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Eric Bledsoe
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Basketball Daily Dose

Dose: Eric Bledsoe Steals the Show

by Raphielle Johnson
Updated On: March 27, 2019, 4:22 am ET

Tuesday’s NBA schedule was a busy one, with team games on the slate including Orlando’s visit to Miami in a key Southeast Division matchup and Charlotte looking to keep its playoff hopes alive as it hosted San Antonio. But the headliner was Houston’s trip to Milwaukee in a matchup of bona fide MVP candidates. James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo both put up numbers, but it was Eric Bledsoe who stole the show with his play on both ends of the floor.

Among the other standouts Tuesday were rookies Trae Young and Luka Doncic, and LeBron James had a solid night as well. Below is a look at what happened Tuesday night in the NBA, beginning with the showdown in Milwaukee. 

Bucks 108, Rockets 94: This one was a matchup of MVP candidates, with James Harden leading the Rockets into Milwaukee to take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. Both posted double-doubles, with Harden scoring 23 points (9-of-26 FGs, 4-of-5 FTs) with ten rebounds, seven assists, two blocked shots, one three-pointer and four turnovers and Antetokounmpo countering with 19 points (7-of-15 FGs, 5-of-7 FTs), 14 rebounds, four assists, one steal, one blocked shots and five turnovers, but Giannis’ supporting cast performed better in Milwaukee’s 14-point victory. 

Eric Bledsoe posted a stat line of 23 points, seven assists, three rebounds, two blocked shots, one steal and four 3-pointers while also guarding Harden for most of the game. Bledsoe is one of three Bucks that have been top-50 player in nine-category leagues, this season, with Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez being the others. Lopez and Khris Middleton and scored 13 points apiece, and Pat Connaughton added 14 (4-of-5 3-pointers), seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocked shots off the bench.

Sterling Brown, who started for the injured Tony Snell (ankle), finished with eight points, 11 rebounds, three assists, one steal and one blocked shot in 26 minutes, with D.J. Wilson (six rebounds) and Ersan Ilyasova (four rebounds, one assist) adding seven points apiece. 

Unfortunately for Milwaukee the team lost another player, as it was announced after the game that rookie Donte DiVincenzo will miss the remainder of the season due to the bilateral heel bursitis that has forced him to miss 28 games this season. Based solely upon his production (4.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.1 apg) the loss of DiVincenzo isn’t a huge deal. The issue is that Milwaukee now has four fewer options (not counting Snell) to turn to as it closes in on the top seed in the East, as Malcolm Brogdon, Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol are all currently sidelined as well.

Given their lead on Toronto this would be a good time to get some guys rest ahead of the postseason, but the lack of healthy bodies may make this difficult for Mike Budenholzer to do.  

Houston was short a rotation player Tuesday, as Kenneth Faried (foot) missed his second straight game. The Rockets haven’t hesitated to go small in order to deal with a lack of interior depth, and that was the case as P.J. Tucker saw some time as the de facto center when Clint Capela needed a break. Nene did not play at all, with Gary Clark (six points, two teals, one rebound and two 3-pointers) playing ten minutes and Isaiah Hartenstein not checking in until the final minute. Danuel House was the biggest beneficiary from a playing time standpoint, as he played 28 minutes and accounted for 15 points (5-of-9 3-pointers) and four rebounds off the bench. 

Another issue for Houston on this night was Eric Gordon missing all seven of his field goal attempts and finishing with just one rebound and one assist to his name. An ankle injury made the veteran guard a bit of a question mark earlier in the day, but he was ultimately able to play. Gordon played 23 minutes, with Austin Rivers (five points, two rebounds and one steal in 20 minutes) and Iman Shumpert (six points, three rebounds, one steal, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers) absorbing the remaining minutes on the perimeter. 

Capela (17 points/11 rebounds/2 assists/1 steal/1 block), Tucker (3/5/2/2) and Chris Paul (19/9/4 with four 3-pointers) all joined Harden as Rockets who played at least 32 minutes, with Capela and Tucker playing 36 apiece and Paul 32. 

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Hornets 125, Spurs 116 (OT): Charlotte picked up a big win Tuesday night, beating the Spurs in overtime to avoid falling further behind in the race for the final playoff spot in the East. And as one would expect Kemba Walker was the star, as he scored 22 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. In addition to the 38 points (14-of-31 FGs, 8-of-11 FTs) the All-Star point guard accounted for 11 assists, nine rebounds, one blocked shot, two 3-pointers and two turnovers. Walker’s backcourt sidekick wasn’t too shabby either, as Dwayne Bacon added 24 points, six rebounds, three steals, one assist, one blocked shot and four 3-pointers in 36 minutes of action. The minutes, points and steals totals were all career-highs for Bacon, who has started Charlotte’s last four games. Something to take into consideration regarding Bacon moving forward are Charlotte’s injuries on the wing, as Nicolas Batum (illness) was not available and Jeremy Lamb (ankle) left Tuesday’s game in the third quarter. 

Tony Parker (personal) did not play, with news of this not being reported until the third quarter, and he hasn’t appeared in a game since March 17. Rookie Devonte’ Graham remains the backup point guard, and he accounted for seven points (1-of-5 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), seven assists, one rebound and one turnover in 22 minutes of play. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (concussion) has cleared concussion protocol but he did not see any action, with Frank Kaminsky (15 points, ten rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers) giving the Hornets 32 productive minutes off the bench. 

As for San Antonio, DeMar DeRozan (12-of-24 FGs, 6-of-8 FTs) and LaMarcus Aldridge (8-of-18 FGs, 4-of-5 FTs) led the way offensively with 30 and 20 points, respectively. DeRozan also accounted for eight rebounds and four assists, with Aldridge grabbing a game-high 15 boards to go along with four assists and one steal. Rudy Gay came off the bench for the sixth time in San Antonio’s last seven games, finishing with 16 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal, two 3-pointers and three turnovers, and Marco Belinelli posted his first double-double of the season (17 points, ten rebounds, one assist and five 3-pointers). With regards to Gay it’s fair to question whether or not he’ll make a return to the starting lineup in the near future, as Jakob Poeltl had another quiet night alongside Aldridge. In 20 minutes the 7-footer accounted for seven points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots, and he reached double figures just twice since being inserted into the starting five ahead of San Antonio’s February 27 win over Detroit. 

An even bigger issue for the Spurs in Charlotte was the fact that Derrick White shot 0-of-10 from the field, scoring four points with seven assists, five rebounds, two steals, two blocked shots and three turnovers. Over his last four games White is averaging 7.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per while shooting 21.6% from the field and 8.3% (1-of-12) from three. He did manage to produce in non-shooting/scoring categories Tuesday, so those who have the second-year guard rostered can take solace in that. 

Celtics 116, Cavaliers 106: With Kyrie Irving (rest) getting the night off, Terry Rozier moved into the starting lineup for the Celtics in Cleveland. Rozier played 29 minutes in the win, accounting for 11 points (5-of-13 FGs), five rebounds, two assists, two steals and one three-pointer. Marcus Smart had the greater impact among the Celtics’ starting guards, as he tallied 21 points (8-of-14 FGs, 3-of-3 FTs), six rebounds, four assists, three steals, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes played. Boston finished the night with six double-digit scorers and that includes Jayson Tatum who scored all 21 of his points in the first half while also tallying five rebounds, four assists, one steal and three 3-pointers. Al Horford, who started alongside Aron Baynes, added 19 points, eight rebounds, five assists and one blocked shot. 

Among the reserves Gordon Hayward had a solid night, as he played 30 minutes (his second straight game of 30 minutes or more) and posted a stat line of 15 points (7-of-12 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs), five rebounds, four assists, one steal and three turnovers. And Marcus Morris scored 14 points with six rebounds, two assists and one steal, but he did so on 4-of-15 shooting from the field. Jaylen Brown was the lone reserve guard to see action, playing 18 minutes and finishing with nine points, six rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers. 

For Cleveland its significant lineup change was moving Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup, with Larry Nance Jr. returning to the second unit. The move was made in large part to match up with the Celtics’ starting tandem of Horford and Baynes, so it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Nance is back with the starters for Thursday’s game in San Antonio. Thompson played just 18 minutes, putting together a line of seven points, three rebounds and two assists. Despite his move to the bench Nance played 31 minutes, finishing with 13 points, seven assists, three rebounds and one steal. Ante Zizic remains out of the rotation, as he received the DNP-CD designation for the second consecutive game. 

Collin Sexton played a team-high 39 minutes, shooting 9-of-19 from the field and finishing with a team-high 24 points, three assists, two rebounds and three 3-pointers. He and Jordan Clarkson are the most consistent providers of perimeter offense, with Clarkson scoring 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 shooting from the foul line. Clarkson also accounted for five assists, two rebounds, one steal and three turnovers in his 30 minutes. 

Magic 104, Heat 99: It was Chris Bosh’s night in Miami, as the Heat retired his No. 1 jersey. But the Magic left South Beach with the win, as Nikola Vucevic led five starters in double figures with 24 points (10-of-18 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), 16 rebounds, five assists, one steal, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers. This was Vucevic’s fourth game of 20 points, ten rebounds and five assists this season, and his first since December 28. Also tallying a double-double for the Magic was Aaron Gordon, who scored 14 points with ten rebounds, two assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 37 minutes. Jonathan Isaac shot 3-of-8 from three on his way to a 19-point, six-rebound night with two assists, two blocks and one steal, and D.J. Augustin accounted for 17 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two 3-pointers. 

Terrence Ross finished with ten points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot, shooting 3-of-11 from beyond the arc, with Michael Carter-Williams (three points, six rebounds, six assists and one block) and Khem Birch (six points, three rebounds, one assist) making minimal contributions off the bench. 

Miami was without Justise Winslow (thigh/food poisoning) for the sixth straight game, with Derrick Jones Jr. replacing him in the starting lineup and Josh Richardson taking on more of the playmaking responsibilities. Jones finished the night with nine points, seven rebounds and one blocked shot, with Richardson tallying 17 points, six assists, one rebound, one steal and three 3-pointers in a team-high 40 minutes. Dion Waiters scored a game-high 26 with two assists, one rebound, one steal and five 3-pointers, but with only two starters in double figures it’s understandable why the Heat blew a 17-point lead. 

Dwyane Wade had yet another good night off the bench, as he scored 22 points with seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two 3-pointers, with Hassan Whiteside adding ten points, two rebounds and two steals. Goran Dragic, who was expected to approach 30 minutes with Winslow out, played 26 and posted a line of two points (1-of-6 FGs), three assists and two turnovers. After scoring 26 and 22 points in wins over the Thunder and Spurs last week, the veteran guard has scored a total of 11 points in Miami’s last three games. The Heat have two more games this week, Thursday vs. Dallas and Saturday vs. New York, so hopefully Dragic can take advantage of these games against non-playoff teams and get back on track. 

Raptors 112, Bulls 103: There was a lot going on in this matchup, beginning with the fact that Kyle Lowry (ankle) and Kawhi Leonard were both available to play. They started but Raptors coach Nick Nurse spread out the playing time among 11 players (not counting Jodie Meeks, who played five minutes), with Lowry playing 21 minutes and Leonard 22. Lowry shot 5-of-9 from the field, accounting for 14 points, six assists, two rebounds, one steal and four 3-pointers, with Leonard matching the point total (4-of-10 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs) with six steals, five assists and four rebounds. As a result of the more even distribution of minutes both Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell entered the game in the first quarter, replacing Lowry and Danny Green

VanVleet and Powell played a team-high 26 minutes apiece, with Powell shooting 8-of-10 from the field and scoring 20 points, with three rebounds, three assists and four three-pointers. FVV had a tougher night offensively, as he shot 1-of-6 from the field and scored seven points, with five assists and three rebounds. In total six players scored in double figures for Toronto, including Pascal Siakam (13/5/2 in 21 minutes) and Serge Ibaka (16 & 8 with two blocks and one three-pointer in 23 minutes). OG Anunoby finished with ten points, two blocked shots, one rebound, one assist and a steal, but he left the game in the fourth quarter due to a hit to he head he took while attempting to draw a charge. 

Anunoby passed the initial concussion tests, but he’ll have another set of tests to go through Wednesday. The biggest issue regarding the Raptors from a fantasy standpoint is Nurse tinkering with his rotation in preparation for the playoffs. Toronto trails Milwaukee by four games for the top spot in the East and has a 4 1/2 game lead on Philadelphia for second, so while the Raptors aren’t locked into the 2-seed that is likely where they’ll end up. As Tuesday’s distribution showed that will impact the minutes of key players, and in the case of Leonard the Raptors have not hesitated to give him the night off when deemed necessary. 

As for Chicago, with Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Otto Porter Jr. all out the backcourt had a much different look than what we’ve grown accustomed to. Ryan Arcidiacono, Shaq Harrison and Wayne Selden started, with the latter replacing Antonio Blakeney in the starting five. Selden (20/2/2/3 with two 3-pointers and four turnovers) played a game-high 40 minutes with Harrison (15/5/5/3)  playing 33 and Arcidiacono (13/6/2/2 with one triple) 30. Blakeney, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Brandon Sampson all played at least 21 minutes, with Blakeney accounting for 11 points, six rebounds and three assists. The six rebounds represent a season-high for the rookie guard, and the three assists are the most he’s had in a game since a January 27 loss to the Cavaliers. 

Blakeney is a “feels like leather” guy when it comes to his shot selection, and that combined with the lack of consistent production in non-scoring categories makes him a player who’s tough to rely on from a fantasy standpoint. But given the Bulls’ injuries he shouldn’t lack for opportunities as Chicago plays out the string. 

Raphielle Johnson
Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.