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Three Things to Know: LeBron’s first ejection, ever, doesn’t slow Love, Cavs

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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. Here’s what you missed around the Association while you were off yelling at a mall Santa.

1) LeBron James had a first — he got ejected. Kevin Love and Cavaliers keep winning anyway. We thought we had seen everything from LeBron James during a Hall of Fame career, but we hadn’t seen this. LeBron drove the lane late in the third quarter against Miami, drove into the body of James Johnson then used the space created for a little running jumper that missed — LeBron wanted the call and didn’t get it (I’ve seen that call go either way, but LeBron initiated the contact). LeBron went over to complain to referee Kane Fitzgerald and must have said the magic word (not “please”) because the ejection was swift.

LeBron haters loved it. For example, Enes Kanter.

It also didn’t matter. Look at the score in Kanter’s Tweet — Cleveland was up 23 late in the third when this happened, Miami wasn’t coming back. The game was all but over. For the first time this season the Cavs won on the second night of a back-to-back, and Kevin Love was the reason — 22 first-quarter points on his way to 38 for the game, plus nine boards.

The Cavaliers have won eight in a row, and what has mattered during this streak is they have allowed just 100.4 points per 100 possessions — fifth best in the NBA in that stretch. What got the Cavaliers off to a slow start was lackadaisical defense, but they are starting to focus on that end, and with it they again look like an elite team. And that is with Isaiah Thomas expected back next month.

2) Blake Griffin has sprained MCL, likely out 6-8 weeks. The Clippers have some hard questions coming. Considering how ugly the injury looked when it happened, the fact that Blake Griffin “only” has a sprained MCL and will not need surgery has to be seen as good news. The Clippers have won three straight (after losing nine in a row) and with Griffin out, Patrick Beverley gone for the season, Milos Teodosic out until after Christmas, and Danilo Gallinari still sidelined, the question becomes can the Clippers keep their head above water and in the playoff mix until Griffin’s return is 6-8 weeks? As of now, the Clippers are only a game out of the last playoff spot in the West, but can they stay within striking distance without their best player and primary shot creator?

The bigger question is if not, do they try to trade DeAndre Jordan? What about Gallinari and other players who could have value? Is it time for a rebuild? When Chris Paul pushed his way to Houston, Los Angeles didn’t turn toward a rebuild — they re-signed Griffin to a max deal, got Gallinari, and in that trade landed Beverley and some depth with Lou Williams and Sam Dekker. The Clippers were going to stay a potential playoff team and rebuild on the fly.

However, they did it with a lot of players who have injury histories, and health was always a big question mark. Now we have the answer. Other teams are already calling about Jordan — as a high-priced rental (he is making $22.6 million this season, with a player option for $24.1 million next season) the market is small, and teams are not going to offer a lot in return, but they are calling. The Cavaliers are rumored (a deal centered around Tristan Thompson and a pick), with teams such as Milwaukee and, in a long shot, Washington coming up in rumors. Others are testing the waters as well.

In this situation a lot of teams would typically reach out to Jordan’s people through back channels to see if they can get him to opt in, or if they have a good shot at re-signing him (teams don’t just want the All-NBA center as a rental), but there is a complicating factor, as Bobby Marks of ESPN points out.

Lawrence Frank, the guy with the hammer in the Clippers’ front office, has said he wants Jordan to be a “Clipper for life.” That’s nice. It’s what you say. But if Frank and the Clippers think it’s likely they lose Jordan as a free agent next summer, they need to make a trade. They need to get something back. And that could be the first domino in a Clippers’ rebuild… if Steve Ballmer is willing to go there. Remember he is trying to get approval for a new arena for the Clippers in Inglewood (right across the street from the Lakers’ old home at the Fabulous Forum) and that task gets a little harder with a rebuilding team that doesn’t feel like a huge draw. There are a lot of moving parts in Clippers trade talks.

3) Watch Devin Booker go off for 33 to lead Suns past Bulls. Maybe the biggest news out of Chicago Tuesday was that Nikola Mirotic attended the game, sat on the bench, and is back around the team after missing time with a broken face and concussion. He’s not speaking to Bobby Portis yet (the guy who gave him those injuries), but he is practicing with the Bulls again.

But that was not the most entertaining part Wednesday.

Devin Booker put up 33 points and drain five threes to lead the lowly Suns past the lowlier Bulls, and it just fun to watch this guy shoot and play.


Former NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis arrested on drug charges

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Glen “Big Baby” Davis — a key bench player in the Celtics 2008 title run, but who has been out of the NBA for a couple of years now — was arrested last month at a hotel in a suburb of Baltimore with 126 grams of marijuana and more than $96,000 in cash, according to a report.

Davis was arrested in Aberdeen, Maryland, with the signs what he had on him was for sale, not just personal use, reports ABC 2 WMAR in Baltimore.

According to court records, the hotel owner smelled marijuana coming from Davis’ room on February 7th. When the owner knocked on room 208, someone inside the room told him to “F*** off!”

Aberdeen police then responded to the hotel and Davis gave signed consent to search his room

“They recovered 126 grams of marijuana,” said Aberdeen Police Lieutenant William Reiber, “In addition to that there was a briefcase that contained 92,164 dollars of U.S. currency along with a ledger that contained language which is consistent with someone involved in the sale and distribution of narcotics.”

Davis has since been indicted on seven counts of drug possession and intended distribution. Davis’ attorney has said his client is not guilty of the charged crimes.

Davis has been out of the NBA since 2015 when as a free agent he needed ankle surgery that sidelined him.

Davis played eight NBA seasons between the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, and Los Angeles Clippers. In his second season out of LSU, he played a role off the bench for the Celtics during their run to the title, then his bench role expanded the next couple of seasons when Boston made runs (remember Nate Robinson referred to Davis and himself as “Donkey and Shrek” during the 2010 NBA Finals).  Davis earned $36.4 million in salary during his NBA career.

Without Curry, Durant, Thompson, Warriors don’t have enough against Kings

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — With April approaching, the beat-up, undermanned Golden State Warriors are prioritizing health over everything else – even the No. 1 seed in the West.

“It’s a harrowing experience,” coach Steve Kerr joked before the game. “I’m just trying to process it all.”

Yet the faces down are glaring: NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, two-time MVP Stephen Curry and his Splash Brother, Klay Thompson.

Buddy Hield made three free throws over the final 27.5 seconds, Willie Cauley-Stein had a late dunk and the Sacramento Kings won for the second time this season on Golden State’s home floor, beating a Warriors team missing its top three scorers 98-93 on Friday night.

Hield finished with 22 points off the bench. He also had seven assists and seven rebounds.

Quinn Cook scored a career-high 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting for Golden State (52-17), making his initial seven shots and also hitting a career-best five 3-pointers after the team announced Durant was out with a broken rib.

Green returned from a one-game injury absence to produce 14 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two blocked shots.

“That’s the most important thing, though, is to get healthy,” Green said. “Obviously I think where we are right now we’re in the position where I think all three guys could play if they had to but it’s just not that important for them to play. I think it’s more important for them to be healthy. That’s kind of been the theme the whole year, just to keep guys fresh and healthy and try to get a rhythm.

“I don’t think it’s all bad for us with them guys being down. We’ll be fine and get them healthy and then we can go into the playoffs healthy. That’s the goal.”

Hield made one free throw with 27.5 seconds left and then two more with 13.2 seconds remaining as the Kings (23-47) withstood a frantic final minute after the teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 75. Sacramento also won at Oracle Arena on Nov. 27.

“It’s just a side note as we grow and build,” Sacramento’s De'Aaron Fox said. “Every games matters for us just trying to get better.”

Before the game, NBA Finals MVP Durant became the latest Warriors star to go down . Then Golden State lost reserve Omri Casspi to an ankle injury early in the game.

Durant will miss at least two weeks with a fractured rib on the right side. An MRI exam revealed Durant’s injury, and he will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Durant said there’s still time for the team to heal and get ready for the playoffs. He missed 18 games in 2017 before returning for the final two contests of the regular season.

“No concern. I’ve got a couple weeks and I’m just trying to get healthy, and I’m just trying to make sure I’m out there being able to be me on the court,” Durant said. “That’s the most important thing. It’s not great timing-wise, obviously. It’s all about just feeling better when I’m out there playing.”

Cook scored 13 in the first quarter as the Warriors jumped out to a nice lead, but they held just a 59-57 edge at halftime.

Both teams played the first of back-to-back games.


DeRozan has 29, Raptors win 11th straight, beat Mavs 122-115


TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan made the game-winning basket in overtime and the Toronto Raptors rallied to match the longest winning streak in franchise history, extending their season-best run to 11 by beating the Dallas Mavericks 122-115 on Friday night.

DeRozan scored 29 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 21 points and 12 rebounds as the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors won for the 18th time in 19 games. Kyle Lowry got the night off to rest as the Raptors played the second game of the back-to-back.

Delon Wright had 15 points and Fred VanVleet scored 14, helping Toronto improved to an NBA-best 29-5 at home.

Dallas had won three of four. Harrison Barnes scored 27 points for the Mavericks, Dennis Smith Jr. had 19 and J.J. Barea 18.

Up 84-78 to begin the fourth, Dallas stretched its lead to 101-93 on a jump shot by Barnes with 5:43 remaining, but four points from DeRozan cut it to 101-97 with 4:32 left.

Toronto kept coming, pulling within two on a pair of free throws by DeRozan and, after a Dallas turnover, tying it at 106 on DeRozan’s jumper with 1:15 to go in regulation.

Each team turned the ball over before Barnes missed a jumper with 24 seconds left and VanVleet grabbed the rebound. After a timeout, DeRozan let the clock wind down before driving and kicking to Serge Ibaka, who missed a potential game-winning shot. DeRozan also missed before the buzzer, sending it to overtime.

VanVleet and Dallas’ Dwight Powell each made a 3 in overtime before DeRozan drove for the tiebreaking basket with 53 seconds left.

Valanciunas sealed it by making five of six at the free-throw line in the final 10 seconds.

Toronto also extended its franchise-record streak of games with 100 or more points to 22.


Kevin Durant has fractured ribs, out a couple of weeks

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The injury bug is hitting the Warriors hard — not with anything that seems like it will last into the playoffs, but it’s still a concern.

Stephen Curry (ankle) and Klay Thompson (fractured thumb), Draymond Green is just returning to the rotation (along with David West and Jordan Bell), and now this — Kevin Durant is going to be out a couple of weeks.

What incomplete means is it is nondisplaced, or to use the slang it is a cracked rib. The bone was not moved out of place and does not need to be reset.

The good news for Warriors fans about all these injuries are they should heal up in a couple of weeks and the Warriors should be fully loaded for bear come the playoffs. And no doubt this team knows what it needs to do to win, it can get back into its groove quickly.

So long as we’re not talking about all these injuries in the second week of April, Warriors fans do not need to worry.