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Basketball Daily Dose

Kevin Durant scores 51 points, LeBron James posts a triple-double

by Noah Rubin
Updated On: December 13, 2021, 2:19 pm ET

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The six games from Sunday started early, ended late, and featured a ton of big-time performances. Kevin Durant scored 51, while Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dejounte Murray, and LeBron James all posted triple-doubles. 

Bucks 112, Knicks 97

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for the Bucks in their win over the short-handed Knicks. He posted his first triple-double of the season with a 20/10/11 stat line and added some defensive stats with a steal and a block in 32 minutes. He was 6-of-8 from the line, which was a solid performance for him. The main knock on the Greek Freak continues to be his limited minutes due to the Bucks blowing teams out. Khris Middleton scored 20 points for the seventh consecutive game. He had a team-high 24 points and had eight rebounds and two steals. Rodney Hood scored 14 points off the bench without missing a shot. He stepped up in this one, but shouldn’t be counted on to continue scoring at the rate. The Bucks sure aren’t going to expect it. George Hill returned from a four-game absence, but only had two rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a turnover in 14 minutes. Donte DiVincenzo is expected to return soon, so Hill can’t be relied on. Bobby Portis is the guy that can definitely be relied on. He had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while also collecting three steals. He has been the best fantasy asset on this Bucks team over the past month in 9-cat leagues.

RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin entered into health & safety protocols and missed this game. Alec Burks was out for personal reasons. So the Knicks were down two starters and a key bench piece. Not a good start. Julius Randle built off the poor start by tying his season-low for points with eight on 2-of-9 shooting (1-of-5 from deep). He did fill up the stat sheet in other areas, but shots are hard to come by against a good defense that doesn’t have to worry about the second-leading scorer. Who the Bucks should’ve been worried about is rookie Quentin Grimes. He got his first start and exploded for 27 points and seven 3-pointers. The trey balls were a Knicks’ rookie record, and the points were the most by a Knicks’ rookie in nearly 15 years. He played well enough that he should continue to see minutes over the next few games and maybe even after they’re fully healthy. Derrick Rose also stepped into the starting lineup and finished with 18 points and seven assists. He’s been the most consistent Knick this year and should continue to put up numbers whether he’s coming off the bench or starting. We also had a Kevin Knox sighting! The former lottery pick topped his season totals in points, rebounds, and minutes in this game. He benefited from the injuries, but it’s highly unlikely we’re finally seeing him reach his potential. If he does this for a few straight games, then we’ll talk.

Nets 116, Pistons 104

Kevin Durant broke the Little Caesars Arena scoring record that his teammate Blake Griffin held by scoring 51 points. Griffin scored 50 in 2018. It’s less impressive when you realize the arena only opened in 2017, but it’s still pretty cool. Durant also added seven rebounds, nine assists, a steal, and two blocks. He completely dominated the Pistons just hours after being fined $25k for his comments directed at a fan in Atlanta on Friday. This was the highest-scoring game in the league so far this season, and his seventh 50-point game of his career. Patty Mills continued to be a reliable source of offense for the Nets, finishing with 18 points and five assists in 35 minutes. He’s enjoying a career year as the fill-in third member of the Big Three in Brooklyn. The other part of the group, James Harden, missed this game to rest. It’s fair that he got one since KD got one in Houston last week. Cam Thomas scored 13 points off the bench in 29 minutes. He’s scored double-digits in three consecutive games now. He’s really carved out a nice role for himself and has provided top-150 value over the past week. The aforementioned Griffin only scored one point in nine minutes while receiving boos from the crowd when he had the ball. Thankfully, popularity in cities you used to play in isn’t a fantasy stat, but BG hasn’t done much to help fantasy teams out in about a month. 

Cade Cunningham kicked off the long road without Jerami Grant with a solid 26/8/6 performance with three steals, and a block while shooting over 50% from the field. The shooting was nice to see from the rookie but the seven turnovers weren’t. If you’re punting turnovers, Cunningham is in prime position to help your team. Hamidou Diallo stepped into the starting lineup in the first game sans Grant and finished with 11 points, three rebounds, and a steal in 20 minutes. If he stays in the starting lineup and sees more minutes, he could end up being a nice pickup. However, neither of those are a guarantee. Trey Lyles seemed like the logical choice to step into the starting lineup, but Dwayne Casey opted for more of a small-ball lineup. Lyles only played eight minutes. Frank Jackson scored 25 points on six 3-pointers off the bench, and Saben Lee chipped in 17/6/6 with three steals and a block off the bench. The Pistons are looking for offense with Grant out and both of these guys made their case that they can provide. 

Mavericks 103, Thunder 84

The Mavs got their first win of the season without Luka Doncic in the lineup. A big reason was the play of Jalen Brunson, who stepped into the starting lineup and scored in double figures for the seventh straight game. He had 18 points, nine rebounds, and three steals in 31 minutes. He’s an excellent piece for Dallas but not for your fantasy team. He’s providing value just outside the top-130 this season. Kristaps Porzingis only shot 6-of-17 from the floor and missed all three of his 3-pointers. He finished with 13 points and seven rebounds in 30 minutes. Not the performance you’d expect from him without Luka in the lineup, especially since he’s been providing second round value this year. Moses Brown scored a season-high 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting in 20 minutes off the bench. He nearly averaged a double-double last season in Oklahoma City, but hasn’t had much of a role this season. This performance could lead to an uptick in his minutes. Maxi Kleber also had a nice game off the bench with 16 points, seven rebounds, and two assists off the bench. He doesn’t receive consistent minutes and doesn’t provide a ton of fantasy value when he does. Outside of KP and Luka, nobody on this team provides top-100 value and should only be used as streaming options. But they only play two games next week, so it really isn’t worth it.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander didn’t have his best game, but he continues to be the best option out of OKC. He posted a line of 18/4/5 with two blocks and a turnover. Luguentz Dort scored 10 points in 16 minutes before he exited with a sprained left ankle. Theo Maledon replaced him in the lineup to start the second half, but didn’t do much statistically. If Dort ends up missing time, Maledon may take over the starting job, which doesn’t help fantasy managers. Josh Giddey had six points and shot 3-of-14 from the floor while also committing four turnovers. Still Giddey added seven rebounds, four assists, a steal, and a block. It’s hard to reap the benefits of the good numbers he provides because of how much he can hurt you with his shooting percentages and turnovers. Darius Bazley had 10 points, six rebounds, and three blocks in 30 minutes. He’s had nine blocks and 10 steals over the past six games, which makes him a nice streaming option if you need those stats. The Thunder are a young, bad team right now. There’s going to be games like this one where they struggle to put up points, both on the scoreboard and in fantasy. If Dort is out, SGA is really the only reliable option on this team.

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Spurs 112, Pelicans 97

Dejounte Murray recorded his fourth triple-double of the season to lead the Spurs over the Pelicans. He continued his breakout season with his 10/12/10 line and three steals in 34 minutes. Derrick White nearly joined Murray in the triple-double club with 24 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, and four steals. Those two dominated the perimeter, while Jakob Poeltl was in control down low. He had 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds, three assists, a steal, and two blocks. The two downsides were the 4-of-9 free throw shooting and four turnovers, but nonetheless an impressive game for the big man. Devin Vassell seems to still be getting back into the flow of things after missing time with the quad injury, but that didn’t stop him from collecting a steal and two blocks. He continues to be a defensive menace, providing both stats from the wing position. Keldon Johnson scored 17 points, and Doug McDermott added 13. Aside from Murray, White, Poeltl, and Vassell (when healthy), nobody on this team is providing top-150 value.

Brandon Ingram scored 27 points and added seven boards and nine rebounds. The Pelicans are going to continue to give BI the ultimate green light. He can provide offensive stats across the board, but his lack of defensive stats and efficiency hurts his value. It’s Jonas Valanciunas that is providing the most fantasy value on this team. He had another double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He’s now had a double-double in five straight games and in nine of his last 10. Josh Hart also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. He provides excellent rebounding numbers from the guard position. He’s averaging 13 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 5.7 assists over his past three contests. Willy Hernangomez has 10 points and nine rebounds in 16 minutes. He gets a lot of rebounds in his limited minutes. If he ever got a minutes bump for some reason, he could provide tremendous rebounding value. That likely won’t happen as long as JV is healthy. 

Timberwolves 116, Trail Blazers 111

D'Angelo Russell returned from a three-game absence and finished with 18 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals. He was supposed to be on a minutes restriction, but he played 35 minutes, which gives the indication that he’s fully healthy. He made that clear with his expletive comment that was heard during shootaround earlier in the day. Karl-Anthony Towns had a double-double with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Anthony Edwards had 24 points, four rebounds, and three assists. All three of those guys have been providing value just outside the top-40 over the past month. Jarred Vanderbilt gets overshadowed, but has provided the most fantasy value on the team over the past two weeks. He had 14 points on an efficient 6-of-8 shooting with eight rebounds, three steals and a block. He’s rostered in 62% of leagues, so make sure he’s not roaming the waiver wire in yours. Naz Reid had five turnovers in nine minutes tonight. If you rostered him while KAT was out, it’s probably okay to let him go now.

Damian Lillard returned to the lineup after missing five games. The rust showed in his shot. He scored 24 points on 5-of-17 shooting (3-of-14 from deep). He did shoot 11-of-15 from the free throw line while gathering 11 rebounds and six assists to go along with five turnovers. He hasn’t had his best year, but hopefully he can get back to doing Dame things as he gets healthy. Jusuf Nurkic only played 21 minutes since he was in foul trouble most of the night. He should be fine moving forward, as he’s providing top-80 value this season. In retaliation to being in foul trouble, Nurkic posted a 30-second clip of three fouls that he was called for on Twitter. He didn’t caption it with anything, but he wouldn’t have posted it if he agreed with the calls. He may have a point. This is the type of thing that always works out well for NBA players and never affects their pockets. Right? Larry Nance Jr. moved into the starting lineup, and Robert Covington headed to the bench. If this move sticks, it could work out well for both of their fantasy values. Nance had a season-high 12 rebounds. Covington didn’t shoot it well (1-of-6 from the floor), but he had five rebounds, three assists, five steals, and four blocks. That many defensive stats can help make up for the poor shooting numbers. Ben McLemore played 15 minutes and scored 15 points while hitting five of his six attempts from deep. Still, his minutes are sporadic, and he doesn’t do much for fantasy GMs besides give you 3-pointers.

Lakers 106, Magic 94

LeBron James led the Lakers to victory with a 30/11/10 triple-double with three blocks and six turnovers in 37 minutes. What more can you ask of a 37-year-old? He’s providing top-five fantasy value. Nothing’s changing. Talen Horton-Tucker had a career-high six steals to go with his 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting. THT is starting to become a reliable option again after a long stretch of not providing much value. Dwight Howard got his second start of the season and only gathered four rebounds in 23 minutes. He did get three steals and two blocks, which was a nice bonus if you had him in a lineup. But he probably can’t be relied on to do that consistently. Russell Westbrook had 19 points, seven boards, five dimes, and two steals with five turnovers in 35 minutes. He seems to be figuring out how to play with LeBron, but not how to put up fantasy numbers next to him. He hasn’t provided top-200 value over the past two weeks. 

Cole Anthony scored 21 points on 6-of-18 shooting (4-of-11 on triples) and added six rebounds and five assists. He has provided top-50 value this season, but didn’t have his most efficient game, as he also added three turnovers. Franz Wagner had 20 points (8-of-18 shooting) and seven rebounds in 39 minutes. That makes 10 consecutive contests that Wagner has scored at least 10 points. He has been the most consistent player on the team this year and the best fantasy option over the past two weeks. Mo Bamba left the game early in the third quarter with a sprained ankle after only playing 12 minutes. They don’t have an update on if he’ll miss any time. Robin Lopez finished with seven points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes. He could slide into the starting lineup next to Wendell Carter Jr. if Bamba is out. Carter Jr. finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and a block in 33 minutes. Orlando will need him to step up as their depleted frontcourt may have gotten thinner.

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.