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Basketball Daily Dose

Kyrie Irving goes off in a loss & many players step up on Wednesday!

by Aaron Robinson
Updated On: March 24, 2022, 10:25 am ET

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Wednesday nights in the NBA are always filled with surprises, and this one was no different. There were a host of superstars that sat out on Wednesday, meaning that there were opportunities for some unsung heroes to have huge impacts. We also got some huge news right before the tip-off of Wednesday’s slate of games that could potentially shift the balance of some people’s fantasy season. So without further ado, let’s hop right into the biggest headlines from Wednesday night!

Kyrie Irving scores celebratory 43 in loss to Memphis

New York City Mayor, Eric Adams finally freed Kyrie Irving by changing the private sector vaccine mandate to allow an exemption for athletes and entertainers in the workplace. So in other words, as of Thursday, Irving will now be allowed to play in games at the Barclays Center, and he is expected to make his home debut this Sunday, March 27th against Charlotte. Irving celebrated on Wednesday, as he went out and dropped 43 points in 44 minutes, but the Nets lost to the Grizzlies 132-120. Irving shot 15-of-27 from the floor (6-of-11 3-pointers) and added eight assists, two rebounds, one steal, one block, and just three turnovers.

Kevin Durant was also outstanding scoring 35 points on 12-of-28 shooting (10-of-10 free throws) to go with 11 rebounds, eight assists, two steals, two blocks, and one triple in 40 minutes. The Nets got huge nights out of their stars, but they weren’t able to get the win against a Memphis team that was without Ja Morant, who was out with a sore right knee. Brooklyn is currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and are 3.5 games back of Cleveland for the sixth seed to avoid the play-in round.  We will see if Durant and Irving will be able to make up some ground prior to the beginning of the postseason.

Tyus Jones & others step up in Ja’s absence

We would be remiss to mention the Nets and their stars without mentioning the Grizzlies’ stars who kicked their butts on Wednesday night. No Ja, no problem for Memphis. The Grizzlies had seven players in double figures on Wednesday, and they led by as much as 18 at one point. Tyus Jones slid into the starting lineup for Morant and scored 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting (1-of-2 3-pointers) to go with 10 assists, one steal, and two turnovers in 35 minutes. 

De’Anthony Melton was outstanding off the bench, scoring 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting (6-of-10 3-pointers) to go with four rebounds, one assist, and three turnovers. Desmond Bane also chipped in 23 points as he shot 8-of-17 from the floor and 6-of-10 from the three-point line to go with five assists, four rebounds, one steal, and four turnovers in 32 minutes. The Grizzlies are now 15-2 in games where Morant doesn’t play. They have the Pacers in night two of a back-to-back on Thursday, so we will see if he can get back on the floor for that one.

Tobias Harris has great night in win over Lakers

Ever since James Harden got traded to the Sixers, Harris has had a diminished role on the offensive end. In 14 games since the trade, Harris is averaging just 13.9 points per game on 46.3% shooting from the floor (39.3% 3-pointers) with 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1.7 triples per game. On Wednesday, he had himself a game against the Lakers, as most people have done this season. The Lakers were without LeBron James in this one, so they were even more vulnerable than they are when the king is in the lineup.

Harris scored 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting (2-of-5 3-pointers) and added seven rebounds, five assists, and no turnovers as the Sixers beat the Lakers 126-121 on Wednesday night. This was great to see after he had scored a combined 19 points on 8-of-21 shooting in the two games prior to this one. Harris managers are hoping that e can continue this to close the season as he and James Harden continue to get used to playing with each other. Joel Embiid was also a force on Wednesday, scoring 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting (8-of-12 free throws) to go with 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals, and three blocks in 34 minutes. Harden added 24 points on 7-of-18 shooting (9-of-10 free throws) with seven rebounds, seven assists, one triple, one steal, and three turnovers in 37 minutes.

Deandre Ayton goes for 35 & 14 in win over Minnesota

Ayton was a grown man on Wednesday, and he got the better of Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves in this one. The big fella scored a career-high 35 points on 15-of-24 shooting (4-of-4 free throws) while grabbing 14 rebounds to go with three assists, one block, one steal, and one triple in Wednesday’s 125-116 win over Minnesota. He was awesome on the offensive end, and he also held KAT to just 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the floor (0-of-3 3-pointers). According to StatMuse, the Suns are now 5-1 when Deandre Ayton plays against KAT. 

It was also a nice night for a couple of Phoenix guards on Wednesday as Devin Booker scored 28 points on 7-of-15 shooting (13-of-16 3-pointers) to go with seven assists, three rebounds, one steal, one triple, and two turnovers in 35 minutes. Landry Shamet chipped in 19 points off the bench, and he shot 6-of-10 from the floor (5-of-9 3-pointers) to go with one rebound, one assist, and one block in 25 minutes. Phoenix will have a tough matchup coming up with Denver on Thursday in night two of a back-to-back.

Obi Toppin double-doubles in spot start Wednesday

The Knicks were without Mitchell Robinson (sore lower back) and Nerlens Noel (sore left foot) as well as Julius Randle (sore right quad) as they took on the Hornets on Wednesday. This means they had some decisions to make in the frontcourt, but they ended up going with Obi Toppin and Jericho Sims in the starting power forward and center spots. The young duo did not disappoint as Toppin put up a double-double with 18 points on an efficient 8-of-11 shooting from the floor (2-of-4 3-pointers) to go with 11 rebounds, six assists, one steal, and one block in 40 minutes. Sims on the other hand didn’t miss a single shot, going 5-of-5 from the floor for 10 points to go with three rebounds, one assist, and one turnover in 26 minutes. The Knicks were even able to get a win, despite being so shorthanded, beating the Hornets 121-106 in Charlotte. RJ Barrett tled the way with 30 points on 10-of-19 shooting (3-of-7 3-pointers) with three rebounds, three assists, and one steal in 38 minutes. Next up for the Knicks is a trip down south to play the Heat. If Robinson and Noel are out again, Toppin is worth a shot as a streamer in that one. 

Dinwiddie & Brunson lead Mavericks to win sans Luka

Fron one shorthanded team to the next. The Mavericks were without their All-NBA guard Luka Doncic on Wednesday, due to some right ankle soreness. This allowed Spencer Dinwiddie to slide into the starting lineup alongside Jalen Brunson, and those two carried the Mavericks to a 110-91 win over the Rockets. Brunson was the high-scorer going for 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting (8-of-9 free throws) to go with four rebounds, and three assists in just 29 minutes. Dinwiddie on the other hand scored 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting (4-of-6 3-pointers) and added six assists, four rebounds, one steal, and one block in 34 minutes. 

Luka hasn’t been out much, but when he has been Dinwiddie, in particular, has been huge, and Friday was yet another case. If Doncic is on the sidelines for Friday’s game against Minnesota, expect another big night from Dinwiddie and Brunson in the backcourt.

Damion Lee & Jonathan Kuminga step up for Warriors

I told you today was all about teams playing shorthanded right? Good, because here’s another one in the Golden State Warriors. Golden State was without Stephen Curry (ankle), and they rested Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Otto Porter for this one, while they remained without Andre Iguodala and James Wiseman. On Wednesday, they were going up against a Miami Heat team, that was fully loaded with the exception of Tyler Herro, who missed Wednesday’s game with a left knee sprain. 

Jordan Poole led the way, scoring 30 points and knocking down seven triples with nine assists and four rebounds, but that wasn’t too surprising given the circumstances. Andrew Wiggins added 22 points with three rebounds, three triples, one assist, and one steal in 37 minutes. Where the real value came, is if you picked up Damion Lee or Jonathan Kuminga for Wednesday night. Lee came off the bench and scored 22 points on 5-of-10 shooting (9-of-9 free throws) to go with six rebounds, three assists, three triples, and just one turnover in 31 minutes. The 22 points marked a season-high for Lee, and it couldn’t have come at a better time as Golden State entered Wednesday having lost three-straight games. Jonathan Kuminga drew a start on Wednesday, and he also scored 22 points, shooting 9-of-17 from the floor (4-of-8 free throws) to go with five rebounds and one assist. Kuminga and Lee both were streaming candidates on Wednesday, so if you rolled the dice, you got a nice reward. Next up for the Warriors is a trip to Atlanta to face the Hawks on Friday, where they expect to have Thompson, Green, and Porter on the floor.

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Robert Williams and Marcus Smart return from brief absence

We are breaking script a bit here because Williams and Smart actually returned to the lineup on Wednesday after missing Monday’s game against Oklahoma City. Their return meant that Grant Williams and Derrick White slid back into the second unit for this one after both had great showings on Monday. Smart had an awesome night, dishing out a career-high 13 assists while scoring five points on 2-of-3 shooting to go with three rebounds and one steal. Robert Williams scored 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds with two assists, two steals, and four blocks in 25 minutes as the Celtics destroyed the Jazz 125-97.

Boston has now won 20 of its last 23 games and they are now just 1.5 games back from the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Boston is rolling, and most importantly, they are healthy, and that could be a scary mix come playoff time. This also means that if you picked up Grant Williams, it is time to send him back to the wire.

Davion Mitchell & Chimezie Metu lead Sacramento over Indiana

Okay now back to our regularly scheduled programming. The Kings entered Indianapolis on Wednesday without their all-star big man in Domantas Sabonis (left knee contusion) as well as De’Aaron Fox (right-hand soreness). The Pacers were also without a slew of players including Malcolm Brogdon (rest), Chris Duarte (toe), and Jalen Smith (illness). Because of Fox’s absence, rookie Davion Mitchell got to slide into the starting lineup for Sacramento. 

Mitchell proceeded to score 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the floor (2-of-5 3-pointers) and dish out seven assists with one rebound and one steal in 38 minutes. The KIngs also got awesome minutes off the bench from Chimezie Metu, who scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting (3-of-4 3-pointers) to go with five rebounds, one assist, one block, and one steal in 26 minutes. Damian Jones tipped in a missed three-pointer by Trey Lyles to put the Kings up 110-109 with 0.2 seconds remaining, and the Kings went on to win by that same score in Indiana. According to reports, it is unlikely that Sabonis and Fox play again this season as the Kings are on the verge of being eliminated from postseason contention. With that being said, we could be seeing more of this from these two to finish the season, and Metu is only rostered in 3% of Yahoo! Leagues so he should be super easy to grab at the moment.

Theo Maledon & Tre Mann come up big sans SGA

To Oklahoma City, we go, where the Thunder were without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander due to some soreness in his right ankle. This means that the Thunder would be without their three top scorers as Josh Giddey (hip) and Luguentz Dort (shoulder) have both been on the shelf for an extended period of time. This left the door wide open for some unfamiliar faces to step into the limelight. Theo Maledon came off the bench and scored a season-high 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the floor (2-of-4 3-pointers) to go with six assists, four rebounds, one steal, one block, and just two turnovers in 32 minutes.

The Thunder also got 21 points apiece from Isaiah Roby and Tre Mann, and the Thunder were actually able to pull out a 118-102 win over the Magic. Now the interesting thing about the Thunder is that with today’s win they are one game ahead of the Pistons, which puts them just outside the top three in the NBA Draft Lottery odds. The Pistons also won on Wednesday, but these two teams will play each other on April 1st in a huge battle to see who can tank the hardest. With that being said, don’t be surprised if we don’t see Giddey or Dort for the remainder of the season, and if SGA gets more games on the sidelines down the stretch. 

 

Aaron Robinson

Aaron Robinson is a sports journalist who played Division 1 basketball at Quinnipiac and Coppin State University and is a native of Takoma Park, MD. You can follow Aaron on Twitter @AceRobinson_