This article is part of our NBA Daily Recap series.
Welcome back to another edition of Around the Association. Wednesday night's 11-game slate gave us thrilling overtime finishes, dominant performances and unlikely game-winners. Without further ado, let's dive in:
Celtics Make a Statement
- The Celtics made a statement on national TV with an impressive win over the Suns. Boston got off to a hot start, leading 69-42 at halftime, and never looked back, winning 125-98. This win marked the red-hot Celtics' ninth win in their last 10 outings.
- Jaylen Brown continued his improved play with 25 points (9-24 FG, 2-8 3Pt, 5-5 FT), seven rebounds, three assists and one steal across 28 minutes. Over Boston's impressive 10-game stretch, Brown is averaging 28.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists across 35.3 minutes of play.
- Blake Griffin made his fifth overall, and second consecutive, start during the win, ending with nine points (3-6 FG, 3-4 3Pt), nine rebounds, one assist and one block over 21 minutes. Over his five outings as a starter, the veteran big is averaging 9.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.0 assists across 22.4 minutes of play.
- Chris Paul (heel) made his return to the court after missing Phoenix's last 14 contests. The veteran point guard had a quiet outing with four points (2-6 FG, 0-2 3Pt), four rebounds, four assists and one steal across 24 minutes. Prior to his injury, Paul ranked as the 42nd overall nine-category fantasy option.
- Cameron Payne's campaign as a stater and reliable fantasy asset seems to be over with Paul back in the mix. While the 28-year-old ended with a respectable 12 points (5-13 FG, 0-2 3Pt, three rebounds, three assists and one steal, Payne only saw 16 minutes of action -- his lowest this Nov 7. In his eight games prior to joining the starting lineup for Paul earlier this season, Payne was averaging 9.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.0 steals across 17.6 minutes of action.
- Josh Okogie came out of nowhere with a career-high 28 points (8-14 FG, 4-6 3Pt, 8-10 FT), seven rebounds, two assists and one block across 23 minutes. Over his last three outings, Okogie is averaging 16.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals across 25.7 minutes per game. While he is not a trustworthy fantasy option yet, the 24-year-old is someone to keep an eye on.
D-Lo, Wolves Spoil Haliburton's Return
- In a game that was all knotted up 90-90 after three quarters, D'Angelo Russell caught fire in the fourth quarter, leading the Timberwolves to a 121-115 win over the Pacers. Russell dropped 15 clutch points in the fourth quarter while ending with 28 points (9-18 FG, 4-9 3Pt, 6-6 FT), four assists and one steal across 27 minutes. Over his last seven outings, Russell is averaging 19.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 1.4 assists across 33.9 minutes per game
- Rudy Gobert easily had his best game since Karl-Anthony Towns sustained his calf injury. Gobert finished with 16 points (6-12 FG, 4-5 FT), 21 rebounds, one assist, two blocks and three steals in 31 minutes. With KAT out for at least a month, these are the types of outings that we should begin to see from Gobert more often.
- While the Pacers could not walk away with the win, they still have something to cheer about in the return of Tyrese Haliburton (groin). The star point guard looked incredibly fresh, recording 26 points (9-14 FG, 5-9 3Pt, 3-3 FT), two rebounds, 15 assists and three steals across 36 minutes. Haliburton has now recorded 12 or more dimes in 10 contests this year. Fantasy managers should certainly be inserting Haliburton back into lineups in all formats.
Fontecchio For The Win
- One of the more wild games of the season came in Utah on Wednesday. With the Warriors holding a four-point lead with 10 seconds left, the Jazz were able to sneak away with 124-123 on a game-winning fast-break dunk by Simone Fontecchio. The 26-year-old forward finished the game with season-best 18 points (6-10 FG, 3-6 3Pt, 3-5 FT), three rebounds, one assist and one block across 19 minutes. While Fontecchio played the hero, one should expect his minutes and production to go back down once Lauri Markkanen returns from his illness.
- Walker Kessler made his first career start during the win, ending with 10 points (5-6 FG), 12 rebounds, one assist and five blocks across 23 minutes. Kessler continues to impress whenever he touches the court and it would not surprise me to see him stick to this starting role as the season develops. Hop on the Kessler wave before it's too late.
- With Stephen Curry out with ankle soreness, Jordan Poole remained in the Warriors' starting lineup. The Michigan product shined with 36 points (10-23 FG, 4-13 3Pt, 12-13 FT), four rebounds and eight assists while also totaling six turnovers across 36 minutes of play. While starting the Warriors' past three games, Poole is averaging 26.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists across 32.3 minutes per game.
- Draymond Green (hip) and Andrew Wiggins (adductor) joined Curry on the sidelines, paving way for Jonathan Kuminga to see meaningful minutes once again. The high-flying forward took advantage of his opportunity, finishing with a season-high 24 points (10-13 FG, 1-3 3Pt, 3-5 FT), five rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block across 29 minutes. If Green and Wiggins remain out, Kuminga is a great DFS value play and can be considered in season-long fantasy leagues.
- The Atlanta Hawks can't buy an injury break. Dejounte Murray exited without return during the team's contest against the Knicks in the first quarter due to a left ankle sprain. After Murray exited, the Knicks were able to storm away to a 113-89 win. With John Collins (ankle) and De'Andre Hunter (hip) both still out, Murray is in jeopardy of being the third Hawks' starter to be forced to the sidelines. Trae Young figures to see a boost in usage if Murray is forced to miss extended time. Aaron Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovic also figure to see increased playing time if Murray is indeed ruled out for the time being.
- Julius Randle was dominant in the win for the Knicks, ending with 34 points (10-19 FG, 6-12 3Pt, 8-8 FT), 17 rebounds, five assists and one steal over 33 minutes. While Randle got off to a slow start this season, since the beginning of November the Kentucky product is averaging 22.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists across 33.3 minutes per game.
- Miles McBride took advantage of the blowout and saw a season-high 27 minutes, ending with three points (1-4 FG, 1-2 3Pt), two rebounds, six assists and one steal. While McBride is not quite a fantasy asset to be targeting yet, it is encouraging to see the second-year pro at least crack into coach Tom Thibodeau's lineup.
Magic Storm Back
- The Orlando Magic were on the brink of losing 10 consecutive games when a nearly full-strength Clippers team came into town Wednesday. Los Angeles got off to a quick start in the first half, but Orlando was able to rally back to a 116-111 win in overtime. I do want to note that Kawhi Leonard or Paul George did not appear in overtime due to strict minutes limits.
- Paolo Banchero finished the contest with a game-high 23 points (5-13 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 13-14 FT), five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 38 minutes. The No. 1 overall pick was impressive in overtime, scoring 10 of his points in the extra frame. Banchero has appeared in eight games since returning from his ankle injury, averaging 19.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.0 steals per game over that span.
- Moritz Wagner is quickly becoming a solid DFS value option while starting in place of both Wendell Carter (foot) and Mo Bamba (back). The center out of Michigan ended the overtime win with 20 points (7-13 FG, 1-4 3Pt, 5-5 FT), 13 rebounds, three assists, one block and two steals across 36 minutes. Wagner has started each of Orlando's last four games, averaging 15.0 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals across 31.5 minutes.
- While still on a restriction, both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George saw a tad more playing time in their second appearances since returning from their respective injuries. The two All-Stars did struggle from the field, but the team looked much sharper overall with both of them on the floor. Here is how the two of them fared:
- Leonard: 14 points (4-15 FG, 2-6 3Pt, 4-4 FT), seven rebounds and three assists across 30 minutes of action.
- George: 11 points (3-12 FG, 2-6 3Pt, 3-3 FT), seven rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block across 33 minutes of play.
- With the Clippers on the second half of a back-to-back Thursday, it would not be surprising to see both of them rested against the Heat.
- After hanging on to beat the Pistons 104-98, the New Orleans Pelicans have now won five straight contests and eight out of their last ten showings. In fact, the Pelicans' 16-8 record has them currently sitting atop the Western Conference.
- With Brandon Ingram (toe) and Herbert Jones (ankle) still out, Trey Murphy continues to provide as a starter. The Virginia product ended the win with 20 points (6-13 FG, 4-9 3Pt, 4-4 FT), five rebounds, five assists, one block and one steal across 35 minutes. Murphy has started the Pelicans' last five games, averaging 19.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.8 steals while making 3.6 threes on a 41.9 percent clip over that span.
- The Raptors handled a short-handed Lakers team 126-113 behind a strong showing from Pascal Siakam. The 28-year-old recorded his first double-double since returning from his adductor injury, totaling 25 points (10-20 FG, 1-4 3Pt, 4-5 FT), 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals across 32 minutes. In his first six games since rejoining Toronto's lineup, Siakam is averaging 24.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 1.3 steals across 33.0 minutes of play.
- Thomas Bryant seems to have officially taken the role of Anthony Davis' handcuff, ending with 16 points (3-5 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 10-10 FT), five rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals in 32 minutes in the loss to the Raptors. While filling in for AD over his past two games, Bryant is averaging 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 steals across 30.0 minutes of action.
- Kyrie Irving was phenomenal on both ends of the floor during Brooklyn's 122-116 win over the Hornets. The All-Star point guard finished with a season-high 33 points, five rebounds, nine assists and four blocks across 34 minutes of play.
- Kelly Oubre continues to take advantage of the Hornet's being without LaMelo Ball (ankle) and Gordon Hayward (shoulder), finishing with 28 points (11-20 FG, 3-7 3Pt, 3-5 FT), eight rebounds, one assist, one block and two steals across 41 minutes. Oubre has now recorded 20 points in six straight appearances, averaging 24.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.8 steals across 36.3 minutes per game over that span.
- The Bulls were able to hang on to a much-needed home win against the Wizards behind a strong fourth quarter out of DeMar DeRozan. The veteran forward recorded 15 points in the final frame while ending with a team-high 27 points (11-21 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 5-6 FT), seven rebounds, four assists and one block over 37 minutes.
- After a sluggish start to the year, Zach LaVine continues to turn his season around, ending with 25 points (8-19 FG, 5-9 3Pt, 4-4 FT), seven rebounds, five assists and two steals across 34 minutes. Across his last six showings, The high-flying guard is averaging 25.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals while ranking as the 35th overall nine-category fantasy option over that span.
- With Bradley Beal (hamstring) back on the sidelines for at least the rest of this week, Corey Kispert rejoined Washington's starting five, ending the loss with 10 points (4-8 FG, 2-5 3Pt), three rebounds, one assist and two steals over 30 minutes of action. The Gonzaga product is averaging 9.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 steals across 28.1 minutes per game in his seven appearances without Beal this season.
- Ja Morant powered the Grizzlies to a 123-102 win over the Thunder, dropping 26 points (8-16 FG, 2-3 3Pt, 8-10 FT), 13 rebounds, 11 assists and two steals over 30 minutes to mark his second triple-double of the season. Morant is on a tear as of recently, averaging 27.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 1.3 steals across 33.4 minutes per game over his last 10 outings.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo continued his MVP campaign Wednesday with a dominant outing during Milwaukee's 126-113 win over the Kings. The Greek Freak finished with 35 points (12-19 FG, 2-2 3Pt, 9-10 FT), six rebounds, seven assists and one steal in 33 minutes to mark his eighth straight appearance with 30 or more points.
- Jrue Holiday continues to pick his play up since returning from his brief ankle injury. The veteran point guard ended Wednesday's win with 31 points (12-23 FG, 2-4 3Pt, 5-6 FT), five rebounds and six assists in 35 minutes. Over his last four appearances, Holiday is averaging 24.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.3 steals across 35.8 minutes per game.
- De'Aaron Fox's recent struggles continued during Sacramento's rough loss to the Bucks, ending with just 15 points (5-16 FG, 1-6 3Pt, 4-4 FT), two rebounds, two assists and one block across 32 minutes. Fox has failed to reach the 20-point mark in seven out of his last eight appearances, averaging 16.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists on 38.2 percent shooting over that span.
Best and Worst of the Night
- Best of the Night: Giannis Antetokounmpo - 35 points (12-19 FG, 2-2 3Pt, 9-10 FT), six rebounds, seven assists and one steal in 33 minutes.
- Worst of the Night: Markelle Fultz - one point (0-4 FG, 1-2 FT), two rebounds, four assists and three turnovers across 28 minutes.
- Rookie of the Night: Paolo Banchero - 23 points (5-13 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 13-14 FT), five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 38 minutes.