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Steve Alexander

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Big Monday for Harden, Harris

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


James Harden went crazy (again) and Tobias Harris exploded for a career-high 39 points on Monday night, while the Kings threw in the towel early, benching every starter for the entire second half.

Rockets 102, Jazz 97James Harden went off for a 47-6-5-5 line with four 3-pointers, 14-of-31 shooting and 15-of-16 free throws. P.J. Tucker got loose for 16 points and four 3-pointers, but didn’t have an assist or steal, and only had one block. He’s intriguing, for sure, but still hasn’t been able to put it all together this season. Eric Gordon scored 12 with two 3-pointers, Chris Paul had 11 points, nine dimes and four steals and Clint Capela came through with just five points and 14 rebounds, but also had season highs of three steals and five blocks in the win. This was Harden’s sixth 40-point game of the season and his season high was 54 against the Wizards on November 26. Harden is averaging a ridiculous 35.6 points. 6.6 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 2.2 steals and 4.2 3-pointers while shooting 51 percent over his last five games, and the Rockets have won four straight behind his dominance.
James Ennis could miss a couple more weeks with a hamstring injury, which should help both Gordon and Tucker.

For the Jazz, Donovan Mitchell had a 23-8-5-3 line with two 3-pointers on 8-of-22 shooting, Rudy Gobert had 18 points, 13 boards, four assists, a steal and three blocks, Jae Crowder had a 14 & 10 double-double with three 3-pointers and Ricky Rubio struggled with 12 points, four assists and seven turnovers in the loss. Joe Ingles was also quiet, hitting just 2-of-6 shots for five points, but at least had six assists in the loss. Just hang in there with Jingles. The Jazz bench was mostly a dumpster fire, and Mitchell, Crowder and Ingles combined to hit just 13-of-38 shots for 34 percent.

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Blazers 131, Clippers 127 – The night’s highest-scoring game was also one of the best, as the Blazers held on to beat the Clippers. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 66 points, Jusuf Nurkic added 20 points and had seven assists for the second straight game and Moe Harkless scored 13 points with a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in the win (I’m not buying it). Al-Farouq Aminu didn’t hit double digits in scoring, but did have 10 rebounds to go along with his eight points. There wasn’t a lot to learn here, especially from their bench, but the Blazers have won two straight.

Tobias Harris got loose for a career-high 39 points, 11 boards and three 3-pointers, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit 9-of-15 shots and two 3-pointers for 24 points and three assists and Danilo Gallinari added 22 points, five boards, three assists and two 3-pointers in the loss. If SGA was dropped in your league, this may be your sign. Bad Avery Bradley was back, missing all four of his shots and failing to even score a point, despite playing 30 minutes. I give up. Montrezl Harrell had 15 points, six boards, four assists and a steal, and hit 7-of-8 free throws, and Patrick Beverley came off the bench for 10 points, 11 assists and two 3-pointers. After struggling recently, Harrell appears to be back, averaging 18 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his last two games.

Bucks 107, Pistons 104 – The Bucks got a big game out of Giannis Antetokounmpo (as usual) and welcomed back Khris Middleton from a one-game absence with a pinkie injury, and he had 22 points, six assists, a steal and three 3-pointers in a team-high 37 minutes. Eric Bledsoe was solid with 17 points and nine dimes, Tony Snell got the start and had 12 points, six boards, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers, and Brook Lopez was eerily quiet against Andre Drummond. Malcolm Brogdon was out with a hamstring injury, resulting in Snell’s start, and the Bucks’ bench was pretty quiet in the win. Snell might be worth a deep-league look if Brogdon’s going to miss more time, but is not a player I’d trust in fantasy. Pat Connaughton didn’t even get off the bench, so drop him for a hot free agent if you took a flier on him after he started his last game for Middleton. D.J. Wilson had a career-high nine points off the bench, as did Sterling Brown.

Blake Griffin hit just 4-of-13 shots for a 19-10-11 triple-double, but also had 10 turnovers to transform it into a dubious quadruple-double. He also missed the game-tying 3-pointer, and this is one of the least efficient triple-doubles you’ll ever see. “I was unbelievably awful tonight,” Griffin said after the game. Drummond didn’t take advantage of a nice matchup against Bro-Lo, hitting just 4-of-12 shots, but did finish with a 10 & 14 double-double, with zero blocks. Reggie Bullock led the way for the Pistons with a career-high 24 points, three rebounds, one assist and five 3-pointers on 9-of-14 shooting. He had 15 in his previous game after missing time with a sprained left ankle. It was tough to see this one coming, but he couldn’t miss last night after sitting out for most of the month with the injury. The Pistons have three more games this week, making him worth a look. Reggie Jackson and Luke Kennard both started, but were very quiet in this one, and Stanley Johnson hit 8-of-14 shots and four 3-pointers (all in the fourth quarter) off the bench for 20 points, six boards, two assists and a block in 25 minutes. Johnson had scored a total of nine points in his previous two games, so this one feels very fluky to me. I don’t trust him yet, but he’s worth keeping an eye on after this one.

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Suns 128, Knicks 110 – The Suns got 38 points, seven boards, two assists, two steals and two 3-pointers from Devin Booker, who hit 11-of-23 shots and 14-of-15 free throws, T.J. Warren had 26 points (17 in the fourth quarter), five boards, three assists, two blocks and four 3-pointers on 11-of-18 shooting, and Deandre Ayton added 21 points and 13 boards, but no steals or blocks in the Suns’ accidental win. De’Anthony Melton started alongside Booker, but had just three points and two assists in 21 minutes, and Mikal Bridges was quiet yet again with seven points in 33 minutes. The good news is that the Suns will waive Austin Rivers, which should help keep Melton in the starting unit and relevant. Richaun Holmes had 13 points, four boards and two blocks on 6-of-7 shooting in 19 minutes to stay on the fantasy radar, and Jamal Crawford came off the bench for six points and a career-high 14 assists in 26 minutes, which was weird. Josh Jackson stayed relevant with 14 points, seven boards, three assists and two 3-pointers, but I’d like him a lot more if he were starting over Bridges. Crawford’s played pretty well over his last three games, averaging 9.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists, but hasn’t made a 3-pointer since December 2 -- which, again, is weird. Just keep an eye on him in case he keeps it going. The Suns have somehow won three straight games, which might be the most Suns thing ever, and they’ve now passed the six-win Hawks with seven wins, leaving the Hawks in the lead for the services for Zion Williamson.

For the Knicks, Emmanuel Mudiay did it again with 32 points, six boards, six assists and two 3-pointers, Kevin Knox had 17 points, five boards and two 3-pointers, Enes Kanter had a 13 & 12 double-double with a steal and a block, and rare starter Courtney Lee had 12 points. Noah Vonleh played just 17 minutes and had three points and seven boards, but there was no report of an injury. Mario Hezonja finally made some noise with 14 points, five boards and a 3-pointer off the bench, and Frank Ntilikina hit 3-of-11 shots for nine points and one assist. Trey Burke has been back for two games, but only averaged 3.5 points in them, as Mudiay continues to play at a crazy-high level. I called Mudiay a must-own player recently, and he’s been on a tear for a few weeks now. Tim Hardaway Jr. was out with a sore right heel, which allowed the other starters (and Hezonja) to get more touches in this one.


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Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2017-18 NBA season marks (at least) his 16th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
Email :Steve Alexander



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