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Thursday’s three-game slate gave us another fun night from Jaren Jackson Jr., another Nikola Jokic triple-double, a banged-up Joel Embiid performance, a LeBron James triple-double in a loss, and a big game from Derrick White, the return of Devin Vassell and a long-awaited solid line from Lonnie Walker as the Spurs beat the Nuggets.
Grizzlies 108, Lakers 95 – Jaren Jackson Jr. hit 9-of-18 shots and two 3-pointers for 25 points, five rebounds and three steals to lead the Grizzlies to the win over the Lakers. This was just his third game without a block this season and he’s scored at least 25 points in back-to-back games. JJJ is going to have a nice matchup against the Rockets on Saturday, as Houston is No. 1 in the league in pace. Desmond Bane kept it going and had 23 points, three boards, three assists, two steals, a block and five 3-pointers for a stellar line, and has scored at least 21 points in three of his last four games. Tyus Jones and De’Anthony Melton had nearly identical lines with 12 points with six assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in the win. Unfortunately, Jones hit just 5-of-14 shots while Melton hit 4-of-9 on the night. Kyle Anderson returned from a four-game absence from a back injury but had just seven points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and a 3-pointer in just 15 minutes off the bench. Dillon Brooks was a late scratch after entering COVID protocols so it’s unknown when we’ll see him again. Melton got the start in his place and came through with a decent line. Nothing too interesting happened off the bench other than Xavier Tillman swiping four steals in 18 minutes, John Konchar getting three steals in 19 minutes and Jarrett Culver getting two steals in 16 minutes. Melton is probably worth grabbing if he’s available in your league due to Brooks’ unknown status.
The Lakers got 22 points, eight boards, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer from Anthony Davis and LeBron James added 20 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists, four steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer in one of his strongest lines of the season and joined Oscar Robertson, Jason Kidd, Magic Johnson and Russell Westbrook as the only players to have at least 100 triple-doubles. Avery Bradley and Talen Horton-Tucker each scored 10 points and Russell Westbrook had an off night with nine points, six boards, seven assists, a block, two 3-pointers and six turnovers in the loss. No one on the bench scored more than seven points, although Malik Monk’s line of six points, four rebounds, two assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers on 2-of-7 shooting was at least noteworthy. He’s a potential DFS flier these days but that’s about it. AD and LeBron are constantly on the injury report but right now, they’re playing through their issues. AD should be a fun play against the Thunder on Friday, as the Thunder are giving up the most points to opposing big men this season. Of course, this is a back-to-back situation so managers of both AD and Bron will want to make sure they’re playing tonight.
Spurs 123, Nuggets 111 – Derrick White kept his foot on the gas and hit 9-of-14 shots and two 3-pointers for a team-high 23 points, six rebounds, four assists, a steal and two blocks in the win, Lonnie Walker finally got hot and scored 21 points with four rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers, Dejounte Murray hit 7-of-16 shots and three 3-pointers for 20 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and a steal, and Doug McDermott hit 6-of-12 shots and three 3-pointers for 17 points and three rebounds. Keldon Johnson remains out with his sprained ankle and the Spurs have two more games this week. I dropped Walker in a league or two and kept him in a league or two, so it was nice to see him finally wake up last night after scoring a total of nine points in his previous two games. Other Spurs making contributions on Thursday were Keita Bates-Diop (7-9-2-2 with a triple), Jakob Poeltl (9-9-7 and two blocks), and Drew Eubanks (14 points, 6 rebounds, a block and one 3-pointer). Devin Vassell returned from a three-game absence due to his quad injury and played 17 minutes, finishing with nine points, five rebounds, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer. Walker, McDermott, KBD and Eubanks are all worth a look with two games left on the schedule this week (Saturday & Sunday).
The Nuggets are feeling the brunt of their injury woes right now, losing nine of their last 12 games and that number would be 10-of-12 had they not held on to beat the lowly Pelicans in overtime on Wednesday. The Nuggets are just 12-13 right now.
Aaron Gordon hit 9-of-12 shots and 7-of-8 free throws for 25 points, six boards, three assists and a block to lead the way for Denver, Nikola Jokic barely had his third straight triple-double 22 points, 13 boards, 10 assists, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers, and Will Barton played through his knee injury and hit 8-of-16 shots and three triples for 19 points, three boards, four assists and two steals in the loss. Jokic logged his 10th dime just before checking out late in the game. Monte Morris hit 5-of-13 shots and three 3-pointers for 13 points, two rebounds and five assists and Facundo Campazzo hit four 3-pointers for 12 points, two rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block off the bench in 25 minutes. Bones Hyland is back but hit just 2-of-10 shots in 14 minutes for five points and a steal.
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Jazz 118, Sixers 96 – There’s really not a lot to report from this game. Rudy Gobert had a strong double-double with 17 points, 21 rebounds and two blocks, Joe Ingles might be becoming relevant after scoring 22 points with 14 assists and five 3-pointers over his last two games, Mike Conley is no longer being rested in back-to-backs, and Hassan Whiteside double-doubled in just 15 minutes off the bench to finish with 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Eight Jazz players scored in double figures and they got their sixth straight win against the Sixers last night. Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz in scoring with 22 points, six assists, two steals and five 3-pointers in the win.
The Sixers, who had their three-game winning streak snapped, were led by Joel Embiid’s pedestrian 19 points, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals, a block and a 3-pointer on 8-of-18 shooting in 30 minutes. He is dealing with an abdominal injury and left tonight’s game for a spell before returning from the locker room in the fourth quarter. Dennis Scott reported after the game that Embiid was in “severe” pain, so fantasy managers will have to hope that he’s OK for Saturday’s game against the Warriors. If he’s out for that one, Andre Drummond, who didn’t score in his 10 minutes, could be a solid play on Saturday, although his matchup with the running Warriors isn’t exactly ideal. Only four Sixers scored in double figures last night as Seth Curry (18), Tobias Harris (17) and Tyrese Maxey (11) joined Embiid with the honor. Nothing particularly exciting happened with the starting unit or the bench squad on the Philly side of things and this game was pretty much a fantasy black hole. Maxey banged his head pretty hard and was examined for a concussion but was cleared to return to the game, so hopefully, he’s good to go for Saturday’s game.