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There were three games on Thursday night as the Raptors beat the Sixers, the Pacers won at Utah and the Clippers held off the Jimmy Butler-less Heat in L.A. And we even had a Chris Boucher sighting, just as everyone had finally given up on him.
Raptors 115, Sixers 109 – Fred VanVleet went off for 32 points, six boards, seven assists, a steal and six 3-pointers on 11-of-22 shooting, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. (4 3-pointers) each scored 20 points and Scottie Barnes hit 6-of-13 shots for 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists, a steal and two blocks in the win. Precious Achiuwa started for Pascal Siakam, who got the night off for rest, and had four points, nine boards, two assists, two steals and three blocks, but hit just 1-of-10 shots.
Here’s where things get interesting. Chris Boucher, not to be confused with Chris Bosh, came off the bench and got a season-high 24 minutes for a season-high 17 points, six rebounds, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer on 7-of-12 shooting. And wouldn’t you know? The Raptors snapped a three-game losing streak with a win over the Sixers on the same night. Bosh hadn’t scored more than nine points in his previous 10 games, hadn’t played more than 20 minutes in any game this season, and hadn’t played more than nine minutes in his previous three games. He was being dropped in a ton of fantasy leagues and is currently only rostered in 56 percent of Yahoo! leagues. And then Nick Nurse gives him some run on a night when Pascal Siakam was resting and Boucher came through with a fun stat line in 24 minutes. Nurse is far from being done screwing with Boucher’s head and minutes but last night was a huge step in the right direction. Yes, a day after telling you to dump him I’m telling you to hold onto, or pick up, Boucher. He doesn’t need a ton of minutes to succeed, and tonight’s big game might have given Nurse a hint that he needs to play Boucher if he wants to win games. The Raptors are 7-6 and while I was pretty shocked that Nurse turned to Boucher, it was probably only a matter of time. Boucher’s going to need 20 minutes a night, consistently, to have much fantasy value and I have no idea if he’s going to get them. But Thursday night’s line at least gives us a glimmer of hope. Let’s see what happens when Siakam is back in action on Saturday against the Pistons.
For the Sixers, Tobias Harris returned from his bout with COVID that cost him six games and racked up 19 points, seven boards, seven assists, a 3-pointer and a block in 37 minutes. Joel Embiid’s going to miss about the same amount of time so Harris should be very busy over the next couple weeks. With Seth Curry also back from his foot injury Paul Reed, Shake Milton and Georges Niang will all take a bit of a hit. Curry had 15 points, six boards four assists, a steal and two 3-pointers in the loss. Tyrese Maxey stayed hot and hit 12-of-19 shots, a 3-pointer and 8-of-8 free throws for a season-high 33 points, four rebounds, five assists, a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer in 40 minutes. This comes on the heels of a 31-point game by Maxey and he’s officially a player to hold onto by all means necessary. Andre Drummond hit just 2-of-8 shots for four points and 12 boards but also had four blocks. He’s obviously going to be a big deal for as long as Embiid is out.
News broke earlier on Thursday that Ben Simmons and his agent think the Sixers’ tactics are “worsening his mental health instead of supporting him,” so Maxey might be the Sixers’ point guard the rest of the way. And he’s on fire right now. Furkan Korkmaz got 27 minutes, but his shooting woes continued, hitting just 3-of-11 shots for nine points, five boards, five assists and three 3-pointers. Hopefully, his shooting slump is about over after missing 24 of his last 29 shots over two games. My guess is he will right the ship against the Pacers on Saturday.
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Pacers 111, Jazz 100 – The Pacers got a big win on the road as Malcolm Brogdon went off for 30 points, nine rebounds, four assists, a steal and two 3-pointers with just one turnover. He hit 10-of-23 shots and 8-of-9 free throws and is currently returning Top 15 fantasy value this season. He’s an injury waiting to happen but if he stays healthy, he’s going to have a monster year. I don’t think his trade value will be higher than it is today but he’s playing so well it would be tough to part with him, especially given where he was drafted. T.J. McConnell stayed hot with 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists, a steal and a 3-pointer on 10-of-14 shooting and has been fun to roster over his last four games. He got off to a sluggish start but is averaging 18.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 3-pointers over his last four and is available in 38 percent of fantasy leagues. He was worth holding onto if you drafted him. Myles Turner hit three more 3-pointers and had three more blocks on his way to 13 points, nine rebounds and a steal and has been a Top 20 fantasy player thus far. Domantas Sabonis hit just 2-of-10 shots for six points, seven boards, five assists, a steal and a block and is in a funk. He’s scored 17 or fewer points in six of his last nine games but had a tough matchup with Rudy Gobert on Thursday. Kelan Martin came off the bench to hit 5-of-13 shots and two 3-pointers for 14 points, four rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes. This was his first meaningful line of the season so just keep an eye on him if you’re in a deep league. Caris LeVert missed another game with a sore back but the Pacers are hoping to have him back for Saturday’s game against the Sixers. Obviously, McConnell and Brogdon’s usage will take a hit when LeVert is playing, but not enough to cause too much concern.
The Jazz got 26 points, five boards, four assists, three steals and three triples from Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert added 19 points, 11 boards and a block on 7-of-10 shooting in 31 minutes. Starters Royce O’Neale, Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley all struggled and none of them scored more than eight points in the loss. Jordan Clarkson had 11 points off the bench but hit just 3-of-14 shots and 2-of-10 free throws on the night and has had a rough November, hitting just 25-of-80 shots over his six games, good for just 31 percent. He should break out of the shooting slump sooner than later.
Clippers 112, Heat 109 – The Clippers got 27 points, four boards, five assists, three steals and three 3-pointers from Paul George, Reggie Jackson kept it going with 22 points, three boards, two assists and two 3-pointers, Eric Bledsoe came through with 21 points, three boards, three assists, three blocks and two 3-pointers on 9-of-16 shooting and Ivica Zubac finally came through with 18 points, 11 boards and two blocks in the win. Nicolas Batum was quiet with just six points but also had six rebounds, three assists, two steals, three blocks and two 3-pointers in 37 minutes. Luke Kennard hit 5-of-12 shots and two 3-pointers off the bench for 12 points, six boards, three assists and three steals, and Isaiah Hartenstein added six points, seven rebounds and a block. The Clippers play on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend and any of these players are worth grabbing on Saturday morning if they’re still available. Jackson scored all 22 of his points in the second half and the Clippers have now won six straight games after a rough start to the season. They rallied after falling behind by 17 points in the first quarter.
Jimmy Butler sat out with a sprained ankle and Tyler Herro (back), Bam Adebayo (knee) and Max Strus (knee) all played through injuries that left them questionable coming in. Adebayo hit 12-of-18 shots and scored a season-high 30 points with 11 rebounds, a steal and a block while failing to have an assist for the second time this season. Kyle Lowry scored 22 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to finish with three boards, five assists, two steals and four 3-pointers, and Herro hit 10-of-23 shots for 23 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a steal in a start for Butler. This was Herro’s first second regular-season game without a 3-pointer this month, which is kind of weird. The rest of the Heat were nearly invisible and they hope to have Butler back for Saturday’s game at Utah. Markieff Morris (neck) missed his second straight game after being walloped by Nikola Jokic on Monday.
Kelly Olynyk to miss several weeks