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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.”

Report: Suns could have traded for Kristaps Porzingis last season

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I’m going to need New York next fans to read this one with their eyes closed. Right? Your we go.

The Phoenix Suns won the right to be first pick in the 2018 NBA Draft During the recent draft lottery. That means they will be adding somebody like Luka Doncic, Deandre Ayton, or Marvin Bagley to their young roster. Phoenix had the number for overall tech last year, which they used to draft Joss Jackson.

Buddy new report says that if Phoenix would have decided to instead trait that pick they could have exchanged hat selection for New York big man Kristaps Porzingis.

Seriously.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Phoenix had an opportunity to put together a package that would have sent Porzingis to Arizona. That anything the Suns had, plus the No. 4 pick, would have made that happen is just another testament to why Phil Jackson had to go in New York.

Via the Ryen Russillo show:

The Knicks actually hit on Porzingis, and although he may be out for the entire year next season, he’s a keeper to build around, not to trade. On the other side of things, why the Suns didn’t include that pick and pull the trigger is a head scratcher, although we don’t know the full details of the proposed package.

No doubt New York fans are glad the Suns didn’t decide to accept the offer without that pick.

Watch James Harden dunk all over Draymond Green (VIDEO)

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Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals started off hot for the Golden State Warriors. The defending champs scored the first 12 points of the game, but the Houston Rockets rallied before the half was over to take the lead, 53-46, at the break.

One of the biggest highlight plays from Houston came courtesy of James Harden late in the second quarter.

The play came with 6:06 left to play in the half and with the Rockets pushing on the Warriors in transition. Harden found himself with the ball at the top of the key and with an open lane. That forced Draymond Green to slide over as a help defender, and the result was a thunderous dunk for Harden over the Golden State defensive stalwart.

We’ll forget that Chris Paul probably either travelled or double-dribbled before Harden got the ball on the play.

Golden State leads the series, 2-1.

Report: Mike Woodson close to joining Suns coaching staff

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The Phoenix Suns are bolstering their coaching staff. After spending most the 2017-18 season under interim head coach Jay Triano, Phoenix finally settled on Igor Kokoskov as their top man.

Now, it appears they’re adding some veteran talent to the front row.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Suns are in talks to bring former New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson in as Kokoskov’s right hand man. Meanwhile, ArizonaSports.com is reporting that the decision has already been made to hire Woodson.

Via Twitter:

Woodson, 60, was last on the bench with the Los Angeles Clippers from 2014-2018. He was head coach of the Knicks from 2012-2014, and helmed the Atlanta Hawks from 2004-2010.

This is a smart hire for the Suns, who have needed some legitimacy after firing Earl Watson just three games into the season this year. Phoenix has been in a bit of a freefall since letting Jeff Hornacek go in 2015. Indeed, despite for one outlying 48-win season in 2013-14, Phoenix hasn’t been a very good team in this decade.

With a solidified coaching staff and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, there’s hope yet for the Suns. Now, the question is who they take with that pick. Luka Doncic? Deandre Ayton? The draft continues to intrigue.

Andre Iguodala out for Game 4 Tuesday vs. Rockets

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“When we’re right, when we’re playing how we are supposed to play, Andre’s right in the middle of it. His defense and being smart, making good decisions. Andre is one of the guys who seems to set the tone for that for us.”

That’s Warriors coach Steve Kerr on Andre Iguodala

The Warriors are going to have to be without that tone Tuesday night, Iguodala will miss the game with a knee contusion.

This is a blow to the Warriors, who have started small with Iguodala through the first three games of this series. The Warriors have been 4.3 points per 100 possessions better with Iguodala on the court through the first three games of this series.

Expect Kevon Looney or Nick Young to start, with the rest of the minutes divided up between Shaun Livingston, Jordan Bell, and David West.

Whatever Kerr and the Warriors go with, expect James Harden and the Rockets to attack it.