• Tuesday night featured a rare seven-game slate, but nothing was bigger than the long-awaited return of Kawhi Leonard. After eight and a half weeks of waiting, the Spurs finally activated the first-round fantasy stud from a bizarre quad injury. If you held all of this time, welcome back to the 2017-18 season. It’s time to play some catch up.

    MAVS SPOIL KAWHI’S RETURN

    Tuesday night was all about Kawhi Leonard, but someone forgot to tell the Mavericks, as they shocked the Spurs with a 95-89 win. The guards couldn’t be stopped, as Yogi Ferrell (16 points, eight boards) and J.J. Barea (16 points, six boards, six assists) ran circles around Tony Parker and Patty Mills.

    For more important matters, Kawhi ended shooting 6-for-12 from the floor for 13 points with six boards, one assist, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 15 minutes. He looked a little winded at times, hunching over and gasping for air during breaks. Kawhi left for the locker room in the second half, resting until the end of the game because he reached his minutes limit. The Spurs will likely continue to take it slowly with their stud, but at least he is back and getting you stats. With three days of rest until the next game, I’d expect Kawhi to play again. They play the almighty Rockets on Friday.

    LaMarcus Aldridge was still the go-to-guy for the time being, dropping 23 points (9-for-23 FGs) with 13 boards and two assists. Kawhi will surely eat into his early season ranking. Sell for a top-25 player while you still can.

    Editor’s Note: You can get the Hoop Ball Premium Membership for FREE (normally $29.99) by signing up as a new user with DraftKings. Check this page to see how the promotion works.

    PORZINGIS GOES OFF IN OT WIN OVER LAKERS

    The Lakers went coast-to-coast all the way to the Big Apple but fell short to the Knicks 113-109 in overtime. Kristaps Porzingis flexed his fantasy muscles for 37 points (14-for-26 FGs), 11 boards, one assist, one steal, five blocks and five 3-pointers in 40 minutes. That’s easily the line of the night. He just needs to stay healthy and the Knicks need to stay relevant. That’s asking a lot.

    Lonzo Ball bounced back and had some highlight plays in the third quarter. Ball finished with 17 points, eight boards, six assists, two steals, one block and three 3-pointers in 39 minutes. If there are any fans of the Big Baller Brand in your league, you know what to do. His inconsistency doesn’t do it for me.

    Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 24 points with four boards, three assists, three steals and four 3-pointers in 38 minutes. The playing time and opportunity is all his. Take advantage.

    SIXERS EXPLORE A HOLMES-EMBIID STARTING LINEUP IN WIN

    For the first time all season, Richaun Holmes started alongside Joel Embiid on Tuesday. With Robert Covington (back) sitting out, the Sixers went with a lineup of Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Dario Saric, Holmes and Embiid against the Timberwolves. That led to a nice 118-112 overtime win on Tuesday.

    Embiid finished with 28 points, 12 boards, eight assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 39 minutes. He was a true game-time decision. Kudos if you rolled the dice in DFS.

    Richaun Holmes finished with 15 points, 11 boards, two assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 33 minutes. This is the first time we got to see Holmes starting with Embiid, so the Sixers experimented with something new. Holmes has a lot of potential if giving the playing time, and it looked as though his only path came on days that Embiid was resting, until now. Covington is due back next game, but keep Holmes closely on your watch list as the Sixers experiment. He is a high-potential add if the uptick in playing time continues.

    Jimmy Butler was ultra-aggressive, something he wasn’t doing a month ago, shooting 15-for-33 from the field for 38 points, six boards, three assists, one steal and three 3-pointers in 45 minutes. It took some time, but Butler looks much more comfortable out there with his new team. You should be glad if you didn’t sell.

    Karl-Anthony Towns stuffed the stat sheet with a 19-16-2-4-3 line. Those cash counting stats help out a lot. It’s always been an underrated part of KAT’s game.

    THE KING OUTLASTS PRINCE IN SHOOTOUT

    Point forward LeBron James is fun to watch with the ball in his hands these days. He led the Cavs to a 123-114 shootout for their 15th win in 16 games. LeBron finished with 25 points (11-for-13 FGs), seven boards, 17 assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes. His 17 assists tied a career-high.

    Kevin Love, who was questionable coming in to Tuesday’s game, added a double-double with 17 points, 12 boards, two assists and four 3-pointers in 28 minutes. It’s safe to say he is healthy.

    The Cavs moved to 11-0 when Jae Crowder scores 10 or more points. Crowder finished with 13 points, one board, one assist and one block in 26 minutes. He’s still waiver-wire fodder in standard leagues.

    As for the Hawks, Hoop-Ball preseason darling Taurean Prince stood up for 24 points, seven boards, six assists and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes. Your buy-low opportunity is fading.

    Kent Bazemore was terrific as well, hitting six treys for 20 points, eight boards, five assists, two steals and two blocks. Don’t you just love shootouts?

    NUGGETS THE LATEST TEAM TO PLAY CENTER MUSICAL CHAIRS

    Down Paul Millsap (wrist) and Nikola Jokic (ankle), the Nuggets were still able to find a way to put away the Pistons on Tuesday 103-84 blowout victory. Jamal Murray shot 11-for-19 from the field for 28 points with four boards, three assists, one block and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes in the Nuggets’ 103-84 win over the Pistons on Tuesday. On a team in need of a star on offense, Murray answered the call and was terrific tonight. He is posting mid-round value over the last month and should be owned in standard leagues.

    One puzzling thing that hit the fantasy community was a big donut for Kenneth Faried. Instead, the Nuggets went with Mason Plumlee (10 points, 13 boards, one block in 28 minutes) as the starter and gave Trey Lyles (20 points, four boards in 27 minutes) heavy minutes as a backup in this one. Faried was a healthy scratch, but I’d expect him to play in the next one. Faried is still a hold until this becomes a trend.

    For the Pistons, Avery Bradley shot 2-for-10 from the field for six points with one board and one assist in 24 minutes in a 103-84 blowout loss to the Nuggets on Tuesday. Just when it looked like Bradley was picking up steam, he puts up a stinker. It’s one thing to have a poor shooting night, but Bradley was awful across the board with hardly any counting stats. His inconsistency makes him just a low-round asset for the time being.

    DINWIDDIE HELPS NETS DEFEAT WIZARDS

    The Nets moved to 6-7 without D’Angelo Russell with a 103-98 win over the Wizards.

    Spencer Dinwiddie double-doubled with 11 points, six boards, 12 assists, two steals, one block and one 3-pointer in 32 minutes. He shot 1-for-11 from downtown, easily his worst on the season. More efficient days are ahead.

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson continued his exceptional play with 16 points, 12 boards and one assist in 27 minutes. Caris LeVert also dropped 16 points, adding three boards, eight assists and three 3-pointers in 28 minutes. The Nets trotted out eight players for over 20 minutes each.

    Bradley Beal held down the fort in the scoring department for the Wizards, shooting 11-for-33 for 28 points with two boards, four assists and two steals. He shot 0-for-7 from behind the arc. The efficiency is about to climb once John Wall (knee) returns.

    Speaking of Wall, he was questionable coming in to the game, but sat this one out. He should be considered day-to-day and is due back anytime soon.

    KINGS OLD VETS TEACH YOUNG SUNS A LESSON

    In a tied game going in to the fourth quarter, the Kings defense showed up and stymied the Suns for an 0-for-12 shooting drought in the fourth quarter to win it 99-92.

    Good George Hill came out to play, dropping 18 points (6-for-9 FGs) with seven boards, three assists, three steals and two 3-pointers. Until he shows some consistency, you can’t trust him more than a late-round flier.

    Zach Randolph continued his strong play with a 17-7-5-1 line, shooting 4-for-4 in the fourth quarter in crunch time. He is defying father time. Z-Bo will be a forgotten man outside of Memphis enthusiasts one day, but he has been a consistently strong player in a fading generation of big men.

    With a back-to-back on the horizon for the Suns, center roulette continued with the Suns giving Greg Monroe a DNP-CD. Tyson Chandler (7-10-0-1-2) drew the start and Alex Len (9-8-3-0-1) took the back up role. Expect Monroe to give it a go tonight and give someone else a rest.

    That will do it for Wednesday’s Daily Dish!! As always, be sure to follow me on Twitter, I’m @RiazD. Catch me on the Fantasy NBA Tonight ($) pod on Tuesday nights where we answer your questions and go over box scores. Don’t forget to follow all of our breaking news and rumors @HoopBallTweets. Happy Hump Day!!

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