St. Louis natives Beal, Tatum shine in defeat

Sunday’s seven-game schedule was headlined by the latest installment in the Celtics vs. Lakers rivalry, with the home team picking up the two-point win and maintaining their five-game lead atop the West. LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Jayson Tatum all shined in this one, and in the other games there were standout performances from the likes of Bradley Beal, C.J. McCollum and Coby White. 

Lakers 114, Celtics 112 — The Lakers made the roster moves that were reported a couple days ago official, signing Markieff Morris with DeMarcus Cousins (knee) being waived in order to free up a roster spot. Morris gives the Lakers another healthy body in the frontcourt, but his arrival is unlikely to change much when it comes to the fantasy value of the forwards/centers currently in the rotation. As for the game itself, LeBron James (29 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and four 3-pointers) and Anthony Davis (bruised right calf; 32/13/3 with two blocks and three 3-pointers) did much of the heavy lifting, with Kyle Kuzma (16 points, four rebounds, one block and one three-pointer) and Dwight Howard (10 points, seven rebounds and one block) also scoring in double figures. 

Determining which reserve guard (Rajon Rondo or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) is more valuable in fantasy comes down to need. KCP (7/1/2/2 with one three-pointer) is the pick for those looking for scoring and 3-pointers, while Rondo (4/1/5/5) has the upper hand as an assist man and defender. With Rondo playing well in his 22 minutes, Alex Caruso was limited to just eight minutes. Over the last month Caruso has been the most productive in nine-cat formats, but I lean towards either of the other two in most leagues. What also helps Caldwell-Pope’s case is his positional versatility, as he has eligibility at the point, off-guard and small forward positions in Yahoo leagues.

Boston was once again without Kemba Walker, who missed his second straight game due to a sore left knee. As a result Marcus Smart made another start, playing 36 minutes and posting a line of 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and three 3-pointers. Jayson Tatum was the star of this one for the Celtics, as he scored a career-high 41 points with five rebounds, two assists, one steal, two blocks and four 3-pointers. He’s got it rolling right now, as over the last month he’s provided first-round value in both eight- and nine-cat formats. Jaylen Brown (20/6/2/3/1 with three 3-pointers), Gordon Hayward (10/8/9) and Daniel Theis (16 points, nine rebounds and two 3-pointers) also scored in double figures, but Hayward finished 5-of-15 from the field and missed all five of his three-point attempts. 

Nuggets 128, Timberwolves 116 — Paul Millsap returned to the starting lineup after the All-Star break, and in Friday’s loss to the Thunder he had one of his worst outings of the season. Millsap redeemed himself Sunday night, as he scored a season-high 25 points to go along with seven rebounds, one steal, two blocks and four 3-pointers in 26 minutes. His return has limited the fantasy impact of Jerami Grant, who accounted for 12 points, one assist, one steal and one three-pointer in 20 minutes. Grant’s still worth holding onto, as Millsap has played 30 minutes or more just once in his last 27 games. Nikola Jokic added 24 points, seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks in 31 minutes, with Jamal Murray (19/1/6/1 and two 3-pointers), Gary Harris (13/3/1/2 with two 3-pointers) and Monte Morris (13/6/6/2 with one three-pointer) also scoring in double figures. 

With Denver’s frontcourt rotation back to full strength, we’re back to playing the guessing game when it comes to the fantasy value of the reserves. Michael Porter Jr. played 10 minutes off the bench and Torrey Craig nine, which did them no favors when it comes to their value. Morris and Grant are the “safest” reserves to roster, with Mason Plumlee (9/4/3) also worthy of consideration. Porter’s talent can’t be questioned, but given how Michael Malone’s rotation can fluctuate from one game to the next it’s difficult to go “all in” on the rookie wing. 

Minnesota was without D’Angelo Russell, who joined Karl-Anthony Towns on the sideline as this was a scheduled rest day for him. Jordan McLaughlin started at the point, posting a line of 15 points, four rebounds, 10 assists, one steal and two 3-pointers. The Timberwolves plan to give Russell the occasional day off the rest of the way, and in those games McLaughlin is of high value in most leagues. Russell should be back for Monday’s game against the Mavericks, which would move McLaughlin to the bench. 

Kelan Martin had a career night, as he scored 21 points while also accounting for four rebounds, one blocked shot and three 3-pointers. One game doesn’t make him a player worth picking up immediately, however, as Martin will need to put up solid numbers on a consistent basis in order to merit being rostered. Naz Reid accounted for 13 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal and one three-pointer, and he’s a must-have with Towns sidelined by a fractured left wrist. James Johnson is also worth a look, and on Sunday he accounted for 13 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and one three-pointer in 27 minutes off the bench. 

Raptors 127, Pacers 81 — Toronto scored 21 of the game’s first 24 points, and things got even worse for the shorthanded Pacers north of the border. Already playing without Victor Oladipo (back), Indiana last Jeremy Lamb during the second quarter due to a knee injury. Should he have to miss any additional time, Justin Holiday and Doug McDermott would be the top candidates in deeper leagues. Aaron Holiday started in place of Oladipo, playing 32 minutes and posting a line of 14 points, four rebounds, six assists, one steal and one three-pointer. He, Domantas Sabonis (14/11/5/1) and Justin Holiday (12 points, one assists, three steals and four 3-pointers) were the only Pacers in double figures, with Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. Warren scoring a total of 16 points on 7-of-27 shooting. 

Pascal Siakam led six Raptors in double figures with 21 points while also accounted for two rebounds, three assists, one block and one three-pointer in 30 minutes. Toronto was especially dominant in the frontcourt, as Serge Ibaka (15/15/1 with one block and one three-pointer) and Chris Boucher (9/11/2 with four blocks and one three-pointer) both reached double figures in rebounds and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 12 points, four rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes off the bench. Ibaka is a must-have with Marc Gasol (hamstring) out of the lineup, providing third-round value in nine-cat over the last month, while Boucher is at best an emergency option in deeper leagues. 

Matt Thomas knocked down five 3-pointers, scoring 17 points in 15 minutes. When he gets minutes he can be of some value as a three-point shooter, but he’s reached double digits in minutes just four times over the last five weeks. Leave him alone, and the same can be said for Terence Davis (13/4/1 with one block and three 3-pointers). Kyle Lowry filled the stat sheet, finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists, five steals, one block and three 3-pointers in 32 minutes. 

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Bulls 126, Wizards 117 — Bradley Beal scored a career-high 53 points while also tallying five rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block and five 3-pointers, but his effort came in a loss. Outside of Davis Bertans, who tallied 22 points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and five 3-pointers in 37 minutes, Beal didn’t get much help offensively. Ish Smith (10/3/5/2/1 with two 3-pointers) and Rui Hachimura (10/8/4/1) were the only other Wizards that scored in double figures. Thomas Bryant, who recently returned from a right foot injury, accounted for four points, five rebounds and one steal in 14 minutes off the bench. Even with his struggles on Sunday, he’s a better option in standard leagues than starting center Ian Mahinmi, who played just eight minutes and has also been dealing with a right foot issue. 

For Chicago, Coby White had one of his best games of the season and made some franchise history in the process. One night after scoring 33 points in a loss, he matched that number while also accounting for six rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block and five 3-pointers in 34 minutes. White is the first Bulls reserve to score 30 or more in consecutive games since Quintin Dailey in 1984. The rookie guard didn’t sound too concerned about the role he takes on when asked about it after the game, saying that he’s focused on getting better as opposed to whether or not he starts (he does want to be on the floor in crunch time, to be clear). White is currently rostered in 25 percent of Yahoo leagues, and with the Bulls nowhere near a playoff team, he should continue to get plenty of work down the stretch. Pick him up if he’s available. 

Zach LaVine (32/4/3/3/1 with six 3-pointers) also surpassed the 30-point mark, but he turned the ball over nine times for the second straight game. It’s bearable since he’s providing third-round value over the last month in nine-cat, but those miscues have lowered his ceiling (he’s a top-20 player in eight-cat during this stretch). Thaddeus Young (23/6/2/3 with five 3-pointers) and Tomas Satoransky (15/3/13/4 and one three-pointer with no turnovers) also had good nights, while Daniel Gafford (10 points, two rebounds and two blocks) started but was limited to 22 minutes due to foul trouble. Young has been a top-50 player over the last month, and is rostered in 55 percent of Yahoo leagues. He’s worth having, even when Otto Porter (foot) makes his return to the court. 

Thunder 131, Spurs 103 — Oklahoma City did just about whatever it wanted in this one, as eight players scored in double figures led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (22/13/4 with one three-pointer) and Steven Adams (21 points, 14 rebounds and one steal). Chris Paul (12/9/10/1) finished one rebound shy of a triple-double, while Danilo Gallinari (12/4/1 with two 3-pointers) and Luguentz Dort (15/2/2/3 with two 3-pointers) rounded out the starting five. Dort made all six of his field goal attempts, and he’s reached double figures in consecutive games for the first time this season. He’s worth tracking right now, and he’s fit that fifth starter role better than either Terrance Ferguson or Hamidou Diallo. 

Speaking of Ferguson, he played just 10 minutes before leaving due to lower back stiffness. And extended absence would free up additional playing time for Abdel Nader, who played 22 minutes and finished with 10 points, three rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers. Both can be left on the waiver wire for the time being. Dennis Schroder (ankle; 13/3/6 with one three-pointer) and Nerlens Noel (10 points, one rebound, one steal and five blocks) also scored in double figures for the Thunder, who have won three in a row. It was good to see Noel play well as February has been a relatively quiet month for him. He isn’t worth rostering right now, but he is worth keeping an eye on given his production as a defender. 

San Antonio couldn’t defend, and they couldn’t shoot all that well either. DeMar DeRozan (11/5/3) and LaMarcus Aldridge (8/3/2) combined to shoot 7-of-22 from the field, and Dejounte Murray (0/3/7/1) missed all seven of his field goal attempts. Rudy Gay (14/6/2/1 with one three-pointer), Marco Belinelli (13/2/1 with three 3-pointers) and Bryan Forbes (10/2 with two 3-pointers) scored in double figures, with Jakob Poeltl adding nine points, four rebounds, one assist and two steals in 16 minutes off the bench. Murray was playing well ahead of Sunday’s debacle, so there’s no need to make the rash decision of dumping him. For the Spurs’ key figures, I’d chalk this one up to a combination of the Thunder playing well and San Antonio feeling the effects of its eight-game rodeo road trip. 

Pelicans 115, Warriors 101 — Golden State was without starters Draymond Green (pelvis) and Marquese Chriss (left calf soreness), with Kevon Looney and Eric Paschall filling the resulting voids. Paschall was solid, finishing with 13 points, five rebounds and one steal while shooting 5-of-9 from the field, but Looney (two points, six rebounds and two steals) didn’t offer much statistically speaking. Damion Lee (22/4/4/1/1 with four 3-pointers), Jordan Poole (19/4/5 with one three-pointer), Juan Toscano-Anderson (16/8/3/1/2 with three 3-pointers) and Ky Bowman (15/6/7/3/1) put up solid stat lines, with Lee and Poole being the ones who should be rostered at this point in the season. 

Toscano-Anderson has made a positive impression during his time with the Warriors after being promoted from the G-League, and it would be worthwhile to take advantage of this in the short-term. Andrew Wiggins shot 3-of-16 from the field, finishing with eight points, 10 rebounds, four assists, one steal, two blocks and one three-pointer. Lastly, Dragan Bender made his Warriors debut and finished with six points, five rebounds, three assists, one block and two 3-pointers in 20 minutes. He’ll have every opportunity to prove himself for the duration of his 10-day contract, but he isn’t worth picking up in fantasy. 

New Orleans rebounded from a bad first half, outscoring the Warriors by 24 in the second half, with Zion Williamson (28/7/2 with one block and one three-pointer) and Jrue Holiday (23/7/15 with one block and three 3-pointers) leading the way. Williamson’s three-pointer, which received some attention on social media due to the jab step he unleashed on Alen Smailagic, was his first since his Pelicans debut. Given Zion’s athletic ability that jab step could be an asset for him, getting him cleaner looks (and possibly improving his shooting percentage in the process). 

Nicolo Melli (20/5/1 with one block and six 3-pointers) shot 7-of-8 from the field, and he’s accounted for 33 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and nine 3-pointers in his last two games. He’s worth taking a flier on, as Melli is averaging 10.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 three-pointers per game in February. Brandon Ingram (17/4/5/2 with two 3-pointers) was just 5-of-18 from the field, while Lonzo Ball (2/6/9/4) made just one of his six shot attempts. Derrick Favors (6/11/1 with one block) is worth rostering as a supplementary big in standard leagues due to his rebounding ability, as he’s averaging 10.1 boards per game this month. 

Blazers 107, Pistons 104 — Portland is still without Damian Lillard (groin), which means a starting role for Gary Trent Jr. and even more scoring responsibility upon the shoulders of C.J. McCollum and Carmelo Anthony. Trent played 34 minutes, tallying six points, two rebounds, two assists, three steals and one block while shooting 3-of-8 from the field. Not the best night for him, but he’s a hold for as long as Lillard remains sidelined. As for McCollum and Anthony, they both had good nights as the Blazers came back to beat Detroit. 

McCollum shot 15-of-30 from the field, posting a line of 41 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists, one steal, six 3-pointers and just one turnover in 43 minutes. Anthony shot 11-of-16, finishing with 32 points, four rebounds, one assist and five 3-pointers. Hassan Whiteside added 16 points, 17 rebounds, three assists and four blocks, shooting 8-of-14 from the field. Whiteside continues to play at a first-round level, and this week he has matchups with the Pacers (21 points, 14 rebounds, one assist and six blocks in the first meeting) and Hawks (21 points, 12 rebounds, one assist and three blocks) to look forward to. Mario Hezonja (ankle) returned to action and played 12 minutes, accounting for just one assist. There is no need to pick him up. 

Christian Wood continues to excel for the Pistons, as he put up 26 points, nine rebounds, one assist, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes off the bench. Whether he remains with the second unit or gets the occasional start, Wood is a must-have in standard leagues with Andre Drummond having been traded, with Thon Maker (4/3/2/1/1) being worthy of consideration despite Sunday’s poor effort. John Henson has been solid since joining the team, and on Sunday he tallied eight points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in 23 minutes. Given how bad Detroit has been this could go in a direction in which the Pistons give the majority of the minutes to the youngsters, but Henson’s production may make it difficult to remove him from the rotation. Keep an eye on the veteran forward. 

Brandon Knight (15/2/3 with three 3-pointers), Derrick Rose (15/2/3 with one three-pointer) and Langston Galloway (13/4/4/1 with two 3-pointers) scored in double figures, and Bruce Brown (8/10/1/1) played 33 minutes off the bench and led the Pistons in rebounding. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk started but played just 15 minutes, scoring five points with one rebound, two assists and one three-pointer. 

Monday’s Schedule (all times Eastern) 

Atlanta at Philadelphia, 7 PM 

Milwaukee at Washington, 7 PM 

Miami at Cleveland, 7 PM 

Orlando at Brooklyn, 7:30 PM 

New York at Houston, 8 PM 

Minnesota at Dallas, 8 PM 

Phoenix at Utah, 9 PM 

Memphis at LA Clippers, 10:30 PM 

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