• Lines of the Night

    James Harden, Houston Rockets – 40 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists, three steals, a block and four triples (11-for-26 FG, 14-for-15 FTs)

    It took a while, but Harden is back. The Rockets started off sluggish, trailing 34-22 after the first period with Harden’s effort looking weak again, but he picked it up quickly. The team has been up-and-down all season, but that’s because he and Russell Westbrook have yet to play a prolonged stretch of great basketball together. Westbrook sat this one out with a thumb injury, but was red-hot before sitting while Harden slumped. It’s time to see if they can simultaneously put up first-round value now.

    Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans – 32 points, seven rebounds, one assist, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers (12-for-19 FG, 5-for-6 FTs)

    I as a skeptic, but Ingram has been pulling his weight, even with Zion Williamson in the fold. I think he’s still a surefire top-40 player, but I’m not backing down from my stance of him not being a top-25 guy just yet. The defensive numbers are a nice touch as he’s struggled to bring those in consistently. If he can do that, I’ll gladly accept my incorrect prediction.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks – 34 points, 17 rebounds, six assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer (12-for-17 FG, 9-for-13 FTs)

    Antetokounmpo highlighted his monster stat line with an emphatic stuffing of Zion Williamson at the rim. The Bucks are the favorites coming out of the east because of him and rightfully so. He logged 33 minutes to rack up these stats, but usually it only takes him about 25 to do so. The only blemish is his free throw shooting, but he’s averaging 5.8 dimes, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks this season to make up for it.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Josh Hart, New Orleans Pelicans – eight points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals, a block and a 3-pointer (3-for-9 FG, 1-for-1 FTs)

    Hart’s lines won’t always be this well-rounded, but he’s one of the better rebounding guards in the league which is why his value is something I can get behind. He doesn’t really on scoring outbursts to provide owners with something useful and the last two weeks he’s averaged 10.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.4 dimes, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks and 1.6 3s on .439 shooting. The triple-one is something I don’t see lasting too long, but the rebounding and triples are enough to give you standard league value and any extra fluff just puts him into mid-round territory. Ride him while he’s hot.

    Drop Zone

    Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets – 16 points, two rebounds and one assist (6-for-22 FGs, 4-for-6 FTs)

    I’m a Rockets fan and I don’t even have Gordon in any leagues. He also went 0-for-12 from deep which is just absurdly bad. This guy will destroy your percentages and if you really need triples, find someone else.

    Injuries

    Tristan Thompson (quad) is questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Thunder.

    Tyler Herro (right food) won’t play on Wednesday vs. the Clippers.

    Jerami Grant (thoracic tightness) is listed as questionable for Wednesday.

    Jonas Valanciunas (right knee soreness) will be questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Mavs.

    Cam Reddish (concussion) and De’Andre Bembry (hand) are both out for Wednesday’s game.

    Trae Young (right elbow contusion) and Kevin Huerter (adductor pain) are probable while De’Andre Hunter (left ankle sprain) is questionable.

    Seth Curry (left knee tightness) and J.J. Barea (left ankle sprain) are both questionable for Wednesday.

    D’Angelo Russell (right quad contusion) is not on the injury report for Wednesday’s game.

    Markieff Morris (illness) is questionable while Derrick Rose (left adductor strain) will sit out Wednesday’s game.

    Kemba Walker (left knee soreness) and Marcus Smart (right quad contusion) are both questionable for Wednesday.

    Gordon Hayward (right calf contusion) and Enes Kanter (right hip contusion) are probable for Wednesday.

    Dario Saric (ankle) and Aron Baynes (hip) are listed as out for Wednesday’s game.

    Ricky Rubio (right ankle soreness) is not on the injury report ahead of Wednesday’s game.

    Rundown

    MIL 120 @ NOP 108

    Milwaukee continue to burn through teams like nothing. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a machine right now and Khris Middleton is starting to heat up as well. The Bucks are making some noise in the trade rumor mill, which means Eric Bledsoe might be moving somewhere, but for now those three guys, along with Brook Lopez are as steady as ever. Middleton’s stock is rising a bit as he’s starting to produce more consistently.

    Brandon Ingram was the best player on the floor tonight and Lonzo Ball had a monster 14-rebound game, displaying why I love him so much as a fantasy player. Jrue Holiday is still figuring out life with Zion Williamson, so now is the perfect time to buy-low. I’m always going to float buy-lows to Holiday and this was the first game that Zion looked pedestrian. The Bucks are one of the best defensive teams in the league and Coach Gentry utilized Zion as someone to suck in Bucks defenders which is why he shot so poorly. Not to mention the Bucks field one of the lengthiest crews in the league. He’ll be just fine. Derrick Favors is a guy whose value is starting to dissipate quickly, but I’m still holding on and having faith.

    CHA 110 @ HOU 125

    Miles Bridges took advantage of the Rockets’ deployment of their micro-ball lineup. He’s finally getting it together, but there’s reason for skepticism as he went 1-for-7 from deep which is a real concern. He needs to hit those triples at a consistent rate. Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham have both been steady, with Graham shining again. He went 5-for-10 from deep and took 11 shots the whole game, which is what we’ve seen all year. The Cody Zeller hype died tonight as the Rockets forced the Hornets to go small and use more Malik Monk. I’m buying into Monk for now, but I’ll be one of the first to jump ship.

    James Harden is back. He didn’t shoot as well as we’d hope, but he’s back to hitting those stepback triples and delivering fat fantasy lines again. He was slumping for nearly a month, but hopefully this level of play sticks when Russell Westbrook returns. Clint Capela has been traded and Coach D’Antoni’s dream of running micro-ball lineups is coming to fruition. D’Antoni coached an entire game with no player being taller than 6’6 and the Rockets are 4-0 with their “micro-ball” lineup and GM Daryl Morey has always coveted Robert Covington. RoCo immediately slots in and becomes the same player he was in Minnesota. He’s shooting 68% on unguarded jumpers this year. That number will go down, but the amount of unguarded shots he’ll get will climb up. The Rockets employ a switch-all defense from assistant coach Elston Turner and Covington’s defensive game is all about that. Shooting passing lanes and playing angles in the post for blocks. Covington is averaging 1.7 steals, 0.9 blocks and 2.3 3s in 29.4 minutes. He’ll play much more in Houston as D’Antoni loves burning his starters, so I’m expecting bumps in all categories slightly, we just have to hope the knee holds up. This means the death of Danuel House and Eric Gordon, who went 0-for-12 from deep tonight, was never alive so he doesn’t really matter from a fantasy perspective. Clint Capela’s value remains similar and John Collins should see a slight dip, but he’s safe in the early-mid round. It’s an interesting trade for the Hawks, who now have a true center and lob threat, but that means Collins will have to adjust and play more of a pick-and-pop style a la Cleveland Kevin Love.

    POR 99 @ DEN 127

    Damian Lillard finally returned to Earth after going supernova for two weeks. He’s still going to be a stud and another explosion is just around the corner, but part of his comedown can be attributed to C.J. McCollum returning and taking almost as many shots as him. The game was also a blowout though, so guys like Carmelo Anthony and my beloved Hassan Whiteside barely got any run.

    Jamal Murray is back. It’s been a long time coming, but the Nuggets finally got reinforcements for Nikola Jokic, who has been absolutely dominant. Hoobs love this guy, I love this guy, he can flat out play. There was never an ounce of worry in my mind regarding his slow start. The engine is warmed up. Will Barton has quietly put together another solid fantasy season while Jerami Grant is killing it with Paul Millsap sidelined. Father time and injuries are finally caught up to Millsap and Grant is more than a capable replacement so it wouldn’t surprise me to see Millsap sitting out a little longer than he normally would.

    SAS 102 @ LAL 129

    LaMarcus Aldridge wet the bed tonight, but Dejounte Murray and DeMar DeRozan came through for owners. The Spurs are more or less the same and don’t seem to be in any trade rumors so all things are what they are here. DeRozan and Aldridge are the only guys I trust, but I would love to see Jakob Poeltl somewhere else.

    Anthony Davis coasted tonight in under 30 minutes, which is good for his long-term health. LeBron James was his usual King self. I’m not touching JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard just because they had strong games in a 27-point blowout. You can’t make me. Kyle Kuzma was hot tonight, but it’s gotten to a point where Collin Sexton and Andrew Wiggins have far surpassed Kuzma’s fantasy value. Kuzma just doesn’t have the role and stat set to produce for owners in standard leagues. Whenever his lines are hot, it’s because of situations out of the norm.

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