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Basketball Daily Dose

Welcome back, Luka!

by Steve Alexander
Updated On: February 13, 2020, 5:23 pm ET

Luka Doncic is back, Karl-Anthony Towns missed Wednesday with a wrist injury and LeBron James had a monster triple-double as the Lakers got a tough win over the Nuggets.

Mavericks 130, Kings 111 – Luka Doncic returned from a seven-game absence from an ankle injury and had 33 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, hitting 10-of-18 shots and 10-of-12 free throws in 31 minutes. He didn’t miss a beat and should be ready for the All-Star Game as well as a big second half for the No. 6 seeded Mavs. Kristaps Porzingis says he’s learned how to play with Luka and added 27 points, 13 boards, five dimes, three blocks and two 3-pointers in one of his best games alongside Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr. added 19 points, six assists and five triples, and Seth Curry scored 18 points off the bench. With Luka back, the only Mavs you can really trust most nights are Doncic and Porzingis. 

Buddy Hield led the Kings with 22 points, nine assists and four 3-pointers off the bench, but hit just 8-of-21 shots, while all five starters were disappointing. Cory Joseph started in a small-ball unit that featured Nemanja Bjelica, but the Kings shot it poorly and looked like the only thing they really cared about was getting to the All-Star break. 

Lakers 120, Nuggets 116 – Anthony Davis had 33 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers and LeBron James racked up a 32-12-14 triple-double as the Lakers won the last, and best, game of the night. Dwight Howard chipped in with a 14 & 11 double-double and there’s really not much more to say about the 41-12 Lakers. LeBron now has 12 triple-doubles and is tied with Luka for the league lead.

Jerami Grant started over Paul Millsap again for the Nuggets, but I’m guessing that will change after the break. Nikola Jokic had 22 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, three steals, a block and two 3-pointers and Jamal Murray had 32 points and 10 assists in the win. Grant had 15 points, seven rebounds, a steal and a 3-pointer, but I think he’s a cut candidate now that Millsap is back. 

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Cavaliers 127, Hawks 105 OT – Larry Nance Jr. went off for a career-high 23 points, 12 boards, three steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers in the absence of Kevin Love (achilles) and Tristan Thompson came off the bench for a team-high 27 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high three 3-pointers as the Cavaliers crushed the Hawks on Wednesday. Andre Drummond, Collin Sexton and, my guy, Kevin Porter Jr. (18 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 3-pointers) also played well for the Cavs. Love is possibly the top shut-down candidate in the league which means there is some hope for Nance, who scored just two points in his previous game. But Thompson can’t be trusted as long as Drummond is getting it done in the middle for the Cavs, who snapped a 12-game home losing streak. Not entirely surprisingly, the Cavs’ last two home wins have both been against Atlanta. 

The Hawks got 27 & 12 from Trae Young, John Collins scored 23 and filled the stat sheet, Dewayne Dedmon had three steals, three blocks and a 3-pointer to go with his 11 points, and De’Andre Hunter and Red Velvet (Kevin Huerter) started and stayed relevant with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Cam Reddish came off the bench for 16 points, four rebounds, a steal and two 3-pointers, and the only thing I can tell you about him is that he passes the eye test. Clint Capela (heel) is due back after the break, but I think the Hawks are going to be careful with him and I’m not expecting big things upon his return. I’d look to trade him if I owned him. Dedmon, who was in foul trouble, started his first game for the Hawks and should continue to do so until Capela is ready.

Magic 116, Pistons 112 – Aaron Gordon stayed hot and just missed a triple-double with his 25-9-9 line, Nikola Vucevic also flirted with a triple-double with 19 points, 11 boards, seven assists, three steals, a block and a 3-pointer, Markelle Fultz double-doubled with 22 points and 10 assists in one of his best games, and Evan Fournier had 19 points and four triples in the win. 

For the Pistons, Christian Wood lived up to the hype with his 26 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and a 3-pointer, so make sure he’s still not somehow on your waiver wire. Thon Maker kept it going with 18 points, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers, and looks like a no-brainer pickup, while Tony Snell also came through with 16 points, five assists, a block and four 3-pointers. I really don’t trust Snell, but he’s playing well enough to be owned for now. Reggie Jackson had a double-double, Bruce Brown had two points and 10 rebounds, and Derrick Rose played through his hip injury, but hit just 1-of-13 shots for two points. If Rose plays in most of the games after the break, both Jackson and Brown are going to be frustrating players to own. Luke Kennard is due back after the All-Star break, but I’m not feeling it. 

Nets 101, Raptors 91 – Spencer Dinwiddie flirted with a triple-double, Jarrett Allen double-doubled, Caris LeVert led the way with 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block and Joe Harris had 19 points, two 3-pointers and a full stat line in the win. Despite snapping Toronto’s 15-game winning streak, there wasn’t anything too exciting about the Nets last night. 

Kyle Lowry had a 12-11-12 triple-double, Serge Ibaka returned from the flu and went nuts with 28 points, nine boards, a steal, a block and five 3-pointers, Pascal Siakam had a 16-8-4 line and Fred VanVleet scored 22 points with four 3-pointers in the loss. OG Anunoby, who exploded for 25 points, 12 boards, three steals, a block and three 3-pointers in his previous game, crashed back to earth with four points in 32 minutes. He’s a borderline hold in 12-team leagues. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson returned to the bench with Ibaka’s return and had just four points in 16 minutes. The Raptors lost for the first time since Jan. 12. 

Pacers 118, Bucks 111 – The Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak as T.J. Warren scored 35, Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon double-doubled and starters Domantas Sabonis and Victor Oladipo each scored in double figures as the Pacers toppled a Bucks team missing Giannis Antetokounmpo. Oladipo hit 5-of-7 shots on the night for his first decent shooting night of the season. 

The Bucks were led by Donte DiVincenzo’s 19 points and eight rebounds off the bench, while Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and Eric Bledsoe were all held in check. Giannis stayed home to be with his newborn son but should be ready for All-Star Weekend and for the second half of the season. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Bucks. 

Wizards 114, Knicks 96 – Brad Beal scored 30 and Isaac Bonga had 13 points, five boards, two steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers in just 14 minutes as the Wizards beat the Knicks. Rui Hachimura, Ian Mahinmi and Ish Smith all failed to score in double figures, Davis Bertans had 16 points and two 3-pointers off the bench, Troy Brown Jr. had 11 points and six boards off the pine and Moe Wagner played just 17 minutes for six points and four rebounds as a reserve. People are getting excited about Wagner, but the Wizards still have too many big men for my liking. I haven’t picked up Wagner anywhere up to this point. 

Julius Randle scored 21 with 13 rebounds, Elfrid Payton had a big line with 19 points, four rebounds, eight assists, five steals and a 3-pointer, and RJ Barrett finally showed up with 16 points and five rebounds but did nothing else and hit just 5-of-16 shots. Mitchell Robinson played 18 minutes off the bench and hit 5-of-6 shots for 11 points, eight rebounds and a block. If Robinson doesn’t start over Taj Gibson for the remainder of the season, I’m going to throw my remote through my television and start burning my collection of James Dolan CDs. Payton is a must-own player at this point, while Barrett looks like a lost cause right now. I still think Barrett and Robinson will get hot down the stretch. 

Grizzlies 111, Blazers 104 – Brandon Clarke went off to tie his career high with 27 points on 12-of-14 shooting, Jam Morant had 20 points and nine assists, and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks in the win. Jaren Jackson Jr. hit just 1-of-6 shots but still stuffed the stat sheet and Dillon Brooks’ quiet February continued with an 11-point game. Brooks should bounce back after the break but hasn’t scored more than 15 points in any of his last six games. This was a huge win for Memphis, as it extended their lead to 4.0 games over Portland for the West’s final playoff spot.

The Blazers got double-doubles from Hassan Whiteside and Damian Lillard (who injured his groin during the game), C.J. McCollum scored 23 points, Trevor Ariza filled the stat sheet and Carmelo Anthony hit 1-of-15 shots for five points and 15 rebounds. Melo has hit a wall, scoring five or fewer points in four of his last eight games, and I’m fine with dropping him for a hot free agent if you’re feeling it. Anfernee Simons got hot and hit six 3-pointers on his way to 22 points but is not trustworthy in fantasy. Lillard said after the game that he will miss the All-Star Game and get rest in preparation for the rest of the season. Hopefully the groin injury’s not too serious. 

Hornets 115, Timberwolves 108 – Devonte’ Graham came through with 28 points and eight dimes, Bismack Biyombo got a start and double-doubled, Miles Bridges scored 20 points and Malik Monk came through with 25 points and three 3-pointers off the bench. Terry Rozier sat this one out with left knee soreness, which helped out all the other guards in uniform. Center Cody Zeller, who suffered facial lacerations in the previous game, didn’t play, which clearly helped Biyombo. 

Karl-Anthony Towns raised the shut-down panic flag sitting out with a wrist injury, while Mikal Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez and D’Angelo Russell all went off in another Wolves loss. Naz Reid had 12 points, six boards, a steal and a block in 22 minutes off the bench while filling in for KAT, as the Wolves fell to 16-37 on the season. Jarrett Culver did nothing off the bench and I’m about ready to give up on him. KAT will have his wrist re-evaluated after the break and I’m afraid the shutdown potential is real. But odds are he will play down the stretch for the Wolves. 

Suns 112, Warriors 106 – Cheick Diallo started for Deandre Ayton (Dorito ankles) and had 10 points, eight boards and two steals, Devin Booker scored 27, and Kelly Oubre and Mikal Bridges both scored in double figures for the Suns. Keep an eye on Diallo anytime Ayton is in street clothes. Booker might be heading to Chicago for the All-Star Game due to Lillard’s injury. 

The Warriors got 27 points and a full stat line, including four blocks, from Andrew Wiggins, while Marquese Chriss double-doubled and Damion Lee, Jordan Poole, Eric Paschall and Jeremy Pargo all scored in double figures. Draymond Green played well despite scoring just six points and Ky Bowman played just four minutes, which is disturbing. I love Chriss the rest of the way and have picked him up everywhere.

Jazz 116, Heat 101 – Rudy Gobert had 16 points, 20 rebounds and two blocks, Donovan Mitchell scored 26, Bojan Bogdanovic added 22 points, and Jordan Clarkson kept it going off the bench with 21 points and four 3-pointers. Mike Conley sat this one out with the flu, but Joe Ingles couldn’t take advantage of his absence, hitting just 1-of-9 shots for four points, although he did have nine assists. Ugh. Ingles and Conley have both been highly disappointing this season.

The Heat got 25 points from Jimmy Butler, Derrick Jones Jr. bottomed out, failing to take a single shot in 24 minutes, and Kendrick Nunn’s struggles continued as he hit just 5-of-16 shots. Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson both played well, as Robinson hit six more 3-pointers and Bam stuffed the stat sheet with four steals and two blocks to go along with his 11 rebounds, five dimes and nine points. Jae Crowder stayed relevant with 15 points and three 3-pointers off the bench and Goran Dragic cooled off with 13 points and five assists, also off the pine. Robinson, a 3-point specialist, has hit at least five 3-pointers in four straight games and is worth a pickup as long as he’s starting. 

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.