Sunday bequeathed NBA fans sleeved jerseys, starting lineup changes, a triple-double, an ill-advised post up of Channing Frye on Marcus Smart, a Michael Beasley 10-day contract, and a bunch of games that weren't as close as the final score suggested. Men lie, women lie, but the Box Score Breakdown doesn't.
Nope, not this time.
- Avery Bradley (elbow)
- Kemba Walker (knee)
- Jimmy Butler (elbow)
- Taj Gibson (ankle)
- Derrick Rose (knee)
- Devin Harris (hand)
- Joel Anthony (groin)
- LA Clippers
- Jamal Crawford (calf)
- Blake Griffin (elbow)
- LA Lakers
- Nick Young (knee)
- Bob Sacre (DNP-CD)
- Oklahoma City
- Kevin Durant (foot)
- Steve Novak (abdomen)
- Mitch McGary (DNP-CD)
- Nikola Vucevic (ankle)
- Evan Fournier (hip)
- Luke Ridnour (hamstring)
- Willie Green (Achilles)
- Devyn Marble (eye)
- Tyler Hansbrough (DNP-CD)
Matt Barnes sat two games due to a right hamstring injury. In his return, Barnes played 23 minutes. His block numbers have been absurd recently, averaging 1.5 blocks in the last six games while playing minutes at power forward. The Clippers play tonight and could limit Barnes' minutes via precaution or blowout. I'd expect him to return to normal minutes Wednesday against the Thunder.
Nate Robinson played 20 minutes his first game with the Clippers, registering five points and three assists. He's the type of guy who can dominate a quarter, but even with Jamal Crawford (calf) unavailable, Robinson isn't someone I expect to steal minutes from Austin Rivers.
Glen Davis: 24 minutes; Spencer Hawes: 19 minutes. The matchup against the Warriors was a determining factor.
Shawne Williams played 15 minutes in the first half and didn't play the rest of the game. His minutes were tied to Anthony Tolliver's three fouls in the first half. Tolliver ended up playing 17 minutes, cementing his spot in the rotation over Williams. They play for the Pistons, in case you were confused.
Who wants an update on the Celtics' frontcourt situation? Of course you do. Brandon Bass - 38 minutes, Tyler Zeller - 23 minutes, Jonas Jerebko - 19 minutes, Kelly Olynyk - 14 minutes, and Luigi Datome - 10 minutes. I need Ja Rule to make sense of this. Admittedly, Zeller picked up two fouls in the first five minutes and ended with five. Bass torched his former squad for 19 points, a career-high 17 rebounds, and five assists. He's recorded one block and three steals in his last nine games, severely crippling his fantasy value, but it appears he's a coach Stevens favorite, playing 30.7 minutes per game since the All-Star break. Datome has only played in garbage time for the Celtics, so it's surprising to see him getting run in a close game. The Celtics play their fifth game in seven days tonight against a shorthanded Heat. Given their lack of healthy bigs, all bets are off tonight with Stevens' rotations.
The Magic were limited to 10 healthy players for the second straight game. After receiving a DNP-CD in Friday's game, Maurice Harkless performed well enough Sunday to start over Channing Frye in the second half. In kind, Harkless responded by scoring nine of his season-high 14 points in the fourth quarter. Most importantly, he was extremely aggressive in driving toward the basket. He added a season-high seven rebounds, three assists, season-high three steals, one block, and two three-pointers in a season-high 30 minutes. The story of Maurice Harkless is an odd tale: starting 59 games as a rookie, down to 41 in his second season while his three-point shooting climbed 11 percent, dropping down to just one start this season (against the Cavaliers in an attempt to slow down LeBron James), to a year plagued by 33 DNP-CDs and 31 games played. Coach James Borrego values defense above all else, yet rarely gave Harkless an opportunity. Now that five players are sidelined due to injury, Harkless could see an expanded role. I say that, even after leading off with the news that Harkless was a DNP-CD on Friday. I'm not going to read too much into this performance. Wille Green (Achilles) and Evan Fournier (hip) will reclaim their minutes when healthy.
Lionel Hollins replaced Alan Anderson and Mason Plumlee with Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez. Since the Nets were facing the Jazz, it didn't make sense to force Joe Johnson, acting power forward, to square off against Derrick Favors. Hollins responded by running his starters the entire first quarter, which makes sense after he depleted his bench talent. Lopez and Young each scored 19 points against the number one defense post-All-Star break. Plumlee played a team-low 12 minutes, and although it appears to be foul trouble related, Plumlee entered the fourth quarter with only two fouls, finishing the night with four. Does the lineup change stick? I'm going to use the word 'probably,' yet I haven't the foggiest notion. The next domino to fall is starting two-guard Markel Brown, who played just five minutes in the second half. He had been replaced in the second half starting lineup twice over the past two weeks by Young.
Lopez played as many minutes as Rudy Gobert, 36, and actually did a great job defending him, in my opinion. Gobert was limited to four points on 1-of-4 shooting and managed to grab 11 rebounds while recording career-high five assists. Lopez is one of the few players who can meet Gobert eye-to-eye; no need to worry about the Frenchman moving forward since this was the last time both teams meet.
Steven Adams played 16 minutes off the bench after missing the previous 11 games with an injured right hand. He was wearing a protective glove on the hand, and his presence relegated rookie Mitch McGary to a DNP-CD. In an effort to keep his starting title, Enes Kanter scored 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, added four assists, and blocked a shot in 29 minutes. The blocks and assists are a new wrinkle to his game, one heavily reliant upon points and rebounds. Kanter will continue to play starter-level minutes until Kevin Durant (foot) returns, but since it was only Adams first game back, I don't want to declare a winner prematurely. Kanter's offense is a valuable resource for the Thunder, rivaled by Adams' defense. They'll work in tandem and potentially negate each other's value depending on the matchup.
Chandler Parsons, the artwork for Sunday's Box Score Breakdown, returned back to the starting lineup after missing seven games with a sprained left ankle, sending Richard Jefferson back to a reserve role where he played 11 minutes. Parsons was a bit more useful, compiling 11 points, six rebounds, two assists, one block, and one three-pointer in 35 minutes. The Mavericks don't have a back-to-back the rest of the month, alleviating concerns of precautionary rest. The same holds true for Amar'e Stoudemire.
Bryon Scott used his 11th unique starting lineup Sunday, a relatively low number compared to the rest of the NBA, especially for lottery-bound teams. Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson, and Tarik Black replaced Carlos Boozer, Ryan Kelly, and Robert Sacre, who received a DNP-CD. All the bigs produce roughly the same numbers, with Ed Davis distinguishing himself by shooting 65 percent and averaging 1.8 blocks in 24.5 minutes per game over the past 15 games.
FANTASY LINE OF THE NIGHT
I've exhausted all superlatives when describing Russell Westbrook, exposing my limited vocabulary. In 40 minutes, he accounted for 30 points, 17 assists, 11 rebounds, four steals, one block, one three-pointer, and nine turnovers. He leads about a dozen categories, including seven triple-doubles. This time, Westbrook had it wrapped up by the end of the third quarter.
ROOKIE OF THE NIGHT
Elfrid Payton shook off a three-game lull at the end of February to have back-to-back games playing 42 minutes, necessitated by the lack of healthy backcourt players. He could have wilted under the 'rookie wall.' Instead, Payton regrouped and provided 19 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and one steal, inexplicably hitting 5-of-6 at the line. This is probably the last week you can use fringe Magic players, as the schedule will inform you, they have nine games throughout the default head-to-head fantasy playoffs. Eight of the nine contests are on nights with at least 10 games on the NBA schedule. As long as Willie Green (Achilles), Evan Fournier (hip), and Luke Ridnour (hamstring) can't play, Payton is a shoo-in for at least 40 minutes a night.
BOX SCORE HIGHLIGHTS AND ODDITIES
Pau Gasol notched his league-leading 42nd double-double, cultivating 23 points, 15 rebounds, and two blocks in 33 minutes. Joakim Noah led the team in assists for the sixth time in seven games without Derrick Rose (knee), recording nine. He's nearly averaging a triple-double without Rose, posting 7.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.1 blocks in 32.7 minutes per game. His facilitator role has hampered the value of Aaron Brooks, who shot better than 34 percent for the first time since February 10th. Brooks scored 22 points (7-12 FG. 1-3 3Pt, 7-8 FT), dished three assists, and grabbed two rebounds in 26 minutes. E'Twaun Moore's emergence limits Brooks' minutes and value as well. Tony Snell was held scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting, and Nikola Mirotic contributed 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.
Tony Parker scored a season-high 32 points, but you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you solely focused on his scoring. In 30 minutes, Parker added four rebounds, two assists, and two steals. He's been money for rotisserie leagues the past three games (65 percent field goal/50 percent three-pointer) against the Kings, Nuggets, and Bulls, demolishing Aaron Brooks last night, Ty Lawson the game before and Ray McCallum before that. Forthcoming, the Spurs face the Raptors (Kyle Lowry), the Cavaliers (Kyrie Irving), and the Timberwolves (Ricky Rubio). I'm asking you to not get carried away by a hot three-game stretch because the rest of his peripherals are mediocre.
Kawhi Leonard played 39 minutes for the third time all season. The Spurs are now 1-2 under those conditions. Although he failed to block a shot for the eight straight game, his three steals extends the streak to seven straight games with a steal. He leads the NBA with 2.1 steals per game, tied with Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook.
Tim Duncan didn't make a field goal for the first time in 1,310 career games and sat the entire fourth quarter. I envision Duncan sitting next week against the Knicks, the first leg of a back-to-back, if not sooner against Kevin Garnett and the Timberwolves on Sunday. He's played 34 straight games for the first time since the beginning of the 2010-11 season.
Manu Ginobili hadn't played more than 23 minutes in a game since the All-Star break before logging 25 minutes against the Bulls. He covered every inch of the box score, accumulating 16 points, four rebounds, three steals, two assists, one block, and one three-pointer. In his last 10 games, Ginobili is shooting 51 percent on seven shots per game. Unfortunately, his 19.8 minutes per game in that span makes him a dicey play in standard head-to-head leagues.
Even though the Warriors defeated the Clippers by eight, Chris Paul (three minutes), Stephen Curry (four minutes), and Harrison Barnes (12 minutes) were the only starters to play in the fourth quarter. Barnes played a game-high 34 minutes. The Warriors were up 87-68 heading into the final period.
Shaun Livingston scored a season-high 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 28 minutes. He was incredibly opportunistic with his scoring chances, consistently posting up his primary defenders, Austin Rivers and Nate Robinson. Over the past six games, 7.0 of his 12.7 points have come in the paint. Livingston, David Lee, Andre Iguodala, and Harrison Barnes are all players who will be streamed during the default fantasy playoffs (Week 21-23) since the Warriors play seven quality games (nights with no more than seven games) of their 12-game slate.
Draymond Green is the only player averaging at least one steal, one block, and one three-pointer since the beginning of February. Against the Clippers, Green supplied 23 points, six assists, three rebounds, one steal, one block, and one three-pointer in 28 minutes, playing extensive minutes at center against DeAndre Jordan.
Austin Rivers is playing meaningful minutes for a playoff contender. What a time to be alive. Rivers scored a team-high 22 points (12 in the fourth quarter) in 31 minutes off the bench, the tell-tale sign of a lopsided affair. He's getting a ton of run with Jamal Crawford nursing an ailing calf, and it sounds as though Crawford could miss substantial time. He doesn't yet have a timetable for his return, but coach Doc Rivers believes Blake Griffin (elbow) returns before Crawford.
Andre Drummond picked up three fouls in eight minutes in the first half, limiting him to 24 minutes total. That doesn't explain his five rebounds in 12 rebounding opportunities, fewest since January 14th. Nonetheless, two blocks extends his streak to eight games with at least one.
Reggie Jackson tore up Mo Williams in the first half, only to be stymied by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the final two quarters. Kidd-Gilchrist blocked Jackson twice. Jackson closed with 25 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, one steal, and two three-pointers in 34 minutes. However, he shot 2-of-9 in the second half, and the Pistons were held to 39 second-half points. Ever since being benched the fourth quarter against the Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie, Jackson has played at least 33 minutes in every game since.
Gerald Henderson dropped a career-high nine assists. Much like after Terrence Ross's career-high seven assists, I watched the film to confirm the box score. Seven of Henderson's assists were from catch-and-shoot jumpers. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, whose shooting 51 percent from mid-range since the All-Star break (sixth best mark among those with at least 30 attempts), was responsible for two of those assists, and Al Jefferson handled a majority of the rest. Henderson's season numbers are on par with his career stats, minus an eight percent spike in free-throw percentage. Kemba Walker (knee) will probably gum up the works when he returns sometime in the next week, and in his absence, Henderson has averaged a career-high 3.8 assists per game.
Marcus Smart was ejected with 28 seconds left after receiving a Flagrant Foul 2 for elbowing Elfrid Payton in the face on a drive to the basket. It didn't look malicious on the replay, but with all flagrant 2s, be prepared for a possible one-game suspension. I think it's more likely the league reduces the charge to a Flagrant Foul 1 before they suspend him. Prior to the disqualification, Smart came alive with 16 points, five rebounds, five steals, two assists, one block, and four three-pointers in a team-high 39 minutes. He's shooting 26 percent from downtown since February 1st, a steep decline from his 42-percent mark in January. Conventional wisdom says he was able to attempt 16 shots because Avery Bradley (elbow) didn't play. Although, I suspect he kept shooting because the shots were falling early on. After a nine-point first quarter, Smart shot 3-of-9 the rest of the way, missing his only two attempts in the fourth quarter. The true takeaway from this game is the career-high five steals, stretching his streak with a steal to 11 straight games.
Victor Oladipo's post-All-Star break has been accentuated by a lack of Nikola Vucevic (ankle), Evan Fournier (hip), and a new head coach. In the last eight games, Oladipo has averaged 23.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.8 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 1.5 three-pointers in 38.8 minutes per game. His shot has connected at a 50-percent clip, an extraordinary mark considering his 17.4 attempts per game. With Marcus Smart as his primary defender, Oladipo scored 22 points, grabbed seven boards, recorded five assists, swiped two steals, and hit two three-pointers in 42 minutes.
Dewayne Dedmon has been lost in the shuffle. In 28 minutes, he produced a career-high 11 points, career-high 18 rebounds, and two blocks in 28 minutes. I won't get overly excited since the stats came against the Celtics frontcourt, but now, hopefully, you're aware of Dedmon's capabilities when he's not in foul trouble, as was the case the previous two games. He'll likely continue to start when Vucevic returns, per the arrangement prior to the injury. I wouldn't call him skilled offensively by any means, but what he lacks offensively, he more than makes up for on the defensive end. Since coach James Borrego replaced Jacque Vaughn, Dedmon leads the team with 1.3 blocks and a defensive rating of 91.5 in 18.4 minutes per game.
Dante Exum hit all four three-point tries and scored 14 points in 28 minutes, reaching double figures for the first time since January 24th against the very same Brooklyn Nets. On the season, he's shooting 77 percent from the field and 78 percent from downtown against the Nets. Against all other teams, Exum is shooting 34 percent overall and 30 percent on threes. The mini-resurgence held Trey Burke to 20 minutes. The second-year guard still scored 12 points and handed out four assists in limited run.
Serge Ibaka scored 21 points, grabbed seven rebounds, blocked five shots, and managed one assist in 41 minutes. He's your leader in total blocks post-All-Star break, accumulating 34 in 10 games. However, his three-point shot has suffered, nailing 2-of-13 in an extremely small sample size freakout. In 2015, he's shooting 32 percent from downtown, lending a bit more credence to the slump assertion.
Terrence Ross scored 20 points and his six three-pointers in 26 minutes. I wouldn't concern myself with the explosion; the Thunder allows the fifth most three-point attempts and makes per game. DeMar DeRozan dropped nine assists to go along with his efficient 24 points in 36 minutes, clearly turning a corner of some kind. Make that four straight games shooting at least 50 percent from the field and not missing a free-throw. He doesn't provide much in the way of steals, blocks, or three-pointers, so people tend to overvalue DeRozan's worth because he can score in bunches.
I highlighted Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for his improved mid-range game earlier. Rookie Jordan Clarkson is one spot ahead of Kidd-Gilchrist, shooting 53 percent from midrange since the All-Star break. Last night, Clarkson contributed 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists in 35 minutes. His backcourt mate, Wayne Ellington, scrounged together 13 points, five rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one three-pointer in 37 minutes. They are the only two Lakers consistently playing well over 30 minutes per game, a quality that could last a few more weeks after coach Byron Scott said they're not rushing Nick Young (knee) back from injury. Jeremy Lin faded quietly into the night, hitting 1-of-6 shots and collecting five assists in 24 minutes before picking up five fouls.
Al-Farouq Aminu recorded a career-high six steals and three blocks in 20 minutes, one game after registering five steals in 19 minutes. He even managed to deliver two four-steal games in the past five games. Aminu's offensive will always be a work in progress, but his defensive potential is like a more realized version of James Johnson this season. Almost all of Aminu's value is tied to steals and blocks. If those fall through, you're most likely receiving zeros across the board.
Monta Ellis scored 18 of his 31 points in the third quarter, snapping a two-game slump. Rajon Rondo recorded his second nine-assist game in the past two contests but continues to underwhelm everywhere else. Also, his increased minutes are directly related to Devin Harris' thumb injury.
- Tony Parker, G, SAS: 32 points
- Monta Ellis, G, DAL: 31 points
- Russell Westbrook, G, OKC: 30 points
- Brandon Bass, F, BOS: 17 rebounds
- Dewayne Dedmon, C, ORL: 16 rebounds
- Pau Gasol, C, CHI: 15 rebounds
- Russell Westbrook, G, OKC: 17 assists
- Chris Paul, G, LAC: 11 assists
- Six players with nine assists
- Al-Farouq Aminu, F, DAL: 6 steals
- Marcus Smart, G, BOS: 5 steals
- Russell Westbrook, G, OKC: 4 steals
- Thaddeus Young, F, BKN: 4 steals
- James Johnson, F, TOR: 4 steals
- Serge Ibaka, F, OKC: 5 blocks
- Al-Farouq Aminu, F, DAL: 3 blocks
- Ed Davis, F, LAL: 3 blocks
- Terrence Rose, G, TOR: 6-9 3Pt
- Monta Ellis, G, DAL: 5-7 3Pt
- Marcus Smart, G, BOS: 4-9 3Pt
- Dante Exum, G, UTA: 4-4 3Pt
- Hedo Turkoglu, F, LAC: 4-7 3Pt
- Victor Oladipo, G, ORL: 42 minutes
- Elfrid Payton, G, ORL: 42 minutes
- Tobias Harris, F, ORL: 42 minutes