While Kevin Durant’s late dagger against Toronto was the highlight of the night, there were plenty of exciting performances, returns, and injuries that took place. With plenty to cover, let’s get right to the action.
Durant sinks Raptors behind monster line
Kevin Durant hit a game-winning three-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining in double-overtime Friday night, breaking the hearts of the Toronto faithful in the process. The bucket put Durant’s point total at 51 points, the second time he’s eclipsed 50 this season. The scoring leader and MVP candidate added 12 rebounds, seven assists, and seven triples in what was a sterling showing. Durant has been the best player in fantasy all season and looks unstoppable right now. On a side note, he did pick up his 15th technical foul during the contest, meaning one more equals a mandatory one-game suspension. There’s only a few weeks left in the regular season so Durant should be able to control his aggression but it’s just something to be aware of.
Westbrook goes down
While Durant was lighting it up, teammate Russell Westbrook was feeling the pain after injuring his right knee. He had to be helped off the court and did not return after being diagnosed with a sprain. In his stead, Reggie Jackson went off to the tune of 25 points and 12 boards. Jackson is certainly worth a look but given the fact that Oklahoma City doesn’t play again until Monday, Westbrook may be on point with his self-assessment, leaving Jackson as a shaky add at best.
MCW nears triple-double
Michael Carter-Williams led a valiant comeback attempt against the Knicks on Friday night and while his last second shot just rimmed out, his fantasy output was stellar. MCW logged 22 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists, two steals, and one block as the Sixers gave the Knicks a late scare. The Rookie of the Year frontrunner is finishing the year strong and despite his high turnover numbers and poor field goal percentage, his fantasy game has been productive and fun to watch all season.
George notches a funky triple double
Even though the Pacers have been sputtering as of late, the squad mustered up the gumption to knock off the Bulls on Friday behind a 19-0 run and Paul George’s versatility. The All-Star forward posted a low-end triple-double of 10 points, 12 boards, and 10 assists as Indiana outlasted Chicago. George shots a dismal 3-13 from the field, a trend that has been building recently. He’s been under 30% from the field in his last three games but the supporting stats have been there and he should break out of this funk sooner rather than later.
Davis returns with a bang
Anthony Davis returned from his one-game absence in style, burying Atlanta with 34 points, 11 rebounds, one steal, and one block. He knocked down 11-19 shots from the field and 12-15 from the stripe in what was a fine performance. Despite missing a game due to illness midweek, Davis picked up right where he left off, posting another monster double-double. There’s no slowing down for Davis and with the fantasy playoffs in full swing, he’s likely leading some teams to victory.
LeBron returns with a whimper
After missing Wednesday’s game due to back spasms, LeBron James returned to action on Friday and posted a rather pedestrian line of 15 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. He added two steals and one block but didn’t hit a triple in what was a modest fantasy line from the King. The game was a rather low-scoring affair and Ray Allen actually led the team with 18 points. Unfortunately, this line also comes during a week in which many fantasy teams are in their playoffs but James still has one game left this week. In what should be a heavyweight fantasy matchup, LeBron James and the Heat take on Anthony Davis and the Pelicans on Saturday night.
Amir is rolling right now
For a guy who lost his starting job a few months ago and has been relatively erratic for most of his pro career, Amir Johnson has been on an absolute tear as of late. The Raptors big man is averaging 17.5 points, 8.5 boards, and one block per contest over his last six games while shooting over 60% from the field. Those numbers are good enough to be a top-30 player in most leagues and while that’s obviously not going to be a lifelong trend, Johnson should finish the season very strong, making him a nice player to own down the stretch.
Drummond looks just fine
Andre Drummond returned on Friday after a one-game absence due to a scary neck injury and looked great, posting 13 points, 16 rebounds, and one block against the Suns. The Pistons big man first sustained the injury against the Pacers last week and was reportedly in a ton of pain but looked perfectly normal in his 36 minutes of action. The Pistons are pretty much out of it so it’s nice to see Drummond come back and play down the stretch.
Amare keeps turning back the clock
Despite his inconsistent playing time this season and the random DNP’s; Amare Stoudemire has been on quite the tear during the Knicks current eight-game winning streak. On Friday night, the former All-Star tallied 22 points and 10 boards, and while his supplementary stats are limited, his efficiency and contributions in points and boards can be an asset. Stoudemire has been particularly effective over his last three games, averaging 19 points and seven rebounds per game while shooting a high percentage from the field. He’s certainly a risk to go down or need rest but while he’s producing, Stoudemire is worth a look in most leagues, especially since the Knicks are in “all hands on deck” mode as the team strives for a playoff spot.
Gasol, Wroten, and Gordon all go down
There were a number of injuries on Friday night, all of which can impact the fantasy landscape. Marc Gasol went down with a sprained left ankle and subsequently left the arena in a walking boot. He was originally going to return but ultimately did not. The fact that he left in a walking boot is slightly alarming and if he were to miss significant time, Kosta Koufos would likely see a slight bump in value. In Philadelphia, Tony Wroten sprained his right ankle in the fourth quarter and left the arena on crutches. He’s already been ruled out for the start of their three-game road trip, making him a risky hold going forward. James Anderson and Hollis Thompson should see a bump in minutes and production. Finally, Eric Gordon suffered a left knee injury on Friday and did not return, however, coach Monty Williams indicated that the shooting guard could play on Saturday night. Luckily, Gordon tweaked his left knee and not the often injured right knee. It looks like Gordon and fantasy owners avoided a serious situation here.