Lonnie Walker, Spurs survive James Harden

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Raphielle Johnson
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Tuesday’s NBA schedule consisted of seven games, and while the showdown between two of the West’s best in Denver may have been the headliner going into the night a double-overtime thriller in San Antonio would steal the show.

A game that Houston led by 22 at one point in the second half would ultimately require two overtimes to determine the outcome, and it featured both a dunk that was not given and a backcourt violation that wasn’t called. Oh, a play who entered the game with 80 career points went off in the fourth quarter as well. That’s where we’ll start the look back at Tuesday action in the NBA.

Spurs 135, Rockets 133 (2OT) — Spurs second-year guard Lonnie Walker has found it difficult to carve out a consistent role for himself, but there’s no denying the fact that the talent is there. Averaging just 7.7 minutes per game this season, Walker was two games removed from playing one minute in Friday’s win over the Clippers. He would play a career-high 36 minutes Tuesday night, and by the end had produced a performance that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Walker shot 10-of-18 from the field and 4-of-6 from the foul line, scoring 28 points with four rebounds, three steals, one blocked shot and four 3-pointers. One of those threes was a shot with eight-tenths of a second remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 115, capping a 19-point fourth quarter for the former Miami Hurricane. Walker was one of three Spurs to score at least 23 points, with Bryn Forbes adding 25 (two rebounds, four assists and five 3-pointers) and DeMar DeRozan (who took the charge that preserved the win) 23 with five rebounds and nine assists.

Rudy Gay added 14 points, five rebounds, two assists, one steal and one blocked shot, Derrick White racked up 12 points with one rebound, three assists and one three-pointer, and Jakob Poeltl finished with six points, 15 rebounds, five assists, one steal and five blocks in what was his best overall performance of the season to date. Looking at the point guard minutes it was Patty Mills (nine points, six rebounds, six assists and two 3-pointers) who led the way, playing 36 minutes followed by White (26) and Dejounte Murray (seven points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 18 minutes).

Going back to Walker, you have to think that a performance like the one he had will open the door to more opportunities in the near future. But exercise some caution here before rushing to grab him off the waiver wire. While he has reached double figures in each of the last three games in which he’s played at least 13 minutes, Walker scored a total of 11 points in his first 11 appearances this season.

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James Harden, whose third quarter dunk was not counted despite the fact that the ball cleared the net, made history Tuesday night but did not shoot the ball well in doing so. The Beard finished with 50 points, becoming the second player in NBA history (Wilt Chamberlain being the first) to follow up a game with at least 60 points with a 50-point effort. Harden shot 11-of-38 from the field, which included a 4-of-20 night from three, but he went 24-of-24 from the charity stripe. Having attempted at least 20 free throws in a game three times this season, Harden’s 44-of-47 over his last two games.

Of the seven Rockets that scored six reached double figures, including Clint Capela (22 points, 21 rebounds, two assists, one steal and two blocks) and Russell Westbrook (19/10/1/2/1 with one three-pointer). Westbrook also struggled with his shot, going 7-of-30 from the field and 1-of-6 from three. He’s making 47.7% of his two-point attempts on the season, a percentage slightly lower than the number he produced last season (48.1%).

Austin Rivers also scored 19 points, doing so on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, to go along with four rebounds, one assist, one steal and five 3-pointers in 40 minutes. Ben McLemore, who started in place of the ill Danuel House Jr., added 11 points with one rebound, one assist, one block and three 3-pointers, and P.J. Tucker posted a line of ten points, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers.

Pistons 127, Cavaliers 94 — This one got away from Cleveland in the second quarter, as the tandem of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond proved to be too much for the home team. Griffin played just 24 minutes, scoring 24 points (8-of-13 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs) with four rebounds, one assist and a season-high six 3-pointers. He was 6-of-7 from downtown on the night, which is pretty crazy when you consider the fact that Griffin entered the game shooting just 23.9% for the season. He has the freedom to take those shots, but don’t expect Tuesday’s performance to become the norm for Griffin.

As for Drummond he filled the stat sheet, finishing with 17 points (7-of-15 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs), 14 rebounds, four assists, five steals and four blocked shots in 31 minutes. To this point in the season he’s been a top-20 player in both eight- and nine-cat formats per Basketball Monster, and Drummond hasn’t been the liability at the foul line that he has been for much of his career. His percentage of 62.4% for the season would be a career-high if he can sustain it, and keep his fantasy value high at the same time.

Among the other Pistons, both Markieff Morris (neck) and Svi Mykhailiuk (right knee) played through pain and ended up contributing to the win. Morris would leave during the game, ultimately returning after doctors cleared him to play, and he finished with 12 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal and two 3-pointers. As for Mykhailiuk, he scored 15 points (5-of-11 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs) with four assists, two rebounds one steal and three 3-pointers in 26 minutes. Langston Galloway added 14 points, four 3-pointers, one rebound, one assist and one steal, with Derrick Rose tallying 12 points and nine assists.

Christian Wood, who had his best game of the season on Sunday, accounted for eight points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal. He’s clearly passed Thon Maker on the depth chart, and in recent games has played well enough to merit consideration as a waiver wire pickup in most leagues.

For Cleveland, Collin Sexton scored 22 points with four rebounds, three assists and two steals, and other than Tristan Thompson (10 & 14 with one blocked shot none of the starters did enough to be a worthy fantasy contributors. Among those that struggled were rookie guard Darius Garland, who finished with seven points and one rebound, Kevin Love (8/4/1/2) and Cedi Osman (ten points and one three-pointer). In the case of Garland, it’s time to cut bait if he’s (for some reason) still on your roster. The rookie guard is outside of the top-300 in nine-cat for the season, and over the last two weeks he’s outside of the top-200.

The rookie that played well for Cleveland was Kevin Porter Jr., who finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers in 22 minutes. But just like Garland, his value is way too low to justify rostering Porter in any format.

Heat 121, Raptors 110 (OT) — The return of Kyle Lowry was the big news in this one, with the veteran point guard moving right into the starting lineup without a minutes restriction after missing nearly a month with a left thumb injury. He would play 41 minutes, finishing with 12 points, 11 assists, six rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot, with the foul line being the reason for many of those points. Lowry shot 2-of-18 from the field overall and 0-of-11 from three, with his 8-of-8 effort at the charity stripe being the reason why he was able to get into double figures.

There’s no reason to not start Lowry given his production in all categories, but keep an eye on the field goal percentage in his first few games back on the floor.

His return impacts the entire offense, with regards to both who sets things up and how the shots are divided. Fred VanVleet played 43 minutes, finishing with 19 points (5-of-16 FGs, 6-of-7 FTs), one rebound, six assists, three steals and three 3-pointers, while Pascal Siakam accounted for 14 points (5-of-14 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), 12 rebounds and one assist.

The player who stands to be most affected by Lowry’s return is Norman Powell, who was back with the second unit Tuesday night. And he played well, tallying 23 points, eight rebounds, one assist, one steal and four 3-pointers in 34 minutes. Powell may be better as a streaming option at this point with Lowry in the lineup, but he played well enough Tuesday to ensure that he continues to get quality minutes as part of the Raptors’ second unit. Bigs Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka had solid nights, with the former tallying 14 points, three rebounds, two assists, one block and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes, and the latter going for 13 points, nine rebounds, one block and two 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench.

OG Anunoby remains a top-100 player in eight- and nine-cat formats, but his point totals may take a hit with Lowry back in the fold. He attempted just five shots Tuesday night, scoring six points with three rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot. Keep an eye on this in the immediate future, not so much for the possibility of waiving Anunoby but rather to consider the possibility of making a trade if there’s a need for more offense.

Miami was without Goran Dragic, who injured his groin during the first half of Sunday’s win over the Nets yet still played 31 minutes. He will also miss Wednesday’s game against Boston, which means both more time on the ball with the second unit for Justise Winslow and Tyler Herro staying close to 20 minutes per game. Winslow played 35 minutes against Toronto, scoring 17 points with nine rebounds, four assists, one block and one three-pointer. Herro played 18 minutes, finishing the game with six points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one three-pointer. After a hot start to the season, the rookie out of Kentucky has fallen outside of the top-150 in nine-cat formats.

Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson led the way offensively with 22 points apiece, with the former finishing the game with his first triple-double of the season. Butler, who shot 7-of-16 from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line, also accumulated 13 rebounds, 12 assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 41 minutes played. Given how well the Heat have played to start the season, and his production, Butler merits mention in the extremely early MVP conversations.

As for Robinson, much of his value comes in the points and three-pointers categories, and he shot 6-of-9 from three while also accounting for two rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot. Over the course of his last ten games Robinson has been a 50/40/90 player, shooting 51.2% from the field, 47.4% from three and 91.7% from the foul line, while averaging 13.5 points and 2.9 rebounds per. And he’s made at least two 3-pointers in nine of his last ten games, including the 9-of-15 effort in Miami’s win over Cleveland back on November 20. Hold onto him, or at the very least Robinson can be a “sell high” option given his shooting ability.

Bam Adebayo posted a line of 18 points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal, while Kelly Olynyk came off the bench to score 16 points with six rebounds, one assist, one steal, two blocks and three 3-pointers. Meyers Leonard (8/8/2 with two 3-pointers) may remain in the starting lineup for now, but he may struggle to hit 20 minutes on a consistent basis due to both the play of Olynyk and the return of Derrick Jones Jr., who played 16 minutes in this one. Jones’ line of five points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block doesn’t jump off the page, but this was his first game after missing nearly a month due to injury.

Magic 127, Wizards 120Bradley Beal led all scorers with 42 points while also tallying six rebounds, four assists, one steal and three 3-pointers in 42 minutes, but his production wasn’t enough to get Washington the victory. Orlando had six double-figure scorers led by Evan Fournier, who posted a line of 31 points, two rebounds, three assists and six 3-pointers and became the 11th player in franchise history to score 30 or more in consecutive games. Point guards D.J. Augustin and Markelle Fultz also played well, with Augustin putting up 24 points, six rebounds, one assist and four 3-pointers in 29 minutes off the bench and Fultz adding a career-high 20 points, three rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Fultz is only owned in 47% of Yahoo leagues, and if he’s available in your league now would be the time to pick him up. Aaron Gordon (18/11/2 with two 3-pointers), Terrence Ross (14/1/1/1 with two 3-pointers) and Jonathan Isaac (11/6/3 with two blocks and one three-pointer) also scored in double figures for Orlando, while Khem Birch accounted for nine rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots. Mo Bamba scored four points and grabbed eight rebounds, as he continues to have not done enough to have it argued that he should be picked up off the waiver wire.

As noted above Beal went off, shooting 16-of-30 from the field and 7-of-10 from the foul line. But Washington was unable to give the All-Star guard enough help offensively, and as a result the Wizards dropped another game at home. Due to Moritz Wagner being out with an ankle injury Davis Bertans made his first start of the season, and in 40 minutes he accounted for 21 points, five rebounds, one steal, two blocks and four 3-pointers. Thanks largely to points and three-pointers, Bertans has been a top-50 player in nine-cat formats this season.

Washington also has to account for the loss to Thomas Bryant (right foot), who will be out for at least the next three weeks. Once Wagner is healthy enough to return, look for him to play a lot of minutes in the middle. He’s a must-own at this point because of the Wizards’ lack of depth in the front court.

Also joining the Wizards’ 20-point club on Tuesday was Isaiah Thomas, who finished with 20 points, five rebounds, seven assists, one steal, one block and two 2-pointers. Rookie Rui Hachimura accounted for 15 points, six rebounds and four assists, while fifth starter Isaac Bonga posted a line of two points, six rebounds, one assist and one steal in 17 minutes. Troy Brown Jr. (five points, eight rebounds, one assist and two steals), the player that Bonga replaced in the starting lineup, would be the better choice fo the two if you had to pick one off of the waiver wire.

Jordan McRae would also be a better choice than Bonga, as in 26 minutes off the bench he put up ten points, one rebound, four assists, two steals and two 3-pointers.

Mavericks 118, Pelicans 97 — At this point Luka Doncic putting up impressive stat lines comes as no surprise to anyone, and he was dominant against New Orleans. In 28 minutes he accounted for 33 points (9-of-18 FGs, 10-of-13 FTs), 18 rebounds, five assists and five 3-pointers, and with Dallas being able to put this one to bed early Rick Carlisle was able to keep his star talent’s minutes down. It is early to begin discussing the MVP, as teams are just now hitting the 20-game mark, but Doncic has deserved all the praise sent his way thus far.

Speaking of keeping a player’s minutes down, Kristaps Porzingis played just 18 Tuesday night due in large part to early foul trouble. He shot just 2-of-11 from the field, scoring seven points with six rebounds, one assist, five blocks and one three-pointer. The blocked shots salvaged what was overall a disappointing night for Porzingis, who should be fresh for Wednesday’s game against Minnesota. Dallas’ other key performer offensively was Seth Curry, who shot 5-of-7 from three and finished with 19 points, four rebounds and one assist. He’s more of a points and three-pointers player, but it was good to see Curry bounce back from what was an ineffective outing in Sunday’s win over the Lakers.

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber scored 12 points apiece, with the former also accounting for three rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers on the night. Over the last two weeks, Hardaway Jr. has been a top-20 player in nine-cat formats and a top-40 player in eight-cat. J.J. Barea chipped in with eight points, six assists, two rebounds and two 3-pointers in 11 minutes, and over the course of that same two-week stretch he’s been providing solid late-round value in both eight- and nine-cat formats.

A bright spot for New Orleans on what was a tough night was the play of Brandon Ingram, who in 37 minutes accounted for 24 points (8-of-16 FGs, 7-of-7 FTs), five rebounds, six assists, three steals, one block and one three-pointer. A first-round player in nine-cat, he’s been just outside of that range in eight-cat formats thus far. And with this being a contract year for the slender wing, this is a good time for Ingram to produce at this level. Jrue Holiday added 18 points, four rebounds and four assists, but he shot 8-of-18 from the field and 2-of-6 from the foul line.

Jaxson Hayes returned to the starting lineup, scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds, but for some reason the player he replaced (Jahlil Okafor) was a DNP-CD. His minutes have dropped off considerably since he played 27 and went for 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists in Friday’s loss to Oklahoma City. Okafor played nine minutes in the return game between those teams, and on Tuesday he didn’t play at all. Maybe this was a case of Alvin Gentry simply giving Okafor the night off, with the Pelicans set to return to action Thursday night against Phoenix.

Nicolo Melli played 22 minutes off the bench, scoring seven points with eight rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and one three-pointer. Josh Hart was also an effective member of the second unit, scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds with three 3-pointers in 27 minutes, while starter J.J. Redick was 5-of-15 from the field and finished with 12 points, six rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers.

Lakers 105, Nuggets 96 — Tuesday’s showing against Los Angeles makes it fair to wonder if Nikola Jokic’s performance was a product of the matchup, or if there’s reason to be concerned about his fantasy value moving forward. He played 34 minutes in the loss to the Lakers, accounting for 13 points (4-of-12 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs), five rebounds, eight assists, three steals and five turnovers. Not terrible numbers but not great either, especially when taking into consideration how slowly he started the game. After providing first round value in both eight- and nine-cat formats last season, Jokic has been a third-round player in eight-cat and a fourth-rounder in nine-cat thus far.

That isn’t a disaster, but it isn’t what many had in mind when selecting him in the first round of their fantasy drafts. Over the last two weeks, Jokic is providing seventh-round value in nine-cat formats (third-round in eight cat), with turnovers (3.8 per game) being the reason for the disparity.

Jamal Murray and Paul Millsap led the way offensively for the Nuggets, with Murray scoring 22 points with five rebounds, five assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Millsap accounted for 21 points, shooting 8-of-14 from the field and 3-of-3 from the foul line, to go along with eight rebounds, two assists, one steal, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers in 30 minutes. The dependable veteran has been a fifth-round player in nine-cat formats thus far.

Something else to watch with Denver is the back end of Mike Malone’s rotation, as Malik Beasley, Michael Porter Jr. and Torrey Craig are fighting it out for minutes. While Porter Jr. and Craig were DNP-CDs Beasley played 13 minutes, shooting 3-of-11 from the field and scoring six points with no other statistical contributions. Porter Jr. has the edge from an upside standpoint, but outside of that there’s no reason to roster any of those three at this point.

For the Lakers, LeBron James and Anthony Davis scored 25 points apiece (and both shot 9-of-18 from the field) to lead the way. James also tallied nine assists, six rebounds and one three-pointer, while Davis supplemented his point total with ten rebounds, one assist, one block and one three-pointer. Los Angeles has another game in high altitude Wednesday night as they visit the Jazz, so it will be interesting to see how Frank Vogel manages the minutes of his two stars after they both played 37 minutes Tuesday night.

Dwight Howard added 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks off the bench, while Rajon Rondo tallied 11 points, six rebounds, six assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 25 minutes.

Rondo’s assists are down from last season, as he’s averaging 5.5 per game (compared to 8.0 last season), which is to be expected given how much the ball has been in the hands of both James and Davis. But a development that was not envisioned by many was Rondo’s improvement as a perimeter shooter. After making just 35.9% of his three-point attempts last season, he’s shooting 48.4% from three with an average of 1.4 makes per night. A career 32% shooter, there may be some regression as the season wears on, but there’s no denying that this has been a good start to the season for the veteran point guard.

Clippers 117, Trail Blazers 97Kawhi Leonard had a tough night shooting the basketball, as he shot 3-of-15 from the field and finished with 11 points. But he did manage to contribute nine rebounds, five assists, two steals and two 3-pointers, and his teammates picked up the slack offensively as the Clippers handled the Trail Blazers. Montrezl Harrell posted a line of 26 points, nine rebounds, one assist and one steal, shooting 11-of-13 from the foul line. Had he not been ice cold from the charity stripe (4-of-12), Harrell could have had himself another 30-point night.

Paul George led the starters with 25 points, shooting 6-of-7 from three, while also accounting for four rebounds and three assists, and Patrick Patterson took full advantage of the minutes increase caused by the tailbone injury suffered by JaMychal Green Sunday night. Patterson shot 5-of-7 from three, scoring 19 points with eight rebounds, two assists and one steal in 26 minutes. Green’s availability will impact Patterson’s fantasy value, but he’s worth keeping in mind as a streaming option should JaMychal be limited/sidelined by the tailbone injury moving forward.

Lou Williams shot just 4-of-14 from the field, scoring nine points while also accumulating seven assists, four rebounds and one steal in 25 minutes, while Patrick Beverley posted a line of 11 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 28 minutes.

For Portland, C.J. McCollum led the way with 20 points to go along with three rebounds, three assists, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers, with Hassan Whiteside (18 points, 13 rebounds and one block), Damian Lillard (16/2/7/1 with two 3-pointers) and Anfernee Simons (11/2/6 with one three-pointer) next in line scoring-wise. Carmelo Anthony, the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week, was limited to nine points on 2-of-9 shooting while also tallying six rebounds, one assist and one steal.

If anything the off nights experienced by Anthony and Lillard (5-of-15 FGs) says more about the Clippers’ ability on the defensive end of the floor than it does either of those two player. Over the last two weeks Anthony’s had eighth-round value in nine-cat formats, which isn’t bad considering the fact that he hadn’t played competitively in more than a year prior to his signing.

Skal Labissiere had a solid night, shooting 4-of-6 from the field and finishing with eight points, nine rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot in 22 minutes. During that same two-week stretch he’s been a top-100 player in both eight- and nine-cat formats, and given the lack of depth behind Whiteside he’s clearly going to play. Good on Labissiere for taking advantage of his opportunity.

Wednesday’s Schedule (all times Eastern)

Golden State at Charlotte, 7 PM

Milwaukee at Detroit, 7 PM

Phoenix at Orlando, 7 PM

Miami at Boston, 7:30 PM

Brooklyn at Atlanta, 7:30 PM

Indiana at Oklahoma City, 8 PM

Memphis at Chicago, 8 PM

Minnesota at Dallas, 8:30 PM

LA Lakers at Utah, 9 PM

Sacramento at Portland, 10 PM