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Basketball Daily Dose

LaMarcus Aldridge makes his return

by Raphielle Johnson
Updated On: March 11, 2020, 10:50 am ET

Tuesday night San Antonio, which faces long odds in its quest to extend the franchise’s run of reaching the postseason, welcomed back leading scorer and rebounder LaMarcus Aldridge. His return gave the Spurs the spark that the team needed, with that being one of many standout performances in the Association. Fellow St. Louis natives Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum went off in wins, as did James Harden, while Luka Doncic, LeBron James and Frank Ntilikina (yes, Frank) did so in losing efforts. 

Celtics 114, Pacers 111 — Boston was once again without Jaylen Brown (right hamstring) which meant another start for Marcus Smart, who finished with 16 points, five rebounds, five assists and two 3-pointers in 36 minutes. Also of note for the Celtics injury-wise is that Kemba Walker (11/3/2 with two 3-pointers) was on a limit of 30-32 minutes, and he would ultimately play 30, and Robert Williams (back) was cleared to play but did not see any action. Even with the minutes restriction Walker’s a must-play, but his fantasy production and dipped noticeably due to the left knee that Brad Stevens said feels good.

Jayson Tatum (30/6/2/4 with three 3-pointers), Gordon Hayward (27/10/5/2/1 with three 3-pointers) and Daniel Theis (20/6/3 with two blocks and two 3-pointers) led the way offensively, with Hayward posting his first 20/10 game since Boston’s double overtime win over the Clippers in the team’s final game before the All-Star break.

Victor Oladipo had his best offensive game of the season, as he pumped in 27 points to go along with seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and five 3-pointers in 29 minutes. The plan is still to not play him in both ends of back-to-backs, but the good news for those who have Oladipo rostered is that Indiana’s next back-to-back isn’t until March 20/21. With those games being against the Heat and Cavaliers, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he was held out of the latter given Cleveland’s struggles. Indiana’s off until Saturday against Philadelphia, and that could mean a few more minutes for a player who has yet to play more than 29 minutes in a game since returning from injury. Domantas Sabonis (28/9/8/1), T.J. Warren (22 points, five rebounds and one 3-pointer) and Myles Turner (16/8/1/1/4 with one 3-pointer) also scored in double figures, with Justin Holiday adding eight points, two rebounds, one steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 21 minutes off the bench. 

Justin offers up better value right now than Aaron Holiday, despite the fact that his little brother is the one who’s starting. That being said, with the Pacers having just one more game to play this week there isn’t much need to rush and add either one if they’re available. Aaron finished with four points, two rebounds, four assists and one steal in 34 minutes, shooting 2-of-9 from the field. 

Wizards 122, Knicks 115Bradley Beal was the star in this one, tallying 39 points, three rebounds, seven assists, three steals, one blocked shot and four 3-pointers in 39 minutes. No surprise at all that he put up a huge line, given both how he’s played throughout the season and the opposition. Shabazz Napier (21/3/6/3 with three 3-pointers) has scored a total of 48 points in what is his best two-game stretch of the season, with Thomas Bryant (14/9/2/1 with one 3-pointer), Davis Bertans (11/2/3 with three 3-pointers) and Moritz Wagner (10/3/1) also scoring in double figures. The biggest development for the Wizards, with regard to both the team’s remaining games and fantasy implications, may be Rui Hachimura snapping out of his shooting slump. 

After going a combined 0-of-14 from the field in the two games prior the rookie forward was 4-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from the foul line, finishing with 12 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots. Hachimura’s going to play a lot as the Wizards finish out their schedule, but he was a tough sell with that slump. Now that he’s back on the right track, Hachimura is worth rostering the rest of the way. 

New York’s starters came out of the gates with a whimper, falling behind 18-4 with Mike Miller replacing the entire group in response. Frank Ntilikina and Bobby Portis were the biggest beneficiaries, with the former posting the first 20/10 game of his career. Ntilikina played 30 minutes to starter Elfrid Payton’s (3/2/4/1) 18, finishing with 20 points (6-of-9 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), two rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and three 3-pointers. Portis also scored 20 points while also tallying six rebounds, five assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 27 minutes. Dennis Smith Jr. (concussion) was cleared to play but did not, and he was already irrelevant in fantasy hoops so this changes nothing. 

Mitchell Robinson (illness) was also cleared and ultimately played 25 minutes, accounting for 10 points and three rebounds. Whenever he’s healthy Robinson needs to be plugged into fantasy lineups, even with his failing to record a defensive stat (steals or blocks) Tuesday night. Julius Randle (16/5/2/1), RJ Barrett (16/6/1/4/1 with one 3-pointer), Taj Gibson (10 points, three rebounds, one steal and one block) and Reggie Bullock (10/2/3 with one 3-pointer) also scored in double figures for the Knicks. 

Bulls 108, Cavaliers 103 — For the first time since Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, a player who attended North Carolina was in the Bulls starting lineup. Yes, Jim Boylen finally made the move that many have been clamoring for and moved rookie guard Coby White from the bench to the first five, and in 38 minutes he tallied 20 points (7-of-17 FGs, 4-of-5 FTs), five rebounds, five assists and two 3-pointers. He’s now scored 19 points or more in nine straight games, but the nine-cat stat line Tuesday night wasn’t great as he racked up a game-high nine turnovers. Over the last month, White has provided top-25 value in nine-cat formats. Tomas Satoransky moved to the bench but still played 29 minutes, finishing with five points, eight rebounds, five assists and one 3-pointer. He still has some value coming off the bench, but that will likely change once Zach LaVine (left quad) is healthy enough to play. And with LaVine saying that he expects to return “sometime in the next week,” that time isn’t far off. 

Wendell Carter Jr. (17/6/1/2), Lauri Markkanen (15 points, four rebounds, one steal and three 3-pointers), Denzel Valentine (15/1/2/1 with three 3-pointers) and Otto Porter (15/4/2/2 with two 3-pointers) also scored in double figures, with Shaquille Harrison posting a solid line of eight points, 10 rebounds, four assists, one steal and three blocked shots. Harrison is another player whose value will take a hit when LaVine returns, but it’s worth noting that over the last month he’s provided sixth-round value in nine-cat formats. 

Cleveland dropped to 5-6 since John Beilein’s resignation was announced, and the team’s success — comparatively speaking — has led to J.B. Bickerstaff receiving a contract on Tuesday that runs through the 2023-24 season. He’s working with less than a full deck right now due to injuries, with just eight players seeing action Tuesday night. Tristan Thompson (right eye), Darius Garland (left groin) and Kevin Porter Jr. (concussion) were all sidelined, with Garland’s absence meaning another start for Matthew Dellavedova (8/2/8/1/1 with two 3-pointers). Delly is averaging 7.0 assists per game over the last two weeks, and is worth a look in deeper leagues if there’s a need for production in that statistical category. Collin Sexton (26/3/5/1) and Andre Drummond (21/7/2/2/1) led the way offensively for the Cavs, with Kevin Love (17/8/7/1 with two 3-pointers) shooting a frigid 2-of-13 from beyond the arc. 

Larry Nance Jr., who has benefitted from Thompson’s absence, finished with 16 points, four rebounds, six assists, two steals, one block and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes off the bench. He has top-50 value over the last two weeks, and as long as Thompson’s out Nance is a must-have even in standard leagues. Might as well ride the wave while he’s rolling. 

Rockets 117, Timberwolves 111James Harden snapped out of his five-game shooting slump in a big way, shooting 11-of-19 from the field and 10-of-14 from the foul line to finish with 37 points. While he scored 21 or more in four of the five games prior, The Beard shot no better than 36.4% from the field in any of those outings. Harden also accounted for four rebounds, seven assists, two steals, one blocked shot and five 3-pointers in his 36 minutes. Russell Westbrook also shot well, going 11-of-17 from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line and tallying 27 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals in 37 minutes. The only negative for Westbrook was the turnover count, as he racked up a game-high six. 

Eric Gordon (right knee soreness) and Ben McLemore (gastroenteritis) both saw action, with Gordon (16/2/1 with two 3-pointers) playing 30 minutes and McLemore (six points, one assist and two 3-pointers) 10. Their returns are bad news for Danuel House, who played just 12 minutes and finished with four points, one rebound and three assists. Robert Covington (10/7/1/1/2 with one 3-pointer) and P.J. Tucker (3/11/2/2/2 with one 3-pointer) both posted full stat lines, with Austin Rivers adding 11 points, one assist and three 3-pointers in 18 minutes off the bench. Over the last two weeks Tucker has provided late-round value in nine-cat formats, and while he isn’t as productive as Covington he’s in a similar spot fantasy-wise due to Houston’s smaller rotation: he’s a must-have. Jeff Green came back to earth after scoring 17 or more in each of the three games prior, shooting 1-of-6 from the field and finishing with three points, two rebounds, one assist and one 3-pointer in 21 minutes off the bench. 

Westbrook wasn’t the only player in this game to rack up six turnovers, as D'Angelo Russell (28/6/5/4 with five 3-pointers) also hitting that number. But the overall line meant that he didn’t take much of a hit from a fantasy standpoint, which was good news for those who have Russell rostered. One Timberwolves player who didn’t help out those who have him was Malik Beasley, who shot 2-of-11 from the field and finished with five points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and one 3-pointer in 33 minutes. No need to panic here however, as over the last month he’s provided eighth-round value in nine-cat formats. He’s going to continue to have every opportunity to produce, and more often than not Beasley has since being acquired from the Nuggets. 

Joining Russell in double figures were Juancho Hernangomez (18 points, 10 rebounds, one steal and four 3-pointers), James Johnson (16/6/3/2 with two 3-pointers), Jarrett Culver (12/1/2 with one 3-pointer) and Naz Reid (11/4/3/1). Reid played just 23 minutes due to fouls and matchups, with Johnson getting 25 and Hernangomez 30. While the former has provided 11th-round value over the last two weeks, both Johnson and Hernangomez are both in that eighth-round range. All three are rostered in less than 40 percent of Yahoo leagues, so if there’s a need for frontcourt production during the fantasy playoffs each is worth a look. I’d rank them Hernangomez, Reid and then Johnson personally. 

Magic 120, Grizzlies 115 — With both teams looking to hang onto the eighth seed in their respective conferences, Orlando picked up a much-needed win thanks in part to the bench trio of Terrence Ross, Michael Carter-Williams and D.J. Augustin. They combined to score 60 of Orlando’s 120 points, with Ross (24/2/1 with two blocks and five 3-pointers) leading the way followed by Carter-Williams (20 points, three rebounds, two steals and two 3-pointers) and Augustin (16/2/4 with two 3-pointers). In the case of MCW, over the last month he’s provided 12th-round value in nine-cat formats. I just wish he had eligibility at shooting guard as well as point guard, as opposed to having just the latter. Nikola Vucevic (19/11/7 with one 3-pointer) and Markelle Fultz (14/4/6/3 with one 3-pointer) also scored in double figures, with Aaron Gordon (8/7/9/1/1) establishing a new season-high with his nine assists. 

He’s been a second-round player in nine-cat over the last month, and since the All-Star break Gordon is averaging 16.4 points, 9.4 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.4 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers per game while shooting 48.5% from the field and 65.7% from the foul line. 

Jonas Valanciunas led three Grizzlies with at least 21 points on the night, as he put up 27 points (9-of-10 FGs, 9-of-13 FTs) to go along with 16 rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot in 36 minutes. He’s been a fifth-round player in nine-cat this season, producing at a higher level than many anticipated back in October. Ja Morant (21/4/5/1 with one 3-pointer) and Dillon Brooks (21 points, one assist, one steal and four 3-pointers) both shot 7-of-16 from the field, while Josh Jackson posted a line of 15 points, one rebound, four assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 20 minutes off the bench. While those four put up the best numbers for Memphis they were also responsible for 18 of the team’s 20 turnovers, with Valanciunas and Morant racking up five apiece and Brooks and Jackson four. 

Over the last month Jackson has been a late-round player in nine-cat formats, taking advantage of the opportunity that he’s been given in Memphis. He’s currently rostered in nine percent of Yahoo leagues, and is worth a look in deeper leagues if there’s a need for a multi-position (SG/SF) player capable of filling the stat sheet more often than not. 

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Spurs 119, Mavericks 109LaMarcus Aldridge made his return to the Spurs lineup after missing the prior six games with a shoulder injury, which meant a return to the bench for Drew Eubanks. Aldridge was able to play 37 minutes, finishing with 24 points, two rebounds, two assists, three steals, four blocks and one 3-pointer. The four rejections are the most that he’s had in a game since December 19, when he had that many in a win over the Nets. And Aldridge has scored at least 1,000 points in each of the last 13 seasons, something that only one other player (LeBron) has done. Eubanks wasn’t a factor in fantasy when he was starting and that was the case Tuesday night as well, as he played just seven minutes and went scoreless with one rebound, two assists, one steal and one block. 

Counting Aldridge seven Spurs scored in double figures with one being Marco Belinelli (illness), who in his return to the rotation tallied 16 points, four rebounds, one assist and four 3-pointers in 21 minutes. When on he’s capable of providing points and 3-pointers, but Belinelli is averaging just 1.1 3-pointers and 5.8 points per game on the season. Leave him on the waiver wire. Also reaching double figures for San Antonio were Rudy Gay (17 points, four rebounds and one 3-pointer), Trey Lyles (14/11/2/1/1 with four 3-pointers), Derrick White (14/7/9/2/4 with one 3-pointer), DeMar DeRozan (13/5/12/2) and Patty Mills (12/1/3 with two 3-pointers). 

White’s fantasy value jumps now that he’s in the starting lineup in place of the injured Dejounte Murray (calf), and over the last two weeks he’s been a top-50 player in nine-cat formats (as has Lyles). Lyles takes a hit with Aldridge back, making White the Spur that has to be picked up at this stage in the season. 

After going on a run of five straight games with at least 24 points Kristaps Porzingis has hit a rough patch, as he’s scored a total of 18 points in Dallas’ last two games. Tuesday night he shot 4-of-15 from the field, scoring nine points with 12 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 38 minutes. Dallas has rarely been able to get both Porzingis and Luka Doncic (38/7/8/2 with six 3-pointers) rolling at the same time, which has to change if the Mavericks are to have any chance of advancing in the postseason. The good news for Rick Carlisle’s team is that Tim Hardaway Jr. (20/7/3/2 with four 3-pointers) is putting up solid numbers, as he’s scored 19 or more in each of the team’s five games this month. 

Seth Curry (left ankle) missing his second straight game meant even more shot opportunities for Hardaway Jr. and another start for Courtney Lee, with the former taking advantage. THJ’s rostered in 57 percent of Yahoo leagues, and is a worthwhile pickup even when Curry is cleared to play. Lee played 22 minutes and was largely ineffective, finishing with two points, two steals and one blocked shot. Dorian Finney-Smith (right hip) accounted for 15 points, four rebounds, one steal and three 3-pointers in his return to action, and Maxi Kleber (12/5/3 with two 3-pointers) also scored in double figures. 

Blazers 121, Suns 105 — Balanced scoring was the ticket for Portland, with all five starters scoring in double figures and four having at least 21 points. Damian Lillard (25/5/7/3/2 with five 3-pointers) and C.J. McCollum (22/6/4/1/1 with two 3-pointers) led the way, with Trevor Ariza (22 points, six rebounds, one steal, one block and five 3-pointers) and Carmelo Anthony (21/3/5/2/2 with two 3-pointers) also surpassing the 20-point mark. Hassan Whiteside added another double-double, as he tallied 16 points, 14 rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocked shots. Over the last two weeks Ariza has been a top-100 player in nine-cat, and yet he’s rostered in just 31 percent of Yahoo leagues. Pick him up if he’s available. 

Portland didn’t get much else from anyone else, with Mario Hezonja (eight points, four rebounds, one steal and two 3-pointers in 14 minutes) being the most productive of the reserves. Gary Trent Jr. shot 0-of-5 from the field and went scoreless with two rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot, and he’s an automatic drop for those who hung onto him after Lillard made his return to the lineup.

Sadly, Aron Baynes’ offensive tour de force has come to an end, as he once again started for the injured Deandre Ayton (left ankle) but shot 3-of-14 from the field and finished with seven points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one 3-pointer in 34 minutes. And his value is likely to take a hit in the very near future, as Ayton was a full participant in pregame shootaround and is likely to make his return Saturday when the Suns take on Dallas. Devin Booker (29/6/9 with two 3-pointers), Dario Saric (24/11/2 with one block and four 3-pointers) and Ricky Rubio (21/6/9 with two 3-pointers) were Phoenix’s only double-digit scorers, with Booker leaving the game late after taking a hard fall and landing on his right hip. Phoenix is off until Saturday, so both he and Rubio (finger) will have a couple days to recover. 

In a normal week from a schedule standpoint, Saric would have some value as a late pickup. But this isn’t a normal week as noted above, so leave him on the waiver wire. Mikal Bridges (8/5/3/1/1) and Jevon Carter (8/7/1/1/2 with two 3-pointers) posted full stat lines, with the latter gaining minutes with Cameron Johnson out due to a case of mononucleosis. 

Clippers 131, Warriors 107 — This game was essentially over by halftime, with Kawhi Leonard (23/4/5/2 with two 3-pointers) leading seven double-digit scorers. What’s even better for him is that he did this in just 25 minutes, getting a little extra rest with the Clippers now off until Friday. Landry Shamet (10/1/5/1 with one 3-pointer) and JaMychal Green (13/10/2 with three 3-pointers) led the way in minutes, playing 27 and 26 minutes, respectively. Reggie Jackson (16 points, four assists, one block and three 3-pointers) had a little more on his plate with Lou Williams (right calf) sidelined, with Montrezl Harrell (14/4/2), Paul George (15/1/5/1 with three 3-pointers) and Patrick Beverley (15/3/2 with four 3-pointers) also scoring in double figures. 

Ivica Zubac scored just four points, but he grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked a shot in his 20 minutes on the floor. There wasn’t much to take away from this one fantasy-wise with regard to the Clippers, as every player that was available got to play due to the nature of the game. 

Golden State was without both Stephen Curry (illness) and Draymond Green (left knee), and two more players suffered injuries during Wednesday’s beating. Juan Toscano-Anderson sprained his left ankle during the first minute and did not return, and Marquese Chriss injured his right knee during the third quarter but was able to re-enter the game. Chriss played 27 minutes, finishing with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two assists. There was one other piece of news on the injury front, as Ky Bowman (right ankle) played 24 minutes in his return and tallied 11 points, four rebounds, one assist and one 3-pointer. He’ll get minutes whenever Curry’s out, but that isn’t enough to justify him as a player worth picking up. 

Dragan Bender had his best game as a Warrior, shooting 8-of-12 from the field and 5-of-5 from the foul line to finish with 23 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers in 25 minutes. Joining Bender, Chriss and Bowman in double figures were Andrew Wiggins (21/2/3 with three 3-pointers), Jordan Poole (17/1/3/1 with two 3-pointers) and Eric Paschall (12/2/7 with one 3-pointer). Paschall’s seven assists were one shy of his career-high, and he’s averaging 6.3 per game in March (five games). Green’s absence has resulted in more playmaking opportunities for the rookie forward, and that’s benefitted him in both fantasy and his development as a pro. Damion Lee (8/5/3/1 with two 3-pointers) and Mychal Mulder (three points, four rebounds) had tough nights shooting the ball as they combined to go 3-of-15, but Lee is still providing 10th-round value in nine-cat formats over the last two weeks. 

Nets 104, Lakers 102Spencer Dinwiddie (23/4/7/1 with one 3-pointer) and Caris LeVert (22/7/4/2/1 with three 3-pointers) paced the Nets, who held on for the win as Anthony Davis’ 3-point attempt as time expired missed the mark. Dinwiddie and LeVert’s fantasy values remain safe with the coaching change, but the same cannot be said for Jarrett Allen. He once again came off the bench with DeAndre Jordan being interim head coach Jacque Vaughn’s preferred center, playing 21 minutes and scoring three points with seven rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot. The only thing keeping Allen alive fantasy-wise in the short-term is the fact that Brooklyn finishes the week with three games over the course of four days. Jordan played 27 minutes, tallying eight points, 12 rebounds and one assist. 

Garrett Temple (left ankle), who isn’t worth holding onto in any league, missed another game and that freed up additional minutes for Timothe Luwawu and Chris Chiozza. Both had solid outings, with Luwawu posting a line of 13 points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 25 minutes and Chiozza 11 points, one rebound, five assists and three 3-pointers in 17. Chiozza doesn’t offer much in the way of fantasy value, but to his credit he’s made it tough for Vaughn to pull him out of the rotation. Joe Harris (12/3/2 with two 3-pointers) also scored in double figures, while Wilson Chandler (5/5/3 with one 3-pointer) remains in the starting lineup ahead of Taurean Prince (seven points, six rebounds, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer). I wouldn’t roster Chandler or Prince, but the latter is still owned in 39 percent of Yahoo leagues. 

Los Angeles was without Dwight Howard (illness), which ultimately meant more time at the center position for the aforementioned "Unibrow." Davis, who's been dealing with left elbow soreness, played 37 minutes and posted a stat line of 26 points, eight rebounds, two assists, one blocked shot and four 3-pointers. Starting center JaVale McGee was on the court for just 17 minutes, finishing with four points, three rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot. Frank Vogel hasn’t hesitated to close games with Davis at the five, and it’s going to be a look that we see quite often during the postseason. LeBron James (left groin soreness; 29/12/9/1 with four 3-pointers) had a shot at the tie, but his layup attempt on the play prior to Davis’ 3-point miss rolled around the rim and out. Both he and Davis have provided first-round value in nine-cat all season long. 

Kyle Kuzma (14/5/1/1) and Avery Bradley (10/2/2 with two 3-pointers) also scored in double figures, but no other Laker scored more than seven points (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finished with a line of seven points, five rebounds, two assists, one block and one 3-pointer). Alex Caruso was able to play 14 minutes, but he’s a player that should be dropped onto the waiver wire at this point. He accounted for three rebounds, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one 3-pointer, and as long as Bradley is producing there isn’t much room for Caruso in the rotation no matter how well he plays when sharing the court with LeBron. 

Wednesday’s Schedule (all times Eastern) 

Detroit at Philadelphia, 7 PM 

New York at Atlanta, 7:30 PM 

Charlotte at Miami, 7:30 PM 

Utah at Oklahoma City, 8 PM 

Denver at Dallas, 8 PM 

New Orleans at Sacramento, 10:30 PM 

Raphielle Johnson
Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.