• It’s the first night of fantasy championship week, so here’s hoping that you’ve got a vested interest in checking out our recap of tonight’s action. Before we get into the teams that played tonight, it’s worth noting that Atlanta ruled Paul Millsap out of at least three more games. He’s a guy you can drop at this point if you don’t have an IR spot, as crazy as it might feel. Playoffs call for desperate measures so let’s take a look at tonight’s slate to see if anything actionable occurred. It was a fairly light night with just six games on tap but there were plenty of things going down throughout the night. Let’s jump into Monday’s Daily Dish.

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    Knicks 109 Pistons 95

    It took 74 games but the Knicks finally looked like a superteam as their three pillars all had good night. Kristaps Porzingis had 25 points, eight boards, three assists, two steals and two blocks. Carmelo Anthony returned from injury and dropped 21 points as well as five assists and an uncharacteristic three steals, while Derrick Rose poured in 27 points of his own. The trio combined to shoot 30-for-48 as the Knicks won this one pretty comfortably. Willy Hernangomez notched 15 points in 27 minutes, but there wasn’t much else of note going on for the Knickerbockers. KP and Willy are the safest bets to play out the season, though you never know if Porzingis picks up another nagging injury.

    Before the game it was announced that Reggie Jackson would sit this one out for rest purposes, only for them to reveal that he has a knee issue later in the evening. Considering Detroit’s clunky offense, disappointing year and the recent news about Ish Smith taking over the starting role it’s fair to question Jackson’s place on the roster going forward. For his part, Ish went for 15-6-5 on 6-of-14 shooting, which seems about right for him. He’s a serviceable player but is incredibly inefficient, not that his owners didn’t know what they were getting into.

    Despite getting handled by the lowly Knicks, the Pistons’ other four starters also hit double figures. Marcus Morris led the way with 20 and may be breaking out of his slump, while Andre Drummond went for 10 & 15 and Tobias Harris notched 12 points in a fairly quiet night. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 12 points but took 12 shots to get them and continues to struggle with his shot. The minutes will always be there but the shooting touch comes and goes with the wind.

    Raptors 131 Magic 112

    DeMar DeRozan dropped 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the first quarter of this one but was forced into some heavier lifting than he would’ve liked in the second half. In just a one-point game even after DDR’s early outburst, Toronto ripped off a 26-6 run in the second quarter led by Norman Powell, who popped off for three triples and a breakaway slam. Because the Raptors can’t ever make things easy, Orlando climbed within five by the closing stages of the third and DeRozan needed all of his 36 points on the night to put this one back out of reach. Defensive nuisance P.J. Tucker also did his thing, collecting five rebounds, three steals and a block.

    The offense was humming early in this one, as Cory Joseph racked up a career high 13 assists to go with his 15 points. CoJo probably won’t have a better statistical night this year but he’s been a reliable cog for Toronto and is a fine low-end guard. When Joseph wasn’t on the floor Delon Wright was handed the reigns and while he needs some improvement on offense, his length makes him a serious problem for opponents – he grabbed three steals and picked up two blocks in just 18 minutes tonight. Serge Ibaka was solid as ever with 16 & 7 (though still no swats) while Jonas Valanciunas hit 7-of-9 for 17 points and nine rebounds.

    Terrence Ross made his return to Toronto in this one and came out hot, hitting five of his first six shots. The man known as Terrence, TJ or Terry (whenever Raptors Twitter needed to bust him out of a slump) got a nice standing ovation and gave the fans a show with a 360 slam to cap off a nice night – 17 points on 8-of-14 shooting with four steals. Every Magic starter hit double digits on Monday, led by Elfrid Payton‘s 22. The Long Weeknd has looked like a new man this season, as he continues to fill the stat sheet (nine assists, a steal and a block tonight) while making strides with his efficiency (8-of-12 and a shocking 6-of-8 from the stripe). Evan Fournier added 20, Aaron Gordon chipped in with 16 points and little else while Nikola Vucevic added 12 and 15 boards.

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    Spurs 103 Cavs 74

    The Spurs rolled right through the Cavs on Monday, dismantling the defending champs without much resistance. To paint the picture a little better, every single active Spur logged at least 11 minutes. As such, there wasn’t a ton to glean from this one besides the fact that Kawhi Leonard is really good. The Klaw shot 11-of-21 to wrap up an easy night with 20 points, six rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block in 30 minutes. He didn’t hit a triple, but I’m sure his owners will live with it.

    LaMarcus Aldridge did his thing with 14-7-4 and Pau Gasol added 14 points off the pine. No other Spur hit double figures, though Dewayne Dedmon grabbed 13 rebounds and Danny Green gave us a DG special with seven cash counters. He was 1-for-7 from the floor but managed five points, two boards, one assist, two steals, four blocks and a triple. Green’s a tough guy to own unless you’ve the patience of a monk but the value is there.

    The Cavs now find themselves a half game back of the Celtics for first in the East. While Cleveland will be the favorite in every series, regardless of home court advantage, they aren’t doing themselves any favors by allowing those “the Cavs are vulnerable” people to get louder by the day. Their defense has been sloshing around the toilet since the All-Star Break and while they say they’re not worried, it’s starting to look like they should be.

    Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combined for 17 points on 8-of-25 shooting with just one triple between them. In Love’s defense, he at least offered seven boards, four assists and two steals to ease the pain. LeBron James scored 17 points and approached a triple-double with eight boards and assists each but couldn’t will his listless teammates to a win tonight. J.R. Smith has some opportunity here with Kyle Korver out but he could only connect on 2-of-7 tonight for five points and a game-worst -27 in the plus/minus column. Tristan Thompson was second on the team with 11 points, and that’ll tell you all you need to know about this one.

    Mavs 91 Thunder 92

    Dallas slipped another game closer to elimination and it’s looking increasingly likely that their late-season surge was smoke without fire. While six Mavs cracked double digits tonight it wasn’t enough to overcome OKC’s one man show. On the positive side, Nerlens Noel finally woke up and scored 15 points with eight boards, four steals and two blocks. A couple of those lines, which aren’t at all foreign to Noel, can easily swing a category or two. Despite his disappearing act, he needs to be owned. Wesley Matthews gave us a fairly standard night, notching 15 points and a pair of triples with some marginal contributions in boards and assists while shooting poorly. He may never regain the shooting touch he had in Portland, but his steady output makes him a valuable fantasy commodity if you can take the percentage hit. Yogi Ferrell came to life with 13 points, four rebounds, five assists and three steals while J.J. Barea scored 10 and dropped eight dimes. Both are strong enough to play in supplementary roles.

    On the negative side, Harrison Barnes shot just 4-of-14 and finished with only 10 points in 37 minutes. He received the Roberson treatment tonight but HB has never had the ability to contribute elsewhere when his shot goes dry. Until he can help in any other category, he’ll be a hollow scorer with capped fantasy potential. Dirk Nowitzki neared a double-double with 8 & 8 and a block but it’s looking like these single-digit nights will be more frequent than the mid-20s production that we’ve grown so accustomed to.

    The Thunder were led, as ever, by Russell Westbrook. He notched another triple-double and was efficient to boot, shooting 15-of-30 on his way to 37-13-10 in 36 minutes of action. Russ also knocked down the winner in this one, in case you weren’t sure about his exploits. He’s simply electrifying and is a joy to watch whenever he hits the court. Victor Oladipo continued a strong month with 15 points and a little of everything – nine rebounds, two assists, a steal, a block and three triples. He won’t return on his ADP but he’s been a fourth round guy over the past month. Think of it as a parting gift.

    Enes Kanter can fall victim to the matchup game and failed to capitalize on an opponent with some size in the frontcourt. Kanter picked up more fouls (4) than rebounds (2) in his 17 minutes and could only contribute six points. Steven Adams added eight points, six boards and a pair apiece of blocks and steals to salvage a quiet scoring night. As long as he brings the defense, he’ll be a fine guy to roster. OKC is lucky to have snagged a W on a night where so many players were quiet.

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    Kings 91 Grizzlies 90

    The Kings prevailed in a defensive slog – hardly surprising considering the opponent. Despite the low score, the box score wasn’t as bowling-shoe-ugly as you’d have guessed. Darren Collison was the star, as his pair of free throws with five seconds left served as the night’s final lead change. DC finished with 23 points and seven dimes on 8-of-13 from the field. He’s now 16-for-24 over his past two games, surely helping owners in an unexpected way with that strong percentage. Backcourt-mate Buddy Hield produced a hollow 14 points, adding only two threes and four rebounds to the mix. He’ll get his shots and makes for a fine play so long as you need scoring and triples.

    It was a mixed bag for the bigs, as Willie-Cauley Stein flourished again with 12 points, nine rebounds and three assists. As a bonus, WCS also nailed all six free throw attempts on the night and is now producing top-50 value over the last two weeks. We loved him in the preseason and he’s finally delivering in fantasy crunch time. Skal Labissiere was far more subdued, posting just three points and two boards in nine minutes of action. He picked up three fouls in his brief time on the court and remains a top-100 guy in 8-cat leagues over the past two weeks. Don’t panic yet.

    The Grizzlies struggled without lynchpin Marc Gasol, and Mike Conley can only do so much on his own. The Ohio State product dropped in 23 points on 8-of-23 shooting, adding seven assists for good measure. The efficiency drop is to be expected with Gasol on the shelf, but Conley should finish as a strong third round value at a stacked position. Zach Randolph also stepped it up tonight with a big 17 & 15 double-double, though he could can only five of his 18 shots. Z-Bo has been well below the standard league cut line for much of the year but is worth an add if you need cheap double-doubles for now.

    As for filling Gasol’s minutes, coach David Fizdale appears to be looking at the duo of Brandan Wright and JaMychal Green. Wright logged 21 minutes tonight and scored 11 points with a pair of steals while Green scored 10 points with four rebounds and a triple in 21 minutes of his own. Green’s versatility makes him the preferred play, but this juice might not be worth the squeeze either way.

    Jazz 108 Pelicans 100

    No Gordon Hayward, no problem. Well there’s a little bit of a problem, but the Jazz were able to ground the Pelicans without their top dog. Utah got some very balanced scoring in this one, though they were carried by Rudy Gobert‘s 20 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks. A defensive menace, the Frenchman has taken his offensive game to new heights and is rewarding owners with top-20 value on the season. George Hill added 17 points, five assists and three deep balls, Joe Ingles dropped 19-4-4 and hit all five of his threes and even Rodney Hood got in on the act with 20 points and four three pointers of his own. It’s been a disappointing year for Hood but a strong finish could help restore some hype headed into next season. As you might’ve guessed, the Jazz tore it up from deep; their 15-of-27 mark was a huge difference maker in this one.

    The Pelicans were again without the services of DeMarcus Cousins, which usually means some good nights for Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday. That held pretty true tonight, as Davis beasted with 36-17-3-3-3 on 12-of-23 shooting despite being covered by Rudy Gobert. He’s played in 69 games now and has paid off big time for owners who took their chances with the oft-injured superstar. Holiday added 19 points, five assists, two steals, a block and three triples while shooting 8-of-17. Jrue is now a top-40 guy on the year and was worth the mid-late round draft pick for those who stashed him away. Curiously he continues to struggle from the free throw line, missing both attempts tonight. He’s now down to .697 on the season despite being a .788 shooter for his career. This is one of those statistical oddities that’ll probably self-correct next season, so you can feel free to bump him up a few spots if you think this is the exception and not the rule.

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