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Raphielle Johnson

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Curry Drops 42 Points

Monday, December 24, 2018


The final day of games before Christmas was an especially busy one in the NBA, as there were 11 games on the schedule. Among the standouts were a trio of rookies, Deandre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Luka Doncic, and veterans such as Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and Myles Turner also produced quality performances. 

 

But before getting into those games we’ll take a look at the Warriors’ win over the Clippers, with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant leading the home team on a night that saw the visitors put forth an impressive three-point shooting exhibition. 

 

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In recent years, the basketball world has grown accustomed to watching the Warriors produce impressive displays of perimeter marksmanship. But despite Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant combining to score 77 points, that was not the case in Sunday’s 129-127 win over the LA Clippers. The numbers put up by that tandem were nothing to scoff at, as Curry and Durant helped hold off a team that shot a combined 18-of-24 from beyond the arc. 

 

Curry finished the night with 42 points (12-of-22 FGs, 12-of-13 FTs), the last two coming on a layup with five-tenths of a second remaining to give Golden State the win, six rebounds, two assists one steal and six 3-pointers. Curry did this despite receiving some attention from the training staff for an apparent right leg injury suffered during the first quarter. As for Durant, he supplemented his teammate’s effort with 35 points (10-of-19 FGs, 12-of-15 FTs), 12 rebounds, five assists, three blocks, one steal and three 3-pointers in 38 minutes, returning to the game after briefly leaving to have his right ankle sprain attended to. 

 

And with Klay Thompson (4-of-15 FGs, 12 points) continuing to struggle from the field, the Warriors needed every point scored by Curry and Durant to beat a Clippers squad that shot 13-of-16 from three in the first half. Tobias Harris (32 points, nine rebounds, two assists, six 3-pointers) and Danilo Gallinari (25 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, five 3-pointers) led the way for the visitors, with Lou Williams chipping in with 25 points of his own off the bench. 

 

While Harris has been playing at an All-Star level for much of this season, Gallinari’s been good as well. After averaging 15.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game in his first season as a Clipper, the Italian has been even better in his second. Gallinari’s averaging 19.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.5 three-pointers per game, with the points, rebounds and three-point averages being the best of his career to date. Harris is also in the midst of a career year, as he’s up to 21.6 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.0 three-pointers per game while shooting nearly 51% from the field and 42.4% from beyond the arc. 

 

Harris and Gallinari have been dependable fantasy options this season, but they still didn’t have enough to take down the tandem of Curry and Durant. While the former surpassed the 40-point mark for the third time this season, the latter has scored 30 points or more 15 times (four games of 40 points or more) and is averaging 29.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.8 three-pointers per game. Just imagine what Durant, a career 38.3% shooter from three, would be putting up numbers-wise if he were shooting a higher percentage than his current mark of 36.5% from beyond the arc. 

 

The Warriors have managed to hold off the Mavericks and Clippers in high-scoring thrillers, and Tuesday’s matchup with the Lakers could produce more of the same. And while the likes of Curry, Durant and LeBron James will grab the headlines, you can’t help but think that there are plenty who hope to see Klay Thompson break out after getting off to a slow start to the season. 

 

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Alex Len takes advantage of opportunity 

 

With John Collins (ankle) out of the lineup for the Hawks, Alex Len figured more prominently in the team’s game plan for Sunday’s game against the Pistons. It’s safe to say that the Maryland product made the best of his opportunity, finishing with 15 points (7-of-18 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs), 17 rebounds, three blocked shots, one assist and one steal in 35 minutes. It isn’t as if Len has lack for minutes this season, as he’s averaging 19.2 per game, but there is a difference between being a supplementary piece who comes off the bench and being a guy the team has to rely on for production. 

 

Len, who’s now reached double figures in scoring in three consecutive games, held his own against Pistons center Andre Drummond (13 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks, two assists and two steals) and that — along with Vince Carter scoring 18 off the bench — was one reason why the Hawks were able to leave Detroit with the win. As for Len’s fantasy value, it depends far too much upon Collins’ health to turn him into a consistent option for rosters. That being said, the next time the Hawks’ starting power forward is out of the lineup it may not be a bad idea to check into Len’s availability. 

 

Myles Turner extends double-double streak to four

 

With the visiting Wizards having played a triple-overtime game the night before, it should come as no surprise that the Pacers had more “fuel in the tank” as Sunday’s matchup in Indianapolis wore on. One of the standouts in Indiana’s 105-89 win was center Myles Turner, who played 32 minutes and accounted for 18 points (8-of-17 FGs, 1-of-1 FTs), 17 rebounds, two assists, two blocks, one steal and one three-pointer. The rebound total is a season-high for Turner, and he’s now reached double figures in boards eight times this month. He did so twice in October and November, combined. 

 

Also, Turner’s posted a double-double in four consecutive games and is now up to nine on the season. The third-year big man has been noticeably more productive this month, increasing his fantasy value as a result. Also, Turner’s production is one reason why the Pacers are 9-2 in December despite not having Victor Oladipo for the first five games. 

 

More aggressive Lauri Markkanen paying dividends for Bulls 

 

Bulls second-year forward Lauri Markkanen is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the team’s rebuilding project, and he showed why that’s the case in Sunday’s win over the Cavaliers. The Arizona product finished with 31 points (11-of-18 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), four rebounds, three steals and five 3-pointers in 32 minutes played. The key for Markkanen is to be aggressive on a consistent basis, which was not the case in Wednesday’s loss to Brooklyn. He attempted just six shots in that game, with head coach Jim Boylen saying that Markkanen needed to be getting up at least 15 shots per game. Markkanen’s last two outings since: 20 shots against the Magic and 18 against the Cavaliers, and he’s been efficient as well. The 7-foot tall forward has scored a total of 63 points over the last two games, shooting a combined 23-of-38 from the field (9-of-16 3-pointers) with ten rebounds, six assists and just two turnovers. Over his last five games Markkanen is averaging 22.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.0 3-pointers per game with shooting splits of 51.9/50.0/86.7. 

 

Justise Winslow fills the stat sheet as Heat beat Magic

 

The loss of Goran Dragic (knee), who underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his knee last week, means that Miami has to look to some “unconventional” sources to initiate things on the offensive end of the floor. The player most impacted by this has been Justise Winslow, who’s serving as the primary playmaker for the starting unit (Dwyane Wade does so for the second unit). Sunday evening the Duke product put forth one of his best efforts of the season, tallying 22 points (9-of-12 FGs, 1-of-2 FTs), six rebounds, five assists, four steals and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes. One of three Heat players (James Johnson, Bam Adebayo) to dish out five assists Sunday, Winslow has scored 20 points or more in four games this month and is averaging 12.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in December. Miami will need more of this from Winslow, whose fantasy value improves due to the combination of his recent play and the fact that he’s in a position where he won’t lack for opportunities to make things happen within the offense. 

 

Also of note from this game was the third quarter put forth by Tyler Johnson, who scored 20 of his 25 points in that stanza. The 20 points are the most in a quarter for a Heat player this season, and Johnson wasn’t even expected to start Sunday. Rodney McGruder (illness) was a late scratch, and after a quiet first half his replacement in the starting five came out hot in the third quarter. Johnson scored the Heat’s first eight points of the third, and he finished the game 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. Over the last five he’s averaging 16.6 points per game and shooting 50.0% from three (3.2 makes per game). 

 


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Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.
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