Five games on Thursday. Russell Westbrook dropped another triple-double. Isaiah Thomas scored 15 in the fourth again. Mavericks came back from down 22 points with Dirk coming in the clutch again. T.J. McConnell scored another game-winner as the Sixers won another game without Embiid. James Harden flirted with another triple-double and leads the league in double-double. However, we got some unfortunate news of Jabari Parker. He’s set to undergo a 12-month rehab session after tearing his ACL. Khris Middleton would get a decent bump, while Tony Snell and Michael Beasley is a deep league add. Let’s get to tonight’s games.
Sixers 112 – Magic 111
It’s the most impressive thing when the Sixers win a game without Joel Embiid. They won a close one tonight, thanks to another T.J. McConnell game-winning shot. He finished with 8-5-8 with three steals in 30 minutes. He doesn’t light up the points category but he’s getting good assists and steals from a late-round asset. He’s a poor man’s Ricky Rubio but he’s much more efficient than the Spaniard. He’s returning top-80 value in the last month and should be somewhere around that vicinity for the rest of the season. After a 20-point effort, Dario Saric followed that up with a career-high 24 points while adding eight boards, three triples and three steals performance. He’s seen an increase in usage rate since Embiid went down with some knee issues and he’s not due to return after the All-Star break so this is a good opportunity for Saric to step up his game. We still don’t know when Ben Simmons is returning so Saric’s window of opportunity is still open. Nerlens Noel had a nice game off the bench with 10 points, seven boards with two steals and two blocks in 22 minutes. He’s not going to start when Embiid sits but he’s always going to be the second string center. A trade to another team might actually improve his value.
The Magic is just bad and no matter what kind of changes to the starting line up that Frank Vogel decides, they’re still going to be bad. However, Evan Fournier had back-to-back games with at least 20 points. He finished with 24-9-8 with three triples and a steal. He’s scored at least 20 points in three of his last four games and is starting to find his touch. Elfrid Payton got moved to the bench so Fournier got more ball handling responsibilities tonight, which results in a good amount of assists. Payton finished with 15 points and three assists in 26 minutes off the bench. I don’t think this move to the bench will be long lasting so Payton’s a hold for now. Meanwhile C.J. Watson got the start at point guard as he finished with 11-3-4 with a trey and a steal. Vogel said he started because he’s the best defensive option in that position. Pretty ironic how the opposing point guard got the game winning bucket on Watson. As long as Watson’s the starting point guard, it makes him a 14-team or 16-team league guy.
Rockets 107 – Hornets 95
The Rockets are starting to click again after an inconsistent January. They have now won three straight games and James Harden flirted with another triple-double. He finished with 30-11-8 with four triples, a steal and a block in 39 minutes. He’s seen an increase in minutes lately, averaging 39.7 minutes in his last three games. Fortunately, D’Antoni doesn’t believe in rest or maintenance days so Harden can keep on rolling. Patrick Beverley scored 17 points with three triples and three steals. That’s back-to-back games in double-digits for Bev and he got a lot more run with Eric Gordon missing out with a back problem. Montrezl Harrell got some run tonight with 15 points and four rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench. It’s sad to see Harrell get dropped off in the fantasy world with Capella’s return but he’s still capable of putting up stats. Nene took some time off tonight, that’s why Harrell got some run. Don’t go rushing to add him yet.
After snapping their losing streak against the Nets the other night, the Hornets went back to losing ways and Kemba Walker is struggling pretty hard. He only managed to post a 14-5-5 line in 36 minutes on 6-of-14 shooting. In the last two weeks, he’s ranked 116 in 9-cat and ranked 253 in the last week. He’s in a major slump and the All-Star break can’t come any sooner for Kemba. Cody Zeller returned in this game after missing seven games with a quad contusion. He finished with nine points and four rebounds in 22 minutes. He also left the game in this one again with quad soreness after a fall to the ground. It looks like he aggravated the quad and would possibly miss more time for the injury prone center. Nicolas Batum stuffed the stat sheet again with 15-8-10 with two triples and a steal. Batum has been doing everything on the floor and when his shots are falling, he’s probably an early round stud but that’s the problem with Batum. His shots are inconsistent and is only top-60 player.
Cavaliers 109 – Thunder 118
The Thunder tied their season series with the Cavaliers tonight and it was a duel between Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving in the fourth quarter. Westbrook got his 26th triple-double of the season with 29-12-11 while adding four steals and two treys. He was making jumpers after jumpers from the elbow and helped the Thunder gain momentum in the fourth. He’s still averaging a triple-double for the season if anyone cares. Victor Oladipo added 23-7-3 with two steals and two triples. Dipo has been padding his stats but his percentages have been pretty disappointing this season. He’s averaging 36.7 percent from the field in the last two weeks and this is his first efficient night in a while. Everybody’s favourite Kiwi, Steven Adams posted a strong double-double with 20 points, 13 boards with two blocks and a steal. He’s seen an increase in usage rate since Kanter punched a chair but he’s getting more turnovers and his free throws have been horrible lately, consequently hurting his value. This is a good bounce back game for Adams. Cameron Payne scored a season-high 15 points with three triples. He’s only worth a very deep league look, 16-team or 18-team leagues.
There were talks of Ty Lue resting the big three this game but he’s probably scared of a fine since it was a nationally televised game for the Cavs tonight. However, even playing the big-3, the winning streak of four games got snapped by the Thunder. Kyrie Irving was the only player who scored more than 20 points as he finished with 28 points, four assists with four triples, two steals and a block. He’s on a roll lately and his increase of assists is a plus. LeBron James looked pretty bad tonight as he posted a 18-5-7 line with two steals, two blocks and a triple on 8-of-19 shooting. He also played 40 minutes tonight on the second night of a back-to-back. He failed to score in the fourth quarter and seemed out of it. A maintenance day is coming soon and it could be Saturday’s game against the Nuggets. Kevin Love posted a double-double with 15 and 12 but he failed to hit a 3-pointer in this game. After posting 39 points four days ago, Love has cooled off dramatically, averaging 34.8 percent shooting his last two games. Kyle Korver also cooled off after bombing eight threes last night. He finished with eight points with two triples. He only took his first field goal attempt in the third quarter. He’s an elite specialist for some 3-pointers if that floats your boat.
Jazz 105 – Maverick 112
The Mavericks came back down from 22 points to force the overtime and ended up getting the win against the Jazz. Dirk Nowitzki had another game-tying clutch bucket in the fourth to send the game to overtime. He finished with 20 points, seven boards and two steals in 37 minutes. The minutes are a season-high since the opening night and it’s good to see Dirk score 20 points or more in consecutive games. Harrison Barnes scored 31 points with four boards and two triples in 43 minutes. He’s playing both sides of the court and his efficiency in the offensive end is impressing me. I didn’t think he could be a 20-point scorer with such good efficiency. If Barnes can elevate his game to other aspects, he would be a top-40 player. Yogi Ferrell started again and finished with 9-5-4 with four steals and a triple in 26 minutes. If you sold high on Ferrell after he dropped nine threes, good on you! He’s cooled down ever since but he’s still producing solid stats. He’ll hurt you in field goal percentage but he’s able to give you stats in everything else and we all saw his upside. When Deron Williams return, his value will probably take a big hit.
The Jazz ran out of juice in the second half and let the Mavs overwhelmed them. First time All-Star tried to do everything for the Jazz though as he scored 36 points with four boards, three assists and four 3-pointers in 43 minutes. He saw a lot more of the ball tonight as George Hill rested with a sore big toe. Hayward’s returning top-10 value in the last two weeks and is on a hot stretch. Joe Ingles finally had a good game since Rodney Hood hyperextended his knee last week. He finished with 16-5-5 with four triples and a steal. Again I have to stress that Hill didn’t play in this game so Ingles got to handle the ball more. He’s capable of making plays and getting dime, which makes him a 14-team or 16-team guy even if Rodney Hood returns. Rudy Gobert had a decent outing with a 15 point and 15 rebound double-double in this game. He fouled out in the fourth in this game so he couldn’t play in the overtime. He’s been playing well in the last month and he should be an All-Star this year.
Celtics 120 – Blazers 111
The Celtics also made a comeback of their own as they were down 17 points at one point. What’s even more impressive is that they were on a second night of a back-to-back. Isaiah Thomas scored 34 points with four assists and two triples in 38 minutes. He did his thing in the fourth again with 15 points and after failing to score 30 points or more in his previous two games, he’s back in business. Jae Crowder had to take a personal leave from tonight’s game so Marcus Smart got the start with Jaylen Brown. Smart had the line of the night with 18-6-5 with five steals on 8-of-13 shooting. He’s a must-own player and is a solid asset on a punt field goal percentage team. He’s giving good amount of rebounds from a point guard position with elite steals and solid threes. Brown on other hand finished with 14 points, seven boards with two triples and a steal in 33 minutes. He actually played pretty well this game and is looking more comfortable as the season goes on. He’s a player to keep an eye out in standard leagues but he’s alright to own in much deeper leagues.
The Blazers couldn’t get the win on their home court and even gave up a pretty big lead. Damian Lillard had a decent game though with 28-6-7 and even though he’s struggling on shooting the ball, he’s still getting points from the free throw line. Moe Harkless started for Evan Turner as he fractured hand. Harkless didn’t score much as he finished with four points, four rebounds with three steals and two blocks. Harkless has never been a scorer but his ability to contribute the peripheral stats makes him worth owning as long as he’s starting. Al-Farouq Aminu scored a season-high 26 points on 8-of-12 shots. He also grabbed five boards with three 3-pointers. He was looking really good this game on both sides of the floor. He’s still coming off the bench but if he continues with this type of play, Terry Stotts will have no choice but to insert him back into the starting lineup. We all saw what Aminu can do on the floor in last year’s playoff and having him play the stretch four is what makes the Blazers a better team. He needs to be consistent with his shots though and that’s one thing thats holding him back.
That’s it for tonight’s FFF. Stay tuned for more and follow me on Twitter to get the latest posts or to ask me any questions about your fantasy team!