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NBA Three Things to Know: Suns put Eric Bledsoe on trade block

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA, which is longer than I suspect Ivanka Trump’s punk phase lasted.

1) Eric Bledsoe now has all the time he wants to go to a hair salon: Suns send him home, put him on the trade block. On Sunday, Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe Tweeted this.

A day after the Suns fired coach Earl Watson, Bledsoe got called into the principal’s office was called into the office of GM Ryan McDonough to explain the Tweet and if he wanted to be part of the rebuilding effort in Phoenix. The answer was obviously “no,” but Bledsoe said the Tweet was about being at a hair salon with his girlfriend. McDonough wasn’t buying that (nor should he) and called Bledsoe out for it publicly. McDonough sent Bledsoe home from the team and started actively looking for a trade.

The problem for McDonough and the Suns is they aren’t going to get much — they have no leverage and not many teams are looking for a point guard right now. The market is pretty dry. We know that the Knicks, Bucks, and Nuggets reached out — on paper Denver makes the most sense (they can throw Emanuel Mudiay and other salary such as Kenneth Faried to make it work). The Cavaliers and Clippers get mentioned by fans, but neither has the pieces to pull off a deal. Other teams could be lurking (Orlando has come up, my man Steve Kyler speculated New Orleans would work) and with the price so low some team could snag him on the cheap. One way or another, expect Bledsoe to get moved relatively soon.

Despite all the drama, the Suns picked up their first win of the season Monday, knocking off the Kings 117-115.

2) Grizzlies play a little old-school “grit ‘n grind,” go on 20-2 run to close game, beat Rockets. The book on beating a Mike D’Antoni team hasn’t changed — be physical, slow the game down, contest their threes. Memphis may not be playing “grit ‘n grind” anymore, but they pulled it out against Houston Tuesday night — the Rockets had 93 possessions, six below their season average, and shot 23.7 percent from three for the night. As for physical, we’ll let Mario Chalmers show you how to guard James Harden.

Memphis was still down but closed the game on a 20-2 run to get the 98-90 win and stay undefeated this season. It’s just 3-0, but the Grizzlies have now knocked off the Warriors and the Rockets this young season. Everyone who wrote them off as a playoff team owes Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and the team an apology. Memphis is going to be in the playoff hunt in the West this season.

As for Houston, they are shooting 27.5 percent from three and have missed more threes than 27 NBA teams have even taken this season.

3) Spurs stay undefeated with win over Toronto.
Kawhi who? The Spurs are 3-0 to start the season, and now 17-4 the last three seasons without Kawhi Leonard, after a 101-97 win over the Toronto Raptors. The two big keys for the Spurs in this one were, first, the glass, where they grabbed 39.6 percent of their missed shots and got a second chance. That’s a lot of extra shots. The second was the lineup of Dejounte Murray, Danny Green, Kyle Anderson, Rudy Gay, and LaMarcus Aldridge who went on a 19-4 fourth quarter run to pull the Rockets from behind into the lead.

While the rest of the league has gone small ball happy, the Spurs are a big team, and that has advantages — they had 12 blocks against the Raptors. (To be fair, most of the good Spurs lineups in this game were without Pau Gasol.) The Spurs continue just not to beat themselves and in the NBA regular season that is going to get them a whole lot of wins.

Bonus video: Ben Simmons gets his first triple-double. Simmons had 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists as the Sixers got their first win of the season over the Pistons. Enjoy the highlights.

Three Things to Know: The streaks continue, the Celtics keep winning, Clippers keep losing

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Celtics need overtime, Kyrie Irving to be dominant with 47 points, but win streak reaches 16. It was the team with the best record in the league against the team with the worst record — that meant Boston was either going to blow Dallas out, or Boston was going to look past Dallas and get itself in trouble. This game was the latter. For the third game in a row, Boston had to come from double-digits down to win and keep its streak alive — Brad Stevens called that “resilient” after the game. Either that or living very dangerously.

The Celtics raced out to a 15-point first quarter lead thanks to a hot start from Kyrie Irving, who had 25 points in the first half.

Then Boston took its foot off the gas. Harrison Barnes had 19 points over the second and third quarters, and Dallas chipped away at the lead, eventually retaking it. After a 10-2 run early in the fourth, Dallas led by 13.

The Celtics responded with a 22-9 run and eventually forced overtime. Marcus Smart was making defensive plays and some impressive passes, while Irving and Jayson Tatum (15 points on the night) were getting buckets. With the game close late, then into overtime, Irving took charge — he had 10 points in OT to get to 47 on the night. He has been clutch all season.

The Celtics win streak has been living on borrowed time in recent games (Barnes had a good look at an 18-foot fadeaway to win it in regulation for Dallas, but missed). Boston’s defense — which was fantastic down the stretch against Dallas after some sloppy stretches — and Irving have kept it afloat. But even when the streak — now the fourth longest in Celtics’ history — does end, it will be remembered as the time this Boston team stepped up as a contender. This team has announced its presence ready for the NBA’s biggest stages.

2) On the other side, Clippers losing streak reaches nine after 22-point loss to Knicks. First, let’s give the Knicks their due — this team is playing quality basketball. Better than I (and many) expected out of them season. Kristaps Porzingis has taken a step forward as the face of the franchise, doing whatever it takes to get them wins. Also Enes Kanter has given them buckets and boards they need, Jarrett Jack has been a steadying force at the point, and each night someone else steps up, such as Doug McDermott with 16 on Monday night.

However, beating the Clippers right now is no feat — Los Angeles has lost nine in a row and the wheels have come off.

The Clipper offense isn’t bad when the ball moves and players move off it, but they don’t do that consistently, falling back into habits of isolation and “you take a turn, then I take a turn” that they don’t have the talent to pull off. However, that’s not the real problem — their defense is a disaster. The effort is not there, and through the last nine games Los Angeles has the worst defense in the NBA, allowing 110 points per 100 possessions. Injuries play a part in this, no Danilo Gallinari or Milos Teodosic in this game forces Wesley Johnson and Austin Rivers into starting roles, and that thins the bench. But the best teams overcome injuries and still have effort and a system that works, the Clippers do not.

Doc Rivers’ seat has to be getting warm. How long he would be around after he was stripped of his GM powers over the summer was a fair question, but Rivers is making more than $10 million a year and his contract runs through the summer of 2019 — that’s a lot of money for even Steve Ballmer to eat. However, there will come a time he may be willing to do that, and if the Clippers keep playing like this the question is not “if” but “when.”

3) Boogie Cousins ejected. Russell Westbrook with triple-double. Pelicans still win. If I told you that first DeMarcus Cousins would get ejected for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head (not the most flagrant 2 I’ve seen, but the league has cracked down on blows to the head).

Then I told you Westbrook stayed in the game and got a triple-double (22 points, 16 rebounds, 12 assists), you would think that the Thunder picked up a road win in New Orleans.

You’d be wrong. The late-game woes that have plagued the Thunder all season — an offense that becomes isolation heavy, and a defense that is 10.6 points per 100 possessions worse in the fourth quarter than the rest of the game — came back to bite them. Again. The Thunder raced out to a 25-6 lead but had given all that back by the middle of the second quarter. Then down the stretch, OKC again could not execute.

Meanwhile, Anthony Davis put up 36 points and 15 boards, 14 of his points came in the fourth as OKC had no answers for him, and without Cousins, Davis carried the Pelicans to the 114-107 win.

Irving’s 47 lead Celtics past Mavericks to maintain streak


DALLAS (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 10 of his season-high 47 points in overtime as the Boston Celtics rallied once again from a double-digit deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks 110-102 on Monday night and extend their winning streak to 16 games.

The Mavericks led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, but as they have several times during their winning streak, the Celtics stormed back.

The winning streak ties the fourth-longest in Celtics history.

Boston tied the game at 96 when Irving stole the ball from Dirk Nowitzki and fed Jayson Tatum for an alley-oop lay-up that hung on the rim for a full second before dropping through.

Irving scored his team’s first six points of overtime. Then after Jaylen Brown gave Boston a 104-102 lead with a jumper with 1:39 to play, Irving went to work on Yogi Ferrell, backing him down and drawing contact on a lay-up with 48.5 seconds to play. Though Irving missed the free throw to keep the score 106-102, Dallas never got closer.

Harrison Barnes scored 31 points and Wesley Matthews had 18 for Dallas, which came back from an early double-digit deficit as the Celtics went cold for much of the second and third quarters.

Irving and Barnes had chances in the final 30 seconds but both missed shots that would have given their teams the lead.

The Mavericks fell behind by as many as 15 points in the first half, outscoring the Celtics 55-35 over the second and third quarters.

Dallas took its biggest lead of the game when Yogi Ferrell fed a cutting Dwight Powell for a lay-up to make it 87-74 with 7:47 to play before the Celtics rallied.

Boston shot just 10-for-34 over the two middle quarters after building the early lead.


DeMarcus Cousins ejected after elbowing Russell Westbrook in head

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DeMarcus Cousins‘ history of flagrant fouls certainly didn’t help him here, but if anyone elbows a guy in the head, he’s going to get tossed.

And that’s what Cousins did here.

Midway through the third quarter in New Orleans, Cousins blocked a putback attempt by Russell Westbrook, then grabbed the rebound. Westbrook tried to reach in across Cousins’ body for the steal, and Cousins cleared out space with his elbow — right to Westbrook’s head. Cousins walked around saying “no, no, no” afterward, and he likely thinks the officials had it out for him here because he was just getting a guy off him, but we go back to the original point — elbow a guy in the head, get tossed. The league is cracking down on blows above the neck. Westbrook did not leave the game.

The Pelicans went on to come from 19 down to win the game 114-107, behind 36 points and 15 boards from Anthony Davis.

Damn, Paul George with the in-game bounce pass alley-oop to Jerami Grant

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The game has been close (as of midway through the third quarter), but that didn’t stop Oklahoma City from putting on a show in New Orleans.

Paul George had the ball on a 2-on-0 fast break and decided to throw the playground bounce-pass alley-oop, which Jerami Grant got up and finished with authority. This could be one of the dunks of the year.

We’re going to see that highlight for a while.