There's a long-running gallows-humor joke from Chris Rock about Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard; that Dr. King stood for peace, but if you're on MLK Boulevard anywhere in America there's violence being done.
That joke came to mind after the craziness in the NBA on Martin Luther King Day, Monday. There was no real violence, but there was absolutely a league-wide craziness in the air. Here were some of the prominent headlines coming out of Monday:
Whoa! Let's unpack some of these news incidents, and speculate as to whether there may be any ramifications in fantasy for any of them moving forward.
The issue early in the day was Kyle Lowry and Ben Simmons. They squared off and got in each others' faces with 6.5 seconds left in the game and got ejected. No punches were thrown, so there should be no ramifications. There were initial rumors that the two continued their altercation on the ramp back to the locker room, but Simmons has since denied that anything else happened.
The cold showers at the Q were kind of humorous. The Golden State Warriors had no hot water in the showers after the game, in which they had just beaten the Cleveland Cavaliers yet again. Coincidence? You decide.
Carmelo Anthony continued the war of words between several NBA superstars and the referees. This incident was spurred on when Russell Westbrook was hit in the face on a drive, fell to the ground still holding the ball, and was called for traveling. Westbrook jumped up and said something that got him immediately ejected. This is another story that has no tangible effects in fantasy, though I'm sure we'll continue to hear more about the disgruntlement between the players and the refs moving forward.
Finally, the last two stories both deal with the chippiness in the game between the Houston Rockets and the LA Clippers. This was Chris Paul's first game in Los Angeles against his former Clippers squad, and there was a lot of jawing and edge on the court.
The biggest on-court incident was when Blake Griffin bumped into Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni -- both yelled at each other, and then general pushing/shoving ensued.
However, the story that could potentially have ramifications is the report of several Rockets players trying to push their way into the Clippers' locker room after the game to confront Austin Rivers and Griffin. Security and team officials stepped in to stop the confrontation. The NBA will investigate the matter and start gathering information on Tuesday, a league sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
The likelihood of any real violence occurring was minimal, but it's not a good look so we'll see. In any case, it was Dr. King's birthday. I would hope that things would have been a bit more positive.
Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors: 32 points (9-16 FG, 10-10 FT), 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 4 3-pointers, 3 steals, 1 block, 3 TO
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers: 32 points (12-18 FG, 8-13 FT), 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocks, 3 steals, 8 TO
While Howard had a big game for the Hornets, the fantasy story might have been Marvin Williams (available in 86.7 percent of leagues) who has shown signs of life recently and turned in 21 points (7-8 FG, 2-3 FT), 5 rebounds, 5 3-pointers and an assist on Monday. Nicolas Batum was also strong with 14 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a 3-pointer.
Reggie Bullock (98 percent owned) and Anthony Tolliver (99.8 percent owned) both had it going from 3-point range on Monday, with Bullock knocking down four 3s on his way to 20 points, 4 boards and 3 steals, while Tolliver came off the bench to knock down five 3s on his way to 17 points and three assists.
While James and Durant had their usual small forward monster matchup on Monday, the fantasy news was that Isaiah Thomas was able to turn in 19 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound and 1 3-pointer in 32 minutes of action as he continues to work his way back into game shape.
Jack had a weak game in large part because rookie Frank Ntilikina (available in 97.5 percent of leagues) had the best game of his young career on Monday. Ntilikina flirted with a triple-double, scoring 10 points (3-6 FG, 2-2 FT) with 10 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 3-pointers, 2 blocks, 1 steal and 2 TO in 29 minutes off the bench.
The Brooklyn Nets seem to be slowly getting healthy, with of DeMarre Carroll (22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 3-pointers, 1 steal), Caris LeVert (20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 rebounds, 3 3-pointers, 1 steal, 1 assist) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (16 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 assist) having solid games on Monday.
The Lakers were missing two of their starters on Monday (see below), and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (27 points, 7 rebounds, 6 3-pointers, 3 assists, 2 steals) and Josh Hart (16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 3-pointers, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block) were the only starters to play well. Kyle Kuzma (18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 3-pointers, 2 steals) and Larry Nance Jr. (15 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks) helped pick up the slack off the bench.
Injuries of note
Kawhi Leonard sat on Monday, but indications are that it was more preventative maintenance protocol and not an indication of any setback with his quad or shoulder injuries. The San Antonio Spurs have been very cautious with Leonard, and thus far haven't let him play in any game without at least two days of rest.
Lonzo Ball (knee) and Brandon Ingram (ankle) sat out of Monday's game, which saw the Los Angeles Lakers' four-game win streak snapped. Ball felt something in his knee late on Saturday but played through it, then was unable to walk on Sunday. Ingram was a game-time call on Monday after spraining his left ankle in the previous game, but he didn't feel healthy enough to give it a go. Both are day-to-day moving forward.
Myles Turner was diagnosed with a ligament sprain and muscle strain in his elbow this weekend, and will sit out the next four games. He is expected to be reevaluated next week and is considered week-to-week right now. This bodes well for Domantas Sabonis, who has averaged 12 rebounds and 11.3 points in his last three starts.
The Phoenix Suns have been dealing with injuries to their starting forwards. Marquese Chriss has continued to be out with a strained hip flexor, while TJ Warren sat out Sunday with lower back soreness. Josh Jackson sat out a game himself, but on Monday, he was back and getting extra minutes and played well. Dragan Bender has also gotten more run recently due to the injuries, but he had a very off game on Sunday.
Tyler Johnson had to be wheeled off the court on Monday after suffering what turned out to be a sprained left ankle. Consider him day-to-day until more news comes out, but the apparent severity of the injury suggests that he could miss some time. If so, Wayne Ellington and Josh Richardson are the main candidates to see more minutes.
Tim Hardaway Jr. returned from his stress reaction absence on Sunday with 25 points in 33 minutes, but he sat out Monday for rest purposes.
JJ Redick left Monday's game late with a left leg contusion and was seen limping after the game, but the injury isn't considered serious and he is day-to-day for now.
Manu Ginobili suffered a right thigh contusion on Monday, but it also doesn't sound serious for the NBA veteran. The Spurs tend to be cautious with injuries, so consider him questionable moving forward.
Analytics advantage for Tuesday
On a night with only four games, matchups can be key for finding the teams that are likely to produce more than usual. Of the eight teams playing on Tuesday, there are three that have among the seven worst defensive ratings in the NBA and play among the seven fastest paces in the NBA.
The Suns have the worst defensive rating (112 points allowed per 100 possessions) and play the fourth-fastest pace (100.1 possessions per game), the Magic have the fourth-worst defense (111.5 points allowed per 100) and play the seventh-fastest pace (99.4 possessions per game), and the Pelicans have the sixth-worst defense (110.3 points allowed per 100) and play the sixth-fastest pace (99.6 possessions per game).
Top players to watch tonight
The New Orleans Pelicans should be interesting to watch against the Celtics. Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Jrue Holiday are all scorching in their past couple/few games, but on Tuesday they face a Celtics defense that is No. 1 in the league in defensive rating. Add in that the mercurial Rajon Rondo will be back in Boston, and it should be an interesting game.