It's somewhat fitting that the Knicks ended their 10-game losing streak in downing the reeling Warriors on Wednesday evening, as New York was previously 0-10 facing Golden State in the Steve Kerr era.
The rare road win for the Knicks required overtime and was fueled by a somewhat historic collective of double-double performances; RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and Marcus Morris Sr. all tallied at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the victory, marking the first time since April of 1977 that three Knicks players each had 20-10 performances in the same contest.
For the Warriors, it was encouraging to see Draymond Green, who has been in and out of the lineup with minor injuries this season, produce his 24th career regular-season triple-double -- albeit last night marked Golden State's first ever loss when Green netted a triple-double.
Morris led the pack with a season-high 36 points, his most in a contest since February of 2017 and just one point shy of his career scoring peak. "Mook's" performance was the first game with at least 35 points and 10 pulls since Kristaps Porzingis in December 2017.
Randle was expected to be a fantasy force this season, while Barrett is enduring the natural variance of being a high-usage rookie wing. Morris, however, entered the campaign largely unheralded and undrafted in fantasy hoops leagues and has increased his scoring output from last year's impressive line with Boston by 43.8%, one of the league's more dramatic scoring surges from this season to last among rotation regulars.
Available in free agency in roughly 45% of ESPN leagues as of Thursday morning, Morris should continue to enjoy career highs in usage rate and scoring output for a Knicks team badly in need of his offensive creation.
Harden somehow made and took just five free throws on Wednesday in a win over the Cavaliers, tying the fewest free throw attempts ever in a game with at least 55 points. Harden's 20 made field goals tied Harden's career high while becoming just the second player in NBA history to make at least 10 2-point field goals to go with 10 made 3-pointers in the same game, joining Stephen Curry (back in 2016). The double-nickel showing in Cleveland also marked the bearded one's fourth career road game with at least this many points, tying Michael Jordan for the second most in league history, while Wilt Chamberlain hilariously had 31 such outings in his epic career.
Despite losing to Harden's Rockets, the Cavs did enjoy a few bright spots in the outing; the team produced a rousing 24-0 run to make the game competitive heading into the final quarter. The team can also take solace in a career scoring performance from rookie wing Kevin Porter Jr., who made a career-high six 3-pointers and has sank 52.4% of his shots from beyond during the past five games.
Utah broke out of an offensive slump with the help of another efficient outing from Joe Ingles, who has slashed for 12.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 7.2 APG, 2.2 3PG and 2.0 SPG during his past five games, four of them starts with Mike Conley sidelined. Ingles is rostered in just half of ESPN leagues.
In the loss to the Jazz last night, Minnesota's Jeff Teague poured in 32 points, marking the most off the bench by a Timberwolves player since Shabazz Muhammad in 2016. Teague, rostered in just over 60% of ESPN leagues, remains a key creator for Minnesota even with Jarrett Culver shifting into a starting role.
A key endorsement from yesterday's edition of this column, Wednesday saw Memphis' Dillon Brooks net 27 points in a win over the Suns. The Grizzlies also got rookie Brandon Clarke back into the frontcourt mix after missing some time with injury. The Gonzaga product proved impressive with 15 points and seven boards while also flashing his defensive prowess with two swats. Both remain floating in free agency in too many leagues.
Charlotte's Graham has quickly become a leading Most Improved Player candidate in addition to developing into an absolute fantasy force. Still available somehow in 20% of ESPN leagues as of Thursday morning, Graham makes for an awesome acquisition even in shallower formats. Not only was Graham's 40-points in the win over the Nets a new career high, he also became the first player in Hornets history with a 40-point showing in his first two professional seasons.
Rostered in just shy of 40% of leagues, the Pelicans' JJ Redick delivered a season-high 31 points and is currently enjoying his best 3-point efficiency since the 2015-16 season.
Chicago's Zach LaVine was amazingly efficient as a scoring force in a win over an Atlanta team that has become one the friendliest foes for fantasy upside this season. LaVine poured in 35 points on just 16 shots while making all of his 3-point and free throw attempts in the c
Injuries of note
Boston's Gordon Hayward sustained yet another injury last night in getting hit on the nose by Indiana's Doug McDermott. Given that he left the game for good after the collision, it's possible Hayward could either miss some time or need a mask for Thursday's tilt with the visiting rival 76ers.
The Kings' De'Aaron Fox told reporters he expects to return to action within the next two weeks. Until his return, Bogdan Bogdanovic, who helped spark the Kings to a comeback victory over the Thunder last night while sporting the second-best net rating on the team, remains a fun fantasy option. Marvin Bagley III returned from a thumb injury on Wednesday.
Perennial MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out last night with soreness in his right quad, but the injury isn't considered serious. Milwaukee still cruised to victory. It seems possible, or even likely, that Antetokounmpo misses one of the team's back-to-back games this weekend.
Analytics advantage for Thursday
Devin Booker, whose grandfather is from Mexico, scored 39 points in both of his career games in Mexico back in January of 2017, one of which came against this year's opponent, San Antonio. These outings marked the most points scored by a player in a regular-season game in Mexico and at the time tied his career high in scoring. Booker would set a new career high a few months later when he dropped 70 that March at Boston.
Booker is on pace to become the fourth player in NBA history to average 25 PPG while shooting 50-40-90 in a season, a rare feat that would see him join Larry Bird (twice), Curry and Kevin Durant, all of whom have won an MVP award in their career.
With Booker as the offensive engine for Phoenix, stacking around him with the likes of Kelly Oubre Jr., Aron Baynes and an emergent Mikal Bridges in DFS could prove rewarding. For those focusing on redraft competition tonight, both Baynes and Bridges remain widely available.
Top players to watch tonight
The Mavericks bring their international flavor to the floor in Mexico this evening; Luka Doncic and the Mavs will face the Pistons. Doncic has recorded 19 straight 20-point, 5-rebound, 5-assist games. That's tied with 1961-62 Oscar Robertson for the third-longest streak in NBA history, per Elias, behind only a pair of Robertson streaks (29 games in 1964-65 and 25 in 1963-64). Over the past 30 seasons through 95 career games, Doncic has the second-most points (trailing only Shaquille O'Neal), the most 3-pointers, and the most triple-doubles.
Doncic currently has the second-shortest odds to win MVP at 5-2, according to Caesars Sportsbook, trailing only Antetokounmpo (9-5). Doncic has led the Mavericks to the third-best record in the West behind only the Lakers and Clippers after being to finish picked ninth in ESPN's Summer Forecast.