• Why oh why must these injuries exist! February has been a horrible month filled with injuries, from Kevin Durant to Kyle Lowry. The Durant injury does make things more interesting in the Western Conference and I for one hope another team takes advantage of this situation. I’m hoping OKC can make some noise somehow, but with their recent play (besides Russell Westbrook) things aren’t looking so good.

    Just when I thought the Raptors were going to make a strong run in the Eastern Conference, Lowry goes down with a serious injury. Don’t get me wrong, the Raptors are still a solid team without Lowry. DeMar DeRozan has been carrying the North ever since this news broke out and we haven’t missed a beat. Hopefully Lowry comes back well rested and ready to roll for the playoffs. Anyways, on a busy Friday night of NBA action, Hoop-Ball has got you covered! The Cavaliers light it up from 3, the Raptors strike back against the Wizards, and Russell Westbrook is still looking for help! Week 19 is almost over so let’s hop right into Saturday’s Daily Dish! Also follow @HoopBallTweets for up to the minute updates or hit me up on Twitter (@NguyenTDanh) if you have any questions!

    Editor’s Note: Hoop Ball Premium Subscribers get access to even more info, articles, live chats, tools and more. Subscribers to our Hoop Ball Fantasy Pro Service get in-depth analysis on a one-on-one basis from our pros. Check it out!

    Magic 110, Heat 99

    The Magic managed to top the Heat tonight behind the performance of Nikola Vucevic. Vooch posted 25 points, nine rebounds, one steal and three blocks in the victory and hopefully this is a sign for things to come. Aaron Gordon also posted a solid line with 21 points, 10 rebounds and one block. He’s been playing a lot better as of late and is back as a guy worth owning in standard leagues.

    Elfrid Payton flirted with a triple-double tonight with 12 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals. The Magic really want to succeed with him but his inconsistency holds him back from being great in reality and fantasy. Terrence Ross had a well-rounded game with 10 points, four rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. It looks like TFlight is ready to fly with his new teammates for the rest of the season.

    Despite the loss, there were some big stat lines present on the Miami Heat side of things. Hassan Whiteside recorded 15 points, 18 rebounds and one block, while James Johnson had himself 19 points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks off the bench. Both should be monsters barring injuries and rest days. Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson both struggled tonight, which was a big reason they lost. The Dragon finished with 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals, while Johnson had 10 points, five rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block. Look for the two guards to bounce back next game.

    Cavaliers 135, Hawks 130

    The Cavaliers went absolutely nuts from behind the arc, setting an NBA record with 25 3-pointers made. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James led the way, combining for 81 points and 17 assists. Uncle Drew lit it up with 43 points (five treys), two rebounds, nine assists, four steals and one block. The King was just as hot, scoring 38 points (six treys) with 13 boards and eight assists.

    Kyle Korver chipped in five money counters against his former team with nine points (three treys), one steal and one block. Deron Williams didn’t do much off the bench besides hand out seven assists. Channing Frye also bounced back with 11 points (three treys), four rebounds and one block. Don’t expect too much from anyone else on the team not named Kyrie and LeBron.

    Tim Hardaway Jr. scored a career-high 36 points (five treys) despite the loss. He came off the bench to hit 13-of-20 shots while adding two rebounds and two assists. Kent Bazemore had five cash counters, going for 14 points (two treys), four rebounds, seven assists, one steal and two blocks. Thabo Sefolosha posted a very-low-end line with five points, five rebounds and six assists. It was clear that no one on the Hawks could stop the Cavaliers and it doesn’t look like they’ll have anyone that could anytime soon.

    Raptors 114, Wizards 106

    The Raptors defeated the Wizards tonight and avenged their recent loss against them on Wednesday. DeMar DeRozan continued to carry the workload with Kyle Lowry out, dropping 32 points (three treys), 13 rebounds and five assists. Without Lowry, Deebo has had top-20 value and it doesn’t look like that’ll stop anytime soon. Norman Powell provided a much-needed spark off the bench, scoring 21 points to go with six rebounds, one assists and one steal. This is what the Raptors were hoping for once they traded Terrence Ross away. Don’t be surprised if he continues to play like this.

    Serge Ibaka did his part with 14 points (two treys), eight rebounds and two blocks, while Cory Joseph produced 15 points, five rebounds and three assists. Both played a big role in the victory and the Raptors will need them to keep this up in order for them to claim a top three seed. As for Jonas Valanciunas, he posted a big dud with just two points, three rebounds and one block. His poor pick-and-roll defense has led to him being benched in fourth quarter and today was no different.

    John Wall and Bradley Beal both dropped monster lines but couldn’t pull out the W tonight. Wall had 30 points (four treys), eight rebounds, seven assists, one steal and three blocks, while Beal had 27 points, seven rebounds, four assists and one steal. The Wizards will be competing for a top three seed, so don’t expect these two to slow down. Otto Porter was the only other player that had a nice game, scoring 18 points (two treys) with eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block.

    Bucks 112, Clippers 101

    The Bucks got the upset victory over the Clippers tonight with a little help from Khris Middleton. He looked great out there, going for 19 points, four rebounds, nine assists and four steals. Look for him to be fully unleashed very soon. We can’t have a Bucks win without the contributions of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who went for 24 points, five rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks.

    Greg Monroe and Matthew Dellavedova both came off the bench and produced big lines. The Clippers couldn’t seem to slow them down, as Monroe scored 24 points with five rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block, while Delly went for 15 points and right assists. Although Dellavedova played well tonight, Malcolm Brodon is the guard you want to own in standard leagues, as he went for 12 points (four treys) and three rebounds. Terrence Jones will be entering the mix soon, so keep a close-eye on that situation as well.

    The big three on the Clippers didn’t get much help tonight, which lead to their demise. Blake Griffin flirted with a triple-double, scoring 21 points with nine rebounds and eight assists, while DeAndre Jordan double-doubled with 14 points, 10 rebounds and one block. The Warriors are wavering at the moment, but it doesn’t seem like the Clippers are anywhere close to them right now. To make matters worse, Chris Paul had a minor hand injury that forced him to leave the game for a moment. He did return to finish with 21 points (five treys), three boards, five assists and one steal, but his thumb might be tender for the foreseeable future.

    Sixers 105, Knicks 102

    With news that Joel Embiid will be out for the remainder of the season, the Sixers still found a way to tough it up and walk away with a victory over the Knicks. Sir Robert Covington continues to roll with 16 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal and a career-high five blocks. He’s been a complete stud as of late and those who doubted should bow beneath Lord Covington.

    Dario Saric has also been on a roll as of late and he posted a strong double-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Saric is in the race for Rookie of the Year and will have the rest of the season to prove his case. Jahlil Okafor was in a bit of foul trouble but still managed to score 12 points with eight rebounds and one block. Justin Anderson tied his season-high with 19 points, while also adding five rebounds and one block. You can expect the Sixers to play him a whole lot more so he should be picked up in all deep leagues right now.

    When Lance Thomas is your leading scorer (21 points, seven rebounds and two steals), there’s a slim chance that the Knicks are winning that game. Carmelo Anthony was cold from the field (5-of-18), but still managed to drop 18 points, six rebounds, two assists, three steals and one block. Kristaps Porzingis chipped in 18 points, seven rebounds and one steal. The Knicks always seem to lose these close games and it’s starting to seem natural. Being a Knicks fan must be hard right now, ey?

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    Mavericks 104, Memphis 100

    The Mavericks managed to squeak by the Grizzlies tonight. Seth Curry continued his tear with 24 points (two treys), five rebounds and two steals, and it looks like the Mavs will be relying on him heavily moving forward. Nerlens Noel got it rolling tonight with 15 points, 17 rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks. It looks as though he may be starting to get comfortable and is definitely worth owning.

    Harrison Barnes scored 18 points to go with three rebounds and one steal. He continues to be a reliable scorer for the Mavs and until he can pick up consistent defensive numbers, he’ll be nothing more than that. Yogi Ferrell also proved that he’s still relevant with 17 points, five assists and one steal. They’re going to need him to do more to justify them cutting some key veterans.

    Mike Conely did his part tonight, dropping 30 points to go with two rebounds, four assists and one steal. Sure he could’ve did more, but his team didn’t give him much help. Zach Randolph was the only other reliable option for the Grizzlies tonight, dropping 24 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and one steal. Marc Gasol had an off night with 13 points, six rebounds and four assists.

    Jazz 112, Nets 97

    This was a mismatch and the score let’s us know that. George Hill went bonkers with 34 points (three treys), two rebounds and seven assists. He toyed with the Nets tonight and for someone who doesn’t usually lead the team in scoring, he did it with ease. Derrick Favors’ posted another double-double tonight with 19 points, 12 rebounds and one steal. He remains a risky player to own, but at this point owners don’t have a choice but to keep rolling him out there and hoping he stays healthy.

    Gordan Hayward and Rudy Gobert were both quiet tonight in the victory. Hayward dropped 12 points, six assists and two steals, while Gobert had 11 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. They weren’t playing poorly or anything, they just weren’t required to do much against a bad team. Look for them to post a juicy line next game.

    There wasn’t really a bright spot for the Nets tonight. Brook Lopez did drop 17 points with five rebounds and two blocks, while Quincy Acy scored a season-high 18 points with one steal. Lopez will likely see his minutes reduced as the Nets try to develop their younger players. Until then he’s still worth hanging onto. Trevor Booker also chipped in eight points, 11 rebounds and one block in this blowout loss.

    Suns 118, Thunder 111

    The Suns pulled out a hard-fought victory tonight as they managed to take away a win from the ferocious Russell Westbrook. Let’s start it off with Big Sauce, Alan Williams, who had another solid night with 14 points, 13 rebounds, one steal and three blocks. Sure hope all our Hoop-Ball readers hopped on him before it was brutally obvious that he’s a must-own player. Tyler Ulis scored a career-high 14 points with four rebounds, seven assists and three steals off the bench. Unless an injury happens to Eric Bledsoe, it’ll be hard to own him.

    Marquese Chriss posted four money counters in a decent like, scoring seven points (one trey) with two rebounds, one assist, two steals and one block. He’ll be getting his minutes and will only get better from here. Devin Booker struggled with his shot tonight (5-of-13), but still managed to score 17 points (two treys), seven rebounds and one block. The Suns are becoming a fun team to watch and there future is only getting brighter as these young guns develop.

    Let’s cut to the chase, it was Russell Westbrook and Russell Westbrook carrying the team again tonight. He dropped 48 points (three treys) with 17 rebounds, nine assists and three steals. Can he get some help over here? Steve Adams got back on track with nine points, 10 boards, one steal and one block, and Alex Abrines scored 13 points with three treys. Taj Gibson only got 15 minutes tonight and scored three points with one block and one steal. This makes it back-to-back losses for the Thunder and although he doesn’t look like he’s slowing down, Westbrook is definitely getting tired.

    Spurs 101, Pelicans 98

    This game had to be settled in overtime where the Spurs pulled out a victory over the Pelicans. Kawhi Leonard has been quietly producing solid performances games-after-game and tonight, he dropped 31 points with seven rebounds, six assists and three steals. It’s his team and he is leading by example right now. LaMarcus Aldridge was also impressive tonight, finishing with 21 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks. Despite going up against an impressive front-line of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, he still managed to get to his spots with ease. Patty Mills was the spark off the bench for the Spurs tonight, going for 15 points and two steals.

    The Pelicans “Big Three” gave the Spurs a run for their money, but in the end couldn’t get the job done. DeMarcus Cousins posted 19 points, 23 rebounds and four assists. His numbers have been monstrous since joining NOLA (averaging 22.3 points, 15.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists), but they have lost all four games that he has been with them. Anthony Davis gave us another scare tonight with a finger injury. He did end up finishing the game and produced 29 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. These two need to stay on the floor in order for the Pelicans to have any chance of winning at all. Jrue Holiday had an impressive line to join them; scoring 26 points with seven rebounds, five assists and one steal. With this performance, Holiday will be donating a total of $31,000 towards the New Orleans tornado relief. Salute!

    Celtics 115, Lakers 95

    This game was also a blowout and the Celtics are clearly a way better team. Isaiah Thomas scored 18 points with eight rebounds, while Al Horford recorded 17 points, four rebounds and three assists. The fantasy lines aren’t as impressive as usual, but that’s because it was a blowout and they didn’t need to play much. Jae Crowder (14 points, six rebounds) and Amir Johnson (13 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block) also posted efficient lines.

    Avery Bradley had his best game since returning, scoring 15 points (two treys) with four rebounds and four assists in 24 minutes. His minutes will start to ramp up so he’s worth deploying now. Jaylen Brown also chipped in 16 points with eight rebounds, flashing the potential that the Celtics are hoping to draw out.

    Despite the loss, D’Angelo Russell still had a nice night with 17 points (two treys), three rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block. Jordan Clarkson scored a team-high 20 points to go with four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Julius Randle also chipped in with his 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. It is probably a good idea to tank the season if you’re the Lakers, but getting blown out consistently may affect the players. They’ll find the balance, especially with Magic Johnson patrolling the team.

    That’ll do it for Saturday’s dish. Thank you to all the readers and subscribers! Cheers! #HoopBall #WeTheNorth

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