It was another entertaining Saturday evening in the Association, highlighted by another Damian Lillard game-winner, a dominant effort from Joel Embiid, and a brilliant all-around performance from Kyrie Irving.
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Joel Embiid was dominant on both ends of the floor in the Sixers win over the Magic on Saturday, finishing with 28 points, 14 rebounds, one assist, one block and one 3-pointer in 27 minutes. He has now scored at least 24 points and grabbed 12 boards in five of his last six games. Embiid owners got a second helping of good news when Joel told reporters that he will play in the second night of the Sixers' back-to-back (Sunday at Washington).
Aaron Gordon tallied 20 points, seven rebounds, four 3-pointers, one block and matched his career-high by dishing out seven dimes in 31 minutes on Saturday. Gordon has struggled with his shot since returning from a hip injury after the All-Star break (a combined 11-for-28), but he’s salvaged his fantasy lines by boarding and assisting. Interestingly, coach Frank Vogel had Gordon facilitate the offense by occasionally bringing the ball up the floor in the second half vs. the Sixers.
Kyrie Irving did it all in the Celtics victory over the Knicks on Saturday. He poured in 31 points, pulled down nine rebounds, dished out eight assists, recorded two steals and knocked down six 3-pointers. According to Basketball-Reference, Irving joins Antoine Walker as just the second Celtic in franchise history with at least 31/9/8 and six made treys in a regular season game.
Stephen Curry grabbed a team-high nine rebounds to go along with 21 points, six assists, five treys, three steals and just two turnovers in the Warriors blowout victory over the Thunder on Saturday night… Kevin Durant scored 28 points with five rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and four 3-pointers in his revenge game vs. OKC. The Thunder had beaten Golden State soundly in each of their first two matchups this season.
Damian Lillard is as locked in as any player on the planet right now. Dame dropped 40 on the Suns Saturday night, including the game-winning layup with less than a second remaining on the clock. He also registered ten rebounds, five assists, one steal and three 3-pointers. Over the Blazers last five games, Lillard has scored a total of 197 points. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the most by any NBA player over a five-game span this season, topping James Harden’s total of 193 points. In addition, it’s also the highest five-game total in Blazers franchise history. Dame is averaging 39.4 points, 4.2 boards, 4.6 assists and 3.8 treys over this stretch.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope exploded for 34 points, including eight 3-pointers, to go along with seven rebounds, two assists and zero turnovers on Saturday. KCP was 12-of-20 from the field and 8-of-14 from downtown. Kobe Bryant is the only player in Lakers franchise history with more than eight treys in one game.
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On the Radar:
Ben Simmons finished with 17 points (on 7-of-11 shooting), four rebounds, seven assists and a steal on Saturday. It was his 50th time this season scoring in double-figures, which is tops among all rookies… Marco Belinelli scored 15 points with two rebounds, two assists and one 3-pointer in 27 minutes. However, no reason to get too excited, as Belinelli did most of his damage in garbage time… Richaun Holmes tallied four points, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block in 21 minutes off the bench.
Evan Fournier scored 16 points and added six rebounds, two assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 35 minutes vs. the Sixers. Fournier is in a nice offensive rhythm right now, having scored 20-plus points in four of Orlando’s last five games prior to Saturday… Mario Hezonja finished with 13 points, two rebounds, two assists, three steals, one block and one 3-pointer in 25 minutes. It was Mario’s fifth straight game in double-figures. Encouragingly, he has been closing out games for Orlando, and did so again on Saturday… Nikola Vucevic had 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.
Trey Burke poured in 26 points and dished out eight dimes in 26 minutes off the bench on Saturday. That's two terrific outings in a row for Burke, who tallied 26 points and six assists Thursday night vs. the Magic. According to Basketball-Reference, Burke is the first Knicks guard with more than 25 points and more than five assists in consecutive games since Nate Robinson in 2009. Trey will likely continue to see 20-plus minutes a night, so he’s worth taking a flier on, but it’s unlikely he'll come close to maintaining this level of production. Keep in mind: Burke scored 18 points in back-to-back games in late January, but then scored a total of three points over New York’s next two contests… Emmanuel Mudiay started at point guard and scored 13 points with four rebounds, six assists, one steal and four turnovers in 25 minutes… Frank Ntilikina had eight points, five boards and one assist in 24 minutes… With Mudiay, Burke and Ntilikina seeing additional playing time, Courtney Lee logged just 16 minutes and finished with two points, one rebound and one assist. His fantasy stock is plummeting.
Tyler Johnson scored a game-high 23 points, to go along with two rebounds, one assist, two steals and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes against the Grizzlies on Saturday… Surprisingly, Justise Winslow was an important contributor for Miami in their win over Memphis. Winslow scored a season-high 17 points (on 7-of-12 shooting) with seven rebounds, two assists, three steals, and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes. Winslow had scored a total of 17 points over his last five games combined, on just 19.2 percent shooting… Josh Richardson had five steals for the second straight game. He also added 15 points and three boards on Saturday… Hassan Whiteside had 12 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and three blocks in 26 minutes.
Russell Westbrook finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one 3-pointer in the Thunder’s blowout loss to the Warriors. However, he was just 4-of-15 from the floor and also committed five turnovers… Still, OKC’s dud of the night was definitely Paul George. Remarkably, PG-13 missed 13 of the 14 field goals he attempted, finishing with five points, five boards and three assists… Carmelo Anthony joined the inefficiency parade as well, shooting just 6-of-17, for his 14 points. Melo has shot below 50 percent from the floor in 13 straight games.
Draymond Green had 10 points, eight assists and five rebounds on Saturday. However, he also picked up his 15th technical of the season with a minute left in the first half. He is now just one tech away from an automatic suspension.
Jeff Teague stayed hot in the Wolves victory over the Bulls, tallying 25 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, three triples and two steals. Over Minnesota’s last five games, Teague is averaging 20.0 points, 4.0 boards, 7.0 assists and 1.4 steals, while shooting 60.0 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from downtown… Karl-Anthony Towns (22 points and 13 rebounds) registered his league-leading 52nd double-double on the season… Taj Gibson had 19 points, ten rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes. Gibson has been an underrated fantasy producer all season long.
Zach LaVine was superb in his first game back in Minnesota since being traded to Chicago over the summer. LaVine tallied 21 points, seven assists, six rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot… It was also Kris Dunn’s first game back in Minny. Dunn had 10 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocked shots over 29 minutes… Lauri Markkanen had another disappointing outing, shooting just 1-of-8 from the floor and finishing with three points, seven boards and two blocks. Markkanen has scored a total of six points on 2-of-16 shooting in Chicago's last two games. He’ll look to get back on track Monday in Brooklyn.
Donovan Mitchell got the Jazz back on track Saturday night, carrying Utah to a win over the Mavs. Mitchell scored 25 points and chipped in six rebounds, five assists, four treys, and two steals. He has scored more than 20 points in six straight contests and leads all rookies in 20-point games this season.
J.J. Barea scored 17 points and dished out a game-high 12 dimes on Saturday. Barea has been a dependable source of assists all year long, and especially so of late. Over his last seven games, Barea is averaging 8.8 assists to go along with 12.7 points… Dennis Smith Jr. was disappointingly inefficient on Saturday. He shot just 2-of-11 from the floor for his seven points. Worse yet, he didn’t record a single assist, while turning the ball over five times.
Devin Booker scored 30 points and added nine rebounds, three assists, two blocks and five treys on Saturday. Booked launched 28 shots, and will have the ultimate green light over the final two months of the season… Elfrid Payton had 13 points, six boards, 11 assists and four turnovers.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield all played well despite the Kings falling to the Lakers on Saturday night. Cauley-Stein tallied 18 points, 15 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks over 37 minutes. Hield had 21 points, eight rebounds and an assist in 31 minutes off the bench. Bogdanovic also scored 21 and chipped in six boards, four assists and four 3-pointers.
Jimmy Butler (knee) has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus and is expected to undergo surgery in coming days, but could return within 4-6 weeks, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports. The good news is Butler avoided the dreaded ACL tear. The bad news is that Jimmy Buckets likely won’t return to the court until early April, which is obviously a brutal blow for fantasy owners down the stretch of the regular season and into the fantasy playoffs. Nemanja Bjelica started for Minnesota on Saturday and finished with eight points, seven rebounds, four assists and one 3-pointer in 33 minutes. Bjelica is worth adding in standard leagues.
Lonzo Ball (knee) did not play Saturday vs. Sacramento. After missing a total of 41 days, Ball returned to the lineup Friday night and finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 17 minutes off the bench. Coach Luke Walton said that Ball’s knee responded well to his first game back, but they kept him out of the back end of the back-to-back as a precaution. Ball is expected to play Monday vs. the Hawks and his minutes limit could be increased.
Both Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday did not dress for Saturday's game vs. the Wolves. RoLo and Holiday have been healthy scratches for both of the Bulls games since returning from the All-Star break. The Bulls stated they would play their youngsters over the final two months of the season, and are clearly committed to doing just that.
Paul Zipser (left foot pain) did not play on Saturday against Minnesota after initially injuring his foot on Thursday. He should be left on waivers.
Jordan Bell (ankle) was unable to play Saturday against the Thunder. However, Bell has been scrimmaging with the team this week and told reporters that he will “probably” be ready to return to the Warriors lineup when Golden State begins their road trip Monday night in New York vs. the Knicks. With JaVale McGee replacing Zaza Pachulia, Bell might be in a line for an uptick in minutes. Coach Steve Kerr said that Bell will be in the rotation upon his return.
Shane Larkin (sore right knee) returned to action on Saturday against the Knicks, but logged just five minutes off the bench and failed to register a point, rebound or assist. With Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier healthy, Larkin won’t see consistent minutes. He should be left on waivers.
Aron Baynes (left elbow) did not play Saturday. Baynes injured his elbow in the first quarter on Friday night and was unable to return to the contest. He will be reevaluated on Sunday. Daniel Theis started Saturday vs. the Knicks and finished with six points, seven rebounds, one assist and one block in 18 minutes.
Tyreke Evans (right rib) was ruled out of Saturday's game vs. the Heat. Evans injured the rib in the second half of the Grizzlies loss to the Cavs on Friday night. Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said that Evans was feeling “pretty good” on Saturday, but he will undergo an MRI on Sunday. With Memphis in a dogfight for lottery positioning, it’s safe to assume they will hold out Evans until he is 100 percent healthy. Memphis' next game is Monday at Boston.
Marc Gasol was rested on Saturday. It was only his second missed game of the season, but with the Grizzlies now focused on ping-pong balls, as opposed to winning basketball games, this won’t be the last time Gasol is a healthy scratch. Deyonta Davis started at center on Saturday and finished with 14 points and seven boards in 23 minutes.
Chandler Parsons (illness) and Wayne Selden (right knee soreness) did not play Saturday vs. Miami. It appears Parson’s knee is finally healthy enough to allow him to practice and play, but he is now dealing with an illness. Either way, he should be left on waivers… This was Seldon’s fourth straight game on the sidelines as result of knee soreness.
Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) was unable to play Saturday vs. Memphis. However, Olynyk was upgraded to questionable before being ruled out of this game, which likely means he is close to returning to game action. His next chance to play is Tuesday vs. Philadelphia.
Raul Neto (ankle) missed his second straight game on Saturday, after initially injuring his ankle during pregame warmups on Friday night.
Tyson Chandler (neck) missed another game on Saturday. He will likely miss plenty of time over final two months of the season. In 20116-17, he didn’t appear in a single game after the All-Star break as the Suns decided to rest their vets and play their youngsters. Alex Len started on Saturday and finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds, one assist and two blocks in 28 minutes. Len’s stock is on the rise, and he should probably be universally owned at this point.
Iman Shumpert (foot) did not play Saturday vs. the Lakers. Despite some increased on-court activity recently, it appears to Shump won’t make his Kings debut in the near future.
Coach Nate McMillan said that Darren Collison (knee) is unlikely to return during the Pacers upcoming four-game road trip. The Pacers embark on a four-game road trip beginning Monday in Dallas and don't return home until Monday, March 5th.
Terrence Ross (knee) did not play Saturday and recently had a setback in his rehab, but he said he is "close" to a return.
Eric Gordon (illness) was unable to practice on Saturday and is doubtful for Sunday's matchup against the Nuggets. Gordon missed Friday’s win over the Wolves due to the same illness. The Rockets play the back end of a back-to-back on Monday when they take on the Jazz in Utah.
Torrey Craig (hamstring) has been ruled out for Sunday’s matchup against the Rockets. This will be the fourth straight game Craig has missed.
Danny Green (illness) is not on the injury report for Sunday’s game against the Cavs. Green was unable to play Friday vs. Denver, but is on track to return to the lineup Sunday afternoon.
Manu Ginobili (bruised sternum) is listed as questionable on the injury report for Sunday’s matchup vs. Cleveland. Manu took a shot to the chest in Friday’s loss to the Nuggets and was in pain after the game. If Manu is unable to play Sunday, Bryn Forbes and Patty Mills would see an uptick in playing time.