• So much for crumbling under postseason pressure. The Houston Rockets, facing a slew of new questions from a skeptical basketball world after losing at Toyota Center two days ago, beat the Utah Jazz 113-92 on Friday night, wrestling back home-court advantage with an utterly dominant performance en route to a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals.

    James Harden had 25 points, 12 assists and one turnover in just 30 minutes of play, setting the tone from the opening tip offensively by letting the game come to him. Eric Gordon answered that call with aplomb, scoring a playoff-high 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Chris Paul had 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Clint Capela chipped in 11 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and four blocks, speaking to his supreme impact defensively.

    Two basic schematic adjustments made a major difference for Mike D’Antoni‘s team in Game 3. The Rockets let Harden work mostly away from the ball early, yielding floor-general responsibilities to Paul. After catching on the wing with a head of steam, always following a ball screen or dribble hand-off, Harden routinely had the Jazz at his mercy while help defenders rotated behind the action, still spaced behind a perfectly-spaced floor. He lofted in soft floaters over Rudy Gobert, fed Capela for a number of thunderous dunks and, overall, promoted the type of energy and activity that Houston, which doled out 25 assists despite going just 11-of-36 from three, occasionally lacks.

    Utah confused the Rockets in Game 2 by sprinting into screens and immediately slipping out of them, creating a fleeting passing lane before the defenders involved could finish completing a switch. The Rockets were ready for the same action 48 hours later. They communicated early and often defending both on and off the ball, anticipating picks and passing off individual assignments before the Jazz had an opportunity to exploit any advantage gained – if one briefly materialized at all.

    The Jazz were notably stagnant offensively as a result, settling for isolations, long two-pointers and awkward drives against swarming interior defense. Mitchell was the worst culprit, a reality owed to the even heavier offensive burden he shoulders absent Ricky Rubio, plus his lack of experience playing against postseason defenses geared toward stopping him. Time and again, the rookie drove the paint without a plan, getting his shoulder past the initial line of defense before forcing up shots through a canopy of arms. Mitchell had 10 points and three assists on 4-of-16 shooting, and was scoreless from the paint, missing his first six tries, until extended garbage time.

    He didn’t get the help he received in Game 2, either. Vivint Smart Home arena was absolutely rocking after Ingles kicked things off by hitting a deep triple on Utah’s first possession. That was hardly a harbinger of things to come, though, as Ingles missed six consecutive shots and committed five turnovers before scoring again, finishing with six points on 2-of-10 shooting. Derrick Favors, who rolled his left ankle in the third quarter and didn’t return, took two awful jumpers in the opening moments, further contributing to his team’s cramped spacing on offense. Jae Crowder, red hot coming into Game 3, was 1-of-6 from the field. Royce O’Neale was a bright spot, scoring seven straight points during a mini run in the second quarter, and Alec Burks and Dante Exum both had moments off the bench. Rudy Gobert wasn’t the problem for Utah, but still padded his stat line late on his way to 12 points and nine rebounds on 6-of-8 shooting.

    Fortunes change fast in the playoffs. Just two days ago, the Jazz were riding high, their first mission accomplished by stealing a game in Houston with two more awaiting in Salt Lake City. Three days before that, the Rockets seemed on their way to a second-round sweep, taking a 25-point halftime lead over Utah in a 110-96 victory.

    The Rockets, though, were up 70-40 at intermission on Friday, and held a 38-point lead in the third quarter. Could they really lose to the Jazz again, let alone lose this series entirely? Only time will tell. Game 4 is Sunday.

Fantasy News

  • Kemba Walker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Team USA has named Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart and Donovan Mitchell as captains for the FIBA World Cup.

    Congratulations to Mitchell, Walker and Smart on the tremendous honor of being named captains for the USA men's team. This won't have any impact on their upcoming fantasy seasons, but it is a major accomplishment nonetheless. Team USA has an exhibition rematch against Team Australia on Saturday.

    Source: Boston.com Celtics News on Twitter

  • Isaiah Canaan
    PG, International

    Isaiah Canaan has signed a contract with the Shangdong Heroes of the Chinese Basketball Association.

    The veteran journeyman played for the Suns, Wolves and Bucks last season, appearing in 30 games total. Canaan will be looking at a more prominent role and payday overseas as he attempts to build his value back up before trying to latch on to a team towards the end of the year. Canaan is off the fantasy radar.

    Source: Zhang Duo on Twitter

  • Patty Mills
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Patty Mills put up 19 points, three assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers in Thursday's international exhibition between Team Australia and Team USA.

    The Boomers figure to be one of the chief threats to the Americans in the World Cup and put forth a competitive effort in today's exhibition. Mills has typically been a steady, late-round fantasy option for deep-league play but that may change this season as the Spurs will need to mix in both Derrick White and Dejounte Murray in the backcourt. Chris Goulding tied for the team lead in points, also scoring 19 while hitting four 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench.

  • Myles Turner
    C, Indiana Pacers

    Myles Turner put up 15 points and 14 rebounds in Thursday's exhibition win over Team Australia, shooting 6-of-8 from the floor with a 3-pointer.

    Turner didn't get any blocks but we know that last year's league-leader can rack those up in a hurry, whether he's getting them in international competition or not. Look for another early-middle round season out of the talented big man. Kemba Walker led Team USA with 23 points in the 102-86 win.

  • Trevon Bluiett
    PF, Utah Jazz

    Trevon Bluiett and Juwan Morgan sign with the Jazz in the hopes of one day playing in an NBA game.

    Bluiett was on a two-way contract with the Pelicans last season while Juwan Morgan played for the Jazz in the 2019 Summer League. They will both compete for a roster spot in training camp but neither is a guarantee to make the final roster. They both have yet to see the court in an NBA game and can be ignored from a fantasy perspective until that day comes.

    Source: Tony Jones on Twitter

  • Zach Collins
    C, Portland Trail Blazers

    Zach Collins (ankle) began daily contact workouts on Monday and is on pace to head into training camp fully healthy.

    Collins is heading into what could be a breakout season as he is likely to start at the power forward position. In the 2019 playoffs, the Gonzaga product blocked a shot in 11 of the 16 games including three games in which he blocked three, four and five respectively. Collins has averaged around 33% from distance throughout his career which is exactly what he shot in the postseason (7-21). If he is able to improve from long range and plays starters minutes, Collins is a can't-miss player. It's far from a guarantee though as the 21-year-old has never finished with standard-league value. It does seem like Collins will be ready for training camp barring a major setback.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Cory Joseph
    PG, Sacramento Kings

    Nick Nurse said that reports of Cory Joseph missing the FIBA World Cup are “incorrect”.

    Nurse added that he spoke to Joseph on Wednesday and that the guard has his flights booked to China. Joseph was in Canada’s camp at home earlier this month, but did not make the trip to Australia and has missed the past four exhibition games. The situation has become a little bit murky but Canada Basketball keeps holding out hope that Joseph will rejoin the team before they depart for China, which doesn’t happen until Monday.

    Source: John Casey on Twitter

  • Tyronn Lue
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting former Cavs championship-winning coach Tyronn Lue has agreed to join the Clippers as their top assistant coach to Doc Rivers.

    The Lakers and Clippers rivalry continues to heat up. Lue was very close to a deal with the Lakers in May to become their head coach, but the sides couldn’t reach an agreement. Lue now joins Kawhi Leonard as another person to spurn the Lakers this offseason.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • PJ Tucker
    SF, Houston Rockets

    P.J. Tucker says he is optimistic about signing a contract extension soon.

    The 34-year-old 3-and-D wing hopes to extend his deal with the Rockets, but a potential extension wouldn't begin until his age-36 season. Houston has him under contract for two more seasons at this point, so they may not be motivated enough to get something done this offseason. However, a maximum Tucker extension would only have him in the $10 million per year range. Even as a 37-year-old, that could be a great deal if he can keep up his current production. Tucker remains a sneaky source of threes and steals late in fantasy drafts or off the wire.

    Source: Kurt Helin on Twitter

  • Jaylen Adams
    PG, Milwaukee Bucks

    The Bucks officially announced the signings of guards Jaylen Adams and Rayjon Tucker on Tuesday.

    Adams and Tucker have their work cut out for them in their bid to claim a roster with the big club, as the Bucks have a reasonably deep guard rotation. Adams and Tucker are more than likely competing to get playing time in the G-League this season and can be ignored in fantasy.

    Source: NBA