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Basketball Daily Dose

Jayson Tatum scores 42, The Joker posts massive line before ejection

by Brad Stonebraker
Updated On: December 14, 2021, 9:34 am ET

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Monday again, and Week 9 has commenced. 2022 is rapidly approaching, and while it is in fact a time to set some goals, it’s also a step closer to the NBA Playoffs. But don’t worry, a lot will happen before that, just as it did tonight.

Cavs win despite P.J. Tucker’s (yes, P.J. Tucker’s) big night

Kevin Love entered his time machine again in Monday evening’s win over the Heat, scoring a team- and season-high 23 points (6-of-10 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs) with nine rebounds, one assist, five 3-pointers and two turnovers in just 24 minutes. It’s the third time he’s scored at least 20 points in a game this season, and the Cavs won all three of them, so him playing well seems to be a secret to this team’s success early on, and he's been a surprisingly solid fantasy contributor on top of that. Cleveland was pretty well balanced on the stat sheet as they often are, with Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland and Isaac Okoro all scoring between 16-18 points in the starting five, with the final of that list going for 18 points, five boards, two dimes and a career-high tying four triples. Okoro has scored in double figures in three straight, and while he’s not the most fantasy-friendly guy, he’s been a highly effective real-life player and is definitely on the radar in fantasy leagues at this point. Allen had a perfect night (6-of-6 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs) on his way to 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one block and three turnovers in 32 minutes, and his lone swat was a mean one on Omer Yurtseven that extended his streak of games with at least one block to 10 games. The blocks are officially back, and because of that, he’s jumped into second-round territory. Garland had an inefficient 16/4/5 night with three swipes, three 3-pointers and three turnovers and he’s simply awesome and is making his fantasy managers very happy, and he has all the opportunity in the world on a team that’s actually good. Lauri Markkanen (12/3/2, two triples), Evan Mobley (9/5/3 with two steals) and Ricky Rubio (7/3/7) were all quiet as they combined to shoot just 11-of-33 (33.3%) from the floor, but they’re all usually better than this with Mobley being the superior fantasy option by a pretty wide margin.  

No Jimmy Butler (tailbone) or of course Bam Adebayo (thumb surgery), and Caleb Martin is in protocols, so they relied on P.J. Tucker to stay competitive in this one (my face typing that probably looked about the same as yours reading it). P.J. went off for a season-high 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting along with nine rebounds, five assists, one block, five treys and three turnovers in 35 minutes (also a team-high +/- of 0). He hasn’t hit the 20-point mark since November of 2019, and he’s actually played very well in three straight which makes this appear less fluky, so maybe he’s starting to figure out his new role without Bam and could be worth a pick up if you have someone worse. Kyle Lowry was close behind with 22 points of his own, also recording three rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block, four 3-pointers and two turnovers in 38 minutes. Of course, he plays better when Jimmy Buckets is sidelined, as Lowry is averaging 4.4 more points per game in his 10 games without Butler compared to his season average, but everything else besides the scoring looks about the same for what it’s worth. No one else scored more than 12 points on Miami’s side, with Tyler Herro going for an empty 12/2/2 line with no triples or defensive stats, Gabe Vincent scoring 10 with three boards, four dimes and two treys in a start, Dewayne Dedmon scoring 10 with five boards and a steal and Duncan Robinson having one of his nearly invisible showings with six points on 2-of-9 shooting. 

Steph struggles on purpose so he can break record at MSG

Stephen Curry needed to hit seven triples against the Pacers on Monday to obtain sole possession of first place on the all-time made three-pointers list, and he “only” hit 5-of-15 from that range for 26 points on 8-of-20 shooting overall, six rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block in 35 minutes of the 102-100 win over Indiana. He also turned it over seven times, many of which were uncharacteristic of him, and Steve Kerr touched on this postgame and said “I think he’s been trying a little bit too hard the last few games, trying to make 3s and get to this record. It’ll be a relief, for him and this team, when he does break it.” Steph just needs a pair of triples against the Knicks in the famous Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night on the second night of a back-to-back, and if he doesn’t accomplish that by some miraculous disaster, I won’t know what’s real anymore. Draymond Green had a 15/9/5 line with three turnovers, and Andrew Wiggins stole Green’s typical defensive stats with a 15/5/1/1/3 line, but neither of them hit a three-pointer (the team was just 8-of-30 from range overall, they’re lucky they were playing the Pacers). Kevon Looney netted 14 points with eight rebounds and three dimes but isn’t a fantasy factor, Otto Porter Jr. scored 10 with six boards off the bench and hit the career 5,000-point mark in this one and no one else did much as Jordan Poole had a 8/4/4 night on 3-of-9 shooting, with no one besides Porter Jr. scoring more than three points off the bench.

On Indiana’s side, Domantas Sabonis scored a game-high 30 points (12-of-17 FGs, 6-of-10 FTs) with 11 rebounds, two steals, one block and one turnover in 36 minutes and he’s nearly replicating all of last season’s averages so far with the exception of dips in scoring (-1.7 ppg) and most notably assists (-2.6 apg), but he’s still a third-rounder and will probably end up there. Malcolm Brogdon shot 7-of-14 from the floor and 8-of-10 from the line for a 23/6/8 line with a pair of steals, Caris LeVert went for a 19/2/5 line with a steal of his own and has become more of a score-only guy on this particular roster and Myles Turner missed all but one of his 10 shots for just six points but did have 10 boards and four blocks, and even when he’s awful offensively, at least you have the blocks to fall back on. No other Pacer did much of anything besides Oshae Brissett’s random career-high five steals in 26 minutes off the bench, but for some context, he had just five on the season coming in, so disregard. 

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Rockets storm back from down 19 to overtake Atlanta

After being down 19 points in Monday’s matchup with the Hawks, the Houston Rockets came back in a big way behind a 44-point fourth period to defeat Atlanta 132-126. They got this impressive win after dropping two straight and have now won eight of their last 10 games after one of the worst starts to the season I’ve seen, and while they’re a ways from the playoff picture, they’ve made major strides over the past few weeks. Eric Gordon notched a season-high 32 points on 10-of-16 shooting (7-of-9 from the stripe), also chipping in three rebounds, three assists, one steal, five 3-pointers and four turnovers in 32 minutes, and he’s now eclipsed the 20-point mark in four of his six December games after getting there just once in all of November, but Kevin Porter Jr. (thigh) missing time obviously helps. D.J. Augustin was probably the unsung hero, as he scored 16 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter on a 7-of-9 mark from the field in just 23 minutes of action, and while that’s about all he did in the box score, the Rockets sure don’t care. Augustin started in the game prior and had just three points and hasn’t scored in double figures since early November, so I’m not buying it. However, Armoni Brooks (started, had 6/3/2 with a steal and two treys) briefly left the game with a calf injury, so if he can’t go against the Cavs on Wednesday, Augustin could be in line for a DFS punt-play but nothing else. Alperen Sengun filled it up yet again for a 11/6/4/1/2 line in 25 minutes and I’m confident enough in his play to call him must-roster at this point, and he’s only going to play more and play better, so go get him if you’re in one of the 59% of Yahoo! leagues in which he's available. Coach Stephen Silas went with the unit that sparked the comeback late, which disallowed Christian Wood from playing in the final stretch that amounted to nearly 15 minutes on the bench, and he played just 25 minutes for 12 points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal, but he’s been better lately so shake this one off. Garrison Mathews had just six points but has been too good to not be rostered somewhere right now, Jae’Sean Tate had a full 15/2/4/2/2 line with three triples and is just a late-round guy, and K.J. Martin (13/6/3 with one three and a block) and David Nwaba (10/6/3 in 11 minutes) played pretty well but aren’t fantasy assets anywhere.

Trae Young gave it his all and then some in a really brutal loss, falling one point shy of his season high for 41 points (14-of-22 FGs, 8-of-9 FTs) along with four rebounds, nine dimes, one steal, five 3-pointers and seven turnovers in 36 minutes. You really can’t fault him for this one especially since he had the second best +/- on the team with a +4 (Danilo Gallinari was +13 in 27 reserve minutes), and you could tell he was frustrated after falling short in a game they really should have won. The next highest point total came from John Collins, who had 14 points with seven boards and a block, further proving that this was the Trae Show on Atlanta’s side, while Gallo, Cam Reddish, Lou Williams and Clint Capela scored a dozen points each. They all had at least one steal (Reddish had two), but otherwise, the only one of these four with a line usable for fantasy was Capela, who also grabbed 16 rebounds with an assist, one steal and two blocks in 32 minutes.

Jayson Tatum is really good again

The whole “Tatum started really slow” thing is officially an afterthought given how fantastic he’s been lately, and he went nuts for a season-high 42 points on a 16-of-25 mark from the floor while also tallying five rebounds, four assists, three steals and a season-high seven 3-pointers. He’s been a first-round fantasy player over the last two weeks, and Monday’s eruption was extra important given that Jaylen Brown (hamstring) returned after missing the last five games. Brown was expected to play around 30 minutes and he played exactly that many and was great with a 19/4/5/2/1 line with three triples and three turnovers, and it’s never been about Brown’s production, but just a matter of getting his body right. He did appear to aggravate the hammy a bit and was stretching it out and such, but he doesn’t play until Friday against the Warriors so he should be fine. Grant Williams was next up with 17 points (5-of-7 from the floor, all threes), seven rebounds and one assist in 29 minutes off the bench, but Al Horford (10/5/4, two triples, one block) and Robert Williams (10/7/1/1/1) being healthy and starting limit him to producing like this too often. Marcus Smart and Dennis Schroder combined to shoot 3-of-16 from the field, and Schroder didn’t do much else while Smart had a bizarre 2/5/11 line and has made just six of his 27 threes this entire month, half of which came on a 3-of-5 showing on December 3 against the Jazz.

Most importantly from the Milwaukee standpoint, Khris Middleton suffered a hyperextended left knee and played just 24 minutes on his way to four points, eight rebounds and three assists before being ruled out. Assuming he does miss time, Grayson Allen (10/1/1/2/1 with two treys) and Pat Connaughton (15 points, nine boards, two assists, one steal, two triples) stand to benefit the most, as will Donte DiVincenzo when he makes his season debut on Wednesday. Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming off of a string of absurd stat lines but quieted down on Tuesday with 20 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and four turnovers in 34 minutes, and if this is “quiet” for Giannis, that’s all you need to know. Jrue Holiday also had an efficient 20 points along with eight dimes and three steals, and he’s been coming around nicely as of late as well, while Bobby Portis went for a 13/8/2 line with a block and a triple and has been awesome.

Nikola Jokic can’t get to 30/20/10 due to ejection

Nikola Jokic got ejected with just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter due to receiving two technical fouls, and had he played those last six minutes, the 113-107 win could’ve been more convincing and his line could’ve been even more insane. I’m not saying it wasn’t still insane, because it absolutely was, as he went full Joker for 28 points (9-of-14 FGs, 9-of-11 FTs), a season-high tying 19 rebounds, nine assists, three steals, one block, one 3-pointer  and four turnovers in 31 minutes, and there’s no arguing that he could’ve gone for a 30/20/10/4/2 line or something like that if he got to 37 minutes. I don’t even know what to say about him anymore. Monte Morris had a 22/6/5 line with three triples (no defensive stats) in 32 minutes, Aaron Gordon had a 16/5/3 line with a triple but went 6-of-14 from the field (also no defensive stats) and Jeff Green had 13 points with five rebounds in a start (yup, still no defensive stats). Davon Reed got the start for Will Barton (illness) for the second straight game and scored the same amount of points as he did the first time, not even hitting a field goal for two points, five boards one assist and two steals, and while at least he’s not allergic to defense, he’ll be completely irrelevant when Barton comes back. 

Davis Bertans played more minutes than four of Washington’s starters and surprised most with a team-high 21 points with five rebounds, five 3-pointers, a steal and a block in 31 minutes. He’s been so quiet this season, but this extra run was likely due to Kyle Kuzma (protocols) being sidelined, and while I don’t trust him to do this again, he could be worth a look for a week or so. Deni Avdija was the one that started without Kuzma but only had four points and three boards but also had three steals and a block to inflate his DFS total to 19.1, so it wasn’t a total waste if you took a chance on him. Bradley Beal had 19 points with 10 dimes, three boards, one block and two triples in 39 minutes, hitting eight of his 19 shots from the field and notching his only double-double of the season since way back on October 27. At least his shot looks much better lately, going 39-of-76 (51.3%) over his last four as opposed to 26-of-70 (37.1%) combined in the four games before those, so things may finally be looking up for the guy that seemed to have a legitimate shot to lead the league in scoring before the start of the season. Daniel Gafford (six points, five rebounds, one block) and Montrezl Harrell (8/7/3) both got the Jokic treatment and were quiet, Spencer Dinwiddie did as much bad as good with a 9/5/3 line with four turnovers on 3-of-8 shooting and Aaron Holiday had a random 18-point game off the bench despite playing the fewest minutes (15) of everyone in the 10-man rotation.

Marcus Morris Sr. and Terance Mann are coming around

Marcus Morris Sr. had one two-point no-show this past Saturday, but over his last five games ignoring that one, he’s putting up averages of 20.6 points (55.1% shooting), 5.4 boards and 3.4 triples per game. He's not a steals/blocks guy but he benefits with Paul George (elbow sprain) sidelined, and he was doing fine even with PG-13 active so he’s worth a pick up at least until he cools down, if he does. Terance Mann gets a shoutout too as he’s finally getting it going too, totaling a season-high tying 17 points with nine boards, three assists and a 3-pointer, and he’s had at least nine boards in three straight and has hit double figures in all of those as well, so it may be time for him to enter fantasy relevancy too. Ivica Zubac was their defensive anchor in the win as he had two steals and four blocks (eight and five otherwise), and Isaiah Hartenstein had a full and fun 12/5/7/1/2 line (the seven dimes ties his career high) in 23 minutes, the second most he’s played all year, and if he ever gets consistent minutes in the mid-20s, he’s sure to be worth snagging. Reggie Jackson scored 19 on 13 shots but didn’t do much else, but the efficiency is nice, while Luke Kennard had a 16/9/4 line with three triples in the easy win.

Deandre Ayton (illness) was out for the second straight game, so of course JaVale McGee had a 13/13 double-double in a start, and he’s one of the biggest no-brainer options when Ayton misses games. Jae Crowder (six points) had to play some center and it didn’t really work, Chris Paul had just nine points but also eight assists and three steals to salvage his line and Mikal Bridges was the only other starter to hit double-digit scoring with 16 points, two steals and a trey. Cameron Payne was decent with a 12/4/4 line with a block and Cameron Johnson continues to play well with Devin Booker (hamstring) not playing and did just that on Monday with 17 points, six rebounds, three steals and three 3-pointers in 34 minutes, but be prepared to move on when Book returns.

Quicker Hits (aka Blowouts)

As we know, there generally isn’t as much going on when the games aren’t close, and sadly, that was the case in one-third of Monday’s games, so we’ll hit the remaining three games in quick-hit style:

Raptors 124, Kings 101

The Kings are a mess and the Raptors made that even more clear in a game in which they never trailed and led by as many as 31, and it was a well-balanced attack by Toronto with nine of their guys in double figures. Chris Boucher led with 17 points, five rebounds, two threes and a block in 22 minutes, and he’s actually been solid in four straight games now and is going to be flying off of waiver wires if he isn’t already, but just remember that O.G. Anunoby (hip) and Precious Achiuwa (shoulder/protocols) didn’t play and haven’t been lately, and we know how Boucher’s been, so just beware. Pascal Siakam went for a 16/8/4/1/1 line, Fred VanVleet was quiet with a 12/3/5 line with two steals and two triples, Gary Trent Jr. was pretty quiet too with 10 points and three steals but no triples, and Scottie Barnes blocked a career-high five shots and also scored 16 points with four rebounds, two assists and a steal. And for the guys I’m not worried about in fantasy and thrived due to the lopsided score: Yuta Watanabe had a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double with two assists, one steal and two triples, Justin Champagnie went for a 10/4/0/1/1 performance and Svi Mykhailiuk had a 11/5/3 line and made both his threes. 

De’Aaron Fox more than doubled the next highest Kings scorer with 29 points (11-of-20 FGs, 6-of-7 FTs, so much better lately), two rebounds, three assists (worse lately), two steals, one triple and two turnovers in 32 minutes. Alvin Gentry decided to like Chimezie Metu again and start him but he flopped, as did Harrison Barnes and Tyrese Haliburton, while Marvin Bagley double-doubled for the third time in his last five games with 12 points, 11 boards and a swat despite returning to the bench. Alex Len had 12 points with eight rebounds with all eight somehow being of the offensive variety and Buddy Hield scored 14 with four threes and not much else.

(These next two will actually be quick, I promise. Everyone on Toronto wanted to be written about, I guess.)

Mavericks 120, Hornets 96

Dallas cruised along to a 24-point win over the Protocol Hornets, with Kristaps Porzingis making the most of a starting five missing Luka Doncic (left ankle soreness) and going off for 24 points and three treys, along with 13 rebounds and five blocks (both season highs). Jalen Brunson had a 13/2/8 line with a steal without Luka, and while Trey Burke’s 22/3/6 line was better than Brunson's, it came out of nowhere and I still prefer Brunson when Luka is out. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 19 with five threes but that’s all he does and Dorian Finney Smith had a usable 15/4/2 line with three treys and a block. The Hornets got nearly identical lines from Terry Rozier (20/4/2/1/1, two triples) and now-reserve Kelly Oubre Jr. (20/3/4/1/0, four triples), Gordon Hayward was fine with 17 points and six each in the rebounds and dimes categories but no defensive stats and James Bouknight had 13 with six boards and that’s about it. The takeaways here are that 1) Oubre is still good even with Rozier active and 2) it’s hard to find a consistent fantasy substitute when the team is as protocol-riddled as they are.

Grizzlies 126, 76ers 91

The Grizzlies just have no mercy on inferior opponents lately, and a small reminder that they’re doing this all without Ja Morant, who was fantastic to start the season. Jaren Jackson Jr. (22/4/2/1/2, one triple) did his thing and he’s so fun to roster, Dillon Brooks’ 9-of-15 shooting clip is far more impressive than any part of his 23/6/2 line, Desmond Bane had just five points but still helped out with eight rebounds, six dimes, a steal and a block and De’Anthony Melton (15/1/4/2/1) and John Konchar (perfect 11/5/2 night with three triples, who is becoming a quality role player for Memphis) were the two double-digit scorers off the bench. Not a ton to see there, and not a ton to see on Philly’s side either. Joel Embiid (ribs) was a very late scratch (as in "too late to change DFS lineups" late), which slid Andre Drummond into the starting lineup, who had just six points but also nine rebounds, thee assists and three blocks. Tyrese Maxey was awesome with 23 points and seven assists and got some extra touches with Seth Curry (shoulder) not active on Monday, as was Charles Bassey with 13 points, 10 boards and four blocks before fouling out, but he’s not a consistent piece of rotation and is just a risky stream when Embiid sits. Furkan Korkmaz started and had a 10/6/3 line, while Shake Milton was just a smidge better than that with a 12/4/5 line with a trey and a steal off the bench. 

Brad Stonebraker

Brad has a finance degree and works in Business Management. He has been playing fantasy basketball since 2012 and specifically enjoys sports statistics and crunching numbers. You can find Brad on Twitter @bradbraker97.