The Warriors are now fighting to regain their composure after the massive injury to Kevin Durant.  Unfortunately, without him, this is a much weaker squad than last year.  This was quite obvious in their 87-94 loss to the mediocre Bulls squad on national TV.  Although, Matt Barnes did an admirable job of filling in KD with a massive 2/0/0/0/0 line…

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The biggest news of the night comes from a guy who barely played at all. Less than 2 minutes into the game between Golden State and Washington, Warriors’ center Zaza Pachulia (12 points, 8 rebounds) fell into Kevin Durant’s left knee. KD walked away gingerly before heading to the bench and being whisked away into the locker room. Diagnosed with a hyperextended left knee, Durant did not return to the game.

Is this karma from the Basketball Gods for his comments about not wanting to come home to play for the Wizards? Kidding aside, this is terrible news to the Warriors, fans of the NBA, and fantasy owners. Hopefully KD’s injury isn’t long-term, but more will be known after examining the MRI results.

In the meantime, the Warriors wasted no time in reaching out to free agent Matt Barnes and are expected to sign him later this week. Released by the Kings after trading DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, Barnes is excited to rejoin the Warriors, after playing for them from 2006-2008. I wouldn’t rush to add Barnes until more is known about KD’s injury, but Barnes has been useful for fantasy purposes before.

On happier notes, here are the other nightly notables:

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The most exciting part of the evening, was clearly the debut of the Pelicans shiny new front court. While the Pels did get overwhelmed by the Rockets shooting, the chemistry was obviously there with the New Orleans big men. I would say though, that they’re both a bit tentative, and that will change as they get more comfortable and assertive. I am not scared to say though, that this is possibly the greatest PF/C duo in NBA history. Up there with McHale and Parrish, and Duncan and Robinson. Both bigs have absurd skillsets. I think the key for the Pelicans will be the play of Jrue Holiday, and how involved in the offense he is. Tonight, he was locked down by Beverly, but more slashing in the pick and roll should really help him. I could see his efficiency being extremely high, given the opposite player in the pick and roll.

At any rate, here’s your recap for most of Thursday night! Thank goodness the break is over…

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I was incredibly lazy with the title today, but honestly, no performances stuck out to me last night. Westbrook and Harden did their thing, but they basically hit their averages.  The Cavaliers were completely gassed heading into OKC.  The Mavs beat the Jazz in OT, but come on, Dallas isn’t exactly relevant at the moment… The wunderkind Yogi Ferrell, didn’t exactly make a huge splash this game either.  Overall, it was a pretty chill night in the association.  That being said, let’s have some notes!

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C.J. McCollum, last year’s Most Improved Player, continues his ascension as one of the best shooting guards in the game. In a battle for the 8th playoff spot in the west between the Trail Blazers and Mavericks, McCollum dropped 32 points (13-21 FG), none bigger than his runner with 0.9 seconds left that sealed a Blazers’ win:

Ultimately the game winner, it came right after Dirk Nowitzki hit a clutch three to put the Mavericks up 113-112 with 3.9 seconds to go. Nowitzki turned back the clock in the game to post 25 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 4 threes, but it wasn’t enough as McCollum put the nail in the coffin.

The 4th year guard is having a career year, but has been shooting even better lately. In the last 5 games, he’s knocked down 13-28 from deep and shot 55.8% from the field overall.

Having such an efficient backcourt mate has taken some of the pressure off of Damian Lillard (29 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 5 threes), who is having his best shooting season of his career as well.

Unfortunately, both guys will need to continue to step up, if the Blazers have a chance at the playoffs, as guard Evan Turner broke his right hand in the third quarter of the game. No timetable has been announced, but he should miss at least a couple weeks. The injury should open up opportunities for Allen Crabbe (4 points) and Maurice Harkless (8 points, 7 rebounds).

It was a short slate of games on Tuesday, as only 3 games were played. JB made sure to make it known to me that he had to recap 11 games on Monday. Boy, did I get lucky this week! Here are the rest of the nightly notables:

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Fun night for JB last night! I was driving down a desert road, opened up my suitcase, did… something with a lot of things… and next thing I know I’m raging next to Benicio Del Toro and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in a hotel bathroom! KCP was absolutely unconscious last night, hitting 12-18 from the field (8-11 3PTM 6-8 FT) for a career-high 38/4/1/4/0.

Somebody call the ThrAGNOF police, we’ve found a face! As Slim noted on the Pod, KCP has some of the wildest game-to-game variance with his scoring, but as we saw last night, when he hot, he hot! The big changes for this year is he’s taking and making career-high treys (2.3 for 5.6), and making them at fantastic 40.3% clip. Even though he’s at a career-high scoring, he’s actually taking less shots per game than last year. And you know I’m an addict for AST:TO – 1.8:1.4 last year to 2.9:1.3 this season. So much to get addicted to! Let’s just hope the good times keep rollin’, and John Travolta won’t have to stab a foot-long needle in my heart if things go sour! Here’s what else went down on a busy night of basketball last night:

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Down at halftime and without fellow All-Star DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry took over in the 2nd half, carrying the Raptors to an overtime victory against the Pelicans. He hit a big time step back jumper with just 4.3 seconds to play to secure the win. Lowry finished with 33 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, and a season-high 6 threes.

After returning to the court on Sunday, DeRozan experienced swelling in his ankle, forcing him to sit Tuesday’s game. He’s already been ruled out for Wednesday’s game, giving Lowry another chance at monster scoring numbers.

Known for pouring it on in stretches, it was his 3rd straight 30+ point game, the longest streak of his career. Had he scored 1 more point last Wednesday, he’d have a streak of 5 games. You’re already starting Lowry regardless, but the loss of DeRozan really ups Lowry’s value.

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The Wizards have been playing much better as of late. Despite being down 18 points in the second quarter, the Wizards came back to win to push them over .500.

John Wall knocked down the game-winning jumper with 5 ticks left, to complete another fantastic performance with 26 points, 14 assists, and 6 rebounds.

Now that’s what Steve Buckhantz calls a dagger!

Wall was voted Eastern Conference Player of the Month for December and continues his strong play in the New Year. There hasn’t been a better player in the East over the last 6 weeks.

Now the Bulls were missing Jimmy Butler (illness) and Dwyane Wade (rest), but I don’t care. I’m going to take every opportunity to talk positively about my Wizards. They’ll disappoint me soon enough so let me enjoy my moment.

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Mid-January approaches. I am about to be snowed in up in Toronto, so I am acutely aware that we are in the thick of winter. If you follow an NBA team’s social media, you likely have been getting the email prompts to vote in your potential All Stars. If you didn’t know, I am a long-suffering Raptors fan, and I’m finally getting rewarded for all those dark days with a team that is finally relevant. I got the prompt to vote in Kyle Lowry and  DeMar DeRozan, both deserving of the honour, and I should expect they will make the Eastern All Star team, either through fan voting, or by coach appointment. But all that glitters ain’t gold, and there are several players that are on the voting ballot that aren’t skilled enough for that lofty appointment, both in real life, as well as from a fantasy perspective. So lets take a gander at which All Star hopefuls are made of gold, and who’s just made out of tin:

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Half man, all amazing.  Or something like that. 49 points, 8 boards, 5 assists, and 2 steals.  Oh yeah, he also went 8-15 from deep.  He had 5 TOs, but I feel like we can forgive him with all of the extra 3s tonight.  The assists and boards have been off his triple double place, but man can this guy ball.

  • Jeff Teague – Absolutely slaughtered the depleted Nets backcourt with 21 points and 15 assists.  Throw in 9-13 shooting, and this tells you more about the bad defense than the good offense.