I was faced with a difficult decision Sunday: watch NBA games or watch the Game of Thrones Season 1 marathon on HBO. Last time I encountered a similar quandary, The Wire won out. Since 'game' is in the title, the choice was easy. Once this transforms into a Video Breakdown, I'm in serious trouble.
THE LANNISTERS SEND THEIR REGARDS
Andre Roberson rolled his left ankle contesting a Dwyane Wade fastbreak layup, which could've been avoided if Roberson didn't cough up the ball in the first place. Players don't typically return immediately from a sprained ankle, and with the Thunder playing the Lakers on Tuesday, there's no reason to rush Roberson back. If he misses Wednesday's game against the Spurs, Roberson will have another two days off before the Thunder needs his services. Roberson averaged just under 17 minutes per game the last month, so his minutes will probably get dispersed among those already in the rotation.
Aron Baynes sprained his right ankle and didn't return to the game. He recently missed two games with a rib contusion. The Spurs commence a back-to-back Tuesday in Dallas.
Alexey Shved, we hardly knew ye. Shved collided into James Johnson and suffered a rib contusion. He did finish playing the first half after the collision, so we'll have to wait for more information before tonight's game. Shved probably won't play Monday against the Grizzlies, and his availability for Wednesday's game against the Clippers is questionable in my opinion. Shane Larkin started the second half and provided nine points, eight assists, three rebounds, two steals, and three three-pointers in 33 minutes. If the Knicks shutdown Shved for the season, Larkin becomes a guy to stream for steals and Langston Galloway reclaims his throne atop the Knicks' guards worth owning.
Gary Neal turned his left ankle and never reentered the game. He just returned from missing four games due to a hand injury, and his availability tonight in Utah is in doubt. Chase Budinger is going to get a ton more playing time, which is good if your Budinger's agent.
Devin Harris exited due to an illness. That merely means more minutes for Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis if the illness lingers because J.J. Barea (ankle) could be out a while. The Mavericks play the Spurs on Tuesday and Friday, enough time for the disease to pass. He'll miss one game maximum.
- Thabo Sefolosha (calf)
- Mike Scott (toe)
- Marcus Smart (suspended)
- Isaiah Thomas (back)
- Cody Zeller (shoulder)
- Shawn Marion (DNP-CD)
- J.J. Barea (ankle)
- Randy Foye (illness)
- Greg Monroe (knee)
- Shawne Williams (illness)
- LA Clippers
- Jamal Crawford (calf)
- LA Lakers
- Nick Young (knee)
- Josh McRoberts (knee)
- Jared Dudley (knee)
- O.J. Mayo (hamstring)
- Nikola Pekovic (ankle)
- Ricky Rubio (ankle)
- Justin Hamilton (migraine)
- Kevin Garnett (knee)
- New Orleans
- Tyreke Evans (ankle)
- Omer Asik (calf)
- Ryan Anderson (knee)
- Jrue Holiday (leg)
- New York
- Tim Hardawat Jr. (wrist)
- Jose Calderon (Achilles)
- Cleanthony Early (ankle)
- Oklahoma City
- Kevin Durant (foot)
- Serge Ibaka (knee)
- Nick Collison (ankle)
- Tobias Harris (ankle)
- Channing Frye (illness)
- Evan Fournier (hip)
- Dewayne Dedmon (ankle)
- Devyn Marble (eye)
- Brandon Knight (ankle)
- Marcus Thornton (toe)
- Darren Collison (hip)
- San Antonio
- Manu Ginobili (ankle)
- Kyle Lowry (back)
- Kris Humphries (groin)
CHAOS ISN'T A PIT; CHAOS IS A LADDER
Enes Kanter missed one game after spraining his ankle. He thwarted Hassan Whiteside in the paint, finishing with a game-high 27 points, 12 rebounds, and one steal in 34 minutes. That's quite indicative of Kanter's bounded fantasy value, averaging 2.3 assists/steals/blocks per game with the Thunder. Big numbers and double-doubles can seduce a weak man. Remember to not overdraft him next season on the foundation of superfluous points and rebounds without the likes of Kevin Durant (foot) and Serge Ibaka (knee). You'd be paying for a healthy Nikola Pekovic. In Kanter's defense, he played Sunday with lingering soreness in his ankle.
Mitch McGary resumed reserve duties, contributing 14 points, eight rebounds, two blocks, one steal, and one assist in 26 minutes. His minutes are mostly guaranteed with Nick Collison (ankle) out another 2-3 weeks. Just don't expect well-rounded lines on a nightly basis.
Kyle Korver donned a clear mask after missing three games with a broken nose. He turned the ball over five times and scored six points in 29 minutes. The Hawks play three games this week, including a back-to-back set. While their lead shrunk from 11 games to eight games over the Cavaliers, that back-to-back set kick-starts a four-game, five-night excursion with rest written all over it. In his customary bench role, Kent Bazemore recorded a missed field goal and turnover in 17 minutes.
Anthony Davis joined the starting lineup after missing two games with a sprained left ankle. As far as I know, he escaped injury free and should be fine for Wednesday's game against the Rockets. In Sunday's game, Davis secured 26 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks in 39 minutes while shooting 11-of-13 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line.
Tyreke Evans was given the day off to rest his calf injury. The Pelicans have two days off before their next game, but calf injuries affect everyone differently. Norris Cole started for the injured Evans and fouled out in 26 minutes.
Eric Gordon came off the bench in a disciplinary maneuver; he was late to a team meeting. During the game, Gordon smacked his face on the court and lost his front tooth. He scored 23 points on five three-pointers and tied Anthony Davis with a team-high five assists. The injury was purely cosmetic, and Gordon should be fine after playing 37 minutes. I believe he'll start the next game.
Ricky Ledo made his Knicks' debut, scoring six points on five shots in eight minutes. Even with injuries to Tim Hardaway Jr. (wrist), Cleanthony Early (ankle), Jose Calderon (Achilles), and Alexey Shved (rib), I don't anticipate Ledo getting major minutes until he learns the triangle offense. The Knicks don't have anything to lose by playing him, but Ledo doesn't strike me as a guy who'll be on the team next season.
Rookie Bruno Caboclo played just under two minutes for the first time since February 4th. Bruno Caboclo plays for the Raptors.
DeMarcus Cousins suited up after a two-game hiatus, sidelined with a calf ailment. He brought all the tricks out of the bag, needing just 23 minutes for 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals. The Kings play three games this week, starting with a back-to-back. If Cousins is still not feeling well, he could sit Tuesday against the Sixers. Admittedly, the Kings lost to the Sixers with Cousins over a week ago, but Cousins is suffering from a bevy of nagging injuries. He played against his former Kentucky teammate John Wall on Sunday and could view Tuesday as the ideal rest game. This is all conjecture on my end, so be prepared for me to be completely wrong.
Jae Crowder started for the suspended Marcus Smart. In overtime, he played a game-high 45 minutes and produced 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, and one three-pointer. His versatility at 6'6" allows him to play a multitude of positions. Ever since Isaiah Thomas (back) has been out of the lineup, Crowder has averaged 13.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.3 three-pointers in 30.0 minutes per game. He's a decent stream option this week with four games on tap if you're looking for a little bit of everything in small quantities.
Kelly Olynyk started the second half over Tyler Zeller for like the 100th time this month. This time, Olynyk shot 1-of-9 from the field in 29 minutes, contributing four points, nine rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. It feels like he'll supplant Zeller eventually. I'm just not sure that demands immediate ownership. Coach Bradley Stevens has pieced together a playoff contender by running interchangeable parts on the court without position designation. The hot hand and random lineups stay on the court for prolonged periods if the fortune is in their favor, so you never quite know how the frontcourt rotation will work out.
Danilo Gallinari scored a career-high 40 points in his return to the lineup. He'll miss one game each of the next three weeks as the Nuggets plan to rest him one game of every back-to-back set. That means he'll play two games during Week 22 and two games in Week 23. Two of those four games are against the Utah Jazz, possessors of the best defense since the All-Star break. It's time to consider releasing Gallinari if you're being proactive, a terrible concession this far into the season.
Randy Foye sat with an illness, giving way to Gallinari in the starting lineup. Jameer Nelson only played in the first half, scoring 15 points after sitting out the previous game with a hip injury. Will Barton emerged, once again, as a multicategory contributor, tallying 11 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 25 minutes. The playing time will dry up when Foye plays and the Nuggets operate a full health. Since management wants to rest veterans on a whim, Barton's usefulness this season still has legs.
Where do I begin with the Orlando Magic? They've been down to 10 healthy players the last three games. Willie Green returned to the bench after missing six games due to a back injury. Channing Frye was held out with an illness, and Andrew Nicholson started in Frye's absence. That's the short and long of it.
Marvin Williams started for the injured Cody Zeller (shoulder). Zeller just missed four games with the same injury, so his return this week is questionable.
Thomas Robinson rejoined the reserves after sitting out a game with bruised ribs. Against the Lakers, code for 'don't read too much into the numbers', Robinson scored a team-high 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 16 minutes. I already wrote about why Robinson won't play major minutes in the last Box Score Breakdown. Essentially, good box score stats don't equate to increased playing time. They have a system and a hierarchy that Robinson must abide by. Even Sir Robert Covington has taken a sizeable hit.
THE IRON THRONE
Russell Westbrook can do no wrong. He notched his 10th triple-double of the season, unleashing 12 points, 17 assists, 10 rebounds, four steals, two blocks, and six turnovers in 34 minutes. His usage rate without Kevin Durant is 41 percent, and he scores 44.3 points per 100 possessions without Durant. Sadly, his volume is likely tanking your field goal percentage, shooting 42 percent on 23.7 attempts since the All-Star break. Don't even consider winning turnovers, of which he's averaging 5.9 per game the last 16 contests. Yes, I've run out of praise and have resorted to besmirching the good name of Westbrook.
THREE-EYED RAVEN WATCH
LeBron James cannot reach triple-double status, accumulating 28 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, five steals, one block, and one three-pointer in 39 minutes. The one category he hasn't been able to provide positive contribution, aside from turnovers, is free-throw percentage, shooting 70 percent in 2015. He's shooting a respectable 40 percent from downtown March, well above average efficiency. The Cavaliers play five games over the next two weeks, including a game Sunday against the Philadelphia 76ers. They're three games up on the Toronto Raptors for the two seed with 10 games remaining. The Chicago Bulls are half a game behind the Raptors, but the Cavaliers could realistically have their playoff seed locked before they face the Bulls at the end of Week 23. Rest is coming. Not just for James, but oft-injured, underutilized Kevin Love and Eastern Conference total minute's leader Kyrie Irving are similarly on the rest wagon.
Kawhi Leonard put on a dribbling display at Philips Arena, carving up the Hawks for 20 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, four steals, and one three-pointer in 32 minutes. He leads the NBA at 2.3 steals per game and is averaging 17.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.6 steals, 1.1 blocks, and 0.9 three-pointers in 32.1 minutes per game since the All-Star break. Much like LeBron James, free-throw percentage is the one blemish on Leonard's basketball card.
Chris Paul fell three boards shy of a triple-double, closing the night with 23 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds, and four steals in 38 minutes. He's in danger of averaging fewer than 2.0 steals per game for the first time since his sophomore season. Otherwise, he's having an MVP-type season.
Reginald VelJohnson was the cop in Die Hard and father on Family Matters. Reggie Jackson is the guard who needs to thank Greg Monroe (knee) for committing to the healing process, allowing Jackson to showcase what he can do in a spread offense. All of Jackson's recent success has come with Monroe on the sideline, not using possessions or holding the ball in the post while everyone observes. Jackson scored 17 points, dished out 11 assists, grabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot in 37 minutes. Over the last 10 games, Jackson has a total of two steals and one block. He doesn't shoot the ball particularly well and the rest of his counting stats pale in comparison to his large point and assist barrages. Believe what you want and ignore the rest.
Marcus Morris provided a glimpse into what could have been, scoring 11 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, notching seven assists, and recording three steals in 36 minutes. His run in the starting lineup hasn't operated as smoothly as was dreamt, misfiring from every which way. Brandon Knight (ankle) will have two more days off before the next game. The Suns play three games this week and next, removing Morris from standard league conversations as long as Knight returns by Friday.
WHEN YOU PLAY THE GAME OF THRONES, YOU WIN OR YOU DIE
J.R. Smith hit seven three-pointers and scored 23 points. He's hit a three-pointer in the last 13 games, shooting 47 percent from downtown over that stretch. This type of run isn't unprecedented; people just want to believe Smith was a terrible player on the Knicks. Let them create a false narrative. I'll keep spreading the truth. His numbers with the Cavaliers are similar to those when he won Sixth Man of the Year.
All five Bucks starters scored in double figures. They were outscored 64-37 by the Cavaliers in the second half. Michael Carter-Williams led the team with 19 points, five assists, four steals, three rebounds, and six turnovers. He hit his second three-pointer as a Buck, converting 9-of-14 from the field. Zaza Pachulia only grabbed nine rebounds in 31 minutes, unable to replicate his 21-rebound performance from Friday's triple-overtime loss.
The Heat scored a season-low 75 points. Hassan Whiteside scored a team-high 13 points, grabbed six rebounds, and blocked three shots before fouling out in 24 minutes. He hasn't recorded an assist in 14 straight games. Dwyane Wade was held in check by Russell Westbrook, converting 6-of-15 from the field and ending a streak of eight games with at least 20 points. The Heat plays their second-to-last back-to-back set this week, meaning Wade could rest like he did earlier this month against the Wizards. They play two teams vying for the playoffs in the Bucks and Celtics, so his best bet to rest would come against the freefalling Bucks, who've lost nine of their last 13 games.
Mike Budenholzer was ejected from the game after accruing two technical fouls. It wasn't a pretty game for the Hawks. Dennis Schroder proved why he'll be valuable the rest of the season, adding 18 points, five assists, three rebounds, one steal, one block, and two three-pointers with a fully healthy starting lineup.
Stephen A. Smith's favorite player, Tiago Splitter, scored a season-high for the second straight game, finishing with 23 points, eight rebounds, and two assists in 27 minutes. He's a deep league rotisserie player's ideal center, blending increased efficiency with everything except three-pointers in 20-25 minutes a night. He hasn't played more than 28 minutes since January 9th, and with the Spurs clicking, minutes will come at a premium. This upcoming week with games against the Thunder, Grizzlies, and Mavericks twice is a decent week to stream, but the competition drastically declines in Week 23. Boris Diaw scored all 17 of his points in the second half, including 15 in the fourth quarter. He's in a similar boat with Splitter when it comes to playing time, but Diaw offers a wider variety of categorical production, accentuated by his play of late.
Let me sum up the Raptors' win over the Knicks like this: Tyler Hansbrough scored a season-high 18 points and Lance Thomas scored a career-high 24 points. The Knicks pulled to within six points early in the fourth quarter before losing 106-89. Greivis Vasquez continues to underwhelm without Kyle Lowry (back), registering one assist in 34 minutes.
Bradley Beal scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half. The rest of the starting lineup combined for 30 points and the Wizards shot 3-of-17 from downtown in their 23-point loss to the Kings. They were held to 36 second-half points. Paul Peirce didn't play the final 20 minutes, and Nene Hilario didn't play the final 17 minutes. Coach Randy Wittman threw in the towel early.
Ben McLemore scored all 17 points in the second half, aided by minimal resistance. He tossed in four steals, three rebounds, one assist, and four three-pointers in 31 minutes for a more diverse stat line. Omri Casspi scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half, buoyed by five assists, three steals, two rebounds, and two three-pointers in 32 minutes. With Rudy Gay thriving at power forward, Casspi will have much more opportunity to provide low-level production if he's given 30+ minutes a night consistently. Just last week, Casspi was held to 15 minutes against the Wizards as the starting small forward. His minutes are being jerked around, and a three-game week inspires little confidence.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored seven of his 27 points in overtime, playing a total of 44 minutes and pulling down eight rebounds for the second time in three games. That marks three out of four games with at least 20 points. Those easily attracted to large point totals should heed the warning of unsustainable efficiency and empty supporting stats. It'd be great if he continued playing 40+ minutes and attacking the basket, but once Greg Monroe (knee) returns, the lane won't be as inviting.
Andre Drummond added 18 points and 22 rebounds. It needed to be mentioned.
Evan Turner attempted a game-high 21 shots without Isaiah Thomas (back) and Marcus Smart (suspended). He scored 23 points to go along with eight assists, six rebounds, three steals, and two three-pointers in 39 minutes. It's not so much that Turner steals the ball as much as it is the offense blatantly throwing the ball at him. It's an odd phenomenon I hope more people unearth.
Ty Lawson was held scoreless and notched eight assists in 27 minutes. It's the second time under Melvin Hunt that Lawson failed to score. Jusuf Nurkic, Kenneth Faried, J.J. Hickson, and Will Barton all scored 11 points. The Nuggets were up 102-72 after the third quarter, a clear indication both sides played out the string in the final period.
Elfrid Payton took a day off from being a triple-double machine to remind everyone he's still a rookie. In 35 minutes, he submitted six points, eight rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and five turnovers while shooting 3-of-9 from the floor. The Magic plays three games over the next 10 days, including just twice in Week 22. It makes the decision to drop Payton much easier.
Mo Williams stuck it to the team that traded him earlier this season, posting a game-high 24 points in 29 minutes against the Timberwolves. It was his second game off the bench with the Hornets, adding four rebounds, four assists, one block, and four three-pointers. Coach Steve Clifford ran an eight-man rotation, and all the starters played at least 33 minutes. The Hornets are one of four teams (Blazers, Nets, Spurs) to play four games each of the next three weeks, so perhaps reports of Williams' demise were greatly exaggerated.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has blocked a shot in eight straight games. In that stretch, he's averaging 12.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 0.6 steals while shooting 49 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free-throw line in 34 minutes per game. I'm in on the Kidd-Gilchrist, rain or shine.
Lance Stephenson missed another three-pointer, pushing the yearly total to 15-of-98 from downtown, roughly 15 percent. Enough is enough, Stephenson. End the charade.
Kevin Martin recorded a career-high nine assists. It only took 653 games to nearly reach double-digit assists. I watched all nine; all nine were legit. You won't get screwed in your weekly matchup by a stat correction later today when the league reviews the tape.
Seven of the eight Timberwolves scored in double figures, led by Gorgui Dieng's 16 points.
Monta Ellis shot 4-of-22 in 37 minutes. He missed all eight attempts in the final quarter. This is usually the part where I tell you to buy low, but we're three weeks from the end of the regular season.
Markieff Morris dialed up a double-double, 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Eric Bledsoe was on the edge of triple-double alert, conjuring 20 points, nine assists, six rebounds, three steals, two blocks, and one three-pointer in 37 minutes, Alex Len increased his reps to 26 minutes, demoting Brandan Wright to 22 minutes off the bench. All five Suns' starters scored in double figures, and the Morris Twins double-doubled.
Nerlens Noel didn't record a steal for the first time since February 23rd. Isaiah Canaan shot 1-of-12 from the floor, and Ish Smith went for nine points and nine assists in 29 minutes. Isaiah Canaan morphing into BJ Mullens is nearly complete. My initial assumptions on trade deadline day have come to fruition.
Jeremy Lin scored a season-high 29 points. If you've made it this far, enjoy this outdated YouTube video of Lin during his takeover of New York City. [Warning: explicit language - extremely NSFW]
THE NIGHT'S WATCH
- Danilo Gallinari, F, DEN: 40 points
- Jeremy Lin, G, LAL: 29 points
- LeBron James, F, CLE: 28 points
- Andre Drummond, C, DET: 22 rebounds
- DeAndre Jordan, C, LAC: 16 rebounds
- Markieff Morris, F, PHX: 13 rebounds
- Russell Westbrook, G, OKC: 17 assists
- Chris Paul, G, LAC: 11 assists
- Reggie Jackson, G, DET: 11 assists
- Kemba Walker, G, CHA: 6 steals
- LeBron James, F, CLE: 5 steals
- Five players tied with four steals
- Andre Drummond, C, DET: 4 blocks
- Tim Duncan, F, SAS: 4 blocks
- Ed Davis, F, LAL: 4 blocks
- J.R. Smith, G, CLE: 7-9 3Pt
- Danilo Gallinari, F, DEN: 6-13 3Pt
- Eric Gordon, G, NOP: 5-8 3Pt
- Jae Crowder, F, BOS: 45 minutes
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G, DET: 44 minutes
- Markieff Morris, F, PHX: 41 minutes