• So much for the Golden State Warriors going out with a whimper. The defending champions used an utterly dominant second half to overcome a disastrous start, beating the Houston Rockets 115-86 on Saturday night to force a do-or-die Game 7.

    Klay Thompson led the charge, scoring a game-high 35 points while shooting 9-of-14 from beyond the arc. He also had four steals, shouldering the primary assignment of James Harden, absorbing an early barrage and forcing the future MVP into a tough shooting night. Steph Curry followed suit, scoring 29 points, grabbing five rebounds, dishing six assists and blocking three shots. Like Thompson, he also had a whopping 14 3-point attempts, making five. Kevin Durant, meanwhile, shot just 6-of-17 from the field, but made up for it at the free throw line, connecting on 10-of-14 en route to 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

    But it was Draymond Green who was the Warriors’ best player with the season on the line. He had four points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, four steals and five blocks, nearly pulling off the heralded five-by-five for the second time in his career. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year was especially effective at the rim, routinely forcing misses with vertical contests and active hands. Just as important was Green’s ability to get a stop, corral the defensive rebound and push the ball up the floor, at which point he’d find open shooters or initiate the type of quick-hitting passing sequences that have the come to define the Warriors under Steve Kerr.

    Of course, he was wreaking havoc defensively elsewhere the floor, too.

    For awhile, it seemed as if Green’s defensive heroics wouldn’t be enough to dig Golden State out of its early hole. The home team fell behind 39-22 after the first quarter, crumbling under a deluge of Rockets 3-pointers and unforced errors on both sides of the ball. The Warriors miscommunicated on several ball screens in the opening minutes, and compounded those issues by being careless with the ball in the halfcourt and transition. If either team was feeling the pressure of an elimination game, it was certainly Golden State.

    True to longtime form, though, that wasn’t the case immediately following intermission. Less than three minutes into the third quarter, the Warriors’ 10-point halftime deficit had turned into a one-point lead, on a corner three by Curry following a quick dribble hand-off from Kevon Looney. That was the first of Curry’s three triples in the third quarter; Thompson had four, as the Splash Brothers accounted for all seven of their team’s 3-pointers in the third quarter, which Golden State won 33-16. The fourth quarter was even more lopsided. The Warriors outscored the Rockets 31-9 in the final stanza, pulling away for good after Green found Curry for another triple with 8:35 left, making the score 94-79.

    “We just didn’t want to go out like that,” Thompson said.

    With Chris Paul in the game, perhaps Houston might have had a puncher’s chance to stage a late-game comeback. But Harden, after a brilliant first quarter, was exhausted by the fourth, and the early-game fireworks provided by Eric Gordon proved fleeting. The isolations that led to so much success in the first half proved far less fruitful later, as the Warriors’ defensive intensity and the Rockets’ lack of ancillary playmaking combined to rear its ugly head. Harden finished with 32 points, seven rebounds and nine assists on 10-of-24 from the field, stellar numbers, but also had nine of Houston’s 21 turnovers – six of which came in that decisive third quarter, and all of which led to 23 Golden State points.

    On Thursday, moments after a second consecutive loss in another winnable game, Green expressed extreme confidence about the Warriors’ ability to extend the Western Conference Finals to a final game.

    “We’ll be back here for a Game,” he said from Toyota Center. “You’d be a fool not to believe me.”

    And if Paul’s healthy, you’d be a fool to think you know who’s winning Game 7 on Monday.

Fantasy News

  • Klay Thompson
    SG, Golden State Warriors

    The Warriors owner Joe Lacob hinted that there is a possibility that Klay Thompson may return to game action for the final few games of the season.

    While the team is leaving the door open for the possibility that Thompson could see the court before the season ends, it's not looking likely that he will bring back any fantasy value this season. If Thompson does return it would be with a heavy minutes restriction and towards the end of the fantasy playoffs. He can be left on the waiver wire for now.

    Source: USA Today

  • Isaiah Hartenstein
    PF, Houston Rockets

    The Rockets have assigned Isaiah Hartenstein and Chris Clemons to the teams G League affiliate.

    Hartenstein was unable to find any minutes while Clint Capela was injured as the team fully embraces the small-ball philosophy. Hartenstein and Clemons will be able to get consistent minutes down in the g League. Neither player is on the fantasy radar right now.

    Source: Alkyhan Bijani on Twitter

  • Hassan Whiteside
    C, Portland Trail Blazers

    Per Jason Quick of The Athletic, Hassan Whiteside is unlikely to lose the starting C job when Juduf Nurkic returns to game action.

    It's going to take some time for Nurkic to get up to speed in addition to the team likely being conservative on back-to-backs. The Blazers are trying hard to get the eighth spot in the west, but won't do it at the expense of their long-term big man. Whiteside has put up first-round value on the year and should be safe heading into the stretch run.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Lauri Markkanen
    PF, Chicago Bulls

    Coach Jim Boylen said the Lauri Makkanen (right hip stress reaction) remains on track to return to game action near the beginning of March.

    Makkanen went down in late-January in an injury initially believed to be soreness but was later deemed worse. There were even rumblings that Markkanen would be able to play had it been the playoffs. Assuming Markkanen will be back within two weeks, he makes sense as a high-upside add for teams comfortably gearing up for the playoffs.

    Source: Chicago Tribune

  • Otto Porter Jr.
    SF, Chicago Bulls

    Otto Porter (foot) has reportedly shed his walking boot and could be returning to practice soon as he eyes a return to the court.

    The Bulls are optimistic that Porter, who has been out since early November, can resume practicing shortly after the All-Star break. It is uncertain what type of workload the Bulls would hand to Porter when he does suit up, but owners with open spots can start to think about stashing the versatile forward ahead of the stretch run.

    Source: Chiacgo Tribune

  • DeMarre Carroll
    SF, San Antonio Spurs

    The Spurs have officially waived F DeMarre Carroll on Tuesday.SAS officially waive DeMarre Carroll on Tuesday

    Carroll was expected to sign with the Rockets, but with the news of him being waived rather than being bought-out, Carroll will now have to clear waivers first. Feel free to leave him on the waiver wire as the situation plays itself out and we know where Carroll will be playing next.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Charlie Brown
    F, Atlanta Hawks

    The Hawks have assigned F Charlie Brown to the teams G League affiliate.

    Brown will head back to the G League where he will get more time to hone his craft. He is off the fantasy radar.

    Source: Hawks PR on Twitter

  • Terance Mann
    PG, Los Angeles Clippers

    The Clippers have assigned Terance Mann and Mfioudu Kabengele to the team's G League affiliate.

    Mann and Kabengele were rumored to be in a proposed deal for Marcus Morris but were ultimately left out of the accepted trade. Both players will get more run in the G League and can be ignored in fantasy circles.

    Source: Anthony Chiang on Twitter

  • Dzanan Musa
    SG, Brooklyn Nets

    The Nets have assigned Dzanan Musa to their NBA G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets.

    The second-year guard failed to gain much playing time while Caris Levert was sidelined due to thumb surgery. As a result, he has also fallen behind Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot in the depth chart and he is only a hold in dynasty leagues.

    Source: Chris Milholen on Twitter

  • Jeremy Pargo
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    Though Jeremy Pargo probably doesn’t figure into Golden State’s long-term plans, he is proving that he belongs at the NBA level and he is likely to finish the season with the Warriors.

    Pargo, whose 11-year professional career has spanned four NBA teams and eight overseas clubs, offered the Warriors a savvy point guard to help bring along rookies Ky Bowman and Jordan Poole. He is a deep-league option at this point and it’s up in the air whether he holds any value as we reach the end of the fantasy season.

    Source: San Francisco Chronicle