Starting Five 1/27/20: Dame Goes for 50, Jazz Looking for 5th Straight Tonight

In Memory of Kobe Bryant

The NBA world was shocked and saddened by the news that NBA icon and Lakers great Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, were among nine reported casualties of a helicopter crash. Several teams honored Bryant by, among other things, wearing Kobe shoes, taking 8-second and 24-second violations, signifying the numbers Bryant wore during his NBA career.

Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, won five championships with the Lakers, earned league MVP honors and Finals MVP honors. Perhaps beyond all of the honors is that Bryant was the person for who is responsible for so many current NBA players ever picking up a basketball and he took the time to mentor many. His impact was and will always be far beyond the hardwood.

Top Performers

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers need to start stringing together some wins if they’re going to try to position themselves for a playoff position as they are currently 2.5 games out of eighth place. Damian Lillard spoke after last night’s win over the Indiana Pacers about honoring Kobe Bryant’s competitiveness, and he did exactly that as he finished with 50 points, 13 assists and six rebounds. He was also 8-of-12 on three point attempts in the 139-129 win.

• Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks

In a high-scoring game against the Washington Wizards, Trae Young put the Hawks on his back as he finished the 152-133 win with 45 points, 14 assists and six rebounds. Trae led the Hawks to two quarters where the team scored over 40 plus points. Young, who seemed to be visibly shaken before the game, wore No. 8 to start the game to honor Bryant.

Young, who said Bryant was with him last night, played a game with several coincidences tying him to his mentor Bryant. As was noted on Twitter, the last player to total 45 points or more with under 25 shot attempts against the Washington Wizards was Bryant. Young also took 24 (Bryant’s number) shots and finished with 81 percent shooting from the foul line, a number fans would draw to Bryant’s 81-point game.

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

Young did battle on Sunday night with Bradley Beal, who had a solid game himself, finishing with 40 points and six assisits.  Young got the better of the matchup, but it was Beal’s third straight game with 36 or more points. Beal had trouble with his long-range shots, but he knocked down 15 of his 18 free throw attempts.

Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers

While the Pacers came out on the short end of the game against the Blazers, Sabonis had a triple-double with 27 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. Sabonis is making a case for Most Improved status with his averages of 18.1 points, 12.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.


Marquee Matchups

There is a slate of six games in the association tonight.

Cleveland Cavaliers (12-34) at Detroit Pistons (17-30)

  • Cleveland and Detroit last faced off on January 9, with Tristan Thompson leading the Cavs to a 115-112 win.
  • Thompson had 35 points and 14 rebounds, while Andre Drummond finished with 28 points and 23 rebounds. Both players are playing tonight.
  • The Cavs are attempting to snap a seven-game losing streak. Detroit has lost their last two.

Orlando Magic (21-26) at Miami Heat (31-14)

  • The Orlando Magic have lost their last three games, while the Heat lost their last game, but are 6-4 in their last 10.
  • Earlier this month, the Magic scored a surprise blowout win 105-85 over the Heat.
  • The Magic are 8-15 on the road. The Heat are 20-2 at home, picking up just their second loss at home in their last game.

San Antonio Spurs (20-25) at Chicago Bulls (18-30)

  • This is the second game of a back-to-back for the Spurs, who suffered a close loss to the Toronto Raptors yesterday.
  • A sprained right thumb is keeping LaMarcus Aldridge sidelined tonight. Chicago has several injuries including Tomas Satoransky and Lauri Markkanen.
  • This is the second and final game of the regular season series between the Spurs and Bulls. Chicago won the first matchup 98-93 in December.

Sacramento Kings (16-29) at Minnesota Timberwolves (15-31)

  • Minnesota eked out a 105-104 win over the Kings on December 26, with Gorgui Deng leading the way with 21 points and 15 rebounds.
  • Richaun Holmes is out for the Kings. Allen Crabbe is listed as doubtful for Minnesota.
  • Minnesota is on a nine-game winning streak so they’ll be looking to keep that from going into double digits tonight.

Dallas Mavericks (28-17) at Oklahoma City Thunder (28-19)

  • The Mavericks’ Luka Doncic is dealing with some right ankle soreness, but is considered probably for tonight’s game.
  • Danillo Gallinari is day-to-day with a thumb injury.
  • The Mavs will look to slow down OKC, who has gone 7-3 in their last 10 games.

Houston Rockets (28-17) at Utah Jazz (32-13)

  • The Jazz have a slim lead over the Clippers for second place in the West. They have been surging, going 9-1 in their last 10.
  • James Harden is questionable tonight and Clint Capela is out. Russell Westbrook is also day-to-day.
  • The Jazz’s tough defense against a Rockets team short of their best scorers will be something to watch all game.

Fantasy Focus

With James Harden possibly out, look to Luka Doncic and Andre Drummond as top fantasy performers tonight. Doncic is available for $10.9k on FanDuel and has a projection of 55.1 fantasy points. Drummond is valued at $10.9k and with his high rebound double-doubles, , he’s projected for 50.1points.

If you’re looking for a value player for your lineup, Bogdan Bogdanovic has a low FanDuel salary of $4.5k. He will be starting at shooting guard for the Kings over Buddy Hield now, so his salary should start increasing. Get him now at this low value, where he’s projected to finish with 24 fantasy points.

For more fantasy basketball information, view our NBA Daily Fantasy Basketball Projections page.

Michael is Chief Editor at He has decades of combined experience in traditional print journalism and online media and is the publisher of the Project Spurs Network, which includes 13 team-specific sports media sites and the flagship He is also the creator of the first Spurs podcast and the longest-running sports podcast on the internet, the Spurscast, and was formerly the host of the News 4 San Antonio Sports Roundtable.

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