After the mayhem of an 11-game Monday, the NBA schedule threw us an offspeed pitch with just three games on Tuesday. We’ll hit them all in depth here, including big nights for tall human beings named Nikola (that would be Vucevic and Jokic), a monster effort from Mitchell Robinson and a rare sighting of ... Henry Ellenson? That’s correct. Let’s get started:
Knicks 108, Magic 103
On a night that New York didn’t have DeAndre Jordan (ankle), and Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr. and Damyean Dotson combined to shoot 8-of-33, the Knicks still managed to win their 13th game of the year. The reason? Some borderline absurd performances off the bench, most notably Mitchell Robinson, who recently said he thinks he can average six blocks per game, then came out and blocked — that’s right — six shots. I believe that’s called predicting the future. Robinson’s full stat line: 17 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and the aforementioned six rejections. You don’t need me to tell you this, but he’s a beast.
Meanwhile, we had an Emmanuel Mudiay sighting (19 points for a second straight game) as well as some noise from Allonzo Trier (18 points), but I may be burying the headline here by not yet mentioning one Henry Ellenson. The former first-round pick of the Pistons (No. 18 in 2016), now playing on a 10-day deal with the Knicks, got a career-high 36 minutes and put up a 13-9-5 line with two steals and three 3s to help fuel New York’s first winning streak of any kind (two specifically) since November. Feel free to add Ellenson or Mudiay, or drop Dotson, or just throw your laptop into a gulch. The Knicks rotation is madness and I refuse to be roped into it.
Orlando’s starters scored a staggering 96 out of their 103 points, led by Nikola Vucevic (26-11-6 with three blocks and two 3s), and Aaron Gordon (26 points and seven rebounds with a triple, a steal and a block). This was Gordon’s highest point total in six weeks, and just his second time topping 20 in 10 February games so far. Meanwhile, Jonathan Isaac had exactly 16 points and six rebounds for a second consecutive game, and threw in three blocks and four 3s. Evan Fournier had 15 points with five rebounds, three steals and eight dimes — his most assists since October — but went 6-of-16 from the floor and 0-of-7 from downtown.
Raptors 118, Celtics 95
This one got out of hand early and aggressively after a 36-13 2nd quarter for the Raptors. Pascal Siakam led the Raps with 25 points (plus eight rebounds, two steals, one block and four 3s), while Kawhi Leonard returned from yet another rest day and scored 21. Kawhi’s February so far looks like this: play-play-sit-play-play-sit-play-sit-play. Also, since early December, Leonard has appeared in 23 games and sat out 11. Those are unnerving numbers if you’re relying on this guy heading into the fantasy playoffs.
Also for Toronto, Serge Ibaka started with Marc Gasol heading back to the bench, but neither one did a lot with the game getting so lopsided. Ibaka had 14 points, two rebounds and two 3s in 20 minutes, while Gasol had five points, five boards and eight dimes in his 23 minutes. Gasol is averaging just 21 minutes through six games with his new team after averaging 34 a game with Memphis. Kyle Lowry scored just seven points, but added six rebounds and 11 assists.
The Celtics got 17 from Marcus Morris and a nice all-around line from Jaylen Brown (10-8-4 with four steals), but this was otherwise a pretty hideous box score for Boston. That includes Kyrie Irving scoring seven points — his lowest point total since he put up three in a win over Detroit four months ago.
Nuggets 121, Thunder 112
Nikola Jokic narrowly missed a triple-double and was the evening’s high scorer with 36 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists, also tying a season-high with four made 3s. The only complaint anyone could file with Jokic right now is that he has just three blocks in 10 February games (0.3 bpg).
Paul Millsap threw down his fourth consecutive double-double and has put up 16.8 ppg, 12.4 rpg, 2.4 spg, 1.4 bpg and 1.0 3s over his last five. The Nuggets also got some strong work from Jamal Murray (20-5-5) and Will Barton, who had a long overdue breakout game with 23 points — a season high. Barton is averaging 29 minutes a game this month, but simply hasn’t been shooting well, and it was only a matter of time before he got it going. This is a good start.
Gary Harris and Isaiah Thomas continued to have minutes restrictions, and both remained relatively quiet. Harris had five points in his 23 minutes, while Thomas scored 11 in 15 minutes on the court. I’d still try to stay patient with Harris, who scored 14 in Denver’s last game before this one, but I understand if you’re losing patience. As for Thomas, he’s averaging 11.3 ppg and 2.0 3s in 17 minutes a game so far, but it’s not clear when Denver will clear him for more playing time — or how much he can get in a rotation with that many guard options.
For OKC, Russell Westbrook came up one dime short of a triple-double (22-14-9 with seven turnovers) and has now gone three straight games without one after his record-setting streak of 11 in a row prior to the break. He also appeared to injure his ankle in the second half, but stayed in and played through it. Paul George struggled with his shot (7-of-24 / 3-of-14 on 3s), but still managed a 25-8-7 line with six steals to tie his season high in that department. Jerami Grant added 21 — his highest point total since mid-January — with two triples and two blocks.
In other news…
*Clint Capela says his conditioning is at “55,60 percent” at the moment, so keep that in mind if you’re slightly frustrated with his numbers (particularly in scoring and blocks). Capela has averaged 10.7 ppg, 11.3 rpg and 1.0 bpg in three games since returning from a month off.
*Joel Embiid (knee) won’t play on Thursday, and he reportedly has yet to be reevaluated, something Sixers beat writer Keith Pompey says will happen in the upcoming days. Meanwhile, Boban Marjanovic (bone bruise/mild knee sprain) is set to be reevaluated in 5-7 days.
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Quick Hits: Domantas Sabonis is expected to miss “a couple games” with a sprained left ankle, leading to more minutes for Kyle O’Quinn. … Marvin Williams (toe) is doubtful, which could open up a nice opportunity for Miles Bridges. … Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee) is probable for Wednesday. … Otto Porter (leg) and Kris Dunn (migraine) are both questionable. … Also questionable: Jeff Teague (knee). … James Johnson (shoulder) is questionable for Wednesday, while Justise Winslow (knee) is probable. … Evan Turner (left knee) will be out for a third consecutive game. … Darius Miller (ankle) is probable. … Ivan Rabb (heel) is doubtful, the latest setback in his maddening uphill climb to fantasy value. … Tyreke Evans (food poisoning / fantasy lineup poison) is questionable. … Also: Steve Alexander joined me to answer your Twitter questions on the Rotoworld Fantasy Basketball Podcast, and you can check that out right here: