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Matt Stroup

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Jokic on a Heater

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray put up monster lines, John Wall slowed down after his recent surge and LeBron James and Lonzo Ball both made big noise in a Lakers loss. Dose:

Cavs 92, Pacers 91

CLE: The first thing to know is that Larry Nance Jr. went off: 15-16-6 with three steals, a block and a trey in 33 minutes (as well as a game-winning tip). Nance is getting it done in a lot of areas right now, but what really stands out to me are the assists and defensive stats. Nance has averaged 5.7 apg, 2.2 spg, 1.0 bpg and 1.0 3s — with 11.3 ppg and 9.0 rpg — in his last six games.

Meanwhile, Rodney Hood had 17 points and a 3-pointer in 35 minutes, and has posted 18.0 ppg and 2.0 3s in his last four. Alec Burks had 14 points, two blocks and a triple on 5-of-16 shooting, and he’s been alternating between productive games and terrible ones lately. It’s also worth noting that Jordan Clarkson sat out this game due to lower back soreness.

IND: As for the Pacers, Victor Oladipo struggled from the field (4-of-15) and line (3-of-6), though he still put up a 12-5-5 line with a steal, two blocks and a 3-pointer. Thaddeus Young continued a strong December with 13-9-3 plus two steals and two blocks. His month so far: 15.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.4 spg, 0.8 bpg and 0.7 3s in nine games. Tyreke Evans (knee) played, but had just four points on 2-of-9 shooting in 14 minutes. He’s averaging 16 minutes since Oladipo’s return and is extremely safe to drop.

Hawks 118, Wizards 110

ATL: The Hawks had all five starters hit double figures, led by John Collins (20 and 13), who extended his steal-less streak to eight games. The good news is he’s averaging 22.8 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 0.7 bpg and 0.9 3s in December, with six double-doubles in seven games. He’s also getting it done in just 31 minutes a night, a good sign if you find yourself worried about the tanking Hawks eventually cutting down his minutes (because he's not even requiring massive playing time to get this done). Trae Young posted a 19-3-4 line with three triples on 5-of-11 shooting, and is heating back up a bit with 16.3 ppg, 6.8 apg, 1.0 spg and 1.5 3s on 43.1 percent shooting his last four games.

The other starters for the Hawks (Kent Bazemore, Dewayne Dedmon and Kevin Huerter) all scored 13. Dedmon has just three double-digit outings in his last 10, but is otherwise putting up some nice all-around numbers (last 10 games: 9.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.1 spg, 0.6 bpg, 1.1 3s). It was also big to see Huerter (13-4-2 with a steal and three 3s) bounce back after a quiet game Sunday, and he remains an interesting pickup in a lot of leagues. Huerter has now put up 10.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.6 bpg and 2.3 3s on 49.3 percent shooting over his last nine games — in 31 minutes a game. I watch a lot of Hawks games (way too many of them, in fact), and I don’t think this guy is going to just disappear once Taurean Prince is back. The more likely candidate to lose some of his recent steam is the veteran Bazemore, who is only starting right now because Prince is out, and has put up a stellar 16.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.5 apg, 2.3 spg, 0.8 bpg and 2.3 3s in his six starts sans Taurean.

Jeremy Lin also got hot off the Hawks bench (16 points, four assists in 24 minutes), so he may be ready to go on another run after a quiet first half of December.

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WAS: The headlines here center around three players: Bradley Beal, John Wall and Trevor Ariza. Beal scored 29 with 10 boards (his second straight double-double with boards), and Wall had an off shooting night after catching fire recently (15 points, six dimes and three 3s on 6-of-18 shooting). What really stood out was the Wizards debut of Ariza, who looked energized to be joining a team with a slightly less horrible record (and definitely brighter playoff prospects) than Phoenix. Ariza finished his Wiz debut with 19-8-4, plus six steals and four 3s (on 6-of-17 shooting) in 38 minutes. It certainly helped that Otto Porter (quad) was out, but Ariza could be set for a nice boost in his return to Washington. After all, he was averaging just 9.9 ppg for the Suns — his lowest since 2012-13.

Jeff Green (12 points, seven rebounds, two 3s in 38 minutes) is also starting and looking pretty good in the absence of Porter. His last four games: 16.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 0.8 spg, 0.5 bpg and 2.8 3s in 36 minutes a game. Green is a nice short-term pickup while he’s this hot.

Nets 115, Lakers 110

BKN: D’Angelo Russell dropped 22 and 13 against his former team, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson continued his solid recent run with 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 38 minutes. RHJ has averaged 14.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.0 apg and 2.0 spg over his last five games as the Nets have won six in a row.

Joe Harris scored exactly 19 for the third time already in December, and is averaging 14.9 ppg and 2.4 3s in his seven games this month. DeMarre Carroll had 13 points and three 3s on 5-of-12 shooting, which actually qualifies as a good shooting night for him recently. Carroll came in shooting 33.3 percent from the field and 26.5 percent on 3s in December, though he has been better lately: 13.3 ppg with 1.0 spg and 2.7 3s on 40.0 percent shooting his last three games.

LAL: LeBron James (36-13-8), Lonzo Ball (23-6-3) and Kyle Kuzma (22-11-3) were the only Lakers in double figures, scoring 81 of L.A.’s 110 points. In addition to his season-high in points, Ball added two steals and a season-high five 3s (as well as an 0-of-2 from the line), though he and Kuzma are soon likely to face some additional competition with the impending returns of Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo. Ingram (ankle) and Rondo (hand) both practiced with the Lakers G-League team, and were subsequently recalled, suggesting they’re getting close to a return — potentially for the Lakers next game on Friday. Ryan Knaus and I talked about Kuzma and Ball on today’s edition of the Rotoworld Fantasy Basketball Podcast, and we’re both cautiously optimistic that Ball can hold off Rondo going forward.

It’s also worth noting that JaVale McGee missed this game due to illness.

Nuggets 126, Mavs 118

DEN: Nikola Jokic uncorked a 32-16-4 line, adding three steals, a block and two 3s. This was his first 30-point effort since Nov. 9, but Jokic has scored 24 or more in five straight games, is now up to No. 12 in 9-category leagues on the season and is really only lagging in one area: blocks (0.4 bpg in December). Meanwhile, Jamal Murray came up just short of a triple-double (22-7-15), with the 15 dimes marking a career-high. This was only the second double-digit assist game of Murray’s career, though he is averaging a career-best 5.1 apg so far this season.

Also for Denver: Juancho Hernangomez played through his abdominal strain and finished with 12 points, a steal and a block, while Mason Plumlee put up 11 points, nine boards, three assists and no defensive stats (a rarity for him) in 34 minutes. Trey Lyles (16 points, three 3s), Monte Morris (16-5-4) and Malik Beasley (12 points, four assists, two 3s) all made some noise off the bench, but Denver’s only other game this week is on Saturday.

DAL: Luka Doncic continued to do the old “shoot poorly / play well” thing with 23 points and 12 assists on 5-of-15 shooting. Doncic is now at 38.2 percent from the field over his last 16 games, though he did have a couple better shooting performances in a row prior to Tuesday. Harrison Barnes tied his season-high with 30 points, knocking down five 3s.

Also for Dallas: Dennis Smith Jr. (wrist) sat, while J.J. Barea (ankle) returned, putting up 10-4-5 in 21 minutes. Dirk Nowitzki has now scored 2, 2 and 3 points in minute totals of 6, 8 and 7 this season.

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Injury Quick Hits / Random Notes: Jeff Teague (ankle) is not expected to play Wednesday. … Julius Randle (ankle) and Nikola Mirotic (ankle) are both listed as doubtful. … Serge Ibaka is questionable due to right knee swelling, Kyle Lowry (thigh contusion) is questionable and Fred VanVleet (back) and Pascal Siakam (back) are both probable. … Jaylen Brown (hand) is questionable for Wednesday, while Al Horford (knee) is reportedly feeling better, but not expected to play. … For the Heat, Justise Winslow (ankle) and Josh Richardson (hip) both sat out practice, but are listed as probable for Thursday. Meanwhile, Goran Dragic (knee) didn’t practice Tuesday, leaving him iffy for Thursday. … Mike Conley (hamstring) is questionable. ... Gary Harris (hip) was running, cutting and jumping prior to Tuesday’s game. Per Nuggets beat writer T.J. McBride, “He looks much closer to returning than I thought, but hip/core issues are finicky.” ... Iman Shumpert (hip) and Bogdan Bogdanovic (sore foot) are questionable … Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring) is questionable, as is Tim Hardaway Jr. (sore heel). … Omari Spellman (hip) is likely to miss at least three more games. ... Austin Rivers is reportedly drawing interest from multiple teams, though it appears he will not be going to the Grizzlies. ... As for all the injury updates, make sure (as always) to check back on the Rotoworld news page prior to the start of Wednesday's games. Speaking of Wednesday, there are 12 games on the schedule, including Antetokounmpo v. Brow in Milwaukee and the Suns somehow trying to win their fourth straight.



Matt Stroup has covered basketball for Rotoworld since 2008. You can find him on Twitter here .
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