Kevin Durant was back to his old tricks with 41 points in a comeback win over the Hawks, Carlos Boozer came through with Joakim Noah sidelined, and the Suns threw a fantasy party in Philadelphia as Gerald Green went off for 30, while most of his teammates joined in the fun.
Monday’s Game Recaps
Thunder & Durant Hold Off Hawks
Kevin Durant continued to play like the best player in the world with 41 points, the game-winner, and another full stat line as the Thunder pulled off a comeback win over the visiting Hawks. I’m not saying he’s better than Michael Jordan, but I would argue that Jordan never had a stretch of games where he looked as good as Durant has for the last month or so. He’s too long to stop, even with triple teams, and you can go ahead and give him the MVP Award right now. Durant has scored 20 or more in 19 straight games, 30 or more in 15 of his last 17, 40 or more in five of his last 13, and had 54 on Jan. 17. Wow. Serge Ibaka had nine points and three rebounds, but blocked a season-high six shots in the win, while Reggie Jackson added 18 points, five assists and two 3-pointers. Jeremy Lamb had 14 points in 18 minutes, meaning he’s worth keeping an eye on.
The Hawks got 23 points and another full stat line from the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, Paul Millsap. Shelvin Mack joined a posse of Hawks in double-digits with 15 points, seven assists and three 3-pointers, while DeMarre Carroll came through with 15 points and five steals while guarding KD, and should be owned in most leagues at this point. Kyle Korver hit three 3-pointers for 14 points, Mike Scott had 16 points and six rebounds, while Dennis Schroder and Lou Williams each scored 10 off the bench. As long as Jeff Teague is out with his ankle injury, Mack is worth using.
Suns Throw a Fantasy Party vs. Sixers
I said in Monday’s Dose to load up on Suns against the Sixers and may have never been so right. Gerald Green hit 10-of-12 shots and four 3-pointers on his way to 30 points and three blocks, while Goran Dragic, Miles Plumlee, P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris all played well. And after racking up just one block in his previous 10 games, Morris had four of them against the Sixers, along with 13 points and three boards. . Using Philly’s opposition in daily leagues is always a good idea. Tucker played through a hand injury and looked good with 15 points, eight boards, two steals and a block. Hopefully some threes are coming in his three remaining games this week, but I’m not about to complain about that line. The rise of Morris has hurt Channing Frye, who had just seven points last night, but he didn’t help himself by missing five of his six shots. I’m still holding Frye for now, but Morris is the guy you want to be starting.
Michael Carter-Williams hit just 7-of-19 shots, but still had 22 points, 11 dimes, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in the loss. Thaddeus Young had 21 points, three steals and a 3-pointer, but added just two rebounds on the night. Spencer Hawes came through with 18 points, nine boards, a block and two 3-poiners before fouling out, while Evan Turner added 18 points and a nice stat line. James Anderson started and played 32 minutes, but had just nine points to go along with eight boards and a 3-pointer. He’s as hit-and-miss as they come in the NBA.
Raptors Eke One Out Over Nets
Kyle Lowry went nuts again with 31 points, four 3-pointers, five rebounds, seven assists and five steals. There are still trade rumors out there about Lowry, but the Raptors will have a hard time parting with Lowry as long as he’s playing at such a high level. Terrence Ross cooled off after his 51-point explosion, but had 10 points, seven boards, a block and two 3-pointers, and is a decent option as long as DeMar DeRozan is out with his ankle injury. Jonas Valanciunas had 20 points and 13 boards on 9-of-14 shooting, but didn’t block a shot. Beggars can’t be choosers, I guess. Patrick Patterson played through a broken nose and had 15 points, three rebounds, a 3-pointer and the game-winning shot for the Raptors. He’s inconsistent, but when he’s playing well, Amir Johnson (8 points, 6 boards) takes a hit. Greivis Vasquez had 12 points, four assists and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes off the bench, and is still clinging to enough value that he’s worth hanging onto. That move would really pay off if Lowry is moved.
Paul Pierce went off despite a neck injury, hitting 10-of-16 shots and seven 3-pointers for 33 points, six boards, a steal and a block. He’s still got it, but unfortunately hasn’t been able to produce very consistently this season. He had six and 12 points in each of his previous two games. He also missed a game-winning shot at the buzzer. Andray Blatche had 20 points, six boards, two steals and a block off the bench, hitting 8-of-11 shots. He’s back. Mirza Teletovic cooled off with five points in 17 minutes after a couple big games, but is still a decent option if 3-pointers are your goal. Deron Williams had nine points and 11 assists off the bench, and can be benched on busy nights when you have other options at point guard, at least until he’s starting again.
T-Wolves Take Bulls
Nikola Pekovic left after just six minutes with an Achilles injury, which ruined one of my daily teams. I’m sure I’m not alone and owners just have to hope it’s not serious. Consider him iffy for Wednesday vs. the Pelicans. Ronny Turiaf took over for Pek and had 14 points, seven boards and three blocks. If Pek is going to miss time, Turiaf is worth a look. Kevin Love had 31 points and another big game, while Kevin Martin cooled off with just eight points. Chase Budinger had a season-high 12 points, but I’m not buying in just yet.
Joakim Noah (illness) and Kirk Hinrich (hamstring) were out on Monday, sending Taj Gibson into the starting lineup. Gibson had 10 points, 10 boards and two blocks, but it was Carlos Boozer who enjoyed Noah’s absence by going for 20 points, 14 boards, five assists and three steals. He’s been struggling, so this was nice to see unless he was on your bench (guilty). Jimmy Butler finally had something to write home about with 16 points, eight boards, two steals and two 3-pointers, while D.J. Augustin had another solid night with 19 points, six dimes and four 3-pointers. Maybe DJA will take a small hit when Hinrich is back, but I doubt it will be much of one.
Clips Trounce Bucks
Jamal Crawford stayed hot with 25 points and five 3-pointers on 9-of-16 shooting, and the return of J.J. Redick hasn’t slowed him down. DeAndre Jordan had eight points, 18 boards, a steal and a block, while Matt Barnes his just 1-of-9 shots for three points. His minutes are up and Barnes deserves a watchful eye, but has been wildly inconsistent, if not plain bad lately. Darren Collison had 15 points and seven assists, Blake Griffin scored an underwhelming 20, and Redick scored 14 with three 3-pointers.
For the Bucks, Larry Sanders and O.J. Mayo sat out with lingering “illness,” which looks pretty fishy to me. Sanders missed Wednesday’s game with an “illness” and then got abused by Gustavo Ayon on Saturday. I have no idea what’s going on with Larry, but he’s probably not very happy with how things are going, just like his owners. Mayo also missed Wednesday with an “illness,” and I haven’t missed him at all since dropping him across the board. I drafted him too high this year, as he’s simply not getting along with Larry Drew. As for their teammates, I don’t even know where to start. Ersan Ilyasova hit just 6-of-22 shots but had 16 points and eight boards, and I’m starting to trust him again, maybe. Khris Middleton started and had 14, John Henson started and had 11 points, eight boards and a block, and Brandon Knight struggled with nine points and seven assists on 3-of-12 shooting. Knight’s running hot-and-cold again, scoring just eight and nine points in two of his last three games. Giannis Antetokounmpo had eight points in another disappointing performance, while Caron Butler scored 11 off the bench. And a guy you’ve never heard of, Miroslav Radujica, had 11 points, six boards and a block off the bench. The Bucks are banged up and only had nine players available tonight, and of course, they all played decent minutes, canceling each other out for the most part. It’s kind of fun not owning Bucks this season.
Jazz Top Kings
Derrick Favors double-doubled to lead the Jazz with 17 points and 12 boards, while Gordon Hayward had an off night on 4-of-13 shooting, but still came up with 12 points, six boards, six assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer. Marvin Williams and Enes Kanter had an uncharacteristic 16 points each. Marvin even had 11 rebounds and two 3-pointers, and I’m still not sure how. Jeremy Evans had an impressive double-double with 14 points, 10 boards, a steal and a block, but hit just 6-of-12 free throws in his 20 minutes. Alec Burks fell to earth with 10 points on 2-of-10 shooting, and it just wasn’t his night.
Rudy Gay (Achilles) and DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) sat out on Monday night. Gay is close to a return, but it sounds like Cousins might be lucky to play at all this week. Isaiah Thomas left early with a stomach illness, leaving the Kings without a chance tonight. Jason Thompson (19 points, 11 boards, 2 blocks, 7-of-10) and Derrick Williams (17 points, 15 rebounds, 1 block, 1 3-pointer, 5-of-13) came through, while Marcus Thornton remained relevant with 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting in another start. Ben McLemore had 14 points and nine boards off the bench, and 18 in his previous game, but still isn’t trustworthy in fantasy. If he gets back in the starting five over Thornton, it will be time to move on him.
Pistons center Andre Drummond was benched on Sunday and never really recovered, but there’s no reason to worry heading into Tuesday’s game against the Magic. Mo Cheeks has put every player on the roster in timeout at some point this season, and it was Drummond’s turn after he blew a defensive assignment.
Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic has been ruled out for Tuesday due to his concussion. That will be his 11th straight missed game, although that number basically jumps up to 15 in reality. He played just nine minutes on Dec. 31 before going down with a sprained ankle, missed his next two games with that injury, and then banged his head on the court on Jan. 6 after playing just 19 minutes. There’s still no word on when we’ll see him back on the court, but you have to think he’s getting closer, right? Maybe he’ll play Wednesday or Friday.
Cavs’ center Anderson Varejao is dealing with a left knee contusion leaving his status in doubt for tonight against the Pelicans. The good news is that it’s nothing more than a bruise and he is day-to-day. Tyler Zeller would come into play if Varejao is out. Luol Deng sat out Monday’s practice with a sore Achilles after playing heavy minutes in recent games, and should be considered iffy for tonight.
For the Lakers, Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Steve Blake (elbow) appear to be getting closer to action, but neither player has a target date to return. Steve Nash suffered a setback with his back while doing rehab and is also without a timetable. If you are using Kendall Marshall, this is good news. Jodie Meeks has been cleared for Tuesday despite a foot injury, and has been playing very well. Pau Gasol also missed Monday’s practice with an undisclosed injury, but chances are he was just getting some rest. I think he plays tonight. Kobe Bryant (knee) will see his doctor today and we should have an idea on when he’ll play again after it happens.
Nicolas Batum is listed as probable for Tuesday’s Blazers’ game against the Grizzlies. He’s dealing with a broken finger and a right ankle injury, and owners in weekly leagues were probably smart to bench him with just two games on the schedule.
Chris Paul (shoulder) is working out and says he’ll be back in time to play in the All-Star Game, but I’m not sure it will happen.
La La Anthony, Carmelo’s wife, says she thinks Melo will re-sign with the Knicks. However, I think he’ll go to where the money is combined with a chance at a ring, and that sure doesn’t look like New York right now.