• One of the saddest NBA stories in awhile occurred this week with the passing of Craig Sager. His vivacious suits and positive demeanor were one of the highlights of the NBA and the entire association grieved with his passing. The NBA is a unique atmosphere and you can feel it with these types of events. There’s a family type atmosphere and a stronger sense of communal bonds between the personalities, the public, and the teams. Sager will be well remember and before we get into the Dish I entreat you to watch Kevin Garnett and Sager’s famous interaction here. Garnett and Chris Webber had a touching tribute on KG’s Area 21 which you can also watch here.

    Celebrate Craig Sager as we dive into today’s Dish.

    Suns 101 Thunder 114

    The Suns were not really ever in contention in this game and the box score reflects that. Devin Booker went off for 31 points on 11-of-22 shooting with three boards, five assists, a steal and three 3-pointers. T.J. Warren returned from his mysterious head injury and played 14 minutes off the bench. He’s clearly got some kind of minutes limit but he’ll be a rock solid top 60 player once he’s back in the swing of things. Eric Bledsoe is cooling off as he scored just 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting and added three boards with four assists. Tyson Chandler was the only other Sun to score in double figures, he had 10 points with nine boards and a steal.

    Yes this line is real. Russell Westbrook scored 26 points with 11 boards and 22 assists on top of two steals and a block with a perfect 7-of-7 from the line and 9-of-17 from the field. He’s killing owners in turnovers and his field goal is sporadic but he’s still a blast to own. Steven Adams scored 19 points with seven boards and two steals on 8-of-13 shooting. He’s been on a role and has scored in the double digits for six straight now. Victor Oladipo (sprained wrist) and his production is just sinking into the fabric of every other Thunder player. Anthony Morrow started in his place and scored 11 points but does literally nothing else besides hit 3-pointers. Andre Roberson has an opportunity to do something on offense now and he scored 11 points with three steals, but he’s likely not going to make any leaps and he’ll remain a borderline end of the roster option in almost every league.

    Pacers 105 Pistons 90

    Every Pacer starter scored in the double figures in this game. Paul George led the way with 26 points, seven boards, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers. Jeff Teague scored 19 with nine boards and eight assists in a near triple-double, and that’s not the first time that’s happened this year. He was much better in fantasy when Paul George missed time and now he’s doing it again with Monta Ellis (groin) missing time. Glenn Robinson III played 36 minutes and scored 12 points with 12 boards, he won’t be rebounding that much in the future but it looks like GR3 has a promising future in the NBA and if he ever gets usage he’ll be a must own player. Myles Turner was quiet with 10 points and five rebounds while Thad Young scored 12 with two boards and three assists.

    Andre Drummond was pretty disappointing in this game as he shot just 4-of-11 from the field for nine points, but he did add 15 rebounds with two steals and a block. Reggie Jackson is starting to round into form coming off his knee injury as he double-doubled with 19 points and 10 assists. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made five 3-pointers on his way to 20 points with five boards and three assists, but he hit only 6-of-18 shots. Tobias Harris scored 13 points with seven boards and little else, while Marcus Morris was also quiet with just nine points. Jon Leuer was a late scratch with back spasms and the Pistons bench is truly a dumpster fire without him.

    Hornets 107 Hawks 99

    Marvin Williams scored 19 points with six boards and two assists and is finally beginning to look like the player he did last year. Cody Zeller played well with 16 points and 11 boards, he’s about to crack the top 100 in per-game on the year and should be owned across the board. Kemba Walker scored 18 points with five boards and 10 assists, but struggled from the field by hitting only 5-of-14 shots. Nic Batum scored only seven with four assists but made up for it by grabbing four steals. He’s prone to disappearing at times. Marco Belinelli is a guy I’ve pumped as a pick up in several spots and he scored 19 points with three 3-pointers and played 29 minutes off the bench. Steve Clifford recently said that Belinelli is directing taking minutes from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who played just 20 minutes and scored four points.

    Kent Bazemore was the first guy off the bench in this game and he played 30 minutes on his way to 17 points, four boards, five assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer. That’s what we’re looking for and even though Bazemore is a highly inconsistent player he’ll likely end up near his mid-round value of last year. Thabo Sefolosha started at small-forward and played 30 minutes but only scored six points and added little else. Tim Hardaway Jr. started at shooting guard and played 33 minutes, he scored 21 with four boards, four assists, and four 3-pointers. It makes some sense to add him as Kyle Korver has been reduced to a bench role and played only 19 minutes. Dwight Howard was a monster on the boards, he grabbed 23 rebounds but only scored 10 points. Paul Millsap scored 20 points with five boards, five assists, a steal and two 3-pointers, he’s been more himself after starting the season out slowly.

    Lakers 108 Cavs 119

    Brandon Ingram nearly triple-doubled with nine points and 10 boards and nine assists. Luke Walton said it was “the best, I think & most confident he’s looked all season.” Ingram is playing a lot of minutes and has opportunity, so he should be owned but he still needs more opportunities on offense to be a win as a pickup. D’Angelo Russell rested in this game and that’s largely why Ingram started at point guard and played 40 minutes. Jordan Clarkson played 30 minutes off the bench and handled the ball plenty as well as he scored 20 points with five rebounds and an assist. Walton likes Clarkson off the bench and that’s not likely to change soon. Luol Deng has played much better as of late and scored 15 points with eight rebounds and three assists, he’s worth picking up to see if he can keep it going.

    Kevin Love has balled this year and scored 27 points with 17 rebounds on 11-of-20 shooting in this one. LeBron James added 26 points with seven boards, nine assists, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers. Kyrie Irving scored 21 points with six boards and 12 assists, it was good to see him attack the basket with the anticipation of passing as that’s what causes his low assist totals. J.R. Smith was the last Cavs player to score in double digits as he scored 14 points with four 3-pointers. That’s pretty much everything Smith will give you outside the occasional steal. The Cavs bench did very little and they just don’t have anyone worth owning there despite the fact there’s plenty of opportunity to produce. The Cavs bench could end up being an issue for them heading into the playoffs and it’s likely they’ll try and swing a trade to improve it, otherwise their players could actually be really good for the fantasy playoffs instead of resting as most would anticipate.

    Rockets 111 Timberwolves 109

    The Rockets sent this game to overtime after they were down big early in the game. Ryan Anderson was one of the big reasons for that as he scored 28 points with six boards and seven 3-pointers. He hit 9-of-19 shots and 16 of those were from beyond the arc. It was only a matter of time that he started making more shots and fantasy owners should continue to be patient. James Harden took control of this game in overtime and scored 28 points with nine boards and 13 assists while adding a steal and two blocks. Eric Gordon has been on fire as of late and he scored 20 points with six boards, four assists, two steals and four 3-pointers off the bench. Trevor Ariza added 11 points with five boards with three 3-pointers and three steals. Patrick Beverly only scored six but somehow added 10 boards with four assists and two steals to give some value on the night. Own as many Rockets players as you can.

    Karl Anthony-Towns was a beast as he scored 41 points and added 15 rebounds with five assists, though he did turn the ball over six times. Andrew Wiggins had a miserable game as he scored 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting and added six boards, five assists, three steals and a block. He air balled a half-court shot as he couldn’t get up the floor quickly enough as the game was tied up in the fourth. Zach Lavine scored 24 points with two boards and six assists, but he turned the ball over eight times in the process. Gorgui Dieng had a better actual basketball game than fantasy as he was +7 while on the court but he only scored four points with seven boards.

    Knicks 114 Nuggets 127

    Kristaps Porzingis scored 22 points with seven boards and three assists but hit only 7-of-19 shots. Carmelo Anthony was fantastic as he hit 10-of-14 shots on his way to 29 points with four boards and three assists with two 3-pointers. Joakin Noah really struggled in his 11 minutes and gave way to Willy Hernangomez who played 28 minutes and double-doubled with 17 points and 10 boards and two blocks. He’s played well everytime he’s been on the floor and if the Knicks shut down Noah or go into tank mode for any reason Hernangomez would be a strong pickup. Brandon Jennings started for the injured Derrick Rose (back) and scored 14 points with seven assists and three steals, he’s worth a pick up but he’s not exactly playing well in reality.

    Nikola Jokic started at center and played just 20 minutes but was able to score 10 points with nine boards and five assists in that time. He was in foul trouble, again, so it’s difficult to tell if he’s going to get to 30 minutes a night or if Malone will continue to limit him. The Nuggets are scorching people offensively when Jokic is on the floor. Emmanuel Mudiay bounced back from his recent stretch and scored 22 points with seven boards, five assists, a steal and two 3-pointers all on 10-of-15 shooting. Gary Harris has looked great since his return and scored 16 points with three boards and two assists. Kenneth Faried continues to be relevant as he scored 25 points on 10-of-11 shooting with seven boards. Will Barton scored 18 points off the bench and added eight rebounds with two assists and two steals. Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler scored 13 and 12 points respectively. The Nuggets aren’t going to have everyone produce like this, so something will eventually give and it will probably be at Faried and Barton’s expense.

    Trail Blazers 90 Warriors 135

    This game was ugly from the first quarter as the Warriors jumped out to a 39 to 21 lead. Damian Lillard scored an efficient 20 points in 30 minutes but added nearly nothing else. C.J. McCollum was quiet and scored 10 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Noah Vonleh got the start at power forward and played 24 minutes, but scored only six points with eight boards and was a -29 in plus/minus. Maurice Harkless scored 17 points and added two steals and two blocks and has been one of fantasy’s most pleasant surprises. No other player scored in double digits and this was just a throw away game for the Blazers.

    Kevin Durant roasted the Blazers as he scored 34 points and only needed to hit 11-of-13 shots to do it. He added 11 boards with four assists, two steals, a block and four 3-pointers. Klay Thompson took a back seat and scored 16 points with one 3-pointer and nearly nothing else. Draymond Green had a weird line as he scored three points but added 12 boards and 13 assists. Stephen Curry scored 19 points with six assists and five 3-pointers. Ian Clark came off the bench and scored 23 points with four assists on 9-of-11 shooting. Clark has done some interesting things off the bench for the Warriors and should be logged into owners minds if there’s ever an injury. My favorite update of the week: JaVale McGee scored 11 points with five boards!

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