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NBA Three Things to Know: Nets beat Cavaliers, messing up that first-round pick

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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. Wednesday night was the Night of the Living upsets — we’re not even going to get to Dallas handing Memphis its first loss, or the Suns going 2-0 since firing Watson/banishing Eric Bledsoe.

1) Cavaliers not named LeBron James take night off, fall to Nets. When the Cavaliers shipped out Kyrie Irving to Boston late in the summer, the most valuable thing they got back was the Brooklyn Nets unprotected 2018 first-round pick — the Nets were going to be bad, and this pick would help get the team grab young talent to go around LeBron/jumpstart the rebuilding process.

The Nets made that pick a little less valuable Wednesday — Brooklyn upset Cleveland 112-107.

This kind of loss has been a problem for the Cavaliers for a couple of regular seasons now — they take nights off (occasionally weeks off). Especially against teams they think are inferior, such as the Nets, who were without D’Angelo Russell. LeBron was brilliant — 29 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds — but he had eight turnovers, Kevin Love added six, and as a team Cleveland turned the ball over on one-in-five trips down the court. Kyle Korver pitched in 22 points off the bench, but the Cavaliers were not sharp on offense.

Brooklyn is 3-2 to start the season, and they are playing loose and free. They jacked up 46 threes (hitting 17, 37 percent), and they are playing so loose that with the game on the line Spencer Dinwiddie is willing to shoot from Stephen Curry range (and it worked).

We know the Nets aren’t going to rack up a lot of wins this season, but the way they are playing they will get more than some people expected. And certainly more than the Cavaliers’ front office wants.

2) Eric Gordon saves Rockets from upset with buzzer-beating game-winning three to knock off Sixers. Philadelphia is a young team looking for a confidence-boosting signature win — and they thought they had it Wednesday. The Sixers were up two with 6.4 seconds left and a chance to knock off the Houston Rockets.

But 6.4 seconds can be an eternity in the NBA.

The Rockets did not surprise anyone, they inbounded the ball to Ryan Anderson, who quickly handed it off to James Harden, who was isolated on Robert Covington. Harden drove and Covington didn’t give him much space, pushing Harden drove down the left side of the court. Joel Embiid rotated over and took away a lane, so Harden kicked it to the corner to a waiting Eric Gordon. The Rockets had struggled from three all night, and had hit just 25 percent on corner threes all game. Embiid did a good job closing out, forcing Gordon to put the ball on the floor and take a step right to create a little space.

That’s all he needed.

There are no moral victories for a team with playoff aspirations, but for the Sixers they can learn from these hard losses. They are just getting tired of the lessons.

3) Wizards don’t respect Lakers, pay the price with a loss. Earlier in the day, John Wall said he would show “no mercy” to Lonzo Ball after more comments from LaVar. Instead, he showed little interest. None of the Wizards did.

“We didn’t respect them from the get-go,” Bradley Beal said after the game. “We thought it was going to be easy, and that we could just come out here and beat them. These guys are professionals just as well as we are.”

Washington led by 10 in the second quarter, and by six with less than two minutes left, but in a sloppy game — Wall had 18 points on 22 shots, Ball has 6 points on 11 shots, and they summed up the inefficiency of both teams — it was an ugly but gritty play by Brandon Ingram that forced OT.

The Wizards’ struggles from three — not taking enough of them, not making them when they do — continued in this game as the team went 6-of-26 from deep. The Lakers were not shooting it better (7-of-30) but got a timely three in overtime from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who finished with 15 points and had a strong game. Down the stretch in overtime Lakers’ coach Luke Walton went young and small (no Brook Lopez, it was Julius Randle at center) and it worked — it was a confidence-boosting win.”

What do the Wizards need to do?

“Play defense,” Wall said.

“We play defensive basketball like we are supposed to read each other’s minds, and when you do that you get beat on switches,” coach Scott Brooks said. “You have to communicate and that has been slipping the last couple of games, and it showed tonight. We switched sometimes and the other player didn’t know we were switching.”

Devin Booker forces OT with deep turnaround buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Bucks beat Suns (video)

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I’m not sure who benefited from Devin Booker‘s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing 3-pointer. The Suns still lost to the Bucks, 113-107. The extra five minutes featured more of the same relatively bad basketball we’d seen between Phoenix (bad) and Milwaukee (shorthanded) through 48 minutes.

But darn if this shot wasn’t really cool and clutch.

Three Things to Know: Angry Russell Westbrook sparks Thunder against Warriors

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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. As a matter of housekeeping, this will be the last Three Things of this week, as we take a holiday break. Happy Thanksgiving!

1) Angry Russell Westbrook sparks Thunder we’ve been waiting for. Don’t make Russell Westbrook angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

Unless you’re a Thunder fan, then you’ll love him. Westbrook came out with an edge we haven’t seen from him this season as he has tried to play nice and integrate Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Not Wednesday night. Wednesday night Kevin Durant and his Warriors came to town, and Westbrook was not taking it from anyone.

That sparked the Thunder team we have been waiting for all season. Westbrook finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, and he was joined by Anthony with 22 points, and George with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 steals. The Thunder used a 22-10 first-quarter run to take the lead and never looked back, leading by 26 at one point and going on to win 108-91. This was by far the best the Thunder have looked all season as they have stumbled to a 7-9 start before Wednesday. Maybe this game was the spark they needed to start playing well at the end of games — they closed out well against Golden State. Maybe this was what the Thunder needed to find themselves and become the playoff threat to the Warriors we expected.

As for the Warriors… ¯_(ツ)_/¯. We haven’t said this about them this season (only the Cavaliers), but they looked disinterested much of the night (outside of Durant). Give credit to the Thunder, physical and aggressive defenses that can overplay the Warriors (and recover) give them trouble, and OKC did that. The Warriors just didn’t care to counter. They looked like a team coasting through a road trip (2-2 in their last 4), and when they ran into a quality, motivated team they didn’t have the gear. That doesn’t mean anything long-term, but it means they may be vulnerable during the season until they find their edge again. Whenever they flip the switch.

2) Miami ends Boston’s win streak at 16. For a couple of weeks now the Celtics had been living dangerously — they had to come back from double-digits to win four of their last five games heading into Wednesday night.

Their luck ran out against the Miami Heat.

Miami raced out to a double-digit first-quarter lead, pushed that lead to 19 and were comfortably ahead most of the game, and we kept waiting for the Boston run. It came in the fourth, a 13-0 push that made it a game again. However, Miami responded with a 5-0 run of their own, Dion Waiters seemed especially motivated to take on Kyrie Irving, and the Heat held on for the 104-98 win. Goran Dragic had 27 points, Waiters 26 and 6 assists.

Boston’s streak was bound to end, but they established themselves as a strong defensive team during that run, and the squad in the East best poised to knock off LeBron James and the Cavaliers. We’re a long way from the games that matter in that push — the Cavs have won six in a row, and are playing defense again — but we know the pecking order for who gets a shot at the champs. Boston will get their shot, and early on they look like they will be ready.

3) Patrick Beverley is out for the season and the Los Angeles Clippers have some hard questions to answer. For the first four games of the season, we saw the potential of what this Clipper roster could be — four head-turning wins. Then the injuries started to pile up — Milos Teodosic, Danilo Gallinari, and starting point guard Patrick Beverley — and so did the losses. Nine in a row, until they picked up a road win in Atlanta Wednesday.

Now comes a brutal blow — the Clippers have lost point guard Patrick Beverley for the season. He had microfracture surgery on his knee and will be out until next season.

That’s a real blow to the Clippers, and it means they may need to answer some harsh questions. If the losses continue to pile up and this is clearly not a playoff team by the time we get to Christmas — a reality that became a more possible on Wednesday — do they need to trade free agent to be DeAndre Jordan? Other teams are already calling and asking if he is available in a trade, if the Clippers think they can’t resign him this summer (or at least the odds are lower than they like) they have to consider the move. Los Angeles wouldn’t get a lot back for a rental, but they would get something to help the rebuild they need to consider.

The other question: How much longer is Doc Rivers the coach. The sense from many around the league is the reason he wasn’t let go when he was stripped of his GM powers this summer was he is making more than $10 million a year and had a couple of years left on his deal, and that was too much for even Steve Ballmer to just eat. Plus Rivers has shown he can coach. Whether he can coach this team still is a different question entirely. Right now, this team is not responding to him, and the sense around the league is the question is when, not if, he will be let go.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go head-to-head, literally (video)

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This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.

The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.

Harrison Barnes banks in game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.

Emphasis on “almost.”

The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.