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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DeMar DeRozan didn’t have his usual backcourt mate, with Kyle Lowry given the day off for rest, but it didn’t matter. After starting slowly, Double D took over after halftime, producing a game high 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists. He was also a perfect 10-10 from the line.

And the guy replacing Lowry in the starting lineup, he was pretty good too. Cory Joseph slid into the starting lineup and responded with a career high 33 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.

DeRozan is playing some of his best basketball of his career. That is now 20+ points in 13 straight games, a span that features all three of his double-doubles. While DeRozan should still remain a great player, the lack of threes and defensive stats will keep him from being elite. Now is a great time to see what you can get for him.

As for Joseph, he will return to the bench for the next game, but has shown top 150 value over the last 14 days for deep leaguers.

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You hate to see in sports when a guy gets hurt, then loses his starting spot once he’s back to action. Usually it’s for a youthful upside guy that takes off when given an expanded role, but don’t say that to Alex Smith… And it’s not like Matthew Dellavedova was some sort of entrenched starter either… Before we feel too bad for this guy, he just sold his life story into a movie. Crocodile Dundee 4 – Welcome to the NBA! The last one was written by someone in fantasy sports, gimme the green light, Hollywood! Delly returned from 5 games off with a bum hammy (due to all his storyline pitching to studios) to go 2/2/4/1/0 in 18 minutes off the bench. Taking the starting minutes like a bull by the horns (maybe I should’ve gone with “Buck” by the horns!), Malcolm Brogdon had a fire lit under him yesterday afternoon seeing the incumbent get back, posting a career-high 22 points on a 22/1/5/3/1 line with 2 treys.

Hitting his Js and taking it to the rack! Take that, Dundee! They actually overlapped a few minutes as well, and while I still don’t think Brogdon is going to keep ascending (and Delly was likely on a little bit of a leash), I kinda wish I got some Broggy shares. Alsoh, there was Disturbingly no Giannis Antetokounmpo who was down with the sickness, but someone needed to score a little more, and Malcolm stepped up! If he’s somehow still available in your 12ers (maybe he was cut for streaming with Delly coming back), I’d be sure and give him an add. But in 10ers it might get a little roster crunchy. Roster Crunchy – a new cereal from Patty General Mills! Here’s what else went down over a cold & snowy weekend of fantasy basketball action:

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Robert Covington came onto the fantasy radar last year due to his ability to add threes, steals, and blocks in bunches. He started this season slowly, but has been picking it up lately. That continued on Tuesday with 13 points (4-14 FG), 10 rebounds, 4 steals, and 1 block. But no shot was bigger than his buzzer beater:

His offensive production may remain inconsistent, but his nightly contributions in steals, blocks, and rebounds have made him a viable fantasy contributor in all leagues. Now is a perfect time to buy low, before it’s too late.

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So I’m not a basketball historian, and I’m still a young pup. I barely remember the Bulls glory years – I was in elementary school when they won titles 4-6 (yikes, aging the crap outta myself), but I do vividly remember the Byron Russell push-off and I cherished my Michael Jordan cards. I still have a bunch of em! This one is still in a nice case and one of my favorites… Anyway, when I saw Jimmy Butler go off for 52/12/6/3/1 last night, I was about to make all sorts of tongue-and-cheek MJ parallels…

Got the same reverse layup and everything! But then it dawned on me… Butler is more like Scottie Pippen if there was no Jordan. Pippen’s best season was 93-94, unsurprisingly the year without MJ, and went 22.0/8.7/5.6/2.9/0.8 on 49% shooting with 0.9 treys. So far this year, J Buckets is 25.3/6.8/4.4/1.7/0.3 on 46% shooting with 1.1 treys. While Pippen was obviously one of the best defensive players of his generation, Butler is a much better FT shooter and gets to the line more. But the rest is really close, and I thought kinda interesting food for thought. So the answer for the Bulls is simple – find a Michael Jordan for Buckets to play next to! I’m a problem-solver – if only every team’s issue in the NBA was this easy! Hah! Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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Happy 2017, Razzball Nation!

After immense pressure from the DA’s office to flip on Tommy DeVito and Paulie Cicero, [redacted] needed protection to secure his testimony in putting those good fellas away. It didn’t start on the best foot either, as the WitSec guys asked [redacted] if he had any distinguishing marks and he lied about his tattoos… But the man formerly known as [redacted] changed his name to the very inconspicuous James Johnson, and moved his family to Miami. After being a humbling under-the-radar role player, Johnson was supposed to continue as merely a minutes-filler, amongst an uninteresting mix of PF to get through the tough void of losing Chris Bosh. He’s supposed to just shy away from dunk attempts and stand around on offense…

Well, way to ruin that, Johnson! We can’t protect you no more! An absolute monster weekend from Johnson, going 22/3/6/2/2 against the Celtics on Friday night with 4 treys, then followed it up with 20/7/3/1/1 against the Pistons. After a rough stretch of FT last week, he made 6-7 in these games too. With the added onus on O (no Goran Dragic or Justise Winslow OR Hassan Whiteside last night), he is turning it over a little too much (8 total in these two games), but with all the injuries and a void in playmaking on the Heat right now, Johnson is as erect as ever. He’s playing SF, PF, and even some C right now, so while we shouldn’t expect the 34 minutes like he got against the Pistons, he should be pretty solidified in his 25ish MPG role even when everyone is healthy. He’s gotta be a must-own in all leagues while this hot, as he has brazenly blown his cover. Hopefully no one recognizes him as [redacted]! Here’s what else went down over New Year’s weekend in fantasy basketball action:

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Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, Christmas Day is a great day for basketball fans. With the exception of the shortened 1998 lockout season, games have been played on Christmas Day every year since 1947 and often feature the best of the best. And this year was no exception.

We saw a rematch of the NBA Finals, a battle for Los Angeles, and a matchup of exciting young players between Minnesota and OKC.

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Oh man, no rest for the wicked! Speaking of wicked, oh man quick shout out to the Wicked Weed Funkatorium, that brewery rocked! But yeah, an absolutely amazing slate to catch me back up on the daily notes, with 4 overtimes last night. Including a super size me doubler in Miami! Most of the other games stayed close too, and 20 of the 22 teams in action last night topped 100 points. Fantasy orgasm! And leading the charge on such a big-and-tall NBA night was of course Isaiah Thomas! Career-high 44 points for IT2/3, putting up a 4/3rd’s of a full line of 44/3/6/1/1 on 10-16 FG (7-10 3PTM, 17-17 FT) including a big three in extra time in the OT win.

I’m just glad this groin thing got worked out! …That sounded wrong… If you have a smaller groin muscle, does it heal faster?! I’m not saying he doesn’t have a kick stand down there with a line like this, but just wondering! After semi-breaking out last year (well he was only 2/3 better than his career year in 13-14 for the Kings), IT2/3 has taken an even further step up – scoring 26.6 PPPG, upping the FT volume to 8.8/per at 90% (remember when he was like 70% the first few weeks, that changed quick!), and even though the steals are only at 0.9, he’s drastically cut his TO rate to only 2.2 despite all the added USG. After a slow start due to injuries, the Celtics look like a pretty tough team at full strength right now, and maybe IT2/3 can lead this squad into a deep run. I’ll be cheering for them! (cough, REL bias, cough…) Here’s what else happened on an action-packed Tuesday night of Holiday Season basketball:

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So a little bit of a weird daily notes this morning, as I’m speaking to you from a day behind!  I’m out traveling as I add another notch to my belt as they say, and well in more ways than one!  Eating some good food and going on brewery tours is pretty much the pinnacle of life!  Long story short, notes are through Friday/Saturday games and I’ll be a little slow with comments until Tuesday.  Although I’ll likely pop in at some point with some horrible typos and weird drunken advice….

Anyway, we mentioned on the Pod last week how surprisingly bad the Wolves have been this year, and it looked like they might be turning the corner Saturday night, maintaining a big lead against the red hot Rockets.  But they collapsed in the final minute losing a 9 point lead pushing it to OT, the Rockets took over, Zach LaVine hit a big 3 with 5 seconds left, then on the last gasp, LaVine got nudged out off bounds throwing up the desperation shot.  Another game you throw up your arms and go “huh?!”; all the starters played well and they held Houston to 95 in regulation!  Plus Karl-Anthony Towns went off for a 40 burger!  41/15/5/0/1 on 15-28 shooting and 10-12 FT including this NBA Jam quality alley:

I don’t have much else to expand on here, except the Wolves are going to have to go through some sort of massive change.  Yes, they’re the youngest team/starting 5 in the NBA, but all of the starters are already too good for this team to be 7-19.  Obviously Ricky Rubio getting traded is what most point to, but we’ll see what happens.  And I think KAT is the kind of player that will keep his motor going every night, and not phone it in down the stretch (cough, Hassan Whiteside, cough)…  Here’s what else down over Friday and Saturday’s games in fantasy hoops action:

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Ho! Ho! Ho! Hark the herald, Jerry Stackhouse sings! The NBA has never been in fuller effect across the years than at the culmination of this week every year: CHRISTMAS! It’s unofficial start to the season (or the official start in the lockout-shortened 2011 season), and the first day since June owned by the NBA on the sports calendar. It’s been football, football, football for the past six months, but even the King Kong NFL takes a back seat to basketball on Christmas (only 2 NFL games in Week 16 are actually on Sunday, December 25). Make way, because winter is no longer just coming…it’s here! And with it comes all the basketball glory we can handle for the next 6 months.

From now on we’ll see teams jockeying for playoff position. You know, those coveted spots that only the few get to have in calling themselves the next up to be humiliated by the Cavs or Warriors. But seriously, this is where we start to see what teams really are. And it’s similar in other sports. Sure, you can start 5-0 Falcons in 2015, but you’re finishing 8-8. Or in baseball, everyone knows that the record before Labor Day is all just feeling it out. And in the NBA the Hawks may begin 9-2, but are they really that great? My optimistic homerism is hopeful, but their record now shows the answer is no. How about the Raptors? They started sluggish; they must have taken a step back this year. Well, um…nope. They’re a favorite to reach the Eastern Conference Finals again. See, Christmas brings out the best in us all, and acts as a litmus test for starting the year.

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