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:
Al-Farouq Aminu – Aminu added a double-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds, 2 threes, and 1 block/steal each. Frankly it doesn’t matter if he’s starting or not. He’s seeing consistent minutes off the bench and does just a little bit of everything to help owners.
Mason Plumlee – Plumlee started a new double-double streak with 12 points, 15 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Harrison Barnes – Barnes led the Mavs in scoring, posting 26 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Wesley Matthews – Hitting the 20-point mark for the 3rd time in the last 5 games, Matthews finished with 23 points, 5 assists, and 3 threes.
Yogi Ferrell – Ferrell (12/2/2 line) has earned the starter’s minutes while Deron Williams (toe) and J.J. Barea (calf strain) are injured. Devin Harris came off the bench to post 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 threes, but is too hit or miss to be useful. Coach Rick Carlisle said that he’s unsure if either Williams or Barea will play before the All-Star break, making Ferrell a must own player. But while he should be owned, it’s wise to see what you can get for him while you can. His stock is the highest it will be.
Trevor Ariza – Trevor A-Three-Za had it going from downtown, knocking down 4-9 of his attempts. He posted 20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals, in addition to the treys.
Clint Capela – Capela has been a pretty consistent source of points and rebounds since returning from injury. He posted 17 points, 9 rebounds and 1 block and now has scored double figures in 9 of the 11 games since his return.
Patrick Beverley – Beverley went for 14 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 1 block/steal/three each. We’re used to seeing the all-around stats, but the 14 points was the first time he reached double figures in the last 6 games.
James Harden – The league leader in assists had an off night shooting (6-21 FG, 3-10 3PT), but still managed to fill the box score with 25 points, 13 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. It’s great to be the Beard.
Eric Gordon – Gordon continues to light it up from three, posting 18 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 threes.
Serge Ibaka and Nikola Vucevic – The Magic big men did all that they could, but it wasn’t enough as the Magic collected their 10th loss in the last 13 games. Ibaka posted 28 points, 8 rebounds, 2 threes, and 1 block, while Vucci Mane had one of his best all-around games of the season with 14 points, 19 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block. The Magic are rumored to be shopping everyone, including Ibaka, after acquiring him in the offseason. Nothing seems imminent, but a trade of either big man would improve the fantasy impact for whomever ends up staying in Orlando.
Elfrid Payton – The Weeknd look-alike wasn’t quite a Starboy, but still managed 10 points, 8 assists, and 2 steals.
Evan Fournier – Fournier hit the 20-point mark for the 2nd time since returning from a heel injury. He finished with 21 points, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds. He shot only 1-8 from deep, but looks to be improving after the time off.
Marvin Williams – 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a nice flush on the Nets:
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – The defensive minded forward, found his stroke, knocking down 7-12 for 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block.
Frank Kaminsky – Frank the Tank moved over to the starting center position with Cody Zeller (quad contusion) missing his 8th straight game. Kaminsky added a double-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists. The line could have been even nicer, if he shot better than 4-17 from the field. Newly acquired big man, Miles Plumlee played 15 minutes off the bench, making it clear that Kaminsky is still the guy to own while Zeller is on the shelf.
Kemba Walker – Like Kaminsky, Walker struggled from the field (4-20), but made up for it by hitting 8-9 from the line, finishing with 17 points and 5 assists.
Nicolas Batum – The Frenchman produced a wonderful all-around line with 17 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 threes, and an impressive 4 steals and 2 blocks on the defensive end.
Brook Lopez – Lopez turned Buzz City into Block City with 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 rejections. Enjoy these last few games with Lopez in Brooklyn. Management has no idea what they’re doing if Lopez is still in a Nets’ jersey after the trade deadline.
Bojan Bogdanovic – The sharpshooting BoBo led the Nets in scoring with 22 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 threes.
Trevor Booker – Booker posted back-to-back double-doubles with 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Isaiah Whitehead – Whitehead was moved to the bench in favor of Spencer Dinwiddie (7 points, 4 assists), but still led the Nets in dimes with 7 helpers. He also added 11 points and 1 steal. Neither is worth owning, while Jeremy Lin (hamstring) remains on the DL.
DeMarcus Cousins – The Kings didn’t play Tuesday, but Cousins won’t play Wednesday either. After receiving his 16th technical of the season, Cousins will be suspended for Wednesday’s matchup with the Celtics. Willie Cauley-Stein could start in Cousins’ place, but doesn’t bring the same offensive skill set that Cousins provides.