Tuesdays are usually pretty light, but not this one, as we actually saw one more game than we did on Monday’s seven-game night. Chris(tmas) Boucher came a few days late, but I'm all for it.
Bucks 127, Magic 110
The Bucks led by as many as 29 in this one, and despite a few different Orlando runs to cut it to single digits, it was too little, too late for the Magic. The Bucks are fully healthy with the exception of Brook Lopez (back surgery), so the box score looked pretty standard for this well-established squad, with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way behind 28 points, (10-of-19 FGs, 7-of-10 FTs), six rebounds, six assists, one block, one 3-pointer and two turnovers in 30 minutes. The free throws are still an issue and his mark on Tuesday was just a hair above his season average, but he fills it up elsewhere and becomes a top-2 player if you’re punting that category, as opposed to his late second-round value otherwise. Khris Middleton scored 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting (3-of-5 FTs though, which isn't normal) but did little else besides tally a steal and hit two triples and unfortunately turned it over four times, and he isn’t quite living up to his ADP so far but could approach it if he starts picking up his counting stats and shoots it better. Jrue Holiday was efficient as well and double-doubled with a 18/4/10 line with a steal, a triple and two turnovers, and he’s been shooting it incredibly well for the most part lately which will help him creep into top-50 value in no time, and Bobby Portis hit all five of his triples for 19 points, seven rebounds and a block, but 17 of these were in the first half and he wasn’t used down the stretch, but that’ll do. Grayson Allen hit a triple with three dimes but that’s about it in 23 minutes in a start, and I wouldn’t mind the idea of cutting him loose with Khris Middleton, Donte DiVincenzo (eight points, six boards, one trey, one steal in 16 minutes, keep an eye on him) and the rest of the team now healthy. I like Pat Connaughton (10 points, five boards, two triples) a bit better than Allen but this was the first time he scored in double digits in his last six games, so I wouldn’t say he’s a must-roster player anymore.
Franz Wagner absolutely erupted for a career high 38 points (12-of-20 FGs, 10-of-10 FTs) along with even rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, four 3-pointers and two turnovers in a game-high 38 minutes. He’s fun to watch and had a few plays in this one that we weren’t seeing to start the season, so his trajectory is pointing straight up and he’s one of those guys that could end up on a ton of winning fantasy teams. Wendell Carter Jr. double-doubled to the tune of 19 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and one 3-pointer, while Gary Harris scored 13 with four dimes and two 3-pointers, but the other two starters in Robin Lopez and Hassani Gravett didn’t do a whole lot (Gravett was a team-high +16 though, but that doesn’t mean anything for fantasy). The Magic bench is a mess and the only current Magic reserve I semi-like is R.J. Hampton, who played a ton down the stretch and posted a quietly nice 9/3/4/2/1 line with a triple but shot 4-of-11 from the field, but I’m not in a hurry to swoop him up either.
Heat 119, Wizards 112
Not only did Jimmy Butler nearly triple-double in Tuesday’s win, but he also posted a new career high with 15 assists to go with 25 points (8-of-16 FGs, 9-of-9 FTs), eight rebounds, two steals, two blocks and four turnovers in 36 minutes. The bad news is that he turned his right ankle near the end of the game and had to exit after briefly staying in, and he can’t seem to catch a break lately as he’s set to miss some time by the looks of it. Somehow, Jimmy was just third on the team in scoring, as Tyler Herro led that category with a season-high 32 points on 9-of-17 shooting (9-of-10 FTs) and also helped with six boards, three assists and five triples in 35 minutes, and he had a random two-point disappointment on Sunday but based on this alone, no need to worry. Duncan Robinson also hoisted up 17 shots (keep in mind Miami had an eight-man rotation) and drained nine of them for 26 points and a season-high eight triples in 35 minutes, and while that’s all he did, that’ll really boost your 3-pointers category if you deployed him this week. Omer Yurtseven started again and despite shooting just 4-of-12 from the floor, he came through for 10 points, 14 rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes. He’s now grabbed at least 12 boards in six straight games, the last two of which were double-doubles, and the defensive stats haven’t been elite but they’re not invisible. I’m confident to consider him a must-roster player right now, at least until Dewayne Dedmon (MCL) is back, but even then I wouldn’t drop him right away. Gabe Vincent hit three triples and had four steals and Marcus Garrett had three steals off the pine, but I don’t mind keeping Vincent for a while given the team isn’t in great shape yet and he’s consistently playing minutes in the 30s.
Spencer Dinwiddie may get the award for best production without a team’s star player (Bradley Beal, protocols) as he’s generally quiet with him there but goes nuts without him, with Tuesday being no exception as he tallied a 24/7/11 line with four 3-pointers in 42 minutes. If you can unload him now, I’d recommend it. Kyle Kuzma wasn’t all too efficient, yet again, with an 8-of-19 mark but at least had 22 points with seven boards, three assists and two treys in 34 minutes, but he’s really just an inefficient points/boards/triples guy in deeper leagues. Cory Kispert scored 14 with four threes, and it’s the second time in his last three games where he hit exactly that many triples, but he’s just a shaky source of them for maybe another game or two. Daniel Gafford went blockless but was otherwise great with a perfect 7-of-7 shooting night (hit both free throws too) and finalized his line with 16 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and a steal in 36 minutes, and he could keep posting lines like this for as long as Montrezl Harrell is in protocols. Deni Avdija has had some fun lines due to nice defensive stats and had a 7/5/3/1/2 evening with a pair of threes, but his fun could be short lived and he’s not a huge scorer, while Davis Bertans is in the same boat and had his second straight productive game with 19 points and five treys, but he could disappear as soon as some of the eight Wizards players in protocols are cleared to play.
76ers 114, Raptors 109
Tobias Harris hit just three of his 12 shots in this one, but did everything else very well including notching the first triple double of his career with 19 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, one block and four turnovers with more than 68% of his points coming from his 13 makes from the line in 14 tries. He’s been better lately and usually isn’t this exciting but is generally solid. Joel Embiid feasted as always with a game-high 36 points (11-of-16 FGs, 12-of-14 FTs) with 11 rebounds, four assists, one block, two triples and two 3-pointers in 34 minutes, and he’s easily a first-rounder on a per-game basis on the season and has played in all of the Sixers' last six games, which is music to his managers’ ears. Seth Curry (12/5/4, two threes) and especially Tyrese Maxey (five points, 2-of-11 shooting) were rather quiet, which opened the door for reserve Georges Niang to score 19 points with five threes, but this was rather random. Furkan Korkmaz scored 10 with two threes in just 16 minutes but that’s about it in yet another tight nine-man rotation.
Chris Boucher must have consumed pounds of Wheaties this morning as he went berserk in a start, putting up a massive line of 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting, 19 rebounds, one steal and two blocks in 38 minutes. The points were a season high and the boards tied his career high, and he didn’t turn the ball over to round out a pretty perfect Boucher sighting. Toronto also has a ton of guys in protocols, with a handful of them remaining out due to ramping up their conditioning, so some of them are close, and as always, beware of a sudden drop off because most of us have gotten burned by Boucher more than we'd like to admit. Pascal Siakam also went off in his first game back since December 14 (protocols, two missed and three postponed), tallying an efficient 28/6/8/1/1 effort, while Gary Trent Jr. was miserable from the field and needed 24 shots to score 19 points (six makes), seven assists, four triples and a pair of steals. Siakam in particular looked great out there and didn’t appear to be affected by a two-week absence in his game-high 42 minutes, and Trent won’t shoot it like this most nights and is still a surprise third-rounder. Most other Raptors were fairly quiet, with D.J. Wilson returning to the planet we call home with nine points and six rebounds after an absurd first appearance with Toronto on Sunday, and sadly the fun may have been a one-game thing with Siakam back.
Lakers 132, Rockets 123
These teams had the two longest losing streaks in the league (Lakers five, Rockets four) coming in, and the Lakers finally won a darn game and there was plenty of history included, but the win is what’ll matter most to the purple and gold. Starting center LeBron James and Russell Westbrook became the the third pair of Lakers teammates to both record a triple-double (LeBron/Lonzo, Kareem/Magic), with the King faring much better than Brodie with 32 points (11-of-19 FGs, 7-of-9 FTs), 11 rebounds, 11 assists, one steal, two blocks, three treys and three turnovers in 39 minutes. Another insane stat incoming, as LeBron eclipsed the 36,000-point threshold in the victory, and he’s now the youngest player in the league to reach every round number milestone in points from 1k all the way to 36k. He’s been dominant for so long and had his third straight game of at least 30 points, so just appreciate the greatness while we can but I still think there’s going to be plenty more of it. Brodie shot 10-of-17 from the field and posted a 24/12/10 line with two each in the steals and triples departments, but he just can’t seem to not hurt you at least somewhere as he made only two of his six freebies and turned it over seven times. Malik Monk scored 25 points of his own on 50% shooting with a steal, two blocks and three treys, and he’s now scored at least 20 in two straight games and is benefitting with a bunch of Laker wings and guards in protocols, so give him a short-term look if you need scoring. Carmelo Anthony went vintage Melo with 24 points, nine rebounds, one steal, two blocks and four triples off the bench, and he’s been quieter lately but has, like Monk, also had two straight productive games and benefits in an eight-man rotation. Stanley Johnson started and had a 9/5/2 evening with a steal but isn’t super fantasy-friendly, and Avery Bradley scored 14 with a pair each of steals and threes but Monk is the guy to target here. Talen Horton-Tucker was awful and Darren Collison was just as bad, and the only difference is that THT is signed for the season and Collison will have a hard time finding another team after his 10-day deal ends.
The Rockets finally got Kevin Porter Jr. (thigh) back for the first time in a dozen games, and he was really good with an 8-of-17 shooting performance behind a 22/5/9/1/1 line with five threes and four turnovers in 35 minutes, but don’t be fooled by the guy shooting below 36% on the season coming in. His return was supposed to mean trouble for guys like Armoni Brooks (11/2/2 with a steal and two threes) and Josh Christopher (11/3/2 with three steals), but they were actually both alright but, like the Lakers, were forced into bigger roles in an eight-man rotation. They’ll both probably be droppable soon. Jalen Green impressed yet again as well with 24 points (8-of-16 FGs) with two rebounds, four assists, two steals, four triples and two turnovers in 38 minutes, but like KPJ, you can’t expect his kind of efficiency much but he’s definitely looked much better in his last two than he did for most of the first part of the season. Christian Wood impressed with a full 22/6/3/3/1 showing but made just three of his six free throws, which is standard, but the defensive stats were a step in the right direction, while Alperen Sengun had 10 points in just 15 minutes (lowest on the team) and was just not as usable in this game that saw a ton of small-ball lineups, but I still like stashing him everywhere possible if you can afford to. Eric Gordon went 5-of-6 from the field for 13 points, three boards and three assists, and he’s not going to be as good as long as KPJ is playing, while David Nwaba got the task of guarding LeBron, which didn’t work, but he still had seven points, seven boards and four blocks, but he’s far more important in real life.
Knicks 96, Timberwolves 88
Finally a low-scoring affair, which is bound to happen when both teams shoot exactly 40% from the field, but we’ve seen a lot of points lately so this is kind of refreshing for the defensive-minded fans. Mitchell Robinson feasted against a smaller lineup with a team-high 14 points, a season-high 18 rebounds, two steals and one block in 32 minutes. He shot 7-of-8 from the field (missed both free throws) and is admittedly and annoyingly unpredictable, but when he’s good, he’s really good. Julius Randle posted a 13-point, 15-rebound double-double with two assists and a block, but the good ends there as he hit five of his 20 shots and turned it over four times, but that’s more or less the story for him. Evan Fournier scored 13 with three 3-pointers, and Kemba Walker was finally human with just 10 points on 3-of-11 shooting, and while he’s been phenomenal I sadly don’t expect it to continue. The NY bench didn’t leave much to discuss as Quentin Grimes (11/2/2/1/1) was the only reserve to hit double figures and play more than 16 minutes, and oddly enough, I’d probably prefer Grimes over Kemba for the rest of the season.
The Wolves played for the second time in as many nights and while the box score looked pleasantly bizarre on Monday night, it was different this time around. Malik Beasley played 40 minutes and led the team there and in scoring with 20 points and four threes, but the 8-of-23 mark from the floor hurts quite a bit, but just ride him until the wheels fall off. Jaden McDaniels swatted a career-high five shots and scored 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, also adding six rebounds, one steal and one 3-pointer in 36 minutes and he’s been ballin’ on a decimated roster, but he’s the only one out of Jaylen Nowell (11/4/6/1/1 on 5-of-14 shooting), Nathan Knight (8/7 with a block) and Jordan McLaughlin (9/3/2) that kept his foot on the gas for two straight nights. Patrick Beverly (protocols) returned but missed all eight of his shots, with only his seven boards and seven dimes being helpful, but the only way he can go from this is up.
Pelicans 108, Cavaliers 104
Even without starters Brandon Ingram (left Achilles soreness) and Josh Hart (left ankle sprain), the Pelicans still got the job done with contributions from plenty of others. Herb Jones fared the best in the win, shooting 10-of-18 from the floor on his way to a career-high 26 points, also accumulating seven boards, three assists, three blocks, two 3-pointers and no turnovers across 36 minutes. He’s been a bit on and off with his production but took full advantage of an expanded role as the go-to guy, and while he’s fine for season-long settings, he’s best utilized on nights just like this one. Gary Clark also started and scored 12 points with four treys and four boards, but he isn’t an add, while Devonte’ Graham posted a 18/5/5 line with a block and a triple in 33 minutes. Jonas Valanciunas failed to take advantage of more offensive responsibility and went just 4-of-11 from the field, but at least he had a 15/10 double-double with a pair of assists, a swat and four turnovers in 30 minutes. Garrett Temple scored 17 in a start as well, but I still like Jones better with or without BI and Hart.
Ricky Rubio was playing out of his mind and was closing in on his first triple-double since March 2020, but he left the game late after appearing to suffer a potentially serious knee injury. He finished his 37 minutes with a 27/13/9/2/2 line, and while that’s spectacular, his health is far more important and this team can’t afford to have another guard go down, so we’ll see what the next we hear on that is. Evan Mobley (protocols) returned from a four-game stint on the sidelines and finished with 22 points and seven rebounds with a triple in 30 minutes, and while there were no assists or defensive stats, he found his offense right away and everything else will follow soon. Mobley’s return should have taken away from Kevin Love, but that was far from the reality of the situation as Love scored 24 points with four boards, three assists, one steal and seven 3-pointers in 32 minutes. He hit his first four treys in his six minutes played in the first quarter, and he’s worth holding onto even when other guys come back but be sure to expect a drop off in production. Other than Lauri Markkanen's 14/5/2 night with two steals, no other Cav did much of anything, and they’ll shake this one off and move on to a matchup with the Wizards on Thursday.
Kings 117, Thunder 111
Tyrese Haliburton has defined the word “consistent” better than Merriam-Webster, as he posted a 20/10 points/assists double-double for the fifth time in six games, going for 24 points (9-of-14 shooting), two boards, 10 dimes, one steal, two blocks, five triples and two turnovers in 33 minutes against OKC on Tuesday night. He played fantastic in the other game in that span mentioned too, and his tear as of late has him close to third-round status on the season and in the midst of second-round conversation over the past two weeks. Both of his blocks came on three-point attempts too, which makes it even more impressive, and he’s made up for a few quiet mid-December guys in every way. Buddy Hield’s shot was falling as he scored 21 points with three triples off the bench, but De’Aaron Fox cannot say the same as he went just 4-of-17 from the floor for a 12/5/8/1/1 effort, with his lack of threes and poor shooting from the field and line anchoring down his value. Richaun Holmes hasn’t quite gotten it going yet since returning from an eye injury, as he was quiet again with nine points and six boards in 25 minutes, but he’ll get it going soon enough and this is a nice buy-low opportunity in my opinion. Marvin Bagley nearly double-doubled in a start with nine points and 10 boards, with Harrison Barnes’ also not doing much besides scoring (17 points) and hitting threes (five triples) on Tuesday. Chimezie Metu grabbed eight boards in 17 minutes off the bench but his fun looks to have come to an end with Holmes back, while Terence Davis (11/6/3 with three treys) is getting there but could still be worth holding onto depending on how his next few games go. Damian Jones randomly hauled in a career-high 14 rebounds and had the motor of the Energizer Bunny in this one but he can be ignored.
His team lost, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander just cannot be stopped lately, as the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week came through for managers yet again with 33 points, five rebounds, five assists, one 3-pointer and one turnover in 35 minutes. No defensive stats but he’s been elite there lately, and he did shoot 9-of-24 from the field but has feasted at the line (14-of-17), so he offset his blemishes and his arrow is pointing straight up right now. Lu Dort also had a hard time with his shot with a 5-of-15 clip, but was pretty solid with 19 points, eight rebounds, one assist, one steal and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes, while Isaiah Roby was just okay with a 8/6/1/1/1 line with a trey in a start. Aaron Wiggins also started and had 14 points with five rebounds, one steal and one block in 26 minutes, but SGA and Dort were the superior options on Tuesday and will be most nights. I don’t really care about anyone on the Thunder bench besides Kenrich Williams (seven points, eight boards, one steal, one trey in 28 minutes), and even then he’s still just a watch-list guy right now.
Nuggets 89, Warriors 86
This one was somewhat weird as these two teams combine to score around 217 points on average and didn’t even get to 180, so if you were an over bettor my thoughts are with you. Not a lot of guys are worth mentioning so this will be quick, but Nikola Jokic continues to be unaware of what a bad game is as he went for 22 points (8-of-19 FGs, 6-of-8 FTs), 18 rebounds, five assists, four steals, one block and an unfortunate eight turnovers in 35 minutes. You could call this an off-night for the MVP for a couple reasons, but he helped more than he hurt and is just fantastic. Will Barton netted 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting and chipped in with four rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block, four 3-pointers and three turnovers in 36 minutes, and he has a better shot at increased production with guys like Aaron Gordon (hamstring) and Monte Morris (knee) failing to suit up. And really, that’s it on Denver’s side, as these two combined for nearly half of the team’s points and the next highest scorer had just eight points. Hopefully you didn’t target this game for DFS purposes.
Andrew Wiggins was the Dub’s top fantasy producer on this occasion, as he posted a full 21/8/1/2/1 line with three triples and two turnovers over 32 minutes after missing his last four due to protocols. He shot just 8-of-20 from the field but was otherwise nice and he stole some of Draymond Green’s (protocols) typical defensive stats. I expected guys like Gary Payton II (11/7/2) and Juan Toscano-Anderson (10/3/2) to get pretty sizable bumps with Green out, and they were both fine and the oddly low-scoring affair can be blamed, so foresee them having some value for a couple games. Stephen Curry went 6-of-16 from the field for 23 points, four rebounds, four assists, no defensive stats, five 3-pointers and six turnovers in 39 minutes, and this could be considered pretty awful for Steph but it wasn’t even that bad - he just has to be held to the highest of standards. Chef Curry also hit the 3,000-triple mark on his career, which of course has never been done before, and he’s just a once in a lifetime athlete that Austin Rivers is still trying to locate.