NBA Three Things to Know: What will snap the Warriors out of funk? The Clippers.

Associated Press

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. We bring you tonight’s Three Things straight from Staples Center in Los Angeles.

1) Warriors snap out of their malaise to throttle Clippers. Surprisingly, the Los Angeles Clippers came into Monday night’s game with best defense in the NBA, having only given up 92.8 points per 100 possessions, and allowing a true shooting percentage of 53.9 against them. With DeAndre Jordan anchoring the paint, and Patrick Beverley and Austin Rivers on the perimeter, the Clippers were forcing teams into midrange shots, protecting the rim, and just getting stops.

Then the Warriors came to town.

Golden State snapped out of its early-season funk (starting 4-3) just in time to drop 74 points on Los Angeles in the first half, shooting 60.5 percent overall. Stephen Curry hit threes — 7-of-11 for the game — but it was him, Draymond Green, and the rest of the Warriors getting shots at the rim at will that was the difference. Golden State turned the fourth quarter into garbage time and won 141-113. Curry had 31 points to lead the way, while Kevin Durant had 19, and Green had 16 while shutting down Blake Griffin on the other end, blowing up the Clipper attack.

“We gave up too many easy baskets,” Griffin said after the loss. “They ran their offense and got open shots and layups. They pushed in transition, I think the transition points at halftime were 18-4, which is never a good.”

The Warriors had twice as many transition possessions as the Clippers for the game.

“Defensively, I thought our offense deflated us in some ways and offensively, they had a field day,” Clippers coach Doc River said postgame. “They moved the ball wherever they wanted.”

What shook Golden State out of its funk? The Warriors always get up for the Clippers, and even with Chris Paul gone that didn’t change. Also, the Warriors may have played their worst game of the season the night before against Detroit and are a proud team not about to repeat that disaster.

What we learned in this game is there is a massive the gap between Golden State and Los Angeles when the Warriors are at their peak. Then again, if the Warriors are out of their funk there’s a a gap between them and everybody.

“I don’t think we are better at all right now,” Green said comparing last year’s title team to the current Warriors. “We have a long ways to go…. Do I think we have the potential to be better? Absolutely. I think we have a lot more depth, a lot of guys have gotten better individually, we are more familiar with each other, but we are nowhere near where we are going to have to be or where we can be. It’s a long road.”

2) Not having Kawhi Leonard caching up with Spurs, team drops third straight. When the Spurs started the season 4-0, and the only time we saw Kawhi Leonard was him struggling to board a plane, it was fashionable to say “well, that’s the Spurs.” LaMarcus Aldridge stepped up, Dejounte Murray looked like a find, and everything Gregg Popovich touched turned to gold.

However, a 108-94 loss to Boston Monday night was San Antonio’s third in a row, and it reminded everyone much the Spurs miss their MVP candidate. They needed his defense on the Celtics’ star, Kyrie Irving, who was aggressive from the opening tip and finished with 24 points and six dimes to lead the Celtics to their fifth straight win. The Spurs also missed Leonard’s shot creation.

To be fair, the Spurs looked tired, like they were on the final game of a road trip — which they were. Aldridge didn’t score at least 20 points for the first time in six games, and Murray had as many turnovers as assists. Now the Spurs are home for 8 of their next 10, and expect them to pick up some more wins and keep their head above water until Leonard can return.

3) Kristaps Porzingis fully unleashed on Nuggets, scores career-high 38. I’m not the biggest fan of the nickname “The Unicorn” for Kristaps Porzingis. I get why it came about, but a mythical creature idolized by 5-year-old girls is not the most intimidating of creatures.

Whatever Porzingis’ spirit animal is, it was fully unleashed on Monday night as he dropped a career-high 38 points on the Denver Nuggets, taking advantage of a porous defense to shoot 14-of-26 overall and 4-of-7 from three. He scored from everywhere, see for yourself.

Jokic scores 31 points with 11 assists, leads Nuggets past Bucks 129-106


DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 31 points and 11 assists, Jamal Murray finished with 26 points and nine assists, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Milwaukee Bucks 129-106 on Saturday night in a late-season showdown of the NBA’s conference leaders.

Michael Porter Jr. scored 19 points for West-leading Denver (50-24), which outscored East-leading Milwaukee 68-40 in the second half.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 31 points — just seven in the second half — and grabbed nine rebounds for the Bucks (53-20).

“It’s better to win games, but our goal is to do something in a playoffs,” Jokic said.

The battle of the top teams in each conference — and two strong MVP candidates — was more competitive than the teams’ first meeting, won by the Bucks 107-99. Then, the Nuggets held out four starters — Jokic, Murray, Porter and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — in the game in Milwaukee on Jan. 25. Denver had played the night before in New Orleans and opted to rest its stars.

The circumstances were reversed, with the Bucks having played in Utah on Friday night.

“We still play, still got to be better, there’s no excuses about that,” Khris Middleton said. “But I’m sure for a lot of fans, a lot of people out there, they’d love to see healthy teams, or not coming off back to backs.”

Antetokounmpo scored 24 points on 11-for-14 shooting in the first half, with all but one of those field goals coming at the rim. Murray (20 points) and Jokic (17 points) kept Denver within three at the break, and then the Nuggets outscored Milwaukee 34-19 in the third quarter to take a 97-85 lead.

Jeff Green dunked on Antetokounmpo to open the fourth as the Nuggets’ lead swelled to 15 points. Grayson Allen hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 103-91 with 9:54 left, but Milwaukee went scoreless for 4:10 while Denver built a 111-91 lead.

“It was an amazing dunk,” Jokic said of Green’s dunk. “I didn’t think he was going to do it. He almost fell down, so it was a really nice dunk.”

Antetokounmpo went to the bench with 5:54 left and didn’t return.

The Bucks lost some composure in the third quarter. Bobby Portis Jr. was called for a take foul on Jokic and, immediately after, a technical. Denver hit both free throws and Bruce Brown hit a 3-pointer for a 84-76 lead. Minutes later, Brook Lopez got a technical while sitting on the bench.

Antetokounmpo picked up Milwaukee’s third technical with 6:41 left in the game.

“It was a night where we were grumpy, and it happens,” coach Mike Budenholzer said.

Denver coach Michael Malone got a technical late in the first quarter, and it was to prevent Jokic from getting one. Jokic was frustrated by the physical play, so during a timeout Malone told him he would get the technical.

“I can get kicked out, he can’t. I understand the pecking order here,” Malone said.

Watch Trae Young get ejected for launching ball at referee


Trae Young screwed up and he knew it.

“It’s just a play he can’t make,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said via the Associated Press after the game. “I told him that. He knows it.”

With the score tied at 84 in the third quarter, Young had a 3-pointer disallowed and an offensive foul called on him for tripping the Pacers’ Aaron Nesmith. A frustrated Young picked up a technical foul for something he said.

Then walking back to the bench, Young turned and launched the ball at the referee with two hands. It was an instant ejection.


“There wasn’t a single part of him that tried to rationalize what happened,” Snyder said.

Young can expect a fine for this. It also was his 15th technical of the season, one more and he will get an automatic one-game suspension.

The Hawks went on to win 143-130, improving Atlanta to .500 at 37-37 and keeping them solidly as the No. 8 seed in the East.

Report: ‘Strong optimism’ Anthony Edwards could return to Timberwolves Sunday

Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves
Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

What looked so bad when it happened may only cost Anthony Edwards three games.

Edwards rolled his ankle last week but could be back Sunday when the Timberwolves travel to Golden State, reports Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports.

Edwards is averaging 24.7 points and 5.9 rebounds a game this season, and he has stepped up to become the team’s primary shot-creator with Karl-Anthony Towns out for much of the season. The Timberwolves have been outscored by 3.4 points per 100 possessions when Edwards is off the court this season.

Towns returned to action a couple of games ago, and with Edwards on Sunday it will be the first time since November the Timberwolves will have their entire core on the court — now with Mike Conley at the point. With the Timberwolves tied for the No.7 seed in an incredibly tight West (they are 1.5 games out of sixth but also one game out of missing the postseason entirely) it couldn’t come at a better time. It’s also not much time to develop of fit and chemistry the team will need in the play-in, and maybe the playoffs.

Nets announce Ben Simmons diagnosed with nerve impingement in back, out indefinitely

NBA: FEB 24 Nets at Bulls
Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ben Simmons — who has been in and out of the Nets’ lineup all season and often struggled when on the court — is out indefinitely due to a nerve impingement in his back, the team announced Friday.

A nerve impingement — sometimes called a pinched nerve — is when a bone or other tissue compresses a nerve. Simmons has a history of back issues going back to his time in Philadelphia, and he had a microdiscectomy about a year ago, after he was traded to Brooklyn.

With two weeks and nine games left in the season, logic would suggest Simmons is done for the season. Coach Jacque Vaughn said Thursday that Simmons has done some individual workouts but nothing with teammates, however, he would not say Simmons is shut down for the season or would not participate in the postseason with Brooklyn.

Simmons had not played since the All-Star break when he got PRP injections to help deal with ongoing knee soreness. When he has played this season offense has been a struggle, he has been hesitant to shoot outside a few feet from the basket and is averaging 6.9 points a game. Vaughn used him mainly as a backup center.

Simmons has two fully guaranteed years and $78 million remaining on his contract after this season. While Nets fans may want Simmons traded, his injury history and that contract will make it very difficult to do so this summer (Brooklyn would have to add so many sweeteners it wouldn’t be worth it).

The Nets have slid to the No.7 seed in the West — part of the play-in — and have a critical game with the Heat on Saturday night.