Around the Association: One of the Wildest Nights in the League

Around the Association: One of the Wildest Nights in the League

This article is part of our 30 Days, 30 Teams, 30 Facts series.

Welcome to Around the Association! Five days per week (Monday through Friday), this article will serve as a comprehensive recap of the previous night's NBA action, taking you through all of the biggest performances, notable box scores, injury updates and any other fantasy-relevant headlines from around the league.

It was one of the busiest nights of the season last night, and to celebrate the holidays, here is a Christmas themed Around The Association:

Holiday Happenings 

  • Walker Around the Christmas Tree
    • The struggling Washington Wizards were hit with the tough blow that star guard Bradley Beal had entered health and safety protocols. Despite not having their go-to guy, the team was still able to leave the Big Apple with a win, defeating the Knicks 124-117. Spencer Dinwiddie stepped up for the Wizards with Beal out of the lineup and finished with 21 points (7-14 FG, 3-7 3Pt, 4-10 FT), seven rebounds, 12 assists, one block and one steal in 36 minutes. It has been somewhat of a disappointing first year in Washington for the veteran point guard, but a performance like this without Beal in the lineup is encouraging to see.
      • Corey Kispert had the best game of his short professional career during the victory. The sharpshooting wing made the first start of his career and finished with 20 points (6-7 FG, 4-5 3Pt, 4-4 FT), two rebounds and three assists over 32 minutes. The "American Sniper" emerges as a high-risk, high-reward DFS option with Washington dealing with its COVID situation.
    • The real story of this game actually comes from the losing team. Just a few games ago, Kemba Walker was removed from the Knicks' rotation. Maybe that was just the type of motivation that the veteran point guard needed, as he is absolutely on fire right now. Walker finished with 44 points (14-27 FG, 7-14 3Pt, 9-9 FT), nine rebounds and eight assists in 43 minutes. With the Knicks stuck in a COVID crisis, the first-year Knick has averaged 31.3 points per game over his last three appearances. It will be hard for Coach Tom Thibodeau to keep Walker out of the rotation even when the team gets the rest of its players back.
      • Julius Randle is also starting to improve his play as of late. The forward totaled 23 points (10-22 FG, 0-5 3Pt, 3-4 FT), nine rebounds, two assists and one block over 35 minutes and now has five straight showings dropping 20 or more points.
  • A Christmas Miracle 
    • The Atlanta Hawks were without Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Clint Capela, Danilo Gallinari and more, but were still able to upset a generally healthy 76ers team in Philadelphia. It was tightly contested throughout, but the Hawks snuck away with a victory after Joel Embiid's game-tying jumper rimmed out. Cam Reddish continues to see season-high usage with his teammates out as he finished with 18 points (7-13 FG, 0-3 3Pt, 4-4 FT), three assists, one rebound and one steal across 27 minutes before leaving the contest early due to a leg injury. Hopefully, the Duke product is alright, or Atlanta may have to add another name to its lengthy injury report.
      • Onyeka Okongwu started in place of Capela and had a nice outing in the win. The second-year center ended with 13 points (6-10 FG, 1-1 FT), eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks and one steal in 34 minutes. This was only his third game of the season, but honestly, I think the 21-year-old is worth a fantasy add if you have room to spare in deeper leagues.
  • I mean, there's no sugar-coating it; this was one ugly loss for the 76ers. They had no reason to lose to the incredibly short-handed Hawks at home. Despite missing the game-tying shot, Embiid still had a stellar game with 23 points (6-17 FG, 2-2 3Pt, 9-10 FT), 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal across 36 minutes. The big ranks as the fourth-best nine-category fantasy option over the past week.
    • Tyrese Maxey: 17 points (7-16 FG, 1-5 3Pt, 2-3 FT), one rebound, three assists, one block and three steals in 34 minutes
  • All I want for Christmas is Strus 
    • The Pistons were hit with some big COVID news just hours before their contest against the Heat on Thursday as players like Isaiah Stewart, Cade Cunningham, Saben Lee and Killian Hayes were sidelined. The team still put up a spirited performance but lost to the Heat 115-112. Tyler Herro dropped in 29 points (11-21 FG, 3-5 3Pt, 4-5 FT), four rebounds, four assists and one steal over 34 minutes while hitting a clutch three-pointer as well. The Kentucky product is averaging 27.5 points per game over his last two showings.
      • Honestly, I am starting to think Max Strus might be legit. The DePaul product ended with 26 points (10-18 FG, 5-11 3Pt, 1-1 FT), six rebounds, one assist and one steal over 41 minutes. Strus is averaging 25.0 points per game over his last four contests while drilling 5.3 three-pointers per game at a 46.7 percent clip. I don't get how Miami keeps doing this.
    • This was a seriously impressive effort from the Pistons, considering the COVID mess they are a part of. Trey Lyles had the best performance of his career as he dropped 28 points (7-13 FG, 3-7 3Pt, 11-11 FT), eight rebounds, two assists, four blocks and one steal over 37 minutes. Lyles does emerge as a solid DFS value play with many of his teammates stuck in protocols.
      • Despite the defeat, Saddiq Bey continued his impressive play for Detroit. The wing is averaging 23.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game over his last four contests while ranking as the No. 40 overall nine-category fantasy option on a per-game basis.
      • Cory Joseph: 21 points (7-15 FG, 5-7 3Pt, 2-2 FT), six rebounds, nine assists and one steal in 42 minutes
  • Stephen Curry is coming to Town 
    • Last season, the Memphis Grizzlies bounced Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the play-in games. The greatest shooter of all time got his revenge Thursday night as he exploded for 46 points (13-22 FG, 8-14 3Pt, 12-12 FT), four rebounds, four assists and two steals across 37 minutes. This was his second-highest scoring mark of the season, and Curry now has dropped 30 or more points in three straight appearances.
      • With Both Jordan Poole and Damion Lee in protocols, Gary Payton dropped a season-high 22 points (9-16 FG, 4-7 3Pt, 0-2 FT), two rebounds, one assist and one block over 33 minutes. Payton has some DFS value going forward with his fellow guards sidelined.
    • Jaren Jackson looked good for Memphis despite the defeat. The sharpshooting forward posted 20 points (6-12 FG, 1-3 3Pt, 7-9 FT), five rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal in 29 minutes to mark his 10th 20 point outing of the year.
      • De'Anthony Melton: 20 points (8-13 FG, 1-4 3Pt, 3-4 FT), nine rebounds, one assist, one block and two steals in 25 minutes
  • Jingle Ball Rock 
    • The Nuggets had a 19-point lead over the Hornets late in the contest, but Charlotte gave Denver a taste of its own medicine and came back to win 115-107. It was a solid team effort for the Hornets, with Kelly Oubre dropping a team-high 23 points (7-15 FG, 5-11 3Pt, 4-4 FT), four rebounds, one assist, one block and four steals in 32 minutes.
      • LaMelo Ball: 16 points (5-11 FG, 1-5 3Pt, 5-5 FT), five rebounds, four assists, one block and four steals across 25 minutes
    • After back-to-back losses, it is starting to seem like the injuries are finally catching up to the Nuggets. Nikola Jokic was on the floor early in the first quarter with Facundo Campazzo, Bones Hyland, Zeke Nnaji and Vlatko Cancar. This Denver team is short-handed right now, making Nikola Jokic have to step up in major ways. The reigning MVP recorded 29 points (13-34 FG, 1-6 3Pt, 2-3 FT), 21 rebounds, five assists and one steal in 35 minutes during the loss. It's looking like Jokic and Stephen Curry will be dueling for the No. 1 overall fantasy option as the season progresses.
  • Rudy the Rebounding Reindeer 
    • Karl-Anthony Towns was placed in health and safety protocols yesterday, and the Jazz took advantage of that with a 128-116 win. Donovan Mitchell led the way with 28 points (10-20 FG, 4-11 3Pt, 4-4 FT), five rebounds, seven assists and one block across 38 minutes. Utah currently sits at 22-9, and there is too much value on Mitchell to win MVP at +6500 (FanDuel).
      • Rudy Gobert: 20 points (8-14 FG, 4-9 FT), 17 rebounds, two assists, four blocks and one steal in 35 minutes.
    • Malik Beasley had one of his better games of the season during the team's loss to Minnesota. The guard ended with a season-high 33 points (13-25 FG, 7-16 3Pt), six rebounds, one assist and one steal in 43 minutes. Beasley has started the last four games for Minnesota and is averaging 21.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game this season.
      • D'Angelo Russell also had a career night as a facilitator as he ended with 19 points (7-20 FG, 4-8 3Pt, 1-1 FT), a career-high 14 assists in 41 minutes. The playmaking shot-creator is averaging an impressive 13.0 dimes per game over his last two appearances.

Stockings and Presents 

  • The Indiana Pacers were without Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis for Thursday's contest against Houston but were able to pull away late to defeat the Rockets 118-106. Myles Turner shined with 32 points (14-18 FG, 1-2 3Pt, 3-3 FT), 10 rebounds, one assist, two blocks and one steal across 37 minutes.
    • Caris LeVert: 24 points (8-18 FG, 2-6 3Pt, 6-8 FT), eight rebounds, 11 assists, one block and three steals over 36 minutes.
  • Jalen Green returned to the Rockets' lineup after missing the last 14 games, and the No. 2 overall pick looked great. The bouncy guard finished with 20 points (7-14 FG, 6-9 3Pt), one rebound, two assists, one block and two steals across 25 minutes. The rookie of the year award is by no means locked up, but Green has a lot of work to do to catch up to his peers.
    • Christian Wood: 22 points (5-11 FG, 1-6 3Pt, 9011 FT), eight rebounds, two steals across 31 minutes.
  • Um, is it time to get worried about the Lakers? Los Angeles got blown out 138-110 in the last official game in "Staples Center." Keita Bates-Diop had maybe the most surprising performance ever, dropping a perfect 30 points (11-11 FG, 3-3 3Pt, 5-7 FT), seven rebounds and one steal across 27 minutes. I am seriously just dumbfounded by this as the Ohio State product came into Thursday averaging just 3.8 points per game and left with a new career-high
  • The Lakers' loss certainly was not either LeBron James or Russell Westbrook's fault. James totaled 36 points (15-26 FG, 2-7 3Pt, 4-6 FT), nine rebounds, six assists, two blocks and one steal across 35 minutes.
    • Westbrook also showed out with  30 points (12-20 FG, 1-2 3Pt, 5-9 FT), seven rebounds, four assists and one steal over 35 minutes. The rest of the Lakers combined for 44 points, and if you take out Talen Horton-Tucker's 13 points, that is just 31 points scored from nine other Lakers.
  • Almost quietly, the Pelicans have rattled off four straight victories after defeating the Magic 110-104 in Orlando. Brandon Ingram showed out once again with 31 points (12-23 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 7-7 FT), six rebounds and four assists over 36 minutes. The wing is on a tear right now, averaging 27.6 points over his last 11 appearances.
    • I have also been impressed with Josh Hart's play as of recent. He finished with 22 points (7-10 FG, 4-5 3Pt, 4-4 FT), five rebounds, five assists and one steal over 38 minutes. The wing is averaging 16.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game during New Orleans' four-game winning streak.
  • Cole Anthony made his first appearance on the court after missing three consecutive games due to an ankle injury and had a nice performance in the loss. The second-year pro totaled 22 points (7-16 FG, 0-6 3Pt, 8-9 FT), five rebounds, 11 assists, one block and one steal in 37 minutes. He figures to see an uptick in his normal high usage, with many of his teammates watching from home.
    • The Franz Wagner show rolled on despite the loss to the Pelicans. The rookie out of Michigan finished with 20 points (7-16 FG, 1-4 3Pt, 5-6 FT), five rebounds, two blocks and one assist over 34 minutes of action. Wagner has gone for 20 or more in four out of his last seven showings.
  • Devin Booker continues to look like he hasn't missed a step since coming back from his hamstring injury. The All-Star shot-creator ended with 30 points (12-23 FG, 4-7 3Pt, 2-2 FT), seven rebounds, seven assists, one block and two steals in 35 minutes during the Suns' 113-101 win over the Thunder. In his three games back from injury, Booker is averaging 23.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game.
    • Cameron Johnson: 21 points (7-7 FG, 5-5 3Pt, 2-3 FT), nine rebounds, three assists and two steals in 24 minutes
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander keeps producing for the Thunder as well. He recorded 29 points (10-20 FG, 2-6 3Pt, 7-7 FT), five rebounds, seven assists and one block across 39 minutes. This marks three consecutive contests scoring over 23 points for SGA.
    • Josh Giddey: 17 points (7-17 FG, 1-4 3Pt, 2-3 FT), six rebounds, two assists and one steal across 31 minutes.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks rattled off yet another win as their star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo remains sidelined in protocols, as they defeated the Mavericks 102-95. Khris Middleton must have already been in good Christmas spirits as he recorded 26 points (8-14 FG, 2-3 3Pt, 8-8 FT), five rebounds, seven assists and one steal across 32 minutes
    • DeMarcus Cousins might have found a home here in Milwaukee after bouncing around the league for the past few seasons. The former All-Star ended with 22 points (8-15 FG, 1-4 3Pt, 5-7 FT), eight rebounds, four assists, one block and one steal across 28 minutes. Cousins is averaging 15.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game over his last four showings.
  • The Dallas Mavericks were very short-handed during the team's loss to the Bucks as both Luka Doncic (COVID) and Kristaps Porzingis (toe) were sidelined. Dallas was still able to keep the game close behind an impressive nine-point (7-15 FG, 2-5 3Pt, 3-3 FT), four-rebound and eight-assist performances from Jalen Brunson. In the six straight games that Doncic has missed, Brunson is averaging 20.2 points and 7.5 assists per game.

Best and Worst of the Night

  • Nice List:  Stephen Curry - 46 points (13-22 FG, 8-14 3Pt, 12-12 FT), four rebounds, four assists and two steals across 37 minutes
  • Naughty List: Evan Fournier - eight points (2-13 FG, 2-11 3Pt, 2-2 FT), three rebounds, one assist and one steal over 38 minutes.
  • Elf of the Night: Franz Wagner - 25 points (10-24 FG, 1-6 3Pt, 4-5 FT), four rebounds, one assist, two blocks and one steal over 36 minutes.

A Look Ahead to Christmas

  • The Hawks and Knicks battle in a rematch of last year's playoffs
  • Can Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics take down the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks?
  • We get another elite Western Conference duel between the Suns and Warriors.
  • Can the struggling Lakers figure it out when the Nets come to town?
  • The injury-riddled Mavericks look to upset the Jazz in Utah.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Spero
Michael writes in the NBA and NCAAF departments for RotoWire. He is a big-time fan of both the Bulls and Nuggets. Michael spends his time playing pick-up or anxiously rooting for his fantasy teams.
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