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Basketball Daily Dose

Weird Monday: Bucks & Rockets upset

by Steve Alexander
Updated On: March 3, 2020, 4:06 pm ET

Monday was one of the stranger fantasy hoops nights we’ve had this season as Giannis Antetokounmpo tied his season low with 13 points, the Knicks and Heat pulled off huge upsets, Trae Young didn’t hit a 3-pointer, and C.J. McCollum went nuts in what was likely his last game without teammate Damian Lillard. There wasn’t a ton to learn from a weird Monday, but Trey Lyles is worth a close look in all leagues. And is it just me or did Monday feel like the perfect preamble to the start of ‘silly season?’

Pacers 116, Spurs 111 – The Pacers got big lines from starters Domantas Sabonis, T.J. Warren, Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon, while Doug McDermott and Justin Holiday each hit double digits off the bench. Both Justin and Aaron Holiday were pretty quiet in this one and those are the guys who are available to pick up in some leagues. A sore right knee kept Victor Oladipo out on Monday, so it was a little surprising that the Holiday boys didn’t do a little more. 

The Spurs, losers of eight of 11 and who are now 4.0 games out of the No. 8 seed in the West, also sit a ½ game behind the Blazers, Pelicans and even the Kings, and played without LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder) for the third straight game. He’s doubtful for Tuesday, as well, but the Spurs are hoping he can play on Friday. We’ll see. Jakob Poeltl was also out and could be done for the year with a sprained right MCL. Given those facts, Trey Lyles is worth a look and had 20 points, six boards, a steal, two blocks and four 3-pointers in the loss. Patty Mills led the way with 24 points, six 3-pointers and three steals off the bench, DeMar DeRozan had just 10 points and a guy named Devin Eubanks started at center and had three points in 17 minutes. Dejounte Murray had a decent line of 11 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Bryn Forbes chipped in with 14 points, four 3-pointers and nothing else, and Derrick White had six points, five assists and five turnovers off the bench. I’m using Mills in my 30-team league, but he’s too inconsistent to use in most leagues. If you pick up Lyles, you have to hope that Aldridge continues to sit. Aldridge has been near the top of my shutdown-candidates list, so I’m not surprised he’s missed a week, although he has a legitimate injury. I’d like to see the Spurs turn Lonnie Walker loose, but it hasn’t happened yet.

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Grizzlies 127, Hawks 88 – Surprisingly, this was a three-point game at half time, but the Grizzlies got hot in the second half and the Hawks just couldn’t get shots to fall on Monday. Additionally, Memphis’ minutes were low in this one given the lopsided score, as no Grizzly starter played more than 25 minutes in the blowout. Jonas Valanciunas double-doubled, Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks each scored 13 with decent stat lines (although Brooks hit just 5-of-17 shots), and De’Anthony Melton had an 11-4-4-2 line with a 3-pointer in the start. Melton hasn’t exactly blown up since becoming a starter, but he might have tonight had the game been closer. I still like him as long as he’s starting. Gorgui Dieng led the way off the bench with 17 points, 10 boards, a steal and a block on 6-of-8 shooting after scoring just two and five points in his previous two games. He benefitted from the second-half blowout, along with newcomer Anthony Tolliver, who signed a 10-day earlier on Monday, Tyus Jones (15 points, nine assists, four steals), John Konchar and Josh Jackson, who all scored in double figures and played heavy minutes in the blowout. I’m not sure there’s much to learn from the Grizzlies bench, but it was nice to see Dieng bounce back for those who are still hanging on in deeper leagues. 

The Hawks hit just 32 percent of their shots in this one as John Collins (4-of-11, 12 points, 3 boards), Trae Young (5-of-17, zero 3-pointers, 19 points and two assists), De’Andre Hunter (3-of-11 with six points, seven boards, three assists, a steal and two blocks), Kevin Huerter (5-of-14 for 13 points, five boards, four assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers) and Bruno Fernando (1-of-8, two points, six rebounds) all struggled. The peripheral stats from Hunter and Huerter were encouraging, and this was Trae’s first game since Jan. 10 that he didn’t hit a 3-pointer, and just his third three-less game of the season. And even with the starters playing so poorly, none of the bench players did much to pick up the slack. Stick with the starters, who should all bounce back against the Wizards on Friday. The Hawks get the Grizzlies in Memphis again on Saturday to wrap up their three-game week. Maybe Cam Reddish (out/back) will be able to play on Friday but keep in mind the Hawks play again on Saturday.

Bulls 109, Mavericks 107 – The Bulls bench was better than the starters in the upset win and were led by Coby White’s 19-6-5-1 line with three 3-pointers, and Otto Porter Jr. came through with 18 points and three 3-pointers in just 17 minutes of his return, but didn’t do much else. Denzel Valentine started for Zach LaVine (quad) and scored a fairly empty season high of 17 points with three 3-pointers, while Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky and Ryan Arcidiacono also scored in double figures. Hopefully LaVine is back on Wednesday against the Timberwolves, while White and Young are the only other two Bulls you can really trust right now. Just keep an eye on Carter Jr. in case he gets it going now that he’s over his ankle injury. Porter might be worth grabbing if he can increase his minutes and stay healthy, but I have major trust issues. Lauri Markkanen (hip) is getting close and should play this week.

Kristaps Porzingis sat out for his knee/rest and Courtney Lee got the start and scored eight points in the loss. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the way with 26 points and four 3-pointers, Luka Doncic had 23 points, five rebounds, nine assists, a steal and a 3-pointer, but hit just 8-of-20 shots after sitting out his last game with his thumb injury. Dorian Finney-Smith had 18 points, seven rebounds and three 3-pointers, Maxi Kleber had 13 points, 10 rebounds, a steal, three blocks and three 3-pointers without Porzingis, and Boban Marjanovic hit 7-of-11 shots for 14 points, 12 rebounds, a steal and a block in a 22 minutes (one shy of his season high), buoyed by the absence of Porzingis. Porzingis should be back for the next one, so guys like Lee, Kleber, Finney-Smith and Boban should all take a hit. It was also telling that Willie Cauley-Stein didn’t even get in the game despite being available after a personal absence. 

Jazz 126, Cavaliers 113 – All five Jazz starters went off, led by Bojan Bogdanovic’s 28 points, seven boards, six assists, a steal and five 3-pointers, Rudy Gobert had 20 points, nine boards, two steals and five blocks, Mike Conley was solid with 15 points and six assists, and Donovan Mitchell scored 19 with nine boards, four assists, a block and three 3-pointers. Jordan Clarkson had 13 points and three 3-pointers off the bench, while Joe Ingles struggled again with five points and eight assists in 29 minutes. Ingles has been useless in fantasy and I actually like Conley more, which is saying something. 

Like the Jazz, the Cavs got most of their production from the starters as Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., Cedi Osman, Collin Sexton and Kevin Porter Jr. all played well. Andre Drummond (calf), Tristan Thompson (knee) and Darius Garland (groin) were out, allowing Nance and KPJ to start. Nance flirted with a triple-double with 16 points, eight boards, eight assists, two steals and two 3-pointers, Sexton led the way with a career-high 32 points, three steals and four 3-pointers, and KPJ came through with 16 points, four rebounds, four assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers despite hitting just 5-of-14 shots. Hopefully KPJ and Nance can keep it going even when (or should I say if?) Drummond and Garland are back. KPJ and Nance are both must-owns in my mind and Osman is worth a look. 

Knicks 125, Rockets 123 – I’m guessing a lot of folks took a bath betting on the 10-point favorited Rockets, who were outscored 32-24 in the fourth quarter for possibly their worst loss of the season, snapping their six-game winning streak along the way. RJ Barrett led the Knicks with 27 points, five boards, five assists, a steal and three 3-pointers, Julius Randle had 16 points and 16 boards, while Bobby Portis, Mitchell Robinson, Frank Ntilikina and Wayne Ellington all scored in double figures off the bench. Robinson didn’t have a block but did have 13 rebounds in 24 minutes. Robinson has now scored in double figures in six of his last eight games and has double-doubled in four of them. Maybe it’s finally happening?! Elfrid Payton played just 19 minutes in a start but still had a better fantasy line than Ntilikina, who played 29 minutes off the bench. Barrett tied his career high in scoring tonight and he’s looked much better since the All-Star break, making him worth grabbing if he’s available. 

The Rockets got 35 points from James Harden, but he hit just 8-of-22 shots and 3-of-13 3-pointers, Russell Westbrook had 24 points and nine boards, Robert Covington had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Danuel House came through with 20 points, four 3-pointers and filled the stat sheet. I’ve hung in there with House and am glad I did. P.J. Tucker failed to score and had just five rebounds and I recently dropped him in a few leagues, as his offensive game is an inconsistent mess. He’s scored in double figures in just two of his last nine games and has hit double digits in rebounds in just one of those. Covington is hot, double-doubling in two straight games and putting up solid numbers in steals, blocks and 3-pointers, as well. Westbrook has scored at least 20 points in 31 straight games.

Blazers 130, Magic 107 – C.J. McCollum, enjoying life without Damian Lillard (groin) went off for 41 points and six 3-pointers, Hassan Whiteside double-doubled, Gary Trent Jr. got hot with 24 points and four 3-pointers on 9-of-16 shooting, and Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza also scored in double figures. Lillard is targeting Wednesday to return, which will undoubtedly hurt CJM, but McCollum has been going crazy ever since Lillard went down. Trent has been starting for Lillard and has scored 24, 15 and 20 points over his last three games. He’ll take a much bigger hit when Lillard is back and I’m guessing last night was his last hurrah. The Blazers snapped a three-game losing streak and are 3.5 games behind the No. 8 Grizzlies, as are the Pelicans and Kings, with the Spurs just another half game back. I think the Pelicans are going to win this race. 

Aaron Gordon was out with right knee inflammation and Gary Clark struggled in a start for him. Gordon, who has arguably been their best player of late, is hoping to play on Wednesday. Nikola Vucevic led the way with 30 points, 11 boards and three 3-pointers, Markelle Fultz had 10 assists with seven points, and Evan Fournier hit 5-of-14 shots for 13 points. Terrence Ross had 23 points and four triples off the bench in the ugly loss. 

Heat 105, Bucks 89 – In another weird upset the Heat bested the Bucks behind a balanced attack from Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Kendrick Nunn, Jae Crowder and Goran Dragic. Crowder went through a slump last week but is off to a good start in this one. Oddly, there was not a single monster stat line in this entire game outside of Adebayo’s 14 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, a steal and three blocks on 5-of-16 shooting. But then again, that’s basically just another day at the office for Bam. Derrick Jones Jr. continues to get opportunities but rarely comes through and had just four points in 18 minutes last night. The Heat are now the only team to beat the Bucks twice this season. Three-point specialist Duncan Robinson has hit a 3-pointer in 46 straight games, tying Rafer Alston’s team record.

Giannis Antetokounmpo hit just 6-of-18 shots and missed all four of his 3-pointers for 13 points, 15 boards, three assists, a steal and a block, while Khris Middleton (who missed two games with a sore neck) hit just 4-of-16 shots for 12 points, seven boards, a steal and two 3-pointers. Brook Lopez, of all people, led the Bucks with 21 points, six boards, two blocks and two 3-pointers, while Eric Bledsoe disappeared with seven points and four assists in 21 minutes. Like most of Monday’s games, there just wasn’t much to learn on a night Giannis matched his season low in scoring. George Hill took a nasty shot to the groin and I’ve seen conflicting reports about whether he returned to the game. Either way, consider him questionable for Wednesday against his former team (Pacers). 

Steve Alexander

Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for NBC Sports Edge and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2020-21 NBA season marks (at least) his 20th year of covering fantasy hoops for NBC Sports. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.