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Basketball Daily Dose

Jaylen Brown scores 50 points, Luka Doncic returns to the lineup

by Noah Rubin
Updated On: January 3, 2022, 3:17 pm ET

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Raptors 120, Knicks 105

For the first time basically all season, the Toronto Raptors were healthy. With Scottie Barnes returning from a knee injury, Toronto was able to field their starting lineup of Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, and Barnes for the first time all season. Though Trent Jr. was limited because he was in foul trouble, it didn’t matter by the time the fourth quarter rolled around. The Raptors scored 40 points in the third quarter that all but sealed the game away. VanVleet started off 2022 on a hot note by scoring a season-high 35 points on only 17 shot attempts. He’s been providing top-10 fantasy value this season and has been the most consistent player on a Raptors team that is finally healthy and looking to fly up the standings. Siakam has been on fire lately and that continued in this one. Over the past three games, Siakam has averaged 24.3 points, 13 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.7 steals, and one block per game. The turnovers are high, and his free throw percentages are bad, but if you’re punting either stat, his value skyrockets.

While the Raptors were finally healthy, the Knicks were not. Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson are key players in league protocols, while Kemba Walker missed his second straight contest with knee injury. In this game, Tom Thibodeau unleashed Obi Toppin by letting him play 45 minutes at both power forward and center. Toppin didn’t have eye-popping numbers considering how many minutes he played, but he did put up stats across the board. He should be a great streaming option over the next few weeks with the Knicks thin in the frontcourt. Evan Fournier returned from an ankle injury and scored 20 points. He also had a turnover and two fouls, but he didn’t put up any other stats. Miles McBride started the game and played the first five minutes, but then was subbed out and didn’t play again until the fourth quarter. Thibs is going to play who he feels is going to help the team the most, and he apparently didn’t love McBride in this one. Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley ended up seeing a lot of backcourt minutes, with Burks tying his season-high with five steals. 

Celtics 116, Magic 111

With 4:08 remaining in regulation, the Magic led 96-82. After that point, Jaylen Brown scored 14 of his career-high 50 points over an 18-2 run that eventually led the game to overtime, where the Celtics held on to win. Brown scored his 50th point on this 3-pointer in overtime that helped seal the win. Brown is the 7th Celtics ever to score 50 points and is one of four Celtics to score 50 points and have 10 rebounds in the same game. He’s been on fire with Jayson Tatum missing his fourth straight game while in league protocols. Without Tatum this year, Brown has averaged 32.5 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.8 assists this season. However, during this stretch he's averaged 5.5 turnovers per game with poor shooting splits. Sure, the Celtics need him taking a ton of shots, but he hasn’t been as productive in 9-cat leagues because of how he hurts fantasy teams with those stats. Boston was also missing Robert Williams, who was out with a toe injury. Luckily, Dennis Schroder returned from protocols and slid right into the starting lineup. He scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

According to Stat Muse, Terrence Ross has the most games with 30 or more points and zero assists off the bench by an active player with four. Jordan Clarkson and Montrezl Harrell are tied with two. It’s an oddly specific stat, sure, but it illustrates Ross perfectly. This was his first game since December 15th after he cleared health and safety protocols. His 33 points and four 3-pointers were both season-highs, and he’s now scored in double figures in eight of his last nine games. Mo Bamba returned from an eight game absence but didn’t provide much for fantasy teams. Instead, Wendell Carter Jr. continued his excellent stretch with 15 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists. Since returning from a short-term knee injury, Wendell has double-doubled in four out of five games, including three straight. Gary Harris continued his excellent stretch, scoring a season-high 23 points and collecting a season-high four steals. He’s been providing top-60 value over the past two week, yet is rostered in only 34% of Yahoo! leagues. 

Cavaliers 108, Pacers 104

Though they’re still missing Darius Garland, the Cavs are mostly healthy. Evan Mobley has been fantastic in his four games since returning from league protocols. He had 24 points and nine rebounds in this game, and has averaged 20.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, three assists, and 1.3 blocks in those four games. Jarrett Allen is in his second game back since returning from protocols, and had 18 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks in this one. He’s had three blocks in both games since he returned. Let’s see how long he can keep this up. Kevin Love scored 20 points in his 5th consecutive game. The last time he had a 20-point streak this long was 2017. But the coolest part of Love’s performance tonight was this pregame autograph signing that he nearly missed. Isaac Okoro injured his elbow after playing 12 minutes and didn’t return. That opened up minutes for Lamar Stevens and Brandon Goodwin, with Stevens tying his career-high with 15 points.

Domantas Sabonis has been on a tear the past four games and that continued in this one. He’s averaged 21.3 points, 15.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists. 1.3 steals, and one block over this four game stretch. Unfortunately, it hasn’t translated to any wins for the Pacers. If the reports are true that he wants out of Indiana, he’s definitely doing the Pacers a favor by increasing his already high trade value. Myles Turner had three blocks, but what’s new? Justin Holiday tied his season-high with six 3-pointers. He’s scored 34 points over the past two games with only one free throw not coming from behind the arc. Duane Washington Jr. got the second start of his career, while Keifer Sykes got his first. Both of them made the most of the opportunity, with Washington Jr. scoring a career-high 20 points and Sykes logging career-highs across the board, including 10 points and five assists. While it’s obviously frustrating to see stars miss games, and you never want to see anyone sick, it’s cool to see guys get an opportunity to play heavy minutes that normally wouldn’t make an NBA roster. It has also led to Lance Stephenson’s return to Indiana, and he described the moment the way most of us would. Right?

Kings 115, Heat 113

De’Aaron Fox’s career-high 14 free throws, two of them coming with less than seven seconds remaining in the game, helped lead the Kings to a victory over the Heat. Fox scored 11 of his 24 in the final 7:15. Buddy Hield scored a game-high 26 points with seven 3-pointers. He had been reluctant to shoot over the past few games, shooting 5-of-17 from deep over the past four games and scored in single digits in three of those games. None of that seemed to matter in this one, as he let it rip the way he usually does. Damian Jones had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He got the start with Richaun Holmes in protocols. If he can keep up these numbers, it seems like Jones will be a nice streaming option as long as Holmes is out. Tyrese Haliburton had 12 assists in this game. He only had nine points on six shot attempts, but Haliburton has had double-digit assists in eight of the last nine games, including four straight. Over those nine games, he’s been averaging 19.3 points and 10.4 assists. 

The Heat’s five game winning streak came to a halt, but it wasn’t because of any individual performance. As a team, they actually outrebounded the Kings by 10 and had seven less turnovers. They simply just didn’t shoot the ball as well or get to the line as much. Omer Yurtseven, who played 38 total minutes in the first two months of the season, played 35 minutes in this one and had career-highs with 22 points and 16 rebounds. He’s the only active center on the roster with Dewayne Dedmon and Bam Adebayo both sidelined. He’s now rostered in 53% of Yahoo! leagues, but please don’t let it be yours. He may have missed the game-tying shot late, but Jimmy Butler has been solid since he returned from an ankle injury. He had 21 points, six rebounds, and five assists in this one. Tyler Herro started his second consecutive game with Duncan Robinson in protocols, scoring 22 points. 

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Suns 133, Hornets 99

The last time these two teams faced off was just a few weeks ago, with the Suns winning easily 137-106. Ahead of this one, Jalen McDaniels said that “we owe them one for sure.” Looks like it’ll be a while before the Hornets get them back, since this one actually went worse than the first time around. Similar to that one, there were some nice individual performances, but it was a collective team effort that led to the win. Devin Booker scored a game-high 24 points. Chris Paul dished out 16 assists while only taking six shots in 26 minutes. Jalen Smith tied his career-high that he set last game with 19 points, with these two points being the most fun to watch. Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson continued to be the solid, consistent players that they are, but in limited minutes due to the blowout. Bismack Biyombo had 11 points, six rebounds, and one monster dunk in 18 minutes in his return to the NBA. Cameron Payne had 14 points, five assists, two steals and a block. Landry Shamet had 17 points, three assists, and four steals. Both had nice games, but with the Suns back healthy, neither will see enough consistent opportunities to provide a ton of fantasy value.

The return of Miles Bridges (and this block by him) was one of only a few bright spots for Charlotte in this one. In his first game in a week and a half, Bridges put up a 10/3/3/1/1 line in 26 minutes, which isn’t bad for his return. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ish Smith were productive off the bench. Oubre had 15 points in 21 minutes, and Smith put up 13 points and eight assists in 25 minutes. Other than that, everyone had a below average game. LaMelo Ball scored 17 points with three rebounds and one assist, which is far below his season average. Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward struggled from the field, though Hayward did hit his 1,000th career 3-pointer. This is a game Charlotte will look to move on from. Quickly.

Mavericks 95, Thunder 86

Luka Doncic finally returned after missing 10 games in league protocols and, of course, almost put up a triple double. While he admitted that he was a little out of shape, you wouldn’t have been able to tell by watching this play. Luka finished with a 14/9/10 line with seven turnovers in 31 minutes. Not a bad first game back. Jalen Brunson’s numbers took a hit with Luka back. He finished with 12 points and seven assists after scoring more than 20 in half of the games without Luka. Maxi Kleber returned from protocols and started in place of Kristaps Porzingis, who missed this game to rest. Kleber hit three 3-pointers and added five rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block. Tim Hardaway Jr. also returned from a five game absence while in league protocols and scored 15 points. Before he entered protocols, he was starting in place of Luka and playing 40 minutes a night. Now, he’ll go back to being a nice deep ball threat. Marquese Chriss scored a season-high 15 points, including shooting 3-for-3 on trey balls, which were the first 3-pointers he hit this season.

Josh Giddey became the youngest player to record a triple-double with his incredible 17/13/14 stat line with four steals and three turnovers. He’s come close in other games this season, including the last game he played, when he finished with 10 rebounds and 10 assists, he just forgot the whole scoring thing. Giddey has a bright future ahead of him, so it was cool to see him put up those numbers against a young star like Luka. Isaiah Roby scored 12 points and a perfect 5-for-5 night from the floor. Aleksej Pokusevski got his first start of the season, finishing with nine points and five rebounds. Poku hasn’t had much of a role this season, but maybe this will be the start of some more permanent minutes. The team desperately needs Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to clear protocols to have a real chance to compete. Fantasy managers that have him on their roster are also desperate for him to return. It’s hard for guys to produce a ton of fantasy value when the team scores 86 points as a team.

Lakers 108, Timberwolves 103

LeBron James continues to amaze. His 26/7/5/3/1 with one turnover line is pretty much a down game considering how well he’s been playing. Over his last eight games, the King is averaging 34.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, six assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.5 blocks. So, yes. Aside from the steals, that was a below average game for LeBron. On the flip side, Russell Westbrook really struggled in this one. He shot 0-for-5 from deep, had nine turnovers, and did this? Not to rip him, because everyone has bad games, and he’s been putting up excellent numbers lately. He also had this finish that left Patrick Beverley with nothing to say, which is very impressive. The efficiency numbers are always a concern for Russ, but he’ll bounce back. Avery Bradley provided 14 points and four steals. He can provide some nice scoring numbers, but his role is pretty inconsistent. Malik Monk, who is only 23 by the way, had 22 points and has continued to be a key scoring option for the Lakers. Carmelo Anthony also chipped in 14 points. LeBron has also continued to start at center, which meant Dwight Howard earned a DNP-Coach’s Decision in this one. The Lakers went uber-small and were outrebounded 56-28. He may have played him against Minnesota if Karl-Anthony Towns would’ve played, but we’ll see how Frank Vogel uses him moving forward.

Every time KAT is out, Naz Reid is the go-to streaming option. He didn’t disappoint, as he finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds. When KAT is out, Reid has averaged 13.8 points and eight rebounds in five games this year, making him a very serviceable DFS option. Anthony Edwards didn’t play his best game in his second game back from protocols as he committed a season-high eight turnovers and shot 0-for-6 from deep. As he gets his wind back, and D’Angelo Russell returns to the lineup, his efficiency numbers should get back to his season average. Jarred Vanderbilt continues to be a fantasy-friendly player, even if he doesn’t score many points. He only scored three in this one, but he added 12 rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 32 minutes. Patrick Beverley had a complete fantasy performance with his 12/9/6/2/1 line. This is only his third game back from protocols, and he’s gotten better in each one. Jaylen Nowell has continued to shine off the bench. The second round pick in 2019 has scored in double figures in five straight games and in seven of the past eight. He’s also averaged 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds over the past three games, while swiping a steal in six straight games. He’s been an excellent deep play and should continue to be for the rest of the season. Jordan McLaughlin played six minutes in this game and had five assists. At that rate, he’d have tied Scott Skiles’ assist record if he’d played 36 minutes. 

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Noah Rubin

Noah is a recent college grad who loves all things basketball. You can find him on Twitter @NoahRubin22 for NBA insights that hopefully aren’t too biased towards his Atlanta Hawks.