The NBA on Friday Night rolled back the clock two nights too early (the end of daylight savings is Sunday 2 a.m.), harkening the days where big men ruled the professional basketball roost. There were myriad starting backcourts taking the night off with injuries and “injuries” (the league loves it when teams rest their stars on Friday night!), leading to a slew of point-forward play and 7-footers trying out for the 3-point contest. 

First and foremost was the vintage stylings of Kevin “Don’t Be Afraid, It’s Only” Love, (any Akron/Family fans out there?) who went 21 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists in just 23 minutes off the bench, shooting 7-10 from the field and 3-4 from three. With the Cavs starting guards resting, Love was playmaking from both the block and the perimeter, and set-up Jarrett Allen (24 points, 7 boards, 2 blocks) for a reel of open slams. Evan Mobley nearly treated fans with a Big Dude Trip-Dob, posting 11 points, 8 boards and 8(!) blocks. Cleveland beats Pistons in a blowout 112-88.

Lauri Markkanen posted 27-13-4-1-1, shooting 9 of 17 (3-9 from deep) and hitting all 6 FTs. The Big Fin is returning second-round value to the pleasure of his fantasy owners, who have a big decision coming up whether to roll the dice that Utah keeps him, or sell high anticipating a trade to a lesser role on a contender.  

The Jazz kept their beat going with a 130-116 win over the Lakers, whose win streak ended at two (you gotta start somewhere!). Mike Conley dished 10 assists to go with 15 points, Kelly Olynyk went a perfect 3-3 from three, and Walker Kessler, Utah Ranger, returned to action with an efficient 8 points, 4 boards and 2 blocks in 11 minutes.

Russell Westbrook was again solid off the bench, and even had the stroke going, shooting 3 of 5 from deep, 6 of 14 overall and 5 of 5 from the line – [pause for dramatic effect]………. [ok] –  totaling 26 points to go with 6 assists, 3 boards and 2 steals. LeBron James posted a ho-hum near triple-double (17-10-8) but missed all five 3-point attempts.

Jason Tatum and DeMar DeRozan treated NBA fans to a Friday night free-throw shooting contest, going 17 for 20 and 20 for 22 respectively. Tatum posted 36-12-6-1-1 on 8 of 23 FG (3-10 from three); DeRozan went 46-3-5-2-1, missing all three 3-point attempts but feasting closer to the hoop, shooting 10-13 on 2-point shots. 

Nikola Vucevic did a great job keeping with this today’s theme, hitting 4 of 5 from deep and 1 of 14 overall, finishing with 24 points, 12 boards and 3 assists. He’s third in the league in rebounding but still providing near-squadoosh in the d columns. 

Malcolm Brogdon was the story for the C’s, chipping in 25 points on 9 of 10 shooting (7 of 9 FT) to help Boston beat Chicago 123-119.

Tyrese Haliburton got in on the near-trip-dub fun last night, leading the Pacers over the Butler-less Heat, 101-99, finishing with 22 pts. 9 boards and 9 asts. Buddy Hield snagged 9 rebounds, too, along with 25 points (10 of 18 FG, 5 of 12 3pt) and Bennedict Mathurin scored 23 but still isn’t putting up much in the counting state department, currently averaging more turnovers than assists. 

Tyler Herro couldn’t be the hero, missing a 3 at the buzzer to win it, but posted a nice 29-5-5 line with 2 steals. Max Strus continues to make me regret dropping him to the waiver wire, posting 17-7-3-2-0 with 3 threes, getting extra run (40 minutes) with Butler sidelined. 

POP QUIZ: Who’s currently leading the NBA in blocks? If your guess is Ivica Zubac then you’re a weird dude, but you’re also right. Zubac is putting up monster lines every other game, posting 17-15-2-1-4 on 8 of 10 shooting last night as the Clippers beat the Spurs, 113-106. Paul George did his thing with 32 points on great percentages with 6 assists. 

Devin Vassell returned with a season high 29 points, coming off the bench, for some reason, hitting 12 of 16, 4 of 5 from deep, but providing little else on the stat line. Zach Collins continues to be something he never has been as a pro – consistent. He posted 9-7-2-1-1 with a three in just 21 minutes and is actually returning back-end standard league value. Keldon Johnson (16-7-3) and Tre Jones (18-2-6) played decently for the soon-to-be tanking Spurs. 

POP QUIZ NO. 2: Who’s tied with Zubac for blocks per game? “Brook Lopez” “Dude, are you on crack with these guesses?! … also, right again.” Lopez actually dissed my theme with a 7 point, 8 rebound, 1 block performance last night. Giannis Antetokounmpo (I think that’s the first time I’ve actually written his name out; fantasy basketball writer badge earned!) actually completed the trip-dub (Bucks you bunch of theme-busters!) with 26 points, 14 boards and 11 assists, and Jrue Holiday kept mashing to the tune of 29, 8 and 6 with 2 steals, as Milwaukee beat Minnesooooota in the battle of upper midwest.

The twin tower experiment of Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns has produced myriad awkward moments on the floor lately, and their respective fantasy games have suffered slightly, each producing value so far a couple rounds behind where they were drafted. Towns put up 22-11-5 and Gobert 7-11-0-1-1; still, not too shabby. Anthony Edwards (24 points, 3 boards, 3 assists, and 1 steal, 10 of 19 FG, 3 of 9 3pt) has been even less so for owners early in the season. One would think it’ll get better for the Wolves the more they play together, and all three could be good buy-low candidates right now. 

Jalen Brunson (23-6-7) and R.J. Barrett both had fantasy-friendly nights, but it was Obi Toppin (17 points, 6 of 10 FG, 3 of 6 3pt, 2 of 2 FT) with the hot hand late as the Knickerbockers beat the 76ers 106-104. Julius Randle enjoyed not having to face Joel Embiid (missing his third straight) and finished 17-10-5, but just 1 of 5 from deep.

Entering the starting lineup while James Harden is out, De’Anthony Melton dished 9 assists to go with 12 points, 5 boards, 2 steals and 2 blocks, but shot not so good (4 of 18 FG,  3 of 11 3pt). In fact, all of the 76ers put up bricks all night (37.8% as a team), other than Tobias Harris (9 of 15 FG, 3 of 7 3pt), scoring 23 points with 9 boards, 4 assists, a steal and 2 blocks. Tyrese Maxey scored 31 with 7 dimes. 

The Grizzlies doused the Hornets 130-99 lead by Aquaman Steven Adams (13-19-4-2-2).

The Nets capped off a quiet and pleasant week for the organization by dismantling the Wizards, 128-86. Kevin Durant was a board short of a triple-double (back on track) with 28 points and 11 assists. Royce O’Neale provided 13 points and 8(!) assists for those who snagged him off the wires. Nic Claxton posted a classic big man game of 18 points on 9 of 10 shooting with 9 rebounds and 3 blocks. And there’s a Yuta Watanabe now playing productive minutes for Brooklyn? [Pans brain for puns; malfunctions; decides to move … for now….]

Steve Kerr officially gave the Warriors’ road trip two middle fingers and held out the entire starting lineup in a 105-114 loss to the Pelicans, who were back to full strength. Kerr said lineup changes are on the horizon. Brandon Ingram (26-5-5-0-2) and CJ McCollum (20-8-5-2-0) lead the way for the Pels.

Luka Doncic stuffed the stat sheet per usual with 35-8-6-3-1 in a 111-110 win over Toronto. The Raptors provided the most fantasy sizzle, with O.G. Anunoby snagging 5 steals to go with 27 points and 7 boards. Pascal Siakam went 18-7-6 and Scottie Barnes couldn’t buy a bucket most the game (4 of 16 FG, 1 of 6 3pt) but did trip-dub with 11-11-10. Chris Boucher (17 pts., 9 boards and a block) and Precious Achiuwa (15 points, 8 boards and a block) played 30 and 27 minutes off the bench, respectively. 

Finally, [looks over game checklist; takes last swig of giant cup of coffee to fight off lingering hangover] the Trail Blazers won in Phoenix despite playing without Damian Lillard or Anfernee Simons. Jerami Grant reminded all that he could be an all-star and any garbage team in the NBA, dropping a barrage of mid-range jumpers, including the game winner as time expired on the 108-106 victory, finished with 30 points (10 of 17 FG, 1 of 3 3pt, 9 of 11 FT), 2 boards, 5 assists and a block. Justise Winslow started at point guard and capped off the night of near triple-doubles with 12-9-9 and 2 steals. Jusuf Nurkic hit a clutch 3-pointer late (and is now 6 of 9 from deep on the season), but posted a ho-hum 14-8-3-1-0 line as Drew Eubanks got extra run as part of a defensive unit that terrorized Phoenix for part of the game.

Deandre Ayton kept the Suns in the game, scoring 13 of the teams 21 points in the 2nd quarter. He finished with 24 points (10 of 14 FG, 2 of 2 3pt, 2 of 2FT), but only 1 assist and zero in the d stats. Devin Booker finished 25-5-5-1-1 and Chris Paul had 11 dimes and 2 steals, but isn’t even trying to score at this point (7 points on 4 FG attempts).

That’s it for another full Friday night in the Association. Best of luck to all finishing out the week!