March 31, 2017, 10:46 pm
Heading into the last two days of Championship Week for many fantasy players, there was a ton of action to take in on an 11 game slate. Before we get into all the good stuff, earlier today it was discovered that Jusuf Nurkic would miss the rest of the regular season with a fibula fracture because we can’t have nice things. Unfortunate injury aside, there were a handful of huge performances with gaudy scoring numbers thanks to DeMar DeRozan, Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins while others like Marvin Williams and Myles Turner brought the defense. And that’s to say nothing of the terrific well-rounded lines produced by superstars like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Nikola Jokic.
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Nuggets 114 @ Hornets 122
Nikola Jokic is a certified stud, dropping his sixth triple-double of the year with 16-13-10 in 37 minutes. If this were any other year, Big Honey would be the talk of the town but six such performances really pales in comparison to the video game stuff going on in Houston and OKC. Danilo Gallinari and Gary Harris combined for 39 points on strong efficiency and continue to be steady studs for owners.
Kenneth Faried took advantage of a start, double-doubling with 18 points, 13 rebounds, a steal and a block in 32 minutes. If he can continue to start he might be worth an add.
As for the man he replaced in the starting five, Wilson Chandler struggled with five points and little else on 2-of-8 shooting. He’ll bounce back. Jameer Nelson left the game and was quickly ruled out, allowing Jamal Murray to log 29 minutes. He could only collect 8-4-3 with two triples in that time but could flourish to end the season.
The Hornets were led, as usual, by Kemba Walker. The first time All-Star dropped 31 points and eight assists and is trying his best to keep Charlotte in the playoff race. Frank Kaminsky was a terrific complementary piece yet again, drilling five treys on his way to 22 points and a pair of blocks. Nicolas Batum continued to struggle with his shot, posting a 4-of-13 mark. At least he added five boards, nine assists, a steal and a block. While the scoring wasn’t there, Marvin Williams had a monstrous fantasy night with eight boards, four steals, three blocks and three triples to help Charlotte to a nice win. He’s been on an absolute tear for the month of March and may be sad to see the calendar change. Not as sad as his fantasy owners, but still.
As for that playoff race, the Hornets got some help because…
Pacers 100 @ Raptors 111
The Raptors defeated the Pacers without too much trouble, taking the game over in the third quarter and cruising to the finish. DeMar DeRozan nearly double-doubled with 40 points and nine boards and Kid Compton also chipped in three longballs to help the fantasy cause. He was masterful again, and looked like a completely different guy than the one who was given fits by Paul George in last year’s postseason.
Jonas Valanciunas dropped 16 points, 17 boards and a pair of blocks, dropping a 12 & 13 double-double in the third quarter alone. He’s earning his touches with his strong work on the glass, so we’ll see if he can keep it up. Serge Ibaka went for 15 & 12 while notching three triples and finally registering a pair of blocks. He hasn’t been swatting a ton of shots in Toronto lately, but he’ll be fine.
The Pacers are now 37-39 and are now only a half game up on the 9th place Bulls and up only two games on Charlotte. Indiana’s reeling, having lost three in a row despite the efforts of Paul George. PG13 scored 28 points and added nine boards and four triples. There were some moments tonight where he looked completely fed up, as the Raptors were able to slice their way through the Indy defense or force tough looks out of the overmatched Pacers.
Myles Turner’s offense has been fleeting but he added four blocks, a steal and a triple to his nine points tonight. Turner is a burgeoning star and will eventually become a consistent scoring threat, not that he’s needed that to become a fantasy stud.
Jeff Teague had 19-5-4 and Thad Young continued the slow climb back to relevancy with 12 and eight, but it’s not going to be enough to pull out a win on most nights. There’s woefully little depth, and it’s a massive burden on Indiana to keep up offensively on nights where any of their secondary scorers struggle. C.J. Miles needed 14 shots to get 15 points while Monta Ellis shot 2-of-11. Their season could very well be on the brink.
Magic 116 @ Celtics 117
That’s better than Orlando, whose season is already over. It’s often a struggle to fight off the apathy at that point but Aaron Gordon gave fans something to watch tonight, dropping 32 points and pulling in 16 boards. He added a steal, a block, three triples and even shot 7-of-8 from the free throw line. This’ll go down as Gordon’s best line of the season and it’s another sign of his sky-high potential. That won’t be any consolation for owners who saw their mid-round pick flounder all season long, but it’s enough to reel in the next batch of hopeful investors.
Terrence Ross got his shot to fall, notching 17 points and seven cash counters (four treys, two steals and a block) to finish a nice night. Elfrid Payton nearly triple-doubled with 12 points, nine boards and a career-high 15 assists and has been a revelation in the second half. He’s inexorably tied to GM Rob Hennigan, who chose to stick with EP over Victor Oladipo last offseason, and this late surge will be the reason that Hennigan remains employed if Orlando ownership decides to give him one more crack next year.
Nikola Vucevic was quiet with just eight points and seven boards in 27 minutes. He’ll be better than that going forward but it’s a bummer considering the Celtics’ rebounding difficulties. Vooch survived the big man logjam and has come out the other side with steady mid-round value on the year.
Isaiah Thomas shot 10-of-23, downing the Magic with a big 35 point night. The 5’9″ superstar also added seven dimes, a steal and a rare block. It’s like finding an extra present behind the tree. Al Horford struggled early but bounced back with a strong second half to finish with 12 points, nine boards, six dimes and a steal.
Jae Crowder hit 6-of-11 for 18 points while Jaylen Brown scored 12 points and little else in a start for the sick Avery Bradley. Marcus Smart is the other beneficiary whenever Bradley goes down but shot just 1-of-6 for seven points, six assists and two blocks tonight. With Bradley likely out through the weekend, both Brown and Smart are worth a look.
Sixers 105 @ Cavaliers 122
The Sixers came into this one knowing that they’d be without Robert Covington and Jahlil Okafor for the rest of the year and got some nice games out of their potential replacements. Justin Anderson double-doubled with 12 points, 10 boards and a pair of triples and has the statset to make a difference down the stretch. You already know that’s the case with Richaun Holmes, who shot 7-of-9 and dropped 19-7-2-2 with a pair of longballs himself. He could very easily be an early round guy to close the season.
Shawn Long also got loose for 16 points, a steal and a block and has definitely made the most of his shot. He’s making a strong case for a roster spot next season and possibly beyond. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 19 points of his own despite shooting a putrid 1-of-8 from deep and looks like he’ll stick in the starting lineup.
Dario Saric struggled mightily, shooting just 3-of-12 and finishing with 8-4-4 to go with four turnovers. He’s still the frontrunner for Rookie of The Year and will be better in the next one. The Sixers need his playmaking, so he’ll always get his share of touches even if the shots aren’t dropping.
Cleveland finished a dreadful March, notching their seventh win of the month behind a monster night from LeBron James. The King shot 14-of-22 and dropped 34-9-6 on Philly, who never really stood a chance. Kyrie Irving scored 24 with nine dimes and Kevin Love was good for 18 and 10 with two three pointers. J.R. Smith also seems to be shaking the rust off, as the streaky guard drilled four deep balls tonight while picking up four boards, a steal and a block.
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Kings 89 @ Pelicans 117
The Kings were blended up at the Smoothie King Center on Friday, providing little resistance on the way to a 28 point loss. Ben McLemore led the team in scoring for the second game in a row, which is probably not the best sign for success. Darren Collison had a poor night, shooting 2-of-8 but at least managed 5-5-5-2 while Skal Labissiere shot 5-of-16 for 13 points and eight boards.
Willie Cauley-Stein double-doubled with 11 and 14 while Buddy Hield fared well in his NOLA return with 13 points, eight boards, three assists, a steal and a block. The peripherals were nice but we’d bank on fewer of those and more triples going forward.
The story of this one was always going to be DeMarcus Cousins against his old team, and he delivered in a big way. Boogie is no match for a young frontcourt like Sacramento’s, no matter how many practice reps they got against him. He shot 12-of-21 and drilled five threes on his way to 37 points, 13 points, four assists, three steals and two blocks. That’ll work.
Anthony Davis took a backseat while Cousins carved up the opposition, finishing with a paltry 19-12-3-2-5 line. This Davis guy is some kind of slacker. Jrue Holiday shot just 2-of-9 but delivered elsewhere, finishing with five rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocks. Every member of the Pellies’ starting five had at least two steals only Tim Frazier failed to record a block. This one was over at the half, so expect New Orleans’ big guns to get a bigger piece of the pie next time out.
Knicks 98 @ Heat 94
The Knicks came into this one without Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony, leaving Kristaps Porzingis the last standing member of this Superteam. To be fair, KP is actually the only one who might deserve a part of the moniker and led the way with 22 points, seven boards and three assists. With Melo and Rose still hobbled, he could have run of the roost to end the season. Courtney Lee picked up the slack, scoring 20 points and picking up three steals. It took him 15 shots to get there and he’s probably not going to jack up that many for the rest of the year.
For some reason, Sasha Vujacic got the start in this one and played 36 minutes. To his credit he was serviceable with nine points, seven dimes and a steal. Ron “Burgundy” Baker played 38 minutes, notching 10 points, six assists, a steal and a block and thankfully wasn’t hampered by Vujacic’s presence.
Miami dropped a winnable game against a dreadful opponent and are just lucky that Indiana, Chicago and Detroit have gone in the tank. Miami sits in the seventh spot but has the same record as eighth place Indiana, putting them right in the mix with the playoff hopefuls who are on the outside looking in. Goran Dragic had a team-high 22 points while Hassan Whiteside added 17 points, 16 rebounds and a pair of blocks. The Johnsons both hit double figures, with Tyler hitting 15 points and James notching 12 with three steals. This was a really bad time for Josh Richardson to disappear, as the sophomore guard went 0-of-4 to finish with just two points on the night. Expect better out of the Heat in their next one.
Pistons 105 @ Bucks 108 (OT)
While the Heat were dealt a blow, Detroit may have received a death knell in Milwaukee. The Pistons are now 11th in the East, 2.5 games back of the last playoff spot with two teams in front of them. The starting backcourt of Ish Smith and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a rough shooting night, combining for 12-of-39 from the floor and 4-of-17 from three. That’s a lot of shots to get 33 points. Smith added four boards and five assists but may have been outplayed by Beno Udrih, who has rejoined the rotation with Reggie Jackson‘s injury. The Slovenian was good for 16 points, eight dimes and a pair of swipes on a much more pleasant 7-of-10 shooting.
Andre Drummond only attempted six field goals on the night, finishing with seven points, 13 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. The defensive stats are critical to Drummond’s value and he came through tonight, though it’s fair to wonder if the team will move on from him soon. Having a presumed core piece to only take six shots in 31 minutes is curious, to say the least. Tobias Harris dropped 23 points with seven boards and a pair of treys as the Pistons’ season slips away.
Thon Maker stepped up in a big way with a career-high 23 points and four triples. It was a fairly empty line but still a nice showing from the rookie. Khris Middleton found his shot tonight, drilling 9-of-16 with four threes and 10 boards and looks to be back on track as a mid-round guy.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was beastly as usual with 28 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists, a steal and two blocks on 7-of-16 shooting. His 14-of-21 mark at the free throw line isn’t ideal, but you’ve got to be some kind of heartless monster to complain about Giannis’ ascension to superstardom. Matthew Dellavedova got the start for the injured Malcolm Brogdon and finished with six points and seven assists. Sounds about right.
Spurs 100 @ Thunder 95
The Spurs rallied for a big road win thanks to Kawhi Leonard’s monstrous 28 point performance. He shot 10-of-22 from the field and added eight boards, three steals and two blocks. Leonard is an otherworldly player and can only be slowed by rest days.
Pau Gasol came off the bench and poured in 17 points with four boards, two blocks and two threes. LaMarcus Aldridge could only muster 14 points in 37 minutes but at least added 10 boards and three blocks to ease the pain. He’s been a top-30 guy since returning from his arrhythmia-induced absence, so cut him some slack for this one.
If I told you that a Spur shot 1-of-6 with one steal and two blocks, would you guess it was anyone other than Danny Green? It’s Danny Green. It’s always going to be Danny Green. Tony Parker was useless with eight points and not much else, so hopefully you aren’t watching San Antonio’s box scores for anyone other than Leonard, Aldridge and Gasol.
Russell Westbrook grabbed another triple-double on a tough shooting night, overcoming his 8-of-22 mark to end the evening with 32 points, 15 boards and 12 assists. He hit 14-of-15 from the free throw line and also committed eight turnovers. There’s not much left to say about Westbrook’s game, good or bad – he’s certainly got his warts but is a joy to watch and in the midst of a historic season. Victor Oladipo scored 16 points while Steven Adams chipped in 13 and seven boards.
Enes Kanter struggled in 29 minutes, finishing with just 11 points on 5-of-14 shooting. A cleverly designed offense like San Antonio’s will run him ragged on the defensive end, and he finished a team-worst -19 on the night. He’ll be better next time out. Domantas Sabonis scored nine points in a start for Taj Gibson and isn’t worth fantasy consideration.
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Mavericks 90 @ Grizzlies 99
It’s a wonder that the Mavs hit 90 on a night where they shot .382 as a team. Dirk Nowitzki struggled mightily, shooting just 3-of-17 and finishing with a hollow 13 & 12 double-double. He’s been outside the top-100 over the last two weeks but has still been a steady contributor all season long. With the Mavs essentially eliminated, watch for extra rest days down the stretch for Dallas’ old go-to guy.
Dallas’ new go-to guy, Harrison Barnes, shot 4-of-10 and finished with eight points and nothing of note beyond two steals. Barnes will really need to improve his all-around game if he ever becomes more than a popcorn scorer. Wesley Matthews scored 13 points with three triples and seven assists while Nerlens Noel produced 10 points, six boards, a steal and two blocks.
Seth Curry re-injured his shoulder tonight and could miss some time, but it’s definitely going to an unpredictable timeshare. Curry (12 points, 14 minutes) will be replaced by a combination of Yogi Ferrell (three points, 17 minutes), J.J. Barea (13 points, 23 minutes) and Devin Harris (10 points, 26 minutes). It’s a situation to avoid if possible, though Ferrell and JJB at least have some upside.
Memphis won another game without Marc Gasol and it was again Mike Conley doing the heavy lifting. He shot 8-of-15 and finished with 28-5-6-1-1 on another great night. Zach Randolph did his thing, churning out a 22 & 12 line with little else while Troy Daniels caught fire and knocked down seven triples on his way to 21 points. The Grizzlies are sitting in seventh and would need a monumental collapse to miss the postseason, so we’ll see if they use the cushion to get some rest for their studs.
Wizards 88 @ Jazz 95
The Wizards were ground down by Utah’s defense and flustered by the zebras, falling to fourth in the East in the process. John Wall was particularly stifled, shooting just 6-of-22 and picking up his 15th technical of the year – one more and he’ll get an automatic suspension. This one could be rescinded, but he seems frustrated to the point that the next one could be coming soon anyway. He could manage just 16 points and five assists in one of his worst games in a while. He’ll be fired up for Sunday’s tilt with the Warriors for sure.
Bradley Beal escaped unscathed, dropping 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting with three triples and a pair of steals. The same can’t be said for Marcin Gortat, who continues to struggle. The Polish Hammer played 27 minutes but finished with just four points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Despite the poor production, that’s actually a step forward for Gortat lately so maybe he’s turning it around.
Otto Porter Jr. had his second bad game in a row, finishing with just seven points and four boards. He picked up two early fouls and never got in rhythm. Markieff Morris also had a rough night, finishing with eight points, seven boards and nothing else on 2-of-13 shooting.
The Jazz had six guys hit double figures in this one, led as ever by Gordon Hayward. 19-7-4-2-1 is just another day at the office for him, and owners have to be pleased that he’s offset his early missed games with career highs in points, rebounds and his best shooting season since his rookie year.
Rudy Gobert scored 16 points with 10 boards and three more swats while Joe Ingles scored 11 points and picked up four steals in 31 minutes off the bench. Shelvin Mack also came out of nowhere to post 15 points and could be a big boost to Utah’s guard depth while George Hill remains out.
Rockets 98 @ Warriors 107
The Rockets were held to just 13 points in the fourth quarter of this one, letting a two point lead after three slip away. James Harden had an off night at Oracle, shooting just 4-of-18 and missing seven of nine three point attempts. He also took a shot to the arm from Draymond Green which surely won’t be debated by all the talking heads tomorrow. Moving on, Harden posted 17 points, eight rebounds and 12 assists. If only all of our off nights could look like that.
Clint Capela was an uncharacteristic 4-for-13 but at least corralled 14 boards and racked up four assists. Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza had some eerily similar output tonight – 15 points, two rebounds, one assist, two steals and two turnovers apiece. Gordon hit 5-of-12 and three triples while Ariza shot 5-of-13 with only two threes. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
The Warriors got two huge contributions from the bench in this one, with Shaq’s favorite guy showing up in a big way. JaVale McGee scored 13 points and blocked five shots in just 11 minutes for a hugely impactful night. Andre Iguodala got some Sixth Man campaigning from coach Kerr after a game in which he was all over the place – 14 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals, three blocks, two triples and no turnovers. He’s been a top-50 guy over the last month and offers terrific all-around production without hurting you anywhere.
Golden State’s brand names were good as well. Draymond Green shot just 2-of-11 but filled up the box score anyway, notching six rebounds, eight assists, a steal and three blocks in addition to some terrific defense that didn’t translate to fantasy stats. Stephen Curry shot 8-of-18 for 24 points, seven boards, five dimes and two steals while Klay Thompson hit 8-of-20 for 20 points, eight boards, four assists, two steals and a block. Both hit four of their nine three point attempts and are rolling along without KD around.