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Here are 10 things that happened in the NBA on Saturday night that you might have missed. If you thought Michael Porter Jr. was already off to a slow start, it just took a turn for the worse.
The mess that is Michael Porter Jr.
Michael Porter Jr. left the court and went to the locker room after just a few minutes on Saturday and the news got worse, as he never returned due to lower back soreness. P.J. Dozier started the second half in his place and MPJ’s fantasy value has officially hit rock bottom. Porter hit 1-of-4 shots for two points and four rebounds in just seven minutes. If he continues to be this big of a disaster all season long my fantasy teams are going to take a big hit, along with my reputation. I have a lot riding on MPJ this season, as usual, and his dreadful start is making things tough. But we’re still in early November and the season doesn’t end until April, so there’s a lot of time left for MPJ to figure things out. And let’s not forget this guy shot over 50 percent from the floor, over 42 percent from downtown and just under 80 percent from the line over the last two seasons. Today, those numbers sit at 35.9 and 20.8 percent, while his free throws are down to just 55.6 percent. Literally, the only way to go is up.
Anthony Davis leaves with stomach bug
Anthony Davis played through a thumb injury on Saturday but then left due to a stomach bug and played just seven minutes in a blowout loss to the Blazers. He hit just 1-of-7 shots for two points and three rebounds before leaving and the Lakers are a mess right now without LeBron James and with AD ailing. At least he was able to give it a go with the thumb injury, which is a nice silver lining. It’s also good news that his illness isn’t COVID-related so he should be good to go on Monday against the Hornets. Just write Saturday off as a maintenance day and prepare to move on.
Russell Westbrook has off night without LeBron and AD
As if things weren’t bad enough for the Lakers on Saturday without LeBron James (ab strain) and losing Anthony Davis (illness/thumb), Russell Westbrook blanked the bed after getting a huge opportunity as the lone ranger for the Lakers. Westy hit just 1-of-13 shots for eight points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals and six turnovers in a 105-90 loss to the Blazers and sometimes it’s really hard to tell if he’s helping or hurting your fantasy team. And because of that he’s ranked just 174th in fantasy hoops this season, good for only 15th-round value. The Lakers are 5-5, Westbrook, AD and LeBron are still trying to figure out how to play together and Carmelo Anthony is quietly becoming a hero in Los Angeles. But despite starting the second half in place of Davis, Melo hit just 4-of-14 shots for 12 points, two blocks and not a lot more. We’re still just three weeks into the season and there’s a long way to go and plenty of time for these guys to figure it out. Hang in there.
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Kristaps Porzingis is back
Porzingis was finally back in action on Saturday after missing five games with a back injury and had 21 points, seven boards, two assists, two steals and a block in 28 minutes. It seemed like it took him forever to come back and the Mavericks missed him but got a nice win over the Celtics last night to improve to 6-3 on the season. I don’t trust Porzingis farther than I can throw him, but as long as he’s healthy he belongs in your lineup, obviously. Welcome back, KP.
Luka Doncic hits game-winner
Luka Doncic actually had a pretty big game on Saturday, hitting 12-of-21 shots (his second-best shooting night of the season), tying his season high with 33 points, hitting a season-high five 3-pointers and finishing with nine rebounds, five assists and a block. He also hit 4-of-4 free throws to continue his weird free throw shooting trend. Luka has hit every free throw he’s shot in four of his nine games this season, has shot it pretty poorly in four others, and hit 10-of-12 freebies on Nov. 2. He sits at 71.7 percent on the season, and it looks like he’s either feeling it from the line at night, or he’s not. Luka came through with a buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer on Saturday, as Luka Magic appears to be a real thing. Last night’s big game boosted his fantasy ranking into the Top 70 and he should continue to improve throughout the season. But he’s got a long way to go to reach his fist-round ADP.
Deandre Ayton was out with a right leg injury and JaVale McGee started and fizzled in 18 minutes. But Frank Kaminsky came off the bench to hit 7-of-10 shots and two 3-pointers for 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and a block in 29 minutes. I’d imagine this will end up being Kaminsky’s biggest game of the season and there’s no reason to pick him up. But the next time Ayton is out don’t automatically assume (as I did) that McGee will get the minutes and play well. It might be Frank the Tank that steps up, instead.
Damian Lillard might be coming around
Like several players, Damian Lillard was off to a really slow start this season. Unlike several of those players, Dame broke out of his funk on Saturday with 25 points, six assists and six 3-pointers on 9-of-19 shooting in a surprisingly easy win over the Lakers. Lillard’s season high is 26 points, while he’s hit 25 points twice thus far, and Saturday was his third-best shooting night of the season. Any day now he’s going to officially break out of his funk and blow up for a 50-point game. I can feel it.
Kyle Lowry triple-doubles
The Heat improved to 7-2 on the season and are not messing around this year. Kyle Lowry finally had a big offensive game by hitting 8-of-11 shots and three 3-pointers for 20 points, but also had 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his first triple-double of the season. In fact, this was his first double-double of the season and just the second time he’s scored at least 20 points. But after a shaky start to the season, Lowry is averaging 16 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists in his three November games. He was available in the mid to later round in fantasy drafts this year and it looks like he’s starting to pay big dividends. Congratulations are in order if he landed on your fantasy team and here’s to hoping the slow start is officially behind us.
Donovan Mitchell back in a big way
Donovan Mitchell returned from his ankle injury last night and balled out to the tune of 37 points, seven dimes, two steals and four 3-pointers on 14-of-28 shooting. He was really the only Jazz player to show up in a loss to the Heat but the good news is that he looked spry, and his ankle injury shouldn’t be an issue going forward. The Jazz are super careful with injuries and my guess is Mitchell could have played against the Hawks on Thursday if that wasn’t the case. Fire Mitchell up on Sunday and then again for three games next week.
John Collins’ foot not a problem on Saturday
John Collins has been slowed by a foot injury lately, but you wouldn’t have known that by watching him play on Saturday when he hit 9-of-12 shots, three 3-pointers and 5-of-5 free throws for 26 points, 10 rebounds and nothing else. He also had just one turnover and is quietly returning second-round fantasy value on the season without really breaking out. He’s only hit 20 points in three games but has grabbed 12 boards four times and has season highs of six assists, two steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers. It feels like a big game could be coming for Collins but even if it doesn’t happen, he’s still having a great season without putting up monster lines. The Hawks have won three of their last four games and Collins might be getting ready to blow up. De’Andre Hunter, who came in on a heater, hit just 1-of-9 shots for two points in the loss to the Suns.
Nets @ Raptors at 3:30
Cavaliers @ Knicks at 6:00
Jazz @ Magic at 6:00
Bucks @ Wizards at 6:00
Pacers @ Kings at 6:00
Spurs @ Thunder at 7:00
Rockets @ Warriors at 8:30
Hornets @ Clippers at 9:00