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We are almost at the end of the first month of 2022, and boy has it been a fun one. It seems like there are records being broken each and every night and players have just been taking turns trying to outdo each other with some stellar performances. Wednesday nights in the NBA are always wild, and this one was no different as we saw multiple franchise milestones passed, as well as some career milestones, and some under-the-radar players who took advantage of their five minutes of fame for their respective teams. There were 10 games, so as always, I will break down each game, and give you the 10 biggest storylines from the last Wednesday in January, so let’s hop right in.
LaMelo & Kelly Oubre go off in win over Indiana
The Hornets set a franchise record on Wednesday, putting up 158 points, and they tied a franchise record (that they set against Detroit on 1/5/22) with 24 made three-pointers, on route to a 32-point victory over Indiana. They entered the evening having lost two straight games and were eager to get back in the win column and to get some revenge on the Pacers, who eliminated Charlotte in the play-in round of the postseason last year. Kelly Oubre had himself the game of his life on Wednesday, as he scored a career-high 39 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the floor while knocking down a career-high 10 triples, which tied a franchise record. Oubre became only the fifth bench player in NBA history to hit 10+ triples, and he also became the first Hornets reserve to ever post multiple 35-point games in a single season. Oubre had been in a bit of a slump lately, as he had averaged just 9.7 points per game over the previous three games. Hopefully, this can be a confidence booster for him and he can start to put together some more big nights going forward.
LaMelo Ball also had a huge night, as he scored 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting (3-of-4 3-pointers) and added 13 assists, 10 rebounds, one steal, and one block with four turnovers. This was Ball’s fourth career triple-double, and the fifth of his career. These marks tied a franchise record for triple-doubles in one season and tied him for second (with Nicolas Batum and Larry Johnson) in franchise history in total triple-doubles behind Anthony Mason, who had seven. The Hornets will host the Lakers, who will be on night two of a back-to-back, on Friday, looking to keep the offensive momentum going.
Devin Booker Sets Franchise Record in win over Utah
Devin Booker scored 43 points on 16-of-28 shooting (9-of-11 free throws) and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds with four assists, one steal, and three turnovers to lead the Suns to a 105-97 win over Utah. The Suns have quietly now won eight-straight games, which is the longest streak in the NBA at the moment. Their 39-9 record is the best start in franchise history, and Booker logged his 16th 40-point game, which is the most in franchise history. Booker is in the midst of his best month of the season right now as he is averaging 28.2 points per game on 43.2% shooting from the floor to go with 6.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.4 triples, and 2.4 turnovers per game. His splits would be even better if his three-point percentage was higher, but he is currently shooting just 29.6% from three in January, which would be his worst percentage since October when he shot 28.6%, but it was only through five games. He had gotten off to a slow start to the season, but he has been trending in the right direction and there are very few players who are playing better than Booker right now.
Ja Morant stays hot, drops a 40-piece on the Spurs
Morant has been on an absolute tear lately, and he has now scored at least 30 in four straight games. On Wednesday, Morant poured in 41 points on 15-of-28 shooting from the floor (8-of-10 free throws) to go with eight assists, five rebounds, two steals, and three triples as the Grizzlies beat the Spurs 118-110 on Wednesday night. Morant has been ridiculous of late, and over this recent four-game stretch, he is averaging an absurd 36.8 points per game on 50.0% shooting from the floor (37.5% 3-pointers) with 8.5 assists, 8.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 2.3 triples, and 3.8 turnovers per game. Morant has to be the front-runner for Western Conference Player of the Month, especially after his Grizzlies climbed to third in the Western Conference standings with Wednesday’s win.
For the Spurs, it was another triple-double for Dejounte Murray, as he went for 16 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds in Wednesday’s 118-110 loss. He also added two steals and three turnovers, but he struggled shooting the ball going 5-of-17 from the floor (6-of-7 3-pointers) and missed all three of his three-pointers. Murray tied Spurs legend David Robinson for the most triple-doubles in franchise history with 14. Wednesday’s was his tenth of the season, which doubled Robinson’s previous single-season record of five. Murray is absolutely obliterating his pre-season ADP, and he is now on pace to finish as a top-10 fantasy player this season.
On Tuesday, the Mavericks got rolled by the Warriors in the bay, and on Wednesday, they were on night two of a back-to-back in Portland, and they bounced back in a huge way. The Mavericks lost 130-92 on Tuesday, and then followed that up with a 132-112 win, which was a 58-point swing, and though I don’t have any data on swings in a 24-hour period, this one has to be up there somewhere.
Luka Doncic tallied another triple-double with 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting (2-of-6 3-pointers) to go with 15 assists, 10 rebounds, one steal, and three turnovers in 37 minutes. This was Luks’s second triple-double of the season where he tallied at least fifteen assists. The entire rest of the NBA has two this season with the others being Dejounte Murray on 10/26/21 and Nikola Jokic on 12/6/21. Jalen Brunson also had himself a night as he scored 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting (2-of-3 3-pointers) to go with 11 assists, six rebounds, and no turnovers in 35 minutes. Brunson became the seventh Maverick ever to record 20-plus points and 10-plus assists without a turnover joining Deron Williams, Jason Terry, Steve Nash, Michael Finley, Derek Harper (who did it twice), and Mark Aguirre.
With Tim Hardaway Jr. (left foot fracture) on the sidelines indefinitely, Doncic and Brunson should shoulder the bulk of the load in the backcourt going forward for Dallas, so if you have them, expect some big nights more frequently, especially from Brunson.
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Onyeka Okongwu punishes Kings down low in win
Just 24 hours after the Celtics put a 53-point beating on the Kings, Sacramento took the flight down to Atlanta to face the Hawks. The Kings allow more points per game by centers than any other team in the NBA, and that held true on Wednesday night as Okongwu took full advantage of the Kings' lack of interior defense. The former USC Trojan came off the bench and scored 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting (6-of-7 free throws) to go with seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one turnover as the Hawks handed the Kings their fifth straight loss 121-104 on Wednesday.
If you tuned in to Wednesday’s Roundball Stew podcast, then you got the heads up on Okongwu from our own Raphielle Johnson, but if you missed it, be sure to make note of opposing teams’ centers when they face Sacramento because there is value to be had against the lowly Kings in the post.
Amir Coffey shines again, Clippers pick up another win
On Tuesday night, Amir Coffey scored a career-high 29 points in an insane comeback win over the Wizards. Though Wednesday’s performance wasn’t as explosive, he still had a great game and led the Clippers in scoring for a second straight night. Coffey scored 19 points on 5-of-12 shooting (3-of-6 3-pointers) and grabbed six rebounds to go with five assists, one steal, and no turnovers as the Clippers beat the Magic 111-102. Coffee is averaging 24.0 points per game with 5.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game over his last two, and he is somebody that is trending towards must-add territory given the Clippers’ injury circumstances. Kawhi Leonard (ACL) remains on the sidelines without a timetable for a return and Paul George (elbow) could opt for surgery, and elect to shut it down for the season, according to a report by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. If that happens, and the Clippers are without their two franchise players for the remainder of the regular season, Coffey is someone whose value would skyrocket. He is currently only rostered in 31% of fantasy leagues, so keep an eye on him, and if you are looking to add some value at the guard spot, Coffey could be your guy.
P.J. Tucker has rare big-scoring night in win
P.J. Tucker was never a high-level scorer, but even in his best days, big scoring nights for him were few and far between. Tucker must have had a good pre-game meal on Wednesday because he had one of those nights against the Knicks in Miami. Tucker put up 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting (4-of-6 3-pointers) and grabbed one rebound with three turnovers as the Heat beat the Knicks 110-96 on Wednesday. He only needed three quarters to do so, and he was a +37 in just 23 minutes, which was by far the highest of any player to suit up. This was just Tucker’s second game of the season scoring at least 20 points, so needless to say these aren’t a routine thing for him. He usually is good for at least one steal, and a few more rebounds, but he was solely locked in on scoring on Wednesday. We expect him to get back to himself in Friday’s game against the Clippers.
Entering Wednesday, the Bucks were 18-3 this season in games where Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday were all on the floor together. All three were on the court in Cleveland on Wednesday, but the Cavs, who are without a host of players in their own right, must not have gotten the memo. Kevin Love led the way for the Cavaliers, scoring 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor (5-of-9 3-pointers) and grabbing nine rebounds with two assists, two steals, and five turnovers as the Cavaliers beat the Bucks 115-99 on Wednesday night. Cedi Osman also had a huge night, as he put up 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting (6-of-14 3-pointers) and added four assists, three rebounds, two steals, and two turnovers in 34 minutes off the bench. With Lauri Markkanen (right ankle) currently without a timetable to return, Osman and Love will be leaned on more to produce until Markkanen can get back on the floor. Love is rostered in 69% of Yahoo! Leagues, and Osman is at just 5%, so if you want to take a swing at him, he is likely available in your league.
The win moved the Cavaliers to 30-19 on the season, which is good for third in the Eastern Conference after Wednesday’s results. Cleveland has now won three straight, and they will close the month out with games against the Pistons and the Pelicans to try to stretch their streak out to five to end January.
Gary Trent Jr. explodes for 32 in loss Wednesday
Wednesday’s game between the Bulls and Raptors was a makeup game from a December 22nd contest that ended up getting rescheduled due to issues related to Covid-19. The Raptors came out on the losing end of this one, as the Bulls earned a 111-105 victory over Toronto on Wednesday. Gary Trent Jr. had himself a night though, as he went off for 32 points on 11-of-22 shooting from the floor (6-of-10 3-pointers) and added two assists, one rebound, and one steal in 37 minutes. He didn’t do much outside of scoring, and he also had two turnovers, but he did knock down six triples, and he has now scored exactly 32 points in back-to-back games. He didn’t do much outside of shooting in Tuesday’s game either, but with Fred VanVleet (right knee) on the sidelines, Trent is the primary playmaker in Toronto. VanVleet is expected back soon, and once he returns, Trent Jr. will likely come back down to earth a bit.
Austin Rivers scores 25 off bench in win Wednesday
Austin Rivers had been pretty pedestrian for much of the season, to say the least, but he has come on a bit as of late. On Wednesday, he had his best game of the season, as he scored 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting (7-of-10 3-pointers) and added one rebound, one assist, and two steals in 26 minutes to help the Nuggets to a 124-118 victory over Brooklyn. Rives has now scored in double figures in three straight games, and he is averaging 15.3 points per game in that stretch. Rivers is not yet quite on the fantasy radar, but with more performances like these, he could lay his way there if he keeps it up.
One man who is certainly on the fantasy radar is reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, who did Jokic things on Wednesday, as he scored 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting (2-of-2 3-pointers) and grabbed 10 rebounds to go with eight assists, one rebound, and five turnovers. Denver has quietly won three straight games, and four of their last five, and they will try to keep it going on Friday against a struggling Pelicans team.