Big bounce-back game for Rui Hachimura who went from scoring 0 against the New York Knicks a few days ago to matching his career-high with 30 points in the win.
All five starters finished in double figures, but Kyle Kuzma led the way with 25 points, ten rebounds, and six assists; Notably, the Wizards’ injury issues continue to plague them. While this was only Bradley Beal’s second game back from his hamstring injury, Kristaps Porzingis was the next to fall as he went down in the third quarter with a left ankle sprain. This team cannot catch a break.

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With a 48-point performance, why can’t LeBron James share in the festivities with the great Martin Luther King? I mean, there’s actually some real answers here, like, you know, I don’t think MLK would let China get in the way of social equality. And if we’re still being serious, this performance came against the worst team in the league. But therein lies the LeRub, if you will… Monday’s performance is yet another reminder of how bad the Lakers as a whole actually are. Check this fun stat out; over the last 16 games, LeGreat has a +143. In the minutes he’s sat on the bench, the Lakers have accumulated a -106. Yikes. Granted, I get the feeling that Lakers’ ownership would rather miss the play-in than pay the repeaters taxes, but Pelinka and others need to get him some more help. A healthy AD isn’t enough. And as much fun as it is laying into the Lakers, it’d be true shame (even with the bubble Chip) to waste LeAgeless in his year 38 when he can still dominate. Here’s what else I saw during last night’s games…

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Dallas Mavericks vs. Portland Trail Blazer, Blazers win 136-119

Top Performers

Luka Doncic

PTS REB AST FG% 3P% FT% STL BLK
15 6 10 7/19 0/5 1/6 1 1
Damian Lillard

PTS REB AST FG% 3P% FT% STL BLK
36 5 10 11/20 4/11 10/10 0 0
Biggest Takeaways

The Portland Trailblazers snap their five-game skid with a win over the Dallas Mavericks by holding Luka Doncic to a season-low 15 points. That and Damian Lillard dropping 36 points is the story of the game. Hate to make it sound so simple, but you have to realize that Doncic has been terrorizing the league all season long the last time he scored under 20 was in the opening game against the Orlando Magic where he scored 16 points, but he only played 16 minutes. So, for the Blazers in the bottom ten in defensive rating, to hold him to his lowest-scoring total of the season is major.
Offensively though, the Blazers also reached their second-highest point total of the season with 136. This is due to seven players finishing in double figures including the trifecta of Lillard, Anfernee Simons, and Jusuf Nurkic combining for 80 points.
On the other hand, the Mavericks relied on Reggie Bullock, who was an absolute madman from three with all 24 of his points coming from hitting 8-of-10 from three. Spencer Dinwiddie led the team with 25 points and hit four three-pointers of his own, but the three-point barrage from these two just wasn’t enough.

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Something tells me the Pelican won’t fare well in that scenario, right? Well, that was the case Wednesday night when the Celtics’ Scottie Pippen, “Robin” or what have you – Jaylen Brown – torched the young Pelicans to the tune of 41 points and 12 rebounds in 34 minutes of action. Brown led Boston to a convincing 125-114 victory over New Orleans and he wasn’t alone – top dog, Batman Jayson Tatum bullied his way to 31 points and 10 rebounds of his own.

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I may not be the most religious of men, but I do believe in a higher power and understand the significance of the Christmas day holiday. Many view it as a day of giving thanks, and participate in the commercialization of the holiday without understanding the true significance of the day. Christmas is the day Jesus Christ was born. The same Jesus Christ who died later for the sins of man, then was reborn three days later. Christian Wood has traversed that birth/death/ressurection story many times in his career. Undrafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, he latched on with the 76ers, then went to the G League, returned to the league with the Hornets, then went back to the G League. He got another chance with the Bucks then went down to the G League once again. In 2019, the Pelicans gave him another shot and, while he has never sniffed the G League again, he went to the Pistons and Rockets before ending up with the Mavericks this season. But the story doesn’t end there. He was coming off the bench and playing fewer than 30 minutes a game in the early part of the season, but then injuries struck the front court and he started the last four games. So, it’s only fitting, that on Christmas, this Christian balled out:

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Yes, I spent a couple nights watching the NBA, and yes of course I had thoughts.  My first thought was should I watch Manifest?  The answer, of course, is yes.  Who wouldn’t like a Lost knock off, right?  It’s kinda dumb and a good excuse for 40 minutes to make fun of everything you’re watching with your lovely wife.

I’m gonna name each category after my favorite TV shows I’ve seen, in no particular order.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week Nine!  In this post, I identify widely-available players who can help you win your head-to-head matchup.  After a placid start to the week, Stephen Curry sustained a shoulder injury late in the Warriors’ Wednesday-night game.  While I hope this doesn’t amount to anything serious for Steph, the production vacuum that results from him potentially missing multiple games cannot be overlooked.  In other news, those of you who exercised patience with rookie centers Jalen Duren and Walker Kessler are being rewarded of late.  Hopefully you were all able to snag one of them before the gold rush.

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I’ve always had the need for speed. Since I was able to reach the pedals, my legs always pushed them to the metal. Video games helped to refine my urges, as the experience of playing countless other driving games gave me the experience and instincts to anticipate potential hazards while identifying slivers of space to maneuver through. For you New Yorkers, I used to pick up a buddy on the Jersey side of the GW bridge then see how fast I could make it to the east side of Manhattan. Sure, that was driving on expert mode, and we should’ve died more than a few times, but we always escaped unscathed. Oh, what a thrill. The same emotion is elicited when I watch the fantasy points rack up for Joel Embiid this season. He’s scored at least 30 points 11 times this season with three over 40 and a high of 59. On Sunday, he did this:

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I was watching Dahmer the other day on Netflix, and there’s a scene toward the end of the series where Jeffrey Dahmer (infamous serial killer) seeks wisdom and guidance from a priest in prison. Dahmer says, “Even in Star Wars, I always liked the bad guys more,” to which the priest replies, “So did I… those characters are written better.”

With that in mind, is there a villain in the NBA whose storyline is written any wilder than Kyrie Irving’s? Back in his Cleveland Cav days, Kyrie was my favorite player in the NBA, and now he even plays for my favorite team – the Brooklyn Nets. And yet, for a plethora of obvious reasons, Kyrie has gone from my favorite to most hated player in basketball. For lovers of The Villain – like Dahmer, who was one himself – has an NBA storyline ever been written like this before?

(1) It all started when Kyrie dropped a bomb on us… apparently the world is flat. That’s when we knew things were starting to change in the young man’s mind. (2) Then he wore out his welcome in Boston, and capped that off by enraging Celtics fans when he stomped on their logo, Lucky the Leprechaun. (3) Then he became THE anti-vaxxer in the NBA – the poster boy for dissent – and cost the Nets their season in the process. (4) Then came Alex Jones, I don’t think I need to say more on that, followed by (5) The Grand Finale, going down as arguably the worst anti-Semite in the history of the NBA.

And yet, after all that disgusting content and embarrassment, Kyrie refused to vanish into Cancellation. In fact, he seemed to return to the court as strong as ever. Is he simply embracing his newfound role as basketball’s Supervillain? Let’s jump into Wednesday night’s NBA slate to get a deeper understanding of Kyrie’s fantasy basketball adjustments.

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The big Fin Lauri Markkanen put up a big stat line, hit a big shot and led the Jazz to a big win Friday night over the Suns. He scored a career-high 38 points on a silly 15-of-18 from the floor, 2-of-3 from deep and 6-of-8 at the line, and added 6 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a giveaway to the line. 

So far this season Markkanen has delivered late 2nd / early third-round value, which isn’t too  surprising. The skills were evident, it was just a matter of the fit and program in what was supposed to be a tanking Jazz team. And so far he’s fit like a glove worn by a big white dude in Utah. 

His counting stats aren’t too far from this 2019-20 breakout sophomore season, before things got stormy in the Windy City. The major difference is his ability to get shots inside, and being surrounded by willing and able passers helps, too. Markkanen is shooting 65.6% on 2-point shots with nearly 10 attempts a game, numbers comparable only to Nikola Jokic. The other improvement in the stat line is nearly 2.5 assists per game – again a result of playing in an offense that complements his skill set. 

Most of his career high points were actually easy buckets while taking advantage of a string of blown defensive plays. However, the difficulty level was high on this Kobe/Dirk vintage turnaround jumper:

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