The Charlotte Hornets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 119-110 to remain ahead of the Nets in the Eastern Conference standings. The two teams have identical 39-36 records, but with this win, the Hornets move to 2-1 against the Nets and secure the tiebreaker. Led by LaMelo Ball’s hot shooting, the Hornets spoiled Kyrie Irving’s home debut. Ball finished the game with 33 points (10-21 FG, 7-12 3PT), seven rebounds, nine assists, and three steals. Miles Bridges added 24 points (9-24 FG, 3-6 3PT), eight rebounds, two assists, and one steal. P.J. Washington tallied 18 points (8-12 FG, 2-3 3PT), 11 rebounds, and five assists. Terry Rozier notched 14 points (5-12 FG, 2-5 3PT), seven rebounds, four assists, and one steal. If the Hornets are making their threes they can be tough to beat and that was the case in this game. They shot 42% from the field as a team, but they shot 53% from three (17-32). As things currently stand, the Hornets would match up against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the play-in tournament, rather than the Nets. That’s unfortunate for us, the fans, as the pace of play and lack of defense on both sides would make a Nets vs. Hornets matchup must-see TV. Then again, there likely won’t be much defense in a Nets vs. Hawks series either.

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The Indiana Pacers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 129-98. In a rarity for this version of the Pacers, they were the more veteran team. Oshae Brissett spearheaded the Pacers’ attack, as he tallied 24 points (8-10 FG, 2-3 3PT), nine rebounds, one assist, and one steal. His day also included a highlight reveal reverse dunk in transition which came off a behind-the-back pass from Lance Stephenson. Have I mentioned that the Pacers are fun now!? Justin Anderson added 18 points, six rebounds, four assists, and one steal. Jalen Smith notched 17 points, five rebounds, and one block in just 17 minutes of play. I’m not sure if Smith will ever become the player the Suns hoped they were getting when he was drafted with the 10th pick in 2020, but he has at least grown into an intriguing prospect. He was 2-of-3 from behind the arc and also whipped out a Dirk-esque step-back off the dribble in the midrange. Terry Taylor (17) and Duane Washington Jr. (13) both had solid games as well. The Pacers led wire to wire and the lack of competitiveness of the game is reflected in the lower minute totals for Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. Haliburton finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds, and seven assists. Hield tallied nine points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Finally, Lance Stephenson scored just two points, but grabbed six rebounds, dished out 11 assists, and swiped three steals.

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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.

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Welcome to your midweek guidance for Week 12! The goal of this post is to steer you towards quality streamers who can help you win your head-to-head matchups.  We’re nearly halfway through the season, and we’ve already seen more than 540 players cycle through the league thanks to COVID-19 protocols.  While this unprecedented situation is frustrating, it is providing opportunities to try out players who never would have sniffed 12-team league rosters otherwise.  Last week, we witnessed the resurrection of Gary Harris and some astonishingly good shooting performances from Coby White and Malik Monk.  Hopefully some of you were able to cash in on those recommendations.  This week, there’s a whole new set of COVID absences and injuries, so let’s get into the schedule and some player recommendations.

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A late Happy New Year to everyone taking the time to read this article. Welcome to 2022 NBA basketball where 10-day contracts bear 30-point performances, the league is finally getting healthy and every armchair general manager swears that every team should just blow it up. The more things change the more they stay the same eh? Well with 11 games and 22 teams playing last night let’s get right into it. 

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Looking at the score I thought to myself oh, what a low scoring affair. Julius Randle probably scored around 20, maybe even under. I know he’s been struggling as of late. Is RJ Barrett playing tonight? If so, most likely a disappointing night. Let’s just open up the box score to check. Meanwhile Alec Burks just played the best game of the season, putting up 34 points on just 17 shots. As for the young stars of New York, 15 for RJ and five for Julius Randle. He only played 26 minutes but to only put up five points is unacceptable for a supposed star player. As for the Detroit Pistons, Saddiq Bey continues to prove why he deserves a spot on your, no doubt fluctuating roster. 

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The Charlotte Hornets were on a three-game losing streak heading into this Sunday evening matchup with the Atlanta Hawks—a bad loss to the Rockets in overtime, a sluggish and overmatched defeat against the Bulls, and a buzzer-beating loss at the hands of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. LaMelo had a standout game against the Bucks and before Giannis’ game-winning layup, he hit a beautiful leaning three over Pat Connaughton to tie the game. Sometime after their loss to the Bucks, LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Jalen McDaniels, and Mason Plumlee were placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. At the time of that announcement, Ball was leading the Hornets in points, assists, steals, and rebounds per game. Heading into this contest, I was bummed to not get a chance to watch these two teams compete at something closer to full strength. But as is so often the case with the Hornets, they did the unexpected, beating the Hawks 130-127 with two of their best four players sidelined.

Don’t spit the bit was the directive from Eric Collins—after the Hornets coughed up leads against the Rockets and Bucks. Collins—the team’s television play-by-play announcer and rising star in the NBA universe—brought his full bag of phrases for this road game. It was almost like Collins was trying to will the undermanned Hornets to a victory by unloading his full clip of quips—and it worked! (Miles Bridges might have helped)

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Stop teasing me, Nemanja Bjelica! Whenever he has a good game—as he did last night with 14 points, three assists, and three steals—I’m like “See! He should play more!” But the reality is this was his first double-digit scoring game in two weeks, and the first time he’s played at least 20 minutes in a game all month. Love ya Belly, but I won’t be roped in…yet (seven percent rostered in Yahoo! leagues).

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HE’S BACK!!! Or is he…?? After having essentially zero impact thus far (he hadn’t played 20 minutes in any game and only scored in double figures once), Chris Boucher broke out with 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting in 24 minutes. He tossed in a trey, steal, and pair of swats to boot. His lack of playing time has been extremely concerning to fantasy managers. Coach Nick Nurse has played his starters heavy minutes all season, leaving little room for fantasy viability off the bench. And this may just be a blip given the absences of both Pascal Siakam and Khem Birch. I still can’t trust him at this point, and I wouldn’t be one of the 55 percent of Yahoo! managers still holding him if there was anything interesting on the wire.

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After years and years of stability in the forms of David Robinson and then Tim Duncan and co., things began to wobble in San Antonio during the baton pass to Kawhi Leonard. After the situation became untenable (and very weird), the Klaw was spun off to Toronto and the Spurs entered the brief and somewhat unsuccessful (by their own standards) LaMarcus Aldridge/DeMar DeRozan era. Now that DD is off in Chicago and LMA is in Brooklyn, what was once just a little bit shaky has become unfamiliar, if not a touch unstable. After 22 straight seasons in the playoffs, the Spurs finished below .500 and stayed home during the 2019-20 postseason. There was a flash of hope last year when San Antonio made the playoffs (well, the play-in) but were bounced by the upstart Grizzlies. 

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The Jazz had an absolutely fantastic regular season last year, finishing first in the West with a record of 52 and 20. However come playoff time, they were exposed hard by Terrence Man and the small ball Clippers. You would expect a thunderous offseason of sweeping changes but no, the Jazz’s offseason was the quietest across the league. Only signing buy-low players such as Rudy Gay and Eric Paschall while re-signing Mike Conley. The Jazz are poised for another strong regular season, with the same flaws that haunted them in the playoffs. 

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