the box score as well. James Harden is clearly the dominating force for the Rockets, but Paul's stability will be crucial for the team to continue their playoff success.

  • Eric Gordon - G - Houston Rockets

    Eric Gordon outplayed Donovan Mitchell once again in Game 2 as the Rockets beat the Jazz 118-98 on Wednesday.

    Gordon scored 16 points on an efficient 6-of-11 shooting and 3-of-6 shooting from long-range. He also contributed one rebound, two steals and one block to the stat sheet. Gordon is tasked with guarding Mitchell, which is the toughest defensive assignment on the Rockets and he is thriving in that role. He has held him to 30 points on 37 shots in the series thus far. This series could potentially end in four games if Gordon continues to play at this high of a level.

  • PJ Tucker - F - Houston Rockets

    PJ Tucker drilled four triples on his way to 16 points in a blowout win over the Jazz in Game 2 on Wednesday.

    He added two steals and four boards while converting five of his eight shots from the field. The Rockets have confidence in Tucker to fire from deep and he proved them right as he drilled four of his seven attempts from 3-point territory. Surrounding James Harden with 3-and-D wing players has been their formula for success and Tucker fits that mold perfectly. When Tucker is hitting his shots, the Rockets are likely to dominate the way they did tonight.

  • Clint Capela - C - Houston Rockets

    Clint Capela did not have to do much in the Rockets’ Game 2 blowout win over the Jazz on Wednesday as he had just seven points and 10 rebounds with three blocks.

    He shot 3-of-4 from the field and added one assist and one steal to the box score. Although the numbers were down in this one, he did what he had to do in his 29 minutes of action as he kept Rudy Gobert in check as well. Capela is an important cog in the Rockets’ formula for success, so even when he is not scoring as much he is still impacting the game in other ways.