Miami Heat vs. Los Angeles Lakers
The Miami Heat took home the nervy, 113-107 victory, but the Lakers nearly caught them slipping. In a game the Heat led almost the entire way and by as many as 26 points, the Lakers put together a fierce fourth quarter and nearly stole the victory. For three quarters, however, the Heat played the basketball version of “the beautiful game.” Offensive production was spread across the lineup and they were flowing into good looks. Jimmy Butler led the charge in Kyle Lowry’s absence (personal reasons) and he finished the game with a triple-double: 20 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, two steals, and one block. Butler’s 10th triple-double moved him into the first place on the Heat’s all-time list, surpassing LeBron James. Duncan Robinson was hot early and even scored some important points in the fourth quarter; he finished the game with 25 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Bam Adebayo had a decent, but uneven game. He was stifled a fair amount by LeBron’s defense, as he was LeBron’s primary cover when the Lakers went small. Adebayo finished the game with 14 points, eight rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one block. Gabe Vincent filled in admirably, once again, for Lowry and finished the game with 11 points, one rebound, six assists, and two steals. Caleb Martin also notched eleven points and further cemented his “best two-way player in the league status”—a dubious honor, he’d no doubt like to be rid of as soon as possible.
The Lakers’ story for this game starts and ends with LeBron James, who was once again fantastic in this game. James finished the game with 33 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Russell Westbrook played pretty well all told, finishing the game with 24 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, and just three turnovers. But he did have an incredibly costly turnover in the fourth quarter after LeBron secured a jump ball and one the tip against Duncan Robinson. Westbrook attacked in transition, but the Heat were largely back and it was at best a 1-on-3 situation that turned into a Westbrook turnover. James was visibly upset after the play. Avery Bradley knocked down four threes and finished the contest with 15 points and Carmelo Anthony tallied 11 points. It was an incredibly quiet night for everyone else in the purple and gold.
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New York Knicks vs Los Angeles Clippers
The Knicks defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 110-102 in the matinee game, behind another strong performance from RJ Barrett, who finished the game with 28 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists. Julius Randle carried his fair share of the offensive burden as well, as he finished the game with 24 points, nine rebounds, and five assists, but he did have seven turnovers. Alec Burks (10) and Evan Fournier (14) were the other Knicks players to score in double figures. Mitchell Robinson exited the game early after spraining his ankle, but Nerlens Noel did play in this game. Noel has struggled to find a rhythm this season while dealing with knee issues and I was beginning to fear it would be a lost season. That’s not the case, at least for the moment, hopefully, he can stay on the floor and provide the Knicks and fantasy managers with those valuable “stocks.” Double-check your waiver wire to make sure he’s not available.
Reggie Jackson is having a disappointing season, but he had a strong game yesterday. He finished the game with 26 points (10-18 FG, 4-8 3PT), two rebounds, five assists, and one steal. Ivica Zubac is playing like a man who wants to get paid next offseason. He finished the game with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks. Luke Kennard added 14 points, five rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Rookie Brandon Boston Jr. had a solid showing as well, as he finished the game with 13 points, three rebounds, one assist, and one block in 24 minutes off the bench. He’s a favorite of the Clippers front office and there’s been scuttlebutt about the Clippers cutting their losses this season—moving off expiring contracts and aging veterans and using this season as more of a development year. Boston would benefit greatly from this shift in focus and expectations.
Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards
The Celtics easily defeated the Washington Wizards 116-87. In the course of this beatdown, Jayson Tatum became the second Celtics player to score 50 points this season, joining Jaylen Brown. Tatum finished the game with 51 points (18-28 FG, 9-14 3PT), 10 rebounds, seven assists, and just one turnover. The most impressive element of Tatum’s 51-point game is the fact that he scored 48 of his 51 points in just three quarters. Brown added 18 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Marcus Smart returned to action and finished the game with 11 points, four rebounds, six assists, and four steals. Grant Williams was the other Celtics player to score in double figures, as he finished the contest with 10 points, seven rebounds, one assist, and one block. It wasn’t a spectacular game, but Robert Williams did manage to produce a fine line of eight points, eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and one steal.
This loss drops the Wizards to 23-24, good for 10th place in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards will be an interesting trade deadline team as the organization usually prioritizes making the playoffs (and unavoidably getting eliminated in the first round), over a potentially more fruitful asset accumulation tactic. Furthermore, Montrezl Harrell, who was one of the league’s surprise standouts in the early going, is now being minimized with Thomas Bryant healthy. Harrell played just seven minutes in this game, but his fantasy stock could bounce back if he were moved. Bradley Beal led the Wizards in scoring and finished the game with 19 points, five rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. Deni Avdija, whose name appears to be in trade rumors, tallied 13 points, seven rebounds, and one assist. Kyle Kuzma, another surprise standout this season, finished the game with 12 points, seven rebounds, one assist, and one block. Thomas Bryant notched 11 points, four rebounds, one assist, two steals, and one block in 21 minutes.
Orlando Magic vs. Chicago Bulls
The Orlando Magic defeated the shorthanded Chicago Bulls 114-95, behind a balanced scoring attack. Seven Magic players scored in double figures. The Magic were led in scoring by the older Wagner brother, Moritz Wagner, who scored 23 points and added two rebounds, four assists, and one steal off the bench. Wendell Carter Jr. added 19 points, seven rebounds, one assist, and three blocks. Franz Wagner tallied 18 points, four rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one block. Jalen Suggs added 15 points, five rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and one block. Chume Okeke, Ignaz Bradzdeikis, and Cole Anthony all scored 11 points to round out the list of double-digit scorers. Mo Bamba was held scoreless and played just under seven minutes in this game. He was a casualty of foul trouble and Mo Wagner’s strong play.
The year of DeMar DeRozan continues. Unfortunately, the year of bad injury luck also continues for the Bulls. The Bulls dressed only ten players and were without Lonzo Ball (knee surgery), Alex Caruso (wrist surgery), Javonte Green (groin), and Zach LaVine (knee injury). Despite the adverse circumstances, DeRozan scored a hyper-efficient 41 points (15-21, 0-0 3PT) and tallied five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Coby White had a decent game, notching 22 points, four rebounds, one steal, and one block. Nikola Vucevic was the only other player to score in double figures and finished the game with 13 points (4-19 FG, 2-8 3PT), 13 rebounds, three assists, and five turnovers. Bulls fans certainly would like to see more from Vucevic, especially with the team so short-handed. I wonder how the rash of injuries influences the front office’s thinking at this trade deadline. Does the adversity make a Jerami Grant more or less likely to happen?
Philadelphia 76ers vs San Antonio Spurs
The Philadelphia 76ers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 115-109, behind another masterful performance by Joel Embiid, who has been healthy and an absolute terror of late. On an almost nightly basis, he’s tying or breaking some franchise record. Over his last five games, Embiid is averaging 38 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, and one block a game, with shooting splits of 57/47/81. He’s a monster and he finished last night’s game with 38 points (16-32 FG, 1-3 3PT)), 12 rebounds, six assists, and one block. Tobias Harris added 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and one steal. Tyrese Maxey also tallied 18 points and added four rebounds, six assists, and one steal. Furkan Korkmaz completed the list of double-figure scorers with 17 points, four rebounds, three assists, and one block. Matisse Thybulle (shoulder), Danny Green (hip), and Seth Curry (ankle) missed the game.
The Spurs put together a balanced scoring attack, with six players scoring in double figures, but they nonetheless fell short of victory. Jakob Poetl, surprisingly, led the Spurs in scoring with 25 points (11-16 FG, 3-4 FT), 10 rebounds, two assists, and four blocks. Dejounte Murray, the Spurs’ best and most reliable player this season, tallied 19 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists, one and steal. Keldon Johnson added 17 points, three rebounds, three assists, and one block. Devin Vassell (15), Lonnie Walker IV (14), and Derrick White (10) were the other players in double figures. The Spurs rarely make in-season trades, but I’d love to see them shake things up. They are a solid but stale team, and maybe more central to my issue with their roster, they’ve got a number of players that could be more impactful on more exciting teams. Is there a package they could put together for John Collins? A Derrick White, Lonnie Walker swap works in the trade machine, but I imagine Travis Schlenck considers that an underwhelming return for John Collins. White’s defense and playmaking and Walker’s scoring would certainly help a middling Hawks team, though they have been better of late.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Charlotte Hornets
The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Charlotte Hornets 113-91, behind a strong Trae Young performance. Young scored 30 points on eight made threes and added four rebounds, four assists, and one steal. The Hornets scored the first basket of the game and then never led the rest of the way. De’Andre Hunter had a nice game, in just his seventh game back from a wrist injury. He finished the game with 20 points, two rebounds, one assist, three steals, and one block. Kevin Huerter added 11 points, one rebound, two assists, one steal, and one block. Danilo Gallinari chipped in with 10 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and one block. John Collins had a quiet night, notching just eight points, five rebounds, and five assists. Onyeka Okongwu hasn’t yet been able to recapture the strong play he demonstrated just before Clint Capela returned, but he did finish the game with five points, seven rebounds, one assist, and two blocks. As I’ve said before, he seems like a worthy gamble in deep and keeper leagues. Bogdan Bogdanovic missed the game with knee soreness.
The Hornets were without Gordon Hayward and Jalen McDaniels, but were otherwise intact for this game. Miles Bridges led the way for Buzz City, as he finished the game with 19 points, six rebounds, and one block. Bridges continues to solidify his status as one of the more intriguing young players in the league and while his shooting has cooled off, all of the other improvements to his game have held firm. LaMelo Ball added 19 points (0-8 3PT), six rebounds, four assists, and one block. P.J. Washington finished the game with 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and two blocks. Kelly Oubre also added 12 points (1-9 3PT) and five rebounds. Terry Rozier tallied just seven points (2-14 FG, 0-6 3PT), five rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.
Washington seems like the most likely Hornet to get traded at this deadline, which is a shame because he’s a solid player and he provides valuable spacing for this run and gun offense. Unfortunately, he’s probably the only positive value player they’d be willing to deal in the short term. As I’ve said before, Hayward’s injury issues scare me and I’d therefore be willing to move him, but he’s no doubt a steadying presence for the Hornets and one of their go-to scorers late in games. I hope management can find the proper balance of maximizing the future without leaving the current roster out to dry. It would be a collective loss if a team this exciting maxed out as a perpetual play-in tournament team.
Portland Trailblazers vs. Toronto Raptors
The Blazers defeated the Raptors 111-105. Five Blazers players scored in double figures, three of them scoring exactly 19 points. CJ McCollum was efficient and surprisingly potent on the boards in just his fourth game back in action, as he finished the game with 19 points (8-12 FG, 3-5 3PT), 10 rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Nassir Little added 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block. Anfernee Simons, who had been carrying the team with both Lillard and McCollum out, chipped in 19 points, three rebounds, five assists, and one steal. Ben McLemore tallied 17 points off the bench. Jusuf Nurkic tallied 11 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, one steal, and two blocks. Robert Covington‘s consistency tickles me. He doesn’t shoot the ball as well as you’d like, but when he’s right he racks up the stocks as he did in this game. He finished the contest with 9 points (3-10 FG, 2-6 3PT), five rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks. If you’re punting field goal percentage or have the efficient stars to balance out his poor shooting, there are defensive stats to be had with Covington. Norman Powell missed his third straight game due to person reasons.
Pascal Siakam led the Raptors in scoring and finished the game with 28 points (13-20 FG, 0-1 3PT), eight rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one block. The only thing to complain about this season with Siakam is subpar free-throw shooting at just 72%. On a slightly smaller usage, Siakam is hovering around his 2019-20 level of efficiency, albeit taking fewer threes. Fred VanVleet shot the ball poorly, but did finish the game with 19 points, five rebounds, eight assists, five steals, and one block. VanVleet is a deserving All-Star selection and the heart and soul of this Raptors team, but he was due for a shooting regression. He’s a really good three-point shooter (39% this season) but he still struggles around the basket and from two-point range. He’s been better around the basket this season, but at his size, it may always be somewhat of a weak point in his game. Gary Trent Jr. tallied 13 points, one assist, and one steal. Chris Boucher notched 11 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. OG Anunoby finished the game with 11 points, eight rebounds, five assists, one steal, and one block. Scottie Barnes tallied nine points, six rebounds, six assists, one steal, and two blocks.
Golden State Warriors vs. Utah Jazz
The Golden State Warriors defeated the Utah Jazz 94-92 in a game between two struggling Western Conference contenders. The Warriors continue to play without Draymond Green to do a disc and calf issue. Klay Thompson also missed this game with knee soreness. The Warriors, as they’ve done for much of this season, won this game with defense and a balanced scoring attack. Jordan Poole led the way with 20 points, three rebounds, two assists, and one block. Poole has played much better as a starter than a reserve so far this season. He’ll need to find his rhythm off the bench if the Warriors want to reach their ultimate goal this season. Andrew Wiggins notched 14 points, five rebounds, one assist, two steals, and one block. Stephen Curry added 13 points, four rebounds, six assists, and just one turnover, but he continues to struggle shooting the ball. He was just 5-20 from the field and 1-13 from three in this game. Depth and defense will only take this team so far if Curry is unable to make shots. Otto Porter Jr. also tallied 13 points and added eight rebounds, one assist, three steals, and one block. More needed, steady play for one of the best veteran minimum signings in the league. Damion Lee had a nice game with 12 points, two rebounds, and one steal. Lee has seen his role expand as Thompson moves in and out of the lineup, Poole struggles with a bench role, and Draymond misses time. Kevon Looney also scored in double figures and provided his usual anchoring defense. He finished the game with 10 points, six rebounds, and two assists.
The Jazz lost to the Warriors for the second time this season with Draymond Green sidelined, however, this time Donovan Mitchell was also sidelined with a concussion. Bojan Bogdanovic led the Jazz in scoring, as he finished the game with 21 points, eight rebounds, and one assist. Rudy Gay scored 16 points off the bench. Rudy Gobert finished the game with 12 points, 18 rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Joe Ingles chipped in with 10 points, two rebounds, and five assists. Mike Conley tallied just nine points, four rebounds, two assists, and two steals. When the Jazz traded for Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson in separate deals, they swapped out depth and defense for a more potent offense. Ditto for the Bogdanovic signing. However, as Conley, Bogdanovic, and Ingles have aged and naturally become lesser defenders they may have reached the breaking point of that tradeoff. If Gobert doesn’t play this team is all but helpless to stop anyone on the defensive end and, similarly, I’m not sure their offense can maintain itself without Gobert. An Ingles trade seems obvious, but what does Ingles and picks fetch at the trade deadline? It probably isn’t enough to get Jerami Grant, but I’d be aggressive about trying to improve the team if I were in the Jazz front office, especially with rumblings about Mitchell itching for a bigger market.
Denver Nuggets vs. Detroit Pistons
For a team as injury-plagued and depleted as the Denver Nuggets, there is no such thing as a quality win, there are only wins. And the Nuggets got a needed 111-117 win against the Pistons last night. They were led by Nikola Jokic and his now quotidian brilliance. He finished the game with 34 points (12-19 FG, 1-6 3PT), nine rebounds, eight assists, two steals, and one block. Jokic fell just short of a fifth straight triple-double. Will Barton added 14 points, six rebounds, five assists, and one steal. Aaron Gordon tallied 13 points, four rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Austin Rivers (11), Bryn Forbes (12), and Zeke Nnaji (12) also scored in double figures. Demarcus Cousins played just under 12 minutes after signing a 10-day contract. Bones Hyland (non-covid illness), Jeff Green (thigh contusion), and JaMychal Green (health and safety protocols) were all out.
The Pistons continue to lose a lot of games, but Cade Cuningham is developing nicely. Cunningham, along with three other Pistons, tallied 18 points and added five rebounds, eight assists, one steal, and one block. Isaiah Stewart notched 18 points, three rebounds, and one assist. Cory Joseph finished the game with 18 points, three rebounds, six assists, and one steal. And Trey Lyles tallied 18 points, five rebounds, one assist, and one block. Saddiq Bey tallied 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Hamidou Diallo chipped in nine points, two rebounds, and two assists. Kelly Olynyk, after returning from a two-month absence due to a knee injury, missed this game due to health and safety protocols. I would be shocked if Jermai Grant wasn’t traded at the deadline this season.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Brooklyn Nets
The Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the Brooklyn Nets 136-125, behind a diverse scoring attack. Anthony Edwards led the Wolves in scoring with 25 points and added one rebound, four assists, and two steals. D’Angelo Russell notched 23 points (17 in the first half), five rebounds, 10 assists, and one steal. While Russell was hot in the first half, Karl-Anthony Towns struggled, scoring just three points and shooting 1-7 from the field. Towns finished the night with 23 points (15 in the fourth quarter), seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks. Jaylen Nowell, who’s become a reliable reserve for the Wolves, added 16 points, two rebounds, three assists off the bench. Taurean Prince scored 15 points on 6-6 shooting off the bench as well. Jaden McDaniels seems to have found a little bit of rhythm of late and he finished this game with 14 points, four rebounds, one assist, and one block.
Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 30 points and added six rebounds, five assists, and one steal. Patty Mills added 21 points (5-10 3PT)), three rebounds, and one assist. Two-way player, Kessler Edwards, started and tallied 15 points, and five rebounds. He’s shown some solid flashes in his limited minutes. James Harden notched tallied 13 points, five rebounds, 13 assists, one steal, and six turnovers. Harden was just 4-13 from the field and the Nets will need stronger performances for as long as Kevin Durant is sidelined with his MCL injury. Cam Thomas added 11 points, two rebounds, and one assist. LaMarcus Aldridge played just 17 minutes off the bench and scored just six points. Rookie Day’Ron Sharpe has assumed the starting center role in Nic Claxton’s absence. Sharpe finished the game with eight points, nine rebounds, and one block.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Memphis Grizzlies
The Mavericks defeated the short-handed Grizzlies for the second time in six games, this time by a score of 104-91. Luka Doncic is rounding into form at just the right time for the Mavericks. Doncic is averaging 29 points in his last five games and getting to the line more frequently (11.6 compared to 6.5 FTA on the season). He finished this game with 37 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, three steals, and one block. Kristaps Porzingis added 15 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and a whopping six blocks! Jalen Brunson tallied 13 points, one rebound, three assists, and one steal. Dorian Finney-Smith notched nine points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks. Maxi Kleber, added seven points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal, and three blocks. Kleber’s defense remains impressive. His ability to move his feet on the perimeter and be a credible secondary rim protector is a massive asset for the Mavs defense. Hopefully, Kleber can stay healthy and continue to play well this season.
The Grizzlies lost the game, but in no way did Ja Morant disappoint. Morant finished the game with 35 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, and one steal (though he did have seven turnovers). De’Anthony Melton tallied 12 points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals, and one block in 30 minutes off the bench. Jaren Jackson Jr. notched just 10 points, four rebounds, and one steal on 4-17 shooting from the field. The rest of the Grizzlies Starters—Ziaire Williams (9 points), Steven Adams (5), and John Konchar (2) struggled to score. Adams did tally 11 rebounds, two assists, and one steal to go along with his five points, however. The Grizzlies were missing Brandon Clarke (back), Kyle Anderson, Desmond Bane, Tyus Jones (health and safety), and Dillon Brooks (sprained ankle). Jaren Jackson will need to be more consistent, given all of the team’s absences, but this is a great time to stream De’Anthony Melton—don’t miss out!