Saturday’s six-game slate was of course heavily impacted by health and safety protocols, but for the first time in a while, it didn’t feel like it. The storylines and performances were gripping enough to draw our focus away from the ever-growing injury reports and keep it firmly gazed upon glorious NBA basketball.
This was a night of career-highs for multiple players. Bradley Beal and Derrick White set new career-highs in dimes. Hamidou Diallo, Luka Garza and Saddiq Bey all recorded career-highs in rebounds in the same game. Jaxson Hayes and Facundo Campazzo set career-highs in scoring, and Bey and DeMar DeRozan each hit game-winners.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, Kevin Porter Jr. left the Rockets game early, and Christian Wood was benched as Houston continues to spiral. To quote Frankie Valli, “Oh, what a night.” Let’s get into all the action!
Bucks 136, Pelicans 113
In a final score that shocked no one, Milwaukee blew out the Pels by 23 points in an easy win. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 35 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and two steals in another dominant effort, posting the 26th triple-double of his career and second of the 2021-22 season. He’s averaged 32/11/6 since returning from protocols and is playing some of his best basketball of the season.
Bobby Portis played well with 14/6 and four triples, though his night could have been bigger if the game was closer. The Arkansas product has provided sixth-round fantasy value this season and looks to have locked down the starting center job for the Bucks. Jordan Nwora scored 23 points and hit five triples to lead the bench in scoring. He’s played some big minutes this season, but his usage is highly inconsistent when the team is at or near full strength.
Grayson Allen scored 16 points on 14 shots, Pat Connaughton went 9/6/3 with a steal and an assist, and George Hill went 8/2/1. It’s unclear what Milwaukee’s lineups will look like night-to-night given the vast collection of talent on the roster, but Allen and Connaughton’s values are fading as the team begins to get healthy. Wesley Matthews and Donte DiVincenzo are still vying for minutes on the wing as well.
Willy Hernangomez went for 11 points and eight boards with no defensive stats in 20 minutes, and he can be left on the waiver wire outside deeper leagues. Herbert Jones was absolutely brilliant with 14 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals, three blocks and two triples across 35 minutes. He’s making the most of his opportunities with Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas sidelined, but he’s been a top-100 player over the last 30 days thanks in large part to his strong contributions on the defensive end. He’s rostered in just 35% of Yahoo leagues and needs to be more widely rostered.
Josh Hart continued his recent stretch of strong play and went 14/11/9, just missing on his first career triple-double. Jaxson Hayes went off for a career-high 23 points and recorded the second 20-point game of his career and the first in nearly two years.
Pistons 117, Spurs 116
Saturday’s first matchup of the night was a snoozer, but it was quickly followed up with a thriller between two shorthanded teams. Saddiq Bey hit a triple with 1.9 seconds left in overtime to lift Detroit over San Antonio for the team’s sixth win of the season. He finished the night with 21 points and a career-high 17 boards. He struggled from the field, going 7-of-23 but hit a triple when it mattered most. He’s been hot recently, averaging 24.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.3 triples and 3.2 assists over his last six contests.
Luka Garza averaged just 9.3 points and 5.8 boards across 24.8 minutes in four starts prior to Saturday, but he matched his career-high in scoring with 20 points and set a new career-high with 14 boards to record his first-ever double-double. He’s worth streaming in the short-term while Detroit’s frontcourt is shorthanded.
Hamidou Diallo has been incredible lately, and he had another monster game Saturday with 34 points, a career-high 14 boards, five steals, four dimes and two blocks. In two games prior to this outburst, he averaged 29.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 steals, 3.0 assists over 39.0 minutes. He should continue to provide early-round value while Detroit is without key players. Cassius Stanley scored 19 in his first career start, while Derrick Walton went 11/6/6 with four steals. Both can be streamed confidently when in the starting lineup.
Derrick White has been a top-40 player over the last 30 days while averaging 17.2 points, 5.7 dimes, 2.0 stocks and 1.7 triples. Managers who exercised patience with him are being rewarded right now, and White had a huge double-double Saturday with 18 points and a career-high 14 dimes.
Jakob Poeltl double-doubled, Bryn Forbes led the team in scoring with 27, and Devin Vassell entered the starting five. Vassell went 19/4/4 with three steals, and if he got dropped to your waiver wire, now’s the time to scoop him up. Forbes is an interesting add as well with Doug McDermott and Lonnie Walker added to health and safety protocols Saturday.
Bulls 120, Wizards 119
If you thought one buzzer-beating three was great, what about two? This one was a nail-biter as both teams traded blows until the final seconds culminating in a history-making triple from DeMar DeRozan.
Zach LaVine led Chicago in scoring with 35 and seven triples, and he’s now averaged 31 points and 5.8 three-pointers over his last five games played. Coby White chipped in 20 points, five assists, four triples, two rebounds and a steal and deserves an add off the waiver wire in 12-team leagues. Nikola Vucevic notched a 22-point, 12-rebound double-double, but the star of the night was DeRozan.
DeRozan went for 28 points, nine rebounds and five assists in this one and hit his only three-point attempt, a corner triple with a hand in his face as time expired. DeRozan is the first player in NBA history to hit a game-winning three on consecutive nights after doing it Friday against the Pacers.
Kyle Kuzma went for 29 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two steals and nearly played hero. He converted a triple of his own with just five seconds remaining to put Washington ahead 119-117 before DeRozan ultimately won the game for Chicago. Kuz has been on a roll and recorded his fourth double-double in his last five games and his second straight 25-point double-double.
Bradley Beal set a career-high with 17 dimes and chipped in 27 points, four steals and two boards in Saturday’s 120-119 loss to the Bulls. He broke his previous record of 15 assists, set Jan. 13, 2019 against Toronto, and he’s now recorded back-to-back points/assists double-doubles as he runs Washington’s offense.
Clippers 120, Nets 116
The shorthanded Clippers took care of business against the East’s top seed Saturday thanks to a balanced team effort. Six Clippers scored in double figures, including Justise Winslow (11 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) and James Ennis (10 points, four boards).
Eric Bledsoe went off for a fantastic 27/4/3/3/2 line and set a new season-high in scoring while nailing four 3-pointers. In four prior starts, he averaged 17.3 points, 6.8 dimes, 4.0 boards and 2.0 steals and has been a top-80 player in that span. Amir Coffey has been just outside the top-100 in that same span, and he went 14/8/5 as a starter Saturday. Both players warrant an add in standard leagues if you need some viable streamers.
Fantasy managers worried about Nicolas Claxton’s move to the bench shouldn’t have any reason to panic moving forward as he went for 13 points, 10 boards, a block and a steal and recorded his first double-double of the season and second of his career. The young center has provided mid-round value as of late and if he’s somehow still on your waiver wire, he should be a priority add.
Kevin Durant went for 28 points, though it took him 24 shots to get there in an uncharacteristically inefficient showing. James Harden went 9-of-22 from the field in an inefficient effort of his own, but his 13 made free throws helped him reach 34 points to go with 13 dimes and 12 boards. Harden has now posted four straight 30-point double-doubles and three triple-doubles in that span, and he’s playing like his vintage Rockets self. Buckle up.
Nuggets 124, Rockets 111
This was an ugly game from start to finish, and while there are some interesting stat lines to digest, the bigger picture of Houston’s dysfunction needs to be the focus of this game wrap. Christian Wood was benched because he violated a team rule, then he refused to sub in during the second half after a heated altercation with the Rockets’ GM at halftime. That same altercation caused Kevin Porter Jr. to throw something and then leave Toyota Center at halftime.
KPJ was traded to Houston after losing his cool and throwing something in Cleveland too, so this isn’t encouraging news after he just returned from a lengthy absence due to a thigh injury. His status should be considered questionable moving forward, and there will almost certainly be some discipline handed down by the team or potentially the NBA.
Wood recorded one rebound and missed all four of his shots in eight minutes, and it’s unclear what kind of discipline he’ll face for refusing to play the second half. KJ Martin accounted for 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and a block and is one guy likely to benefit if Wood’s playing time is decreased. Jalen Green posted 29 points, five triples, an assist and a rebound, and he’s one of only a few reliable scorers the Rockets have left.
Nikola Jokic had a double-double, Aaron Gordon returned and went 16/11 in 21 minutes, and Will Barton had his typical all-around line. The star of the night for Denver was Facundo Campazzo, who went ballistic with 22 points, 12 assists, five steals, four rebounds, three triples and two blocks. The points were a new career-high, the assists were the second-highest mark of his career, and the steals and blocks matched his career-highs. To put it simply, he had the best game of his career and is worth an immediate add. This performance wasn’t a fluke, as evidenced by his strong play last season as a rookie.
Warriors 123, Jazz 116
In a clash of Western Conference powerhouses, Golden State edged Utah as both teams played team basketball and got strong contributions from multiple starters and reserves. Otto Porter started in place of Jordan Poole and went 20/8/7 with three steals. He’s been a strong play as of late, but his value will likely take a hit when Poole’s conditioning improves and/or Klay Thompson makes his return.
Kevon Looney went 8/7/6 and Andre Iguodala went 12/8/7 as both players picked up some of the playmaking left in the absence of Draymond Green (protocols). Six Warriors scored in double-figures including Andrew Wiggins (25), Stephen Curry (28), Gary Payton (12), Porter (20), Iggy (12) and Poole (10). Curry hit 6-of-12 triples as well.
Six of Utah’s players scored in double-figures, including four who scored at least 20. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 20 with four triples, Donovan Mitchell went 20/9/6, Jordan Clarkson scored 20 with four triples off the bench, and Rudy Gobert went for 20 points, 19 boards and two dimes. Nothing out of the ordinary for either team. Just a couple of elite squads duking it out in a potential playoffs preview.