There were four games on Thursday night and Derrick Jones Jr.’s foot injury, Kelly Oubre’s disaster and the triumphant return of Christian Wood were three of the bigger stories of the night. The Blazers, Lakers, Heat and Warriors all lost, while the Rockets, Pistons, Clippers and Suns were all winners. Here’s how it all went down.
Rockets 104, Blazers 101 – Christian Wood returned from his three-game ankle injury and racked up 22 points, 12 rebounds, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer on 8-of-12 shooting in Thursday’s win over the Blazers. Victor Oladipo kept his foot on the gas with 25 points, seven rebounds, five assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers on 11-of-23 shooting, and John Wall hit 6-of-16 shots and three 3-pointers for 20 points, five boards, six assists and a block with just two turnovers in the win. Wood is back and his ankle looked great, so he should be good to go. Oladipo has turned back the clock and is playing as well as he ever has in his career. Now he just has to stay healthy. And if you haven’t had a chance to watch Wall play, know this; he is still super quick and doesn’t look like he’s lost a step. Eric Gordon had an off night on 2-of-11 shooting and eight points but will bounce back sooner than later. The Rockets get the Pelicans on Saturday so make sure you don’t still have Woods stuck in your IR spot like I did in one league on Thursday.
The Blazers got 30 points, nine dimes and five 3-pointers from Damian Lillard and Gary Trent Jr. hit 8-of-16 shots and seven 3-pointers for 23 points, three boards, one assist and one steal in a start and 38 minutes last night. C.J. McCollum’s not coming back from his foot injury any time soon and Derrick Jones Jr., who also started last night, suffered a left foot injury that could keep him out for a few games. If that happens, Trent’s the guy you want to grab off the waiver wire. DJJ was having a nice night when he went down with 11 points, seven boards, a steal, three blocks and a 3-pointer in 27 minutes. I’ve got him in a ton of lineups, but I’ve also got shares of Trent. Enes Kanter was nice with 13 points, 13 boards, a steal and two blocks, while Carmelo Anthony hit just 3-of-15 shots for six points, nine boards, two steals and a block in the starting lineup. Anfernee Simons played 28 minutes off the bench and had 14 points, eight rebounds and four 3-pointers, making him worth a deep-league look. The bottom line for the Blazers is that Trent Jr., Melo, Rodney Hood and Simons are all going to get extra run if Jones Jr. misses time and Trent is the guy I would target first. As of this writing, Trent was only rostered in 17 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Pistons 107, Lakers 92 – The 5-14 Pistons upset the 14-6 Lakers in one of the upsets of the year on a night when Anthony Davis was sitting out with a quad contusion. For the Pistons, Blake Griffin turned back the clock with 23 points, six assists and five 3-pointers in 35 minutes. He had scored seven or fewer points in three of his four previous games, his shooting percentages are trash and he’s a huge injury risk. There’s a reason I don’t roster Griffin anywhere and last night’s success did nothing to change my mind. But, from a reality standpoint, it was nice to see Griffin ball out like it was 2011. Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee and Dorel Wright all had decent nights and should all be on fantasy rosters in all leagues. And red-hot Wayne Ellington hit 7-of-12 shots and six more 3-pointers for 20 points, two rebounds and two assists. Ellington looks like the hottest shooter in the league right now and has hit at least four 3-pointers in seven straight games, averaging almost 19 points and 5.3 3-pointers over that stretch. He’s a true 3-point specialist so he’s not a super-hot pickup, but if you are looking for points, threes and the occasional steal, he’s your guy.
LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma (starting for Anthony Davis (quad)) each scored 22 points and double-doubled, Dennis Schroder scored 10 points and Talen Horton-Tucker blew up for 13 points and three 3-pointers in just 14 minutes. There are several intriguing Lakers floating around on waiver wires, including Marc Gasol, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and Horton-Tucker, but the only ones I’m messing with right now are LeBron, AD, Schroder, Montrezl Harrell and Kuzma. And I’m probably only dealing with Kuzma on nights when AD is in street clothes.
Clippers 109, Heat 105 – Despite not having Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Patrick Beverley, the Clippers got a win against and equally short-handed Heat team last night. Starters Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, Terance Mann and Luke Kennard, and reserves Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac and Lou Williams all played well in the win. Beverley’s knee injury leaves him without a timetable and Jackson is averaging 18 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.5 3-pointers over his last two games. I picked him up when Beverley went down, and I’ll keep riding him until Beverley is back. As of last night, Jackson was only rostered in 14 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Batum was awesome last night and has been a sixth-round player all year. He had 18 points, six boards, two assists, two steals and a season-high six triples in the win. As long as the stars are out, most of the Clippers I mentioned above are worth a look – especially Batum, Jackson and possibly Terance Mann in deeper leagues. On a side note, Jackson called a time out when the Clippers didn’t have one to burn late in the game and let the Heat back into the game. He was visibly shaken by the event, but his team still held on to win the game. I can only imagine how Chris Webber felt when he did it in a title game that he lost. Ouch.
The Heat were without Goran Dragic, Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala, Avery Bradley and Moe Harkless, but still hung in there for a close loss. Tyler Herro was back after a seven-game absence due to a neck injury and looked good. He hit just 8-of-21 shots but still came through with a nice stat line in 32 minutes. He should be good to go. Bam Adebayo had a nice double-double and Gabe Vincent came out of nowhere for 18 points, four boards, four assists and two 3-pointers in 26 minutes off the bench. Kelly Olynyk started and had nine points, four boards and three triples, while Kendrick Nunn hit 5-of-12 shots for 10 points, three boards and three assists. The Heat are going to start getting guys back pretty soon, but I still think Olynyk is about to bounce back, while I’ll only trust Nunn and Vincent if Dragic continues to sit with his left groin strain. Once he’s back, all bets are off on Nunn and Vincent. Lastly, Precious Achiuwa hit 4-of-4 shots and 2-of-5 free throws for 10 points and five rebounds but played just 13 minutes. If he can only get 13 minutes on a night the Heat were missing almost half their roster, I’m not rushing out to pick him up. In fact, I’m not even crawling to pick him up. Just keep an eye on him.
Suns 114, Warriors 93 – The Suns are suddenly 9-8 and stunned the Warriors in a 114-93 blowout win last night. Mikal Bridges led the Suns with 20 points and a nice line in a balanced attack that saw seven Suns score in double digits. Bridges bounced back from a bad game and he’s the last guy I’m worried about. Jae Crowder has played well in three straight games and is benefitting from the loss of Devin Booker (hamstring) and Dario Saric (COVID), who should be back on Saturday. I don’t really trust Crowder, who recently lost his starting job to Cameron Johnson, but I’m happy to roll him out there in DFS as long as he’s starting. Johnson hasn’t exactly blown up, but he’s a hold, nonetheless. Deandre Ayton bounced back with a decent double-double and Chris Paul had a quiet 13-point night while filling the stat sheet. He finally got a break, playing just 27 minutes after playing between 30 and 42 minutes in his previous 12 games. The Suns have to reel in his minutes or his body’s going to break down. Frank Kaminsky went off and flirted with a triple-double with 12 points, 13 boards, eight assists, a steal and a 3-pointer, but he hasn’t been doing much of anything. Abdel Nader played well for the second straight game with a season-high 16 points and two 3-pointers, but I don’t trust either player right now. Especially with Saric due back in the next one. And once Booker is back, they should be done.
The Warriors were a disaster on both ends of the court last night and got blown out by a Suns team without Devin Booker. Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins were fine, but Draymond Green (1-of-7 shooting) and Kelly Oubre (1-of-11) were simply awful. And James Wiseman got just 19 minutes and hit 2-of-9 shots for five points, six boards and a steal. Wiseman will be back in the starting lineup and you should hang onto him by any means necessary. This is a bump in the road. And while I’m holding onto Oubre in about eight leagues, it’s getting tougher and tougher. I think he was pressing to try to dominate his former team last night, but I’m not going to make excuses for him, either. He should stop shooting 3-pointers until he sees the ball go in the hoop a couple times early and simply needs to make better decisions. He’s too good a player to be this bad all season and if you drop him, you’re not getting him back. My advice is to just accept the good with the bad, but if you feel like you can’t take it anymore, do what you have to do. My guess is both Wiseman and Oubre will be rolling by the end of next week, but if they’re not doing it by then, fantasy managers may have some tough decisions to make. The Warriors get the Pistons and defensive sieve Mavericks in three of their next four games, so let’s see what happens over their next four before pulling the plug. Deal?