Here are 10 things from Thursday night’s series of silly-season blowouts for you to consider on this Friday morning. And after watching some of Inside the NBA last night, I don’t feel nearly as bad about not knowing how old random NBA players are or anything other stupid stuff I sometimes say during podcasts. Chuck thinks Corvettes debuted in 1945, Shaq says he watched Scott Skiles get 36 assists in a game on TNT back in the day and Kenny had no idea that Kevin Love had made semi-national news by quitting on his team last week on an inbounds pass. Then again, that crew, much like the EDGE crew, is running out of gas near the end of what seems like the longest NBA regular season of all time. So, I’m certainly not mad at them and completely understand why they were mostly disinterested in recapping the highlights last night. Speaking of which…
1. Anthony Davis goes down with an injury.
Anthony Davis got tangled up near the scorer’s table last night and clearly sprained his right ankle. And, of course, once he left the game the Lakers said he was dealing with ‘back spasms.’ Maybe his back did tighten up on him, but for them to not even address the ankle issue doesn’t make any sense. And after the game, when asked why LeBron James wasn’t sitting on the bench, Frank Vogel said “he’s just not here.” It may not be a big deal but it’s also not the answer most of us were expecting. So, the Lakers have a massive game on Friday at Portland that will determine the tie breaker between the two and they have identical records at 37-29. The Lakers are currently out of a play-in scenario in the No. 6 spot, while the Blazers are No. 7. And if AD and LeBron aren’t playing, the Lakers aren’t going to win that game and they’re going to trade places. So, consider AD day-to-day for now, and then we’ll see if LeBron, who won’t travel to Portland, plays on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday or in Sunday’s season closer. Given the way the Lakers have communicated about injuries this season and how quiet things have been surrounding these two guy’s ankles, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting to see either of them play again. And, as we saw last night, the Lakers aren’t really capable of winning many games without them. Stay tuned. Kyle Kuzma went off for 25 points, five boards, four assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers and should thrive if AD misses time. And, for the record, AD said after the game that his ankle feels fine and that “I should be good to go tomorrow” against the Blazers. I’m not going to go as far as saying I don’t think he’ll play against Portland, but I’m also not going to fully believe it until I see him on the court.
2. TNT crew says Brooklyn is just 7-8 in games where Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving play without James Harden this season.
We haven’t seen James Harden since April 5, when he played just four minutes, and if you look at the Nets’ record with and without him, it’s pretty clear that he’s a bigger piece to their puzzle than either Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving (who had 45 points last night). The Mavericks beat the Nets last night and while I’m certainly not writing the Nets off, I don’t think it’s going to be all that easy for them to plow through the playoffs if all of their Big 3 are at full strength and health. And we’ve seen all three of them miss substantial amounts of time this season, sometimes with serious injuries and sometimes with mysterious personal absences. Harden has been out for more than a month with a strained right hamstring injury and says he’s “very, very confident” that he’ll be ready for the playoffs. For the Nets and their fans’ sake, I hope he’s right. Because the Nets are just an average team without him, at least when it comes to regular-season games this year.
3. Gary Trent comes back in a big way for Raptors
Gary Trent Jr. returned from a six-game absence due to a lower leg contusion and went off for 25 points, three rebounds, one assist, a steal and five 3-pointers in a loss to the Wizards last night. The No. 12 Raps are sitting a ½ game behind the Bulls, who are 3.5 games behind the Wizards for the final play-in spot. And the Raptors have just five games left on the schedule. In other words, the dream is over and I expect the stars are going to start missing games and the kids are going to play. If your fantasy league is still chugging along, picking up Trent probably makes a lot of sense, while a guy like Malachi Flynn, who was quiet tonight, could also come back into play.
4. T.J. McConnell comes through in Pacers win over Hawks
T.J. McConnell hit 9-of-12 shots for 19 points, two rebounds, five assists and four steals in Thursday’s surprising win over the Hawks. Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring) and Edmond Sumner (knee) were both out again and as long as that’s the case, McConnell should be in fantasy lineups until further notice.
5. Bogdan Bogdanovic is carrying fantasy teams
Bogdan Bogdanovic hit 11-of-18 shots and six more 3-pointers for 28 points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal in the loss to the Pacers. He’s now hit at least three 3-pointers in eight straight games and in 12 of his last 13, and if you were able to pick him up off waivers when he returned from his knee injury and held onto him, he might be helping you win a championship right now.
6. LaMelo Ball and Luguentz Dort are failing fantasy teams
LaMelo Ball returned from an injury recently and put the final nail in my fantasy coffin when I played him and he had an uncharacteristic five turnovers in back-to-back games last Saturday and Sunday. He hit just 1-of-10 shots on Thursday for four points and nine assists and has hit 18-of-50 shots (36 percent) in his four games since May 1. Luguentz Dort has been even worse, hitting 3-of-13 shots on Thursday and hitting 10-of-38 shots in his three May games and averaging just 9.0 points on 26 percent shooting. These are two guys who may have been carrying teams in April and then buried them in May.
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7. Malik Monk is probably worth grabbing
Malik Monk hit 7-of-16 shots and six 3-pointers for 20 points, four boards and seven assists in Thursday’s loss to the Bulls. He was 0-for-8 for two points on Tuesday, but the Hornets may need Monk to go off as they fight for play-in position the rest of the way. If you’re team is still playing, he’s at least worth a look.
8. Khem Birch comes as advertised on Thursday
Khem Birch hit 7-of-11 shots and a 3-pointer for 17 points, nine rebounds, a steal and four blocks in Thursday’s OT loss to the Wizards. He should play solid minutes the rest of the way and if you recently picked up Daniel Gafford, who played just 15 minutes again for the Wiz last night, dumping him for Birch should be a quality move.
9. Pascal Siakam and Russell Westbrook came through last night
Pascal Siakam went off for a career-high tying 44 points, 11 boards, seven assists, a steal and two 3-pointers on 17-of-28 shooting and Russell Westbrook had another triple-double with 13 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists in the same game. That’s 34 triple-doubles on the season for Westbrook and with 180 or them, he’s just one shy of tying Oscar Robertson’s all-time record. It was also Westy’s six triple-double in seven games and he was just one assist shy of making it seven in a row. Siakam could be shut down if the Raptors throw in the towel, but wait and see how it plays out, as Nick Nurse could decide to try to win as many games as he can down the stretch, even though Toronto’s playoff hopes are all but over. And with the Wizards sitting at No. 10 and Westbrook chasing history, he’s going to go for at least two more triple-doubles before resting to get ready for the postseason.
10. I owe Matt Stroup a shirsey
Luka Doncic hit just 7-of-22 shots, 5-of-13 3-pointers and 5-of-10 free throws for 24 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and six turnovers against the Nets, but Dallas still got a big win. The good news is the No. 5 Mavericks are a full game up on the Lakers and Blazers, and they’re going to keep trying to win games until the final day of the season. The bad news is that Luka’s poor shooting last night, and terrible free throw shooting in May (12-of-36!?!?) have hurt fantasy managers, as well as cost me a shirsey. Stroup, hit me up and let me know who you want and I’ll throw it in the mail. We had a bet that Luka would shoot at least 76 percent from the line and everything was fine until May got here. But the late struggles have him down to around 72 percent. Oh well, at least the Trae Young shirsey I got from Stroup last year is fun to wear.