The Denver Nuggets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 124-104, behind a well-balanced scoring attack and more Nikola Jokic brilliance. Seven Nuggets’ players scored in double figures, led by the Joker, who finished the game with 27 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, and one block. It was Jokic’s 14th triple-double of the season and the 71st of his career. Will Barton added 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one block. Aaron Gordon tallied 17 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and one steal. Monte Morris chipped in with 12 points, five rebounds, and eight assists and Jeff Green finished the game with 12 points, five rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Bryn Forbes (11) and Zeke Nnaji (10) also scored in double figures. Forbes (25), Nnaji (20), Bones Hyland (17), and DeMarcus Cousins (16) played the most minutes off the bench.

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Milwaukee’s Big Three showed up to play last night: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Bobby Portis. What? Portis has been an amazing role player and crucial to the Bucks this season. He put up 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds in last night’s loss to the Cavaliers. Who would have thought that this match would determine the 3rd seed in the East for the time being? Who expected the Cavaliers at all this season? A deep team highlighted by Darius Garland’s breakout, Kevin Love’s positive influence off the bench and an early season trade for Rajon Rondo. Speaking of which, man that trade looks like highway robbery, as he’s playing like everyone thought he would in Atlanta last season. 

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 13!  In this post, I will give you several streaming recommendations for players who can give you an edge in your head-to-head matchups.  We are at the halfway mark of the real NBA season, which means your fantasy hoops playoff races are starting to heat up.  Ideally, you’re way out in front and can stash players who will come off injury to help you in the playoffs.  The vast majority of us, however, are fighting for a bye week or playoff seed, and every player add will get us closer to or further away from that goal.

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The Brooklyn Nets took home the 121-119 victory in this Sunday matinee against the rebuilding, but still pesky San Antonio Spurs. In classic 2021-22 Nets fashion, they gave up a 14-point lead and allowed the Spurs to tie the game late in the fourth quarter and push the game into overtime, where Nets’ rookie Cam Thomas stole the show. Both teams struggled to score in the waning minutes of regulation and overtime, most notably Kevin Durant. As a result, when Durant was doubled on the Nets’ final possession at the elbow, with about six seconds left in the game, he rose up and fired a pass to Cam Thomas sliding up from the corner. Thomas pump-faked, took two hard dribbles and rose up for a one-legged runner fading to his left at the free-throw line. Nothing but net. Thomas’ made floater in overtime turned out to be the game-winner as Lonnie Walker was blocked on the Spurs ensuing inbound play. Even if he hadn’t been blocked, however, the shot wouldn’t have counted. Walker released the shot after the buzzer, as the Spurs had just one-point-four seconds to shoot. The narrow escape victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Nets.

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The Toronto Raptors faced what was essentially a G-league team on Friday night and played down to their opponent for the first half. They turned it around in the second half with a comeback behind our fantasy star of the night, Fred VanVleet. He finished with 37 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists with four three-pointers. FVV has been excellent this year and is on fire of late. He ranks in the top-15 fantasy players and could make a push with his recent hot streak. 

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It is only fitting that we end 2021 with LeBron James as the fantasy star of the night. The ageless superstar scored 43 points while adding 14 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks en route a 139-106 win. He has been amazing over the past seven games but it has only translated to two wins during that stretch. James sits inside the top-three fantasy players this year and could pass Nikola Jokic for the top spot if he continues this high level of play. Russell Westbrook posted his fourth straight triple-double in the win, finishing with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists. Although Russ has his ups and downs on the court, he remains an elite fantasy option with nightly triple-double upside. He has struggled with turnovers and poor shooting numbers this year which has resulted in poor category play. He sits just inside the top-100 and should not move much from this spot.

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Hope and confidence are high for the Atlanta Hawks heading into the 2021-22 NBA season after their surprise run to the Eastern Conference Finals in last year’s playoffs. After this offseason, the Hawks have maybe the best mix of veteran reliability and youthful upside in the entire NBA. Delon Wright and Lou Williams can comfortably back up Trae Young as well as play alongside him in the right matchups. Sharife Cooper will be there to soak up all the veteran know-how whenever he’s not testing the limits of his creativity for the College Park Skyhawks, the Hawks G League affiliate. Ditto for Jalen Johnson. It’s unreasonable to expect the Hawks to make it back to the Conference Finals, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Barring a long-term injury to Trae Young, this team should be even better than they were in the regular season last year. For those who “couldn’t watch Trae Young” because of his mastery of the dark arts of foul drawing—you’re in luck! The rules changes should see Young and every other crafty on-ball creator playing more “honest” basketball this season. Combine that with the wealth of talent on the roster and the Hawks should be a popular league pass team. They came in at #7 in Zach Lowe’s annual League Pass Rankings.

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Now that it’s looking like I’ll likely lose in my championship matchup this week (boooooooooooo!), I guess it’s time to turn to helping you all out in your championship runs this week. By the way, please move your playoffs up to avoid all the silliness. It happened earlier this year, but I’m a strong proponent of just absolutely skipping the last month of the season as teams randomly sit people and rest up for their playoff pushes.

Anyways, do yourself a favor and take a look at the opponent you are up against. Identify the categories where you guys are close (so if you are both bad at winning a category or if you both are middling at a category or both good at winning a category) and stock up on guys to win those categories. Most leagues are nine category leagues, so remember you only need to win five of them.

That said, here are the guys coming up with a boatload of games, all under 50% owned on Yahoo! that can help you win specific categories.

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Lauri Markkanen shot the ball exceedingly well, making eight out of 10 attempts for 18 points. Everything else about his night was concerning though, especially the minutes, which also topped out at just 18. Markkanen’s playing time has taken a hit—he’s been under 24 minutes in five of his past six outings. In those limited runs, he’s failed to corral more than six rebounds in a game, and totaled just two assists, one steal, and one block. With fantasy playoffs looming, he could be a cut candidate. Chicago just embarked upon a four-in-five-nights set, so let’s see if he can slingshot his hot shooting from last night into some real momentum.

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Carmelo Anthony has been a reliable source of points and treys on good efficiency, and stayed on brand Thursday night with 20 points and four triples, while hitting all four of his freebies and turning the ball over just once. Adding Norman Powell to the mix shouldn’t have too much of an impact on Melo, who should continue to get minutes in the mid-20s and put up enough shots to retain value.

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It was a bit of a light week for watching games here in the Hooper house. I know this is a fantasy corner of the internet, but reality always manages to find a way in. The ratio of news to NBA games got flipped in the middle of the week, so instead of longer, deeper looks into one or two specific teams, this edition of Hangin’ will feature check-ins on past (incorrect) statements and some quick hitters on what I was able to catch this week. I’m aiming to get back on track this week — aren’t we all? — so hopefully next time will be less doom and gloom and more dimes and dunks.

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