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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Can LeBron be corny at times? Yup. Does LeBron flop sometimes? Premier League players break down his tape. Is LeBron entering the final stages of his hooping career? Father Time is undefeated. That said, is LeBron one of the greatest players of all time? He almost won a chip with Eric F’ing Snow at point guard. He’s Magic Johnson in Karl Malone’s body with Zion Williamson hops, before Zion morphed into the long lost Klump. He’s won the chips, received all the accolades and awards, and is still doing this at age 37….

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In the battle for the 9th seed out west, LaMelo Ball rose to the occasion while Ice Trae went Ice Cold from three. Despite his 15 assists, Trae Young finished with only nine points as he shot 3-of-12 from the field and 0-for-6 from downtown. Danilo Gallinari was averaging 14 points, five rebounds and four assists over the last week. However, he suffered an injury last night and would recommend dropping him for Onyeka Okongwu, who has averaged similar numbers and, with more opportunities, should score more.

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The Nets defeated their in-state rival Knicks 110-107, behind a statement performance from Kevin Durant, who finished the game with 53 points (19-37 FG, 4-13 3PT), six rebounds, nine assists, and two steals. The 53 points were a season-high and just a point shy of his career-high. Andre Drummond added 18 points, 10 rebounds, and one block on a perfect eight for eight from the field. Bruce Brown, whose value and strong play has grown consistent of late, finished the game with 15 points (7-14 FG, 0-1 3PT), seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Nic Claxton contributed off the bench, compiling 10 points, five rebounds, one assist, two steals, and one block. Seth Curry was a late scratch due to an ankle injury. The Nets have now won three in a row after losing four in a row.  During this winning streak, Durant has reminded everyone in the league and everyone watching at home just how dominant he can be. The spiciest and most hilarious result of a late-season Nets winning streak would be a 76ers vs. Nets first-round matchup—one can only hope!

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Why isn’t Montrezl Harrell starting for the Hornets? Just because he won 6th Man of the Year doesn’t mean he’s permanently a sixth man. Especially when you play Mason Plumlee over him. In every single game, Harrell has outplayed Plumlee, so why is he still starting? Only other thing to comment on is Isaiah Thomas receiving another 10 day contract, putting up 10 points, five rebounds, and three assists. We’ll see how he fits, and if his contract is guaranteed for the rest of the year, but personally I doubt it. As for the Cavaliers, Daruis Garland was the only one to show up offensively, putting up 33 points on 60% shooting.

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I’m no doctor (sorry mom!), but in my professional opinion (in which my profession is nothing besides maybe making a lot of parentheses), I believe (and feel!) that whatever injury Harden was coming back from, well, it seems to have miraculously solved itself and this is the most 100% I’ve seen James Harden in a long time, not counting the strip clubs, of course. And that’s not to act glib, anyone can smirk injury statuses, it’s pretty much tradition in all sports leagues in this day and age. But I guess it’s always nice to see the confirmation right before your eyes, so without incredulously referring to Harden’s previous injury, I think after last night’s performance scoring 29 points, grabbing 10 boards and providing an easy breezy smorgasbord (totally a phrase) of 16 assists, I think we can say that whatever ailed him does no longer. Probably his previous injury was playing with Kyrie Irving…
Here’s what else I saw during yesterday’s “truncated” basketball schedule:

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The trade winds are blowing! After some smaller pieces were moved over the last few days, Tuesday brought about the most significant player shuffling to date ahead of Thursday’s Trade Deadline. Indiana sent All-Star Domantas Sabonis and friends to Sacramento for a package headlined by Buddy Hield and second-year stud Tyrese Haliburton. As someone who has dipped their toes into Kings fandom, it’s hard not to feel like the Kings are screwing things up all over again. Haliburton is arguably the best draft decision the Kings have made since taking DeMarcus Cousins at pick five in the 2010 draft, and his high basketball IQ, passing prowess, and ability to sit down and defend sure seem to be things that would be valued in Sac, especially considering the defensively leaky and largely clueless roster the Kings have assembled. In shipping out Hield and Hali, the Kings have kinda nuked their three-point shooting and Sabonis’ presence largely neutralizes the value of Richaun Holmes, a player they just handed a four-year deal. But hey, with Sabonis at least there’s an All-Star on the roster now (De’Aaron Fox grimaces at this). Longtime Blazer CJ McCollum was also given his walking papers on Tuesday. He’s headed down New Orleans way to play for the Ples, who might have something cooking now, even without Zion.

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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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“With the 22nd pick of the two thousand and twenty one NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select….Isaiah Jackson of the University of Kentucky,” voiced Adam Silver through my Bose speakers. Unfortunately, he was immediately shipped to Washington as part of the Russell Westbrook trade. As of this writing, I am on a mad search for the DeLorean that makes magic happen at 88 mph. I used to often ponder where I would go if I could travel through time. Meet Jesus? Commiserate with/for the dinosaurs? Naw, I’m definitely going back to August 6th, 2021 and doing everything in my power to wipe that trade from the annals of history. Then a funny thing happened. It’s not anals, damnit! I got a call on the celly and future Son told me to come outside. As the gull wing door lifted up to the sky, I saw future Son frantically wave me hurry up and get in. Before I could click the seatbelt, the back of my head mushed into the headrest like a Tempur-Pedic and zoom, zoom, zoom we went. Stars. Flashes of light. Darkness. They all zoomed by as we raced through time. Then I saw a face. Another. Then another until it looked like an army of ants marching towards a picnic. It was none other than DeUngela Jackson, mother to Isaiah Jackson. I channeled my innermost Nancy Kerrigan and bellowed, “Whhhhhhhhhhhyyyyyyyy?????” How is Isaiah going to help the Lakers get to the Promised Land? We need shooters to surround LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Plus, Isaiah is only 18 years old and only played 20.8 minutes at Kentucky. Naw, Momma Jackson, I’m heading back in time for Kentavious Caldwell Pope and Kyle Kuzma. Excuse me as I eradicate the puke I just swallowed from myself. Well, after last night’s performace, future Son better get his ass back to 2022 because….

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It’s thirsty Thursday again and I got that green juice for you.  Today we have a mini two-game slate with two MVP candidates in the spotlight.  In game one, Joel Embiid is facing off vs. the Lakers who are at full-strength now that Anthony Davis is back (played 35 minutes on Tuesday). Then we have Steph Curry facing the Timberwolves who are fourth in pace of play this season. Since there are only two games tonight I’ll be playing just one lineup for cash and gpp contests. We’ll need to find one or two players who will be less than 10% rostered in order to take down a gpp on small slates. I will list my favorite options below my core plays today. Let’s get it!

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Variety, they say, is the spice of life. So while there were monster games on Tuesday night from all the usual suspects — Joker, Joel, LeBron, Harden, Anthony Edwards, the Boston Boys — I’m bowing out on trying to split those hairs and passing on the opportunity to bestow the lede player honor on one of these repeat customers. Instead, we’ll spice things up by going off the beaten path and checking in on a number one pick who feels like he’s flying a bit under the radar.

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