We finally got NBA back tonight! Even though the break wasn’t that boring (thanks to Woj and his bombs), I’m glad we finally got some NBA action to watch. The trade deadline was also today and it was eventful yet kind of underwhelming. The blockbusters were already made so teams were just trying to fill the gaps and acquire some low end assets. I’ll cover all the trades in another piece so we’ll get to the games first.
Trail Blazers 112 – Magic 103
Damian Lillard and sure enjoyed the break to rest up after not attending this year’s All-Star break. Dame dropped 33 point with five boards and four triples on 12-of-23 shooting. He was slumping before the break so it’s good that he’s heading towards the right direction for the final third of the season. Jusuf Nurkic started tonight after playing his first game off the bench. He finished with 12-12-5 with three steals and two blocks in 34 minutes. He also said after the game that he’s the happiest now in the last two years. He made a lot of good passes tonight and really seemed like a changed man. The move to the starting line up is going to stick and if you picked him up at waivers, good job. Moe Harkless had 12 points, six boards, three blocks, a steal and a triple in 38 minutes. He led the team in minutes tonight and filled the void of Al-Farouq Aminu. Harkless has been returning top-20 value in his last four games since his promotion to the starter. Aminu missed out because of a knee sprain he suffered last week.
The Magic played their first game with their new acquisition in Terrence Ross. Ross finished with 13 points, five boards, three steals and two triples in 33 minutes. He did struggle shooting the ball, going 4-of-17 from the field. He was eager to prove himself and showcase his skills to his new team but was probably too hyped on being a starter. He’ll get good minutes the rest of the way and having 17 attempts is a good sign for Ross owners. Aaron Gordon got his first start at power forward in the Ibaka-less era for the Magic after disappointing everyone in the Dunk Contest. He finished with nine points, nine boards and two blocks in 29 minutes. He shared his minutes with Jeff Green as Green played 18 minutes tonight with an 8-4-4 line. Gordon probably won’t see minutes in the high 30s but what’s positive is that he didn’t attempt any long two’s this game. Nikola Vucevic became the to go-to guy for the Magic once again. He finished with 25 points and nine boards in 33 minutes. This is the bump that he’ll see now that Ibaka is no longer in Orlando.
Hornets 108 – Pistons 114
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was clutch down the stretch and even hit a game-tying 3-pointer to force the game to overtime. KCP finished with 33-9-3 with seven triples in 43 minutes. His name was brought up before the deadline but he’s here to stay now. Reggie Jackson was benched down the stretch and didn’t play much in second half. He finished with four points and four assists in 20 minutes. SVG was trying to move Jackson before the deadline but no cigar. He’s going to have more games where he’s going to get benched and it doesn’t help that his backup, Ish Smith handed out 16 assists and contributed to five points and six rebounds. Smith is worth a look for assists in 14-team leagues. He’s not going to see 33 minutes every night though. Andre Drummond got benched down the stretch as well as he finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds in 26 minutes. He was a -20 in his time on the court, a team low. SVG elected to go with Jon Leuer at center down the stretch. That’s back-to-back games for Drummond not playing down the stretch.
Kemba Walker came back from the All-Star break rejuvenated and playing like an All-Star. He finished with 34-7-6 with three triples and two steals in 42 minutes. Maybe being with fellow All-Stars over the weekend gave him a boost in confidence to have a strong push for the playoff spot in the final third of the season. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a strong double-double with 12 and 14 with two steals and two blocks in 39 minutes. There was a stretch when MKG’s position was up for grabs for Marco Belinelli but lately he’s been solid, returning top-70 value in the month of February. Frank Kaminsky continued to start for Cody Zeller and since Miles Plumlee has a calf strain that could sideline him for two weeks, Kaminsky is going to get a lot of run. Frank The Tank finished with 17 points, three 3-pointers, a steal and a block but he only grabbed one rebound this game in 40 minutes. He did his best Brook Lopez impression in this one. If you’re not afraid of your field goal percentage taking a hit, Kaminsky is worth an add in standard leagues.
Rockets 129 – Pelicans 99
It was the two sixth man of the year candidates against the two best big men in the league. However, it was analytics that won this game. The Rockets only had four points from mid range jumpers. The rest of them were layups, threes and free throws. Lou Williams played his first game in a Rockets jersey and obviously, he did his thing. He finished with 27 points and he hit 7-of-11 from the 3-point line in 25 minutes. What an impressive debut by Sweet Lou. His threes were mostly from the corner when playing with James Harden and he’s been an elite corner 3-point shooter this season, shooting 55.5% from the corners. His usage will take a hit but he’ll have the green light to score. The Rockets are a bit thin and if they’re blowing teams out, Lou might actually get some garbage time to play as well. His outlook may not be as bleak as projected. James Harden didn’t have to do much this game. He finished with 13 points and 14 assists in 30 minutes and is comfortably leading the league in assists. He has more weapons to hand out dimes to and might get more rests down the stretch now that the Rockets have more firepower to blow out teams.
DeMarcus Cousins had an impressive debut for the Pelicans as it was obvious that he was trying really hard this game. He finished with 27-14-5 with five steals, four blocks and a triple. He was one block shy from a 5×5 and what a debut it would be if he did accomplish that feat. He also managed to do this efficiently, going 11-of-19 from the field and only turning the ball over once. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis had 27 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He missed all his shots outside the paint but still managed to be aggressive on getting to the line, making 13-of-16 free throws. Who says those two can’t coexist with each other. They’re fire and ice. However, they didn’t get much help from the rest of the team. Omri Casspi was the only other player in double figures. He scored 12 points off the bench but broke his thumb this game. Really unfortunate for Casspi and the Pelicans and he’ll be scheduled to miss 4-6 weeks.
Knicks 104 – Cavaliers 119
The Cavaliers are back in business after the break as they beat the lowly Knicks tonight. They had seven players in double figures and LeBron James got his triple-double. He finished with 18-13-15 with three blocks, however he did play 37 minutes in this game and continues to lead the league in minutes. Tristan Thompson had another double-double with 10 and 14 with four blocks in this one. It’s his fourth straight double-double and he’s been on a good stretch of games in the month of February, returning top-50 value in the last month. Kyle Korver continues to bomb threes for the Cavs and this time he knocked down six of them to go along with 20 points in 31 minutes. Disregarding his first two games in a Cavs jersey when he was just trying to find his footing, he’s been hitting 3.2 threes per game on 54.8 percent from the 3-point line. As long as he keeps playing with LeBron, he’ll continue to shoot threes at this rate, making him a must own even if he’s a specialist.
The Knicks didn’t make a move at the deadline but they’re still going to keep tanking. Worst news is that Kristaps Porzingis turned his ankle after stepping on his own teammate, Willy Hernangomez and is now in an protection boot. He finished with eight points, five boards and two blocks in 16 minutes. If he were to miss any time, Lance Thomas, Willy Hernangomez and Justin Holiday will get a bump. Courtney Lee led the team in scoring, finishing with 25-6-5 with three triples and a steal. It’s a season high for Lee tonight so flu game is real. He’s been returning top-60 value in the last month and has been quietly good for fantasy owners. Willy Hernangomez started at center tonight as Noah missed another game. He finished with 11-10-4 with two blocks in 27 minutes. This is his sixth double-double of the season and he should be fun to own for the rest of the season.
Nuggets 100 – Kings 116
The Boogie era is now over. It’s Willie Cauley-Stein era now! The Kings led the entire way and the Ewing theory is real! Cauley-Stein had his breakout game with a career-high 29 points, 10 rebounds and a block on 14-of-22 shooting in 35 minutes off the bench. He should be added in all leagues now. The hype is real. I don’t know whether he’ll still come off the bench but it doesn’t matter as long as he continues to get the minutes and touches. He was showing his offensive repertoire on quite a few occasions to show that he’s not just an athletic dunker/shot blocker. Vlade Divac should get him something nice. He made Vlade look good. Buddy Hield played his first game in a Kings jersey tonight as he scored 16 points, six boards and a triple in 26 minutes off the bench. He should be starting soon since he is the next Stephen Curry. Games with 40 points and eight triples are coming. On a serious note, if you need some scoring and threes from a guard who can get good rebounds in that position, Hield is a good add. Darren Collison had a game with 15-4-10 with two triples, two steals and a block in 32 minutes. As I predicted, Collison’s assist got a bump and that will increase his value heading into the final third of the season.
The Nuggets had no answer for Cauley-Stein tonight and their franchise played Nikola Jokic got outplayed. Jokic only had 4-10-2 with a triple-zero on 2-of-7 shooting in 26 minutes. He wasn’t in foul trouble, he just didn’t play well. Probably had too much fun partying in Mardi Gras. Giving him a pass for this one. Gary Harris led the team in scoring with 23 points, five triples and two steals in 35 minutes. He was playing well before the break so it’s good that he didn’t lose his touch. Five threes in a game are also a career-high and he’s been really working on that stroke, averaging 3.6 threes in his last five games. The Nuggets really need him to shoot the ball well as it can open up so much space for cuts to the rim. Jameer Nelson started again for Mudiay as the 35-year old finished with 12-4-6 with five steals and two triples. Jamal Murray didn’t show up this game so Nelson got a lot of run as well. He’ll always have short term value for when Mudiay misses games. Mudiay has missed his last seven games but he was available to play in this one but Mike Malone is still holding him out.
Clippers 113 – Warriors 123
The Warriors seemed to be losing this one until a 50-26 third quarter run from the Warriors. Stephen Curry led the team in scoring with 35-7-5 with six triples and four steals on 10-of-16 shooting. He’s had a poor stretch of games before the All-Star break but he’s good to go now. Kevin Durant also did his thing with 25-14-7 with four triples, a steal and a block. Supreme efficiency with lines like these are why he’s the best player in 9-cat. Klay Thompson was quiet with 18 points and two triples in 31 minutes. He was on fire before the break, hitting 6.5 threes per game in his previous four games so tonight was an off night for Klay. Draymond Green was bothered by foul troubles a bit as he finished with 7-6-4 with two steals and a triple in 23 minutes. He’s still managing to return top-20 value even though the points are super low. Keep doing you Draymond.
The Clippers have lost their tenth straight game against the Dubs and it’s not even a close rivalry even though there’s hatred between two teams. Even though the league may chalk this one up as a loss, this defeat should be crushing their morales. Blake Griffin struggled a lot in this one with 12-5-8 on 3-of-13 shooting. Draymond and Durant bothered him pretty well in this one. DeAndre Jordan returned from his first All-Star appearance and finished with 17 points and 11 boards. No blocks in this one though and that’s back-to-back games without blocks from DJ. That’s not good for DJ owners. Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers both added 19 points but it wasn’t enough. Chris Paul was close to a return and they’re saying he’s 100 percent but he didn’t play in this one. He could play tomorrow against the Spurs.
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