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Three Things to Know: Stephen Curry explodes for 51 points. In three quarters.

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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) Stephen Curry explodes for 51 points in three quarters. Sorry Wizards. There are nights there is nothing anyone can do. Bradley Beal suggested you could “probably foul the s—- out of him” but that just might make him angry. And you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

Stephen Curry drained 11 threes on his way to 51 points Wednesday — and he rested the entire fourth quarter. Curry had 23 points in the first quarter, and was 15-of-24 shooting overall.

It was the kind of night where even a blown lob to Kevin Durant became a Curry three.

By the way, Kevin Durant had a “quiet” 30 points on the night. If you think Curry and the Warriors are ruining the game, well, he has a Jordan shrug for you.

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No idea what to say. #RuinTheGame

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Curry is red hot to start the season, hitting 33-of-63 from three through five games. We’re just five games into the season, it is far, far too early to be talking MVP race, but Curry is playing like a guy who wants to be in the middle of that conversation again.

2) Lakers earn first win of the LeBron James era, knock off Suns. All season long, for LeBron James it has been more about setting up teammates and getting the offense in a flow in Los Angles rather than just taking over and winning games by himself. That was the case Wednesday night again in Phoenix, when LeBron had 19 points and 10 assists — JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson each scored more than he did — and the Lakers picked up their first win of the season, 131-113 over the Suns.

The Lakers needed that win after three straight losses where playoff teams of a year ago out-executed Los Angeles when it mattered.

Luke Walton started the night with something fans (and smart watchers) have been calling for: Josh Hart in the starting lineup and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope coming off the bench (KCP has had a slow start to the season, Hart has been a ball of energy and threes). Actually, Walton did more than that — he unloaded on the team’s poor defense in the morning shootaround to try to get their focus back. It seemed to work in the sense the Lakers had their best defensive outing of the season, holding the Suns to a 108.7 net rating (close to the league average, which is way better than any other Laker game where opponents had a rating of 114 or higher).

Still without Rajon Rondo and Brandon Ingram, the Lakers pulled away in a second quarter where Stephenson was hot early (he finished with 23 points, plus 8 assists and rebounds each), and Hart and Lonzo Ball were knocking down shots. The Lakers coasted through the second half to get the kind of comfortable win and confidence boost they needed after three tough losses.

It doesn’t get easier for L.A. — the Lakers return home for a back-to-back against red-hot Denver on Thursday night. At least the blowout win helped get LeBron and others get some rest in the fourth.

3) David Stern takes a swing at Pelicans GM in interview. Pelicans push back. Former NBA Commissioner — officially currently “commissioner emeritus” — doesn’t like the narrative that he blocked Chris Paul from going to the Lakers because it was right after the lockout and a bunch of small market owners called him yelling “we just locked out to stop things like this.” Stern believes as the acting owner (George Shin had sold the team back to the league at the time) he did the right thing for the franchise — “basketball reasons” — getting the then-Hornets/now Pelicans a better deal.

Stern told SI the reason it didn’t work out was that Dell Demps — the GM who orchestrated that trade and who is still the GM in the Big Easy — sucks at his job.

“But Dell Demps is a lousy general manager and none of those players are currently with the team anymore, and he may lose Anthony Davis.”

Ouch. Plenty of Pelicans fans were quick to say “he’s right” but that’s still a heck of a thing for a league official to say about a sitting GM. The Pelicans fired back.

Stern is the outspoken, bombastic (especially behind closed doors) counter to Adam Silver’s modern, consensus-building style. Stern played a huge role in where the NBA is today, and he is still a great interview, but you can see why there were plenty of people who thought it was time to move on.

Kobe Bryant said he traveled by helicopter to spend more time with kids

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Kobe Bryant was such a superstar, his method of transportation to and from practice – helicopter – became a sensation.

Bryant died in a helicopter crash Sunday. In an old interview, he described why he traveled by helicopter.

Kobe Bryant on The Corp:

Traffic started getting really, really bad. Right? And I was sitting in traffic, and I wound up missing a school play, because I was sitting in traffic. And these things just kept mounting. I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft, but still not compromise family time. And so that’s when I looked into helicopters and being able to get down and back in 15 minutes. And that’s when it started. So, my routine was always the same. Weights early in the morning, kids to school, fly down, practice like crazy, do my extra work, media, everything I needed to do, fly back, get back in the carpool line, pick the kids up. And my wife was like, “Listen, I can pick them up.” I’m like, “No, no, no. I want to do that.” Because you have road trips and times where you’re not – you don’t see your kids, you know? So, every chance I get to see them and spend time with them, even if it’s 20 minutes in the car, I want that.

The irony and tragedy of Bryant and his daughter dying in a helicopter crash is just gut-wrenching.

Grizzlies call up Josh Jackson from minor league

Josh Jackson
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A few months ago, the Grizzlies thought so little of Josh Jackson, they didn’t even bring him to training camp. He remained on an NBA contract. Memphis gained no roster or salary-cap flexibility. The Grizzlies planned to send him to their minor-league affiliate, but the Hustle hadn’t yet opened their training camp. There was nowhere else for Jackson to be. The Grizzlies just didn’t want him around.

Now, Jackson will get his chance on the parent club.

Grizzlies:

The No. 4 pick in the 2017 NBA draft, Jackson still has a lot to prove with his maturity, professionalism and production.

But this is an opportunity – for Memphis to showcase him before next week’s trade deadline and for Jackson to showcase himself before unrestricted free agency next summer.

Grayson Allen is injured. Jae Crowder is also banged up. Jackson could actually receive playing time.

Kobe Bryant’s death a unique tragedy

Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson
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Magic Johnson – one of the NBA’s brightest stars – stood behind a podium, smiled and shook the world. Johnson had HIV and was retiring from the Lakers, he announced. Confusion, speculation and, most prominently, grief followed. Everyone thought he’d die. Charles Barkley said, “It’s kind of like somewhat of a death of a brother.” Larry Bird called it “probably the toughest day I’ve had since my father passed away, and I’ve been very depressed and sort of been out of it.” Pat Riley called for a moment of silence before a game.

More than 28 years later, Johnson mourned Kobe Bryant.

Bryant’s death yesterday was the tragedy everyone believed Johnson’s diagnosis to be. Sudden. Crushing. Unbelievable. All the same emotions came pouring out. Except this time there was no mistaking the finality.

Johnson has continued living, thriving, inspiring. He’s a renowned businessman, beloved celebrity and fantastic ambassador for basketball. It’s the type of retirement expected for Bryant, because why wouldn’t it be?

The NBA has grown accustomed to its titans aging gracefully. Unlike baseball, the NBA hasn’t existed long enough for multiple generations of old-timers to pass away. Unlike football, the NBA doesn’t subject its players to such traumatic physical tolls.

Just two MVPs in all of NBA history had died, Wilt Chamberlain (age 63 in 1999) and Moses Malone (age 60 in 2015), and those deaths felt far too soon.

Bryant was only 41.

Just four All-Stars died younger. Don Sunderlage was in a car crash at age 31 in 1961. Maurice Stokes suffered a head injury during a game, became paralyzed then – after teammate Jack Twyman cared for him for 12 years – died at age 36 in 1970. Pete Maravich had a heart issue while playing pickup basketball at age 40 in 1988. Reggie Lewis suffered a heart attack during what should have been the midst of his career at age 27 in 1993.

Lewis – like Len Bias (who died of a cocaine overdose at age 22 in 1986) and Drazen Petrovic (who died in a car crash at age 28 in 1993) – never got to fulfill their potentials. That creates its own kind of anguish.

There is no analogue to Bryant’s death.

Bryant’s accomplishments – one MVP, five championships, two NBA Finals MVPs, 11 All-NBA first teams, two All-NBA second teams, two All-NBA third teams and 18 All-Star appearances – place him among the very greatest of all-time greats. No player anywhere near that stature had ever died anywhere near this young.

Bryant could be charming and ruthless, sometimes simultaneously. His play and conduct earned him loyal fans and harsh critics. The never-ending Kobe debates seemed only to inflame the passion of his supporters.

Few adored him like fellow NBA players. They admired his skill and determination. He responded by mentoring many. It’s difficult to overstate just how cherished Bryant was in this league.

Few understand the cold realities of the NBA like Austin Rivers. He grew up with his father, Doc Rivers, frequently gone playing and coaching. As a result, they aren’t particularly close. Now an NBA player himself, Austin speaks of their distant relationship with far more acceptance than wistfulness. He’s too focused on competing to do much else.

Yesterday, Austin cried on the court:

Then, explained how little he cared about the Rockets losing a basketball game:

Others shed tears in arenas around the country. The NBA could have cancelled yesterday’s games. Playing while grieving proved difficult for many.

There was just no good way to handle the loss. Mere moments of silence felt insufficient.

The Spurs and Raptors began their game yesterday with shot-clock violations in honor of his No. 24. Other teams exchanged a shot-clock violation and eight-second violation in honor of his other number. Trae Young wore No. 8.

Other tributes popped up around the world. Bryant was a global icon.

He was also a loving father. As incredibly wide as this tragedy lands, it also cuts unimaginably deep. Bryant’s daughter, 13-year-old Gianna, also died in the helicopter crash.

Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2018, Bryant just lit up when discussing her:

Bryant’s death is devastating – for those touched closely and, because of its unparalleled nature, even those not. Nobody was ready for this.

It’s a punch in the gut. The basketball world – which expanded far larger than imaginable in 1991, when Johnson made his announcement, because of people like Bryant – remains in a daze.

In wake of Kobe Bryant’s death, Kendrick Perkins seeks forgiveness from Kevin Durant

Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Kendrick Perkins
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Kevin Durant once called Kendrick Perkins his favorite teammate of all-time.

A couple weeks ago, they were beefing on Twitter,exchanging barbs that didn’t look as friendly as previously.

Kobe Bryant’s tragic death has Perkins reflecting.

Perkins:

Good for Perkins. Amid all the sorrow, Bryant’s death creates an opportunity for people to re-assess their priorities. Grudges almost always aren’t worth it.