• It’s probably foolhardy to expect this type of production from Ed Davis every night. The backup big man has become a reliable factor of the Portland Trail Blazers’ success recently, though, which is why it wasn’t so surprising he was the driving factor behind it on Saturday against the Dallas Mavericks.

    Portland beat Dallas 107-93 at American Airlines Center, moving to a season-high five games over .500 for the first time since late November. Davis had 15 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks in 28 minutes, but his impact loomed larger than those gaudy statistics suggest. The Blazers simply came alive when Davis entered the game, and the Mavericks were overwhelmed.

    Davis’s two-way dominance became most evident in the second quarter. He began it with a soaring and-1 dunk after catching a pass on the roll, and continued to impose his physical will from there. Dallas was helpless to contain him on the offensive glass, leading to several extra opportunities for both Davis and his teammates. His most impressive plays, though, were a pair of blocked dunks, the latter of which came on Dennis Smith Jr. – a likely participant in the dunk contest – and led to an and-1 by C.J. McCollum during a crucial stretch in the third quarter.

    Moments later, Davis bailed his team out with a rushed jumper from 12 feet as the shot clock expired. He created a turnover with active hands in pick-and-roll defense on the next possession, a transition that led to a three by Al-Farouq Aminu. Suddenly, the Blazers were back up by double-digits, less than three minutes after Dallas had cut the double-digit deficit to two.

    But the Mavericks, behind Wes Matthews and Smith, predictably, refused to go away. Fortunately for Portland, Davis didn’t, either. His hanging tip-in off  a missed layup by Pat Connaughton ended a mini Dallas run, and was followed by an off-dribble triple from Damian Lillard that again extended the Blazers lead to 10. He later found a cutting Zach Collins for an and-1, yet another example of his playmaking comfort after catching the ball in space.

    Davis, obviously, didn’t beat the Mavericks by himself. But his game is always the kind that promotes energy and activity, and Portland badly needed that influence when he initially entered the game midway through the first quarter, trailing 15-13. That’s a jolt he’s giving the Blazers on a nightly basis these days. Less common is when Davis is the best player on the floor, and that’s what came to pass on Friday.

    NOTES

    • With Evan Turner sidelined, Mo Harkless got a rare start on Friday night, despite playing a total of three minutes in the Blazers’ last four games. One of the reasons why Harkless has struggled to find his footing this season isn’t just his poor shooting from beyond the arc, but its subsequent effects. Case in point: Nowitzki guarded Harkless for the majority of his minutes, effectively “hiding” on defense because his primary assignment was such a non-scoring threat. That type of in-game ripples across the floor, and isn’t presented by Turner nor Connaughton. Shabazz Napier offers a similar give to the opposition in super-small backcourts, but his take from them looms far larger. Harkless didn’t play poorly on Friday night, which perhaps should be considered a victory given his recent inactivity, but anyone expecting him to breakout with Turner sidelined should be disappointed.
    • Some dead horses are worth beating. Davis turned the game, but it was hardly a coincidence that most of his minutes came beside Collins, who finished with six points, three rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes. He hit a three for the third consecutive game, had an impressive block at the rim and continued to show good feet while sliding with smaller players on the perimeter. Collins had a couple ugly turnovers, and could stand to be more aggressive looking for his shot. He was a clear positive on both ends yet again, though, another encouraging sign in what’s become a very promising rookie season.
    • Smith Jr. flashed again, scoring 18 points and dishing seven assists on 7-of-14 shooting. His defense leaves much to be desired, but certainly not for a lack of physical gifts, and he clearly has canny, opportunistic instincts on that side of the floor. The rookie is a show on offense right now, though, and exhibited patience and maturity on several occasions that will make his world-class athleticism even more of a trump card. Smith put Lillard in jail and locked away the key at one point early, keeping him on his back with two extra dribbles before exploding past help for a quick finish at the rim. Scary.
    • It would be remiss not to mention Lillard and McCollum at greater length. The former poured in 29 points on 9-of-18 shooting, and the latter added 20 points and five assists on an efficient 9-of-14. Just as importantly, Lillard, who didn’t have a field goal until shortly before half, and McCollum were Portland’s only source of offense early in the third quarter as Dallas staged a comeback. Sounds familiar, right?

Fantasy News

  • Marvin Bagley III
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    Luke Walton said on Tuesday that Marvin Bagley is scheduled to be re-evaluated on Wednesday and he will accompany the team on a four-game East Coast road trip that starts on Friday.

    Bagley has been out since suffering a non-displaced fracture of his right thumb in the opening night. The Kings initially said that Bagley would be out four to six weeks and today will mark the four-week mark for the 20-year-old power forward who has gotten increasingly more physical in on-court workouts over the past several days. The buy-low window is rapidly closing and it will be interesting to see how the Kings use him once he is ready to return. Just make sure he is not sitting on any waiver wires.

    Source: Sacramento Bee

  • Zylan Cheatham
    PF, New Orleans Pelicans

    The Pelicans have transferred two-way players Zylan Cheatham and Josh Gray to the Erie BayHawks of the G League on Wednesday.

    Both of them had joined the Pelicans recently due to a myriad injuries that decimated the team’s depth.

    Source: Pelicans PR on Twitter

  • Josh Magette
    PG, Orlando Magic

    With Michael Carter-Williams sidelined with what the team has labeled left hip "irritation," the Magic have had point guard Josh Magette, who is on a two-way contract, join the team on its current road trip.

    Magette has played really well in the G League so far this year but he will provide nothing more than insurance depth behind Markelle Fultz and D.J. Augustin.

    Source: Josh Robbins on Twitter

  • Jonathan Isaac
    PF, Orlando Magic

    Steve Clifford said on Wednesday morning that, unless an unforeseen setback occurs during shootaround, Jonathan Isaac is on track to play tonight against the Raptors.

    Isaac has missed the Magic’s last two games because of a sprained right ankle that happened at a team event. We should probably get another update later today but owners should prepare to have Isaac back tonight. Al-Farouq Aminu played well in his absence and it will be interesting to see whether Clifford can manufacture more playing time for the Nigerian forward.

    Source: Josh Robbins on Twitter

  • Russell Westbrook
    PG, Houston Rockets

    The Rockets have become a considerably more effective fast-breaking team this season, but the improved pace could also be helping their halfcourt offense.

    Houston is eighth in the NBA in fast-break points per game this season with 14.9, an increase from 19th last season when the team averaged 12.0 fast break points. They also have the top-ranked offense in the league, averaging 112.7 points per 100 possessions, in part because they have gotten into their halfcourt sets much quicker. Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni credits the increase in pace to the addition of Westbrook who seems to be blending nicely with James Harden so far.

    Source: Houston Chronicle

  • Otto Porter Jr.
    SF, Chicago Bulls

    The Bulls announced on Wednesday that Otto Porter Jr. underwent a repeat MRI which revealed bone bruising not apparent on his original MRI and consistent with his ongoing symptoms.

    This actually might be good news as we now have a crystal clear timetable about his potential return. Porter should be stashed in all leagues and hopefully he will be able to return soon. Look for Chandler Hutchison to continue starting for the Bulls at small forward.

    Source: Bulls PR on Twitter

  • Carmelo Anthony
    PF, Portland Trail Blazers

    Carmelo Anthony finished with 10 points on just 4-of-14 shooting in his debut with the Blazers, but Terry Stotts said that he felt "very encouraged" by the chances his power forward was getting throughout the game.

    Melo also had five fouls and five turnovers while he talked about adjusting to the speed of the game again after sitting out for an entire year. The Blazers meanwhile seem poised to continue using him in a starting role and it remains to be seen what kind of value can Melo generate in his new home.

    Source: ESPN

  • Ty Jerome
    PG, Phoenix Suns

    Suns GM James Jones said on Tuesday that rookie point guard Ty Jerome is still a couple weeks away from returning to action.

    There still hasn’t been an official update and Jerome is now closing in on an absence of almost one month. The Suns have struggled in the last couple games with Ricky Rubio bothered by back spams while the backup point guard position looks to be up for grabs.

    Source: Kellan Olson on Twitter

  • Nikola Jokic
    C, Denver Nuggets

    The Serbian Basketball Federation made official this morning the hiring of Igor Kokoskov as the head coach of their national team.

    Kokoskov is currently an assistant with the Kings while he coached the Suns last year. He has tremendous experience at the international level where he helped lead Slovenia to the 2017 EuroBasket gold medal. Serbia failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics next year and they will compete for a wild card earlier this upcoming summer.

    Source: Sportando

  • Andrew Bogut
    C, Free Agent

    Andrew Bogut said that he is open to returning to the NBA later this season if the right opportunity shows up.

    Bogut played in Australia last year and then joined the Warriors for the end of the regular season and the playoffs. "An opportunity to try and win a championship will be the main thing in the NBA. But I wouldn't go back to the NBA just to play in the NBA, it's more about trying to win a title and somewhere where I feel comfortable for the family”, said the veteran big. The buyout market and potential injuries will determine a lot, but it seems unlikely that we see Bogut return to the NBA any time soon.

    Source: Sydney Morning Herald