Wednesday night in the NBA saw several exciting games, with a number of close finishes and standout performances. Nikola Jokic led the way with an impressive 63.7 fantasy points. The big man had a huge game, scoring 31 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out 13 assists. Close behind was the King himself, LeBron James, who put up 60.1 fantasy points thanks to his 32 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists. Rounding out the top three was Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, who had a monster game with 58.9 fantasy points and a soul-crushing poster on Ivica Zubac.
These three players were the headliners, but here's the latest fantasy news from last night's nine-game slate.
Hornets (122) at Rockets (117)
Pick up Dennis Smith Jr. in all leagues and formats because LaMelo Ball sprained his left ankle again.
The same ankle that has caused him to miss 24 games so far this season. Hopefully, Ball is OK and picking up DSJ is just a precautionary measure, but fantasy managers should brace for a multi-week absence. Terry Rozier and PJ Washington should also see an uptick in scoring and usage if Ball misses time.
Keep Mark Williams on your watchlist. He finished this game with 17 points, 6 rebounds and a season-high 5 blocks in only 18 minutes.
The Rockets continue to pad their stats as the worst team in the NBA, but Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green went off for 53.4 FP and 53.5 FP, respectively. Green tied his career high with 41 points and KJ Martin had an efficient 11 points with seven boards and three triples. He's still worth streaming in 12-team leagues with Kevin Porter Jr. out, plus Jabari Smith Jr. injured his ankle and did not return.
In deeper leagues, rookie Tari Eason could get more minutes should Smith not suit up.
Hawks (130) at Mavericks (122)
The usual suspects performed well for the Mavericks in Wednesday's loss to the Hawks, but I think it's worth noting that Dorian Finney-Smith started and played 34 minutes in his return. He fell shy of a double-double with 9 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists, but he's worth a look in deep leagues now that he's back getting starter's minutes.
The Hawks had eight players in double-figures, but Dejounte Murray paced Atlanta with 46.4 FP and his fourth 30-point night of the season. Clint Capela came off the bench again but had a better fantasy night than Onyeka Okongwu despite Okongwu playing more minutes on the floor. The timeshare could be better for Capela managers, but given his calf issues, the bigs will likely continue splitting time. Keep Okongwu for now, as he's been 32nd in per-game value over the past 14 days.
Wizards (116) at Knicks (105)
Bradley Beal returned from a five-game absence and had an 18/4/4 line, but Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis did most of the damage for the Wizards. Keep an eye on Delon Wright, too. He's quietly 85th in per-game value this season and is a steals specialist. Give him a look in deeper leagues if you're also looking for assists.
For the Knicks, Jalen Brunson cleared the 30-point mark for the fifth time in eight games. Mitchell Robinson left after nine minutes with an injury, and Immanuel Quickley scored 18 points off the bench for New York. He remains a hold in fantasy leagues, with the Knicks basically running a tight rotation.
Heat (124) at Pelicans (98)
The Pelicans didn't show up on Wednesday and got steamrolled by the Heat. Bam Adebayo dropped 26 points with 8 rebounds, 1 assist and three stocks for 44.1 FP. Kyle Lowry was back in the lineup, but I'd continue streaming Victor Oladipo and keep Gabe Vincent and Max Strus on watchlists whenever Lowry or Jimmy Butler inevitably sit for injury management purposes.
Pacers (106) at Thunder (126)
Andrew Nembhard had a team-high 18 points with 7 assists, five boards and 2 steals, totaling 39.5 FP. Miles Turner had six blocks but otherwise had a lackluster game offensively. The Pacers went deep into their bench, but there are no significant takeaways here other than keeping Nembhard and McConnell rostered while Haliburton (elbow, knee) is out.
The Thunder moved into ninth place in the Western Conference and are one game away from being .500. Lugentz Dort and Josh Giddey both double-doubled (Giddey's 17th of the season) and Isaiah Joe scored 23 points off the bench. Please don't get excited, though; he's too low on the depth chart for consideration in fantasy.
Cavs (114) at Grizzlies (115)
Darius Garland was a must-play in DFS with Donovan Mitchell (groin) missing the contest, and he didn't disappoint, going for 55 FP, the highest of any PG on the slate. Evan Mobley was everywhere, cashing in his 12th double-double of the year with three stocks and 43.5 FP. Caris LeVert was also an attractive DFS play sans Mitchell and scored 38.8 FP. Finally, Isaac Okoro was perfect from the field and had a season-high 17 points and two blocks. He's widely available in fantasy leagues and is averaging 31.5 minutes in his past two games.
Memphis had four players score more than 30 FP: Jaren Jackson Jr. (42.9), Ja Morant (41.6), Desmond Bane (36.8), and Steven Adams (31.8).
Clippers (103) at Jazz (126)
The short-handed Clippers were no match for Markkanen and the Jazz. Norman Powell had 39.3 FP, while Ivica Zubac notched his 16th double-double of the season. I wouldn't fault you for dropping Marcus Morris Sr. or Terance Mann after these inefficient performances.
Walker Kessler continued his ascension, delivering his ninth double-double with 2 blocks, while Mike Conley just missed out, finishing with 17 points, nine dimes and 38.3 FP. Something worth monitoring is Jarred Vanderbilt's play (or lack thereof). He is 189th in per-game value the past two weeks; his fantasy stock is falling fast.
Timberwolves (118) at Nuggets (122)
MVP Jokic put a clinic on the Gobert-less Timberwolves, amassing his league-leading 14th triple-double this season. Bruce Brown played 32 minutes off the bench and scored 16 points with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. He did miss four-of-five free throws, but he's worth holding in 12+ team leagues, with Michael Porter Jr.'s minutes still fluctuating.
The Wolves are on their first leg of a back-to-back set, so it's possible that Gobert can return for Thursday, but if he doesn't, Naz Reid and Kyle Anderson will be viable streamers against the Raptors' undersized frontcourt.
Kings (116) at Lakers (115)
The Kings escaped with a narrow victory without Domantas Sabonis in the lineup. De'Aaron Fox unsurprisingly led the Kings with 31 points and 44.6 FP. Keegan Murray registered the first double-double of his career and Richaun Holmes filled in admirably for Sabonis, producing 16 points with 11 rebounds. Trey Lyles played the most minutes off the bench for Sacramento and is worth a look in deeper leagues for those needing points, threes and rebounds. He's been 59th in per-game value over the past two weeks.
It's hard not to feel bad for LeBron at this point. A take foul in the closing seconds cost the Lakers a shot at the game, and now they sit at 13th in the Western Conference. Wenyen Gabriel is cannibalizing Thomas Bryant's floor time which isn't good considering Anthony Davis is nearing a return around the All-Star break.
A decent night of NBA basketball, and lucky for us, we get to run it back again on Thursday!