NBA Daily Dose: Young Kobe Bryant is Back

By Jim Liao
Jim Liao
Jim Liao
December 23, 2015 Updated: December 23, 2015

Fantasy basketball. Game summaries and key stats  for games on 12/22/2015.

Pistons 93, Heat 92

Though the Pistons had several days to rest after an exhausting four-overtime match with the Bulls on Dec. 19, the Pistons looked sluggish coming out of the gate in this one. Noticeably disjoint on offense, the Pistons turned the ball over 9 times in the first quarter, which the Heat capitalizing en route to a 34–16 first quarter lead. 

Then, the Pistons three-pointers started dropping. As the saying goes, three points is better than two—the Pistons made 7 straight three-pointers to end the 1st and start the 4th, turning a 19–34 deficit to a 40–44 ballgame. In that span, Anthony Tolliver, Steve Blake, and rookie Stanley Johnson all hit two threes, with Caldwell-Pope the last three to end the run.

The game stayed competitive down the stretch. Ultimately, the Pistons pulled this one out, with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh successively missing go ahead shots to win the game in the closing seconds. One play before, Kendavious Caldwell-Pope successfully hit what became the game-winning 17 footer with 55 seconds left, though the Pistons did get away with a Reggie Jackson travel on the play.

Beno Udrih got some burn with Goran Dragic (thumb) sitting, and there where several moments in the game where you could have mistaken him for Dragic. Udrih finished with 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists, and no turnovers and is worth a short-term flier. Dwyane Wade finished with 19 points 5 rebounds, 1 assist a steal, and no turnovers on 8-21 shooting; Chris Bosh had 20 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 threes on 9-21 shooting. Hassan Whiteside looked great in his matchup with Andre Drummond, finishing with 16 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 blocks. He continues to prove last season was no fluke.

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Speaking of Drummond, he was the weaker link in the center matchup, finishing with 11 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks on 4-12 shooting. Stanley Johnson chipped in off the bench with 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists, and 4 threes. Johnson needs to produce more consistently before he can be fully trusted, but owners should keep an eye on him. 

Grizzlies 104, 76ers 90

A long season remains long the for 1–29 76ers. Using their new-look small lineup, the Grizzlies held their 5th straight opponent to under 100 points. Combined with various mishaps by the NBA’s most dysfunctional team, such as shooting 21-32 (65.6 percent) from the free throw line, and 26 turnovers, the Grizzlies took control at the beginning of the fourth, opening up a 85–66 lead with 10:54 left.

Nerlens Noel continues his sophomore slump. Noel came off the bench in this one, and had 5 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block and a steal to show for it. Owners should not expect Noel to step it up at some point. He has not meshed well with Okafor at all, but then again, no one on the 76ers is meshing well with anybody. Jahlil Okafor finished with a customary 18-5-2 on 8-12 shooting, but 4 turnovers. He has to block a little bit more and turn the ball over a little less to truly be of value in fantasy leagues—currently he is ranked around 120s in player value. Otherwise, nothing new for the slumping 76ers.

For the Grizzlies, Marc Gasol led the way with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and a block. Mike Conley had 18 points and 6 assists.

Lakers 111, Nuggets 107

This was another memorable Kobe performance on the stretch run towards his retirement.

Kobe started the game hot, scoring 13 points in the first quarter on 10 shots. But Kobe wasn’t the only hot player. Fresh off a 32-point, 10-rebound, 7-three-pointer effort against the Pelicans, the runaway leader for the sixth man of the year Will Barton had 18 first quarter points, and the Nuggets won the quarter 34–26.

In the second quarter, Kobe curiously did not play at all, and the Nuggets eventually opened up a 20-point lead with 2 minutes left in the quarter.

The second half was then the Kobe show. We saw Kobe do a little bit of everything—he hit touch fadeaway jumpers, set up teammates for easy baskets, and marked and shut down Will Barton on the defensive end. Barton had only had two points in the second half. 

Kobe finished with 31 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal, a block, and 2 three-pointers. Considering Kobe’s performance of late, he should not be on any waiver wires. He’s been a top 60-70 player in the past two weeks. Jordan Clarkson chipped in with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals.

For the Nuggets, Serbian rookie Nikola Jokic was sensational with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and three turnovers in 30 minutes off the bench, and is certainly worth a stash. Garry Harris had a career high 21 points and has enough value to be on deployable on fantasy rosters.

Raptors 103, Mavericks 99

All the big money stats were on the Raptors’ end in this one. Terrence Ross played well with James Johnson sitting out, scoring 16 points on 5-9 shooting and 4 three-pointers. Demar Derozan had a customary 28-4-4 line, but did turn the ball over 7 times. Kyle Lowry added 17-10-7 and 2 threes. Biggest of all, center Bismack Buyombo had his first 20-rebound game, finishing with 9 points, 20 rebounds, and 2 blocks. However, with Jonas Valanciunas set to return soon, the clock is ticking with Buyombo. Though we don’t know for certain how the time will be split between the two, Valanciunas should be stashed and Buyombo should be sold high if possible.

On the Mavericks end, Dirk Nowitzki led all Mavericks with 20 points, and also added 7 rebounds and 4 three-pointers. Deron Williams may have injured his hamstring. If he misses time, J.J. Barea and Raymond Felton will see some time, with Chandler Parsons also getting more opportunity to run the offense.

Jim Liao