James Harden strengthened his case for MVP last night, Russell Westbrook struggled a bit, Isaiah Thomas and Markieff Morris were back in action, while Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler were still out for the Nuggets. Rudy Gobert and Nikola Jokic were the premier big men to own last night, the Clippers core all came through, and John Wall was a little quieter than usual on a seven-game Monday night. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!
Rockets 125, Nuggets 124 – James Harden went coast-to-coast for a speedy game-winning layup with 2.4 seconds remaining to beat the Jazz and now appears to be the favorite to win MVP, despite Russell Westbrook averaging a triple-double this season. Harden had 39 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists, four steals and four 3-pointers, and this year’s MVP voting should be a really fun one. Part of me still thinks Russ will get the nod, but what Harden’s doing, for the third best team in the West, is giving him serious MVP momentum. Starters Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela and Patrick Beverley were all serviceable, and Eric Gordon had 18 points and four 3-pointers off the bench. Lou Williams played just 17 minutes for seven points, and his hot start with the Rockets is now a distant memory. Outside of his 30 points and seven 3-pointers in a revenge game against the Lakers last week, he really hasn’t done much in the month of March.
Wilson Chandler (groin) and Danilo Gallinari (knee) were both out again for the Nuggets. Chandler has missed four straight, but both players are hoping to be ready for Wednesday’s game. Nikola Jokic went off with 22 points, 13 boards, eight dimes and a block, Juancho Hernangomez had 15 points and a solid line in another start for Gallo, and Gary Harris went nuts, hitting 10-of-16 shots and four 3-pointers for a season-high 28 points, four dimes and three steals. He’s cooking, averaging 20 points, 3.4 boards, 4.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.0 3-pointers on 52 percent shooting. Hopefully he’s in your lineup. On the flip side, Mason Plumlee fell off a cliff for four points and seven boards in 24 minutes, and Jameer Nelson hit just 2-of-9 shots for five points. Will Barton was at it again with 24 points, seven boards, eight assists, four 3-pointers, a steal and a block. He’s enjoying life without Gallo and Chandler in action, but won’t be nearly as reliable when they’re back. Jamal Murray was decent again with 13 points and a 3-pointer in 23 minutes, and is clearly a better option than Nelson. Hernangomez will also take a big hit once the two studs are back.
Warriors 111, Thunder 95 – The Warriors easily bested the Thunder despite getting just two points from starters Draymond Green (10 boards, 6 assists) and Zaza Pachulia, and five points from Patrick McCaw. Klay Thompson hit 12-of-21 shots and seven 3-pointers for 34 points and a full stat line, and Stephen Curry added 23 points, four boards, six dimes and seven more 3-pointers in the win. The Warriors got stellar contributions from the bench as eight players scored between two and 10 points, but the players worth owning on GSW right now start and end with Green, Curry and Thompson. Thompson is feeling it, averaging 28.4 points on 54 percent shooting (51% from downtown) over his last five games. Kevin Durant (knee) is still not close, but is getting shots up. I still don’t think he’s worth stashing, unless you can do it without sacrificing elsewhere.
For the Thunder, Russell Westbrook hit just 4-of-16 shots and failed to triple-double with 15 points, eight boards, seven assists, two steals and a 3-pointer, but is still on pace to average a TD. However, as I said above, Harden may now be the favorite for MVP. I still think older voters may be leaning Westbrook, as none of us really thought we’d see someone average a triple-double in this era and the Thunder are still the No. 6 seed in the West. But if Westy wants to win it, he might want to start going crazy again. He also picked up his 15th technical foul of the season and will face a one-game suspension if he picks up one more. Oh, the drama. Victor Oladipo had a 17-6-5-2 line with two 3-pointers, while Taj Gibson, Steven Adams and Andre Roberson were all quiet again. Gibson has had a disappointing season and Adams has really hit a wall with just one double-double in March. Enes Kanter had a 15 & 10 double-double and Semaj Christon scored 10 off the bench in the loss.
Hornets 105, Hawks 90 – The Hornets won, but lost Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the process. He left with a right ankle strain and didn’t return, but MKG says he is fine, although his coach is calling him day-to-day. If he’s going to miss time, Jeremy Lamb would likely benefit and he had 12 points, three rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers in just 17 minutes last night. MKG played 21 minutes, or Lamb’s line would have been even better. Cody Zeller played just 22 minutes (foul trouble) so Frank Kaminsky played 36 minutes and hit three 3-pointers to finish with 14 points, three rebounds, five assists, a steal and two blocks. Kaminsky should be owned in most leagues. Nicolas Batum, Kemba Walker and Marvin Williams were all rather quiet, but the Hornets easily dominated the Hawks for the win.
The Hawks never got it going in this one, which is usually the case when Paul Millsap’s (knee) out. Millsap will sit again on Wednesday, but could return after that, although it’s not set in stone. With Millsap and Kent Bazemore (knee, out 7-10 days) both out, Ersan Ilyasova and Tim Hardaway Jr. both started. Ilyasova had 13 points, six boards and three 3-pointers, and is worth owning in some leagues, and Hardaway added 11 points, three assists and a 3-pointer. Hardaway will bounce back and Ilyasova should also be a popular DFS play on Wednesday. None of the Hawks blew it up, but Taurean Prince played 30 minutes, finishing with 11 points, four boards and a 3-pointer, but hit just 4-of-13 shots. He’s still worth a look in most leagues though, as he’s played at least 29 minutes in four of his last five games, and is putting up somewhat decent stats for the most part. He blocks seven total shots in his previous two games, but didn’t have one in the loss.
Magic 112, Sixers 109 OT – The Magic made up a 17-point deficit and then got the win in overtime, as all five starters played well. Nikola Vucevic and Elfrid Payton, who overcame an incredibly slow start, both double-doubled, Evan Fournier scored 19, Aaron Gordon scored 17 and Terrence Ross hit two 3-pointers for 15 points, a steal and a block on just 4-of-15 shooting. The bench, as usual, was pretty quiet for the Magic, so fantasy owners would be wise to stick to the starters. Payton has been playing well for a few weeks now and also had a block and three steals in this one.
Jahlil Okafor (knee) and Gerald Henderson (rest) were out for the Sixers, so Justin Anderson (illness) was flown in to Orlando so the Sixers would have enough players on the bench. Okafor is day-to-day, but it’s also possible he could miss more games. Richaun Holmes stepped up with 24 points and a career-high 14 rebounds before fouling out, and also had a steal, a block and a 3-pointer. He’s now must-own material, especially if Okafor is going to miss more time. Robert Covington (24 points, 13 rebounds, four steals, two blocks, three 3-pointers) and T.J. McConnell (16 points, 11 assists) both double-doubled, Dario Saric was solid again and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot started and scored just two points in 23 minutes. Nik Stauskas played 39 minutes off the bench and had 20 points and three 3-pointers, but clearly benefitted from Hendo’s rest night, while Anderson played 27 minutes off the bench, yet failed to make a shot and finished with just one point. Holmes is basically a must-own player right now, along with Dario, Covington and McConnell.
Pacers 107, Jazz 100 – Paul George hit just 6-of-20 shots but still had a monster line with 19 points, eight boards, five dimes, two steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers. Jeff Teague was almost as nice with 21 points, five boards, five assists, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers, Myles Turner came through with 16 points, six boards and four blocks, and C.J. Miles played better with 15 points, three steals and three 3-pointers. Miles had been pretty bad, scoring in single digits in five straight games coming in, so congratulations if you rolled the dice on him. It was nice to see Turner bounce back as well, after he had back-to-back games of six and three points prior to this one. Thaddeus Young is still a bit of a mess, going for just eight points, eight boards and a steal. HE’s scored eight or fewer points in eight of his last 12 games, hasn’t had a double-digit rebounding night since prior to Christmas, and has had more than one steal just twice in his last 11 of his last 13 games. No thanks. Monta Ellis scored 12 off the bench, but he’s averaging just 10.6 points, 1.6 steals and 0.8 3-pointers on 43 percent shooting over his last five, and I’m guessing you can do better than that off your wire.
I think Derrick Favors (knee) might be done for the season, but there’s no obvious pickup to replace him. Joe Ingles might be the guy, as he played 27 minutes off the bench and had four points, seven rebounds, five assists, a block and a 3-pointer. He was back on the bench because Rodney Hood was back in action, but played just 16 minutes (foul trouble) and hit 4-of-10 shots for 11 points and two 3-pointers. He’s almost more trouble than he’s worth at this point, as his knee issue may raise its head again. Gordon Hayward scored a season-high 38 with two steals, a block and three 3-pointers, and knocked down 16-of-24 shots. Joe Johnson started in the small lineup, but hit just 1-of-7 shots for two points, Rudy Gobert went off with 16 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks, and George Hill flirted with a triple-double with 16 points, six boards and six dimes, but was 0-for-7 from downtown. Only Jingles is worth a look off the Jazz bench.
Celtics 110, Wizards 102 – Isaiah Thomas was back from his knee injury and led the Celtics to a huge win with 25 points in 35 minutes. The Celtics now sit 2.5 games above the Wizards and just 2.0 games behind the Cavs, so it will be hard for Boston to rest their stud down the stretch. Hopefully he’s good to go the rest of the way. Avery Bradley returned to form with 20 points, nine boards and four 3-pointers, and has been great in five straight. Jae Crowder and Al Horford were rock solid, and Kelly Olynyk got hot in just 18 minutes, finishing with nine points, 11 boards, a block and a 3-pointer. He needs more minutes than that to be worth owning. Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart were both quiet in 20 minutes, and the starters are the Celtics you want to mess with down the stretch.
Markieff Morris was back from his illness after missing a couple and had 14 points, a block and a 3-pointer, John Wall was mysteriously quiet with 16 points and eight assists on 4-of-10 shooting, and Bradley Beal scored 19 with three 3-pointers in 33 minutes. Marcin Gortat played just 12 quiet minutes and Otto Porter had just eight points in 21 minutes. Gortat’s been awful lately and was in some foul trouble last night. I hope you don’t have to rely on him right now. Porter just struggled against Crowder and never got it going, but should bounce back. Bojan Bogdanovic had 14 points, six boards, a steal and a block, but was 0-for-5 from downtown and is still averaging 13.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 3-pointers over his last five. Jason Smith returned to the bench with Morris back, but had 13 points, five boards, a block and three 3-pointers before fouling out in just 17 minutes. With Gortat struggling so badly, Smith might be able to stay hot, despite coming off the bench. Wall received treatment on his left knee/leg after the game, but I’m thinking he’ll be out there again on Wednesday, so just watch for updates to be certain that’s the case. Brandon Jennings had 10 points and seven dimes in just 15 minutes, and will be worth a flier if Wall does miss any games going forward.
Clippers 114, Knicks 105 – Blake Griffin scored 30 points with a full stat line, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul double-doubled, and J.J. Redick scored 14 points with three 3-pointers in the easy win. Austin Rivers came through with 17 points off the bench, but didn’t do a lot more than score, and Jamal Crawford added 14 points and a 3-pointer in 29 minutes. The Clippers have five games this week and all of the ones you might have thrown into your weekly lineups came through last night. Hopefully they keep it going, as I need many of them to do big things this week in an expert league where I’m trying to win a championship.
The Knicks welcomed back Kristaps Porzingis (thigh) from a one-game absence and he had an 18 & 11 double-double with two steals on 9-of-16 shooting in 32 minutes. Carmelo Anthony scored 16 with a disappointing line, Willy Hernangomez played just 17 minutes for eight points and nine boards in a start, Derrick Rose came through with 18 points and five dimes, and Courtney Lee disappeared with two points on 1-of-6 shooting. Kyle O’Quinn played just three minutes off the bench and only Justin Holiday (11 points) did much of anything off the pine.
Tuesday features eight games with the Spurs visiting the Timberwolves, the Bucks at the Blazers, the Suns at the Heat, and the Clippers at the Lakers as the games I’m most intrigued by. Good luck in your hunt for a championship, as well as your DFS endeavors!