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.

NBA players react to Kyrie Irving to Mavericks trade news

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Is there going to be a football game of some kind next weekend? You’d never know the way the NBA trade deadline can dominate the headlines.

Kyrie Irving is getting traded to the Mavericks, which has blown up the NBA world — Dallas looks like a threat in the West, and there is a countdown clock over Kevin Durant‘s time in Brooklyn. It wasn’t just fans and pundits stunned by the news, NBA players past and present took to Twitter and social media to react and give their thoughts on the Irving trade. Starting with one of the guys in the trade.

Nets reportedly trade Kyrie Irving to Mavericks for Dinwiddie, Finney-Smith, picks

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Dallas desperately needed a second star and shot creator to go next to Luka Dončić.

They got one — Mark Cuban has always been willing to take risks to win. The question about how long this can last comes later.

The Nets are trading Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, their unprotected 2029 first-round pick their 2027 and 2029 second-round picks, according to multiple reports.

Irving is reportedly “ecstatic” to make the move to Dallas (the hard questions about a future contract will wait until after the season).

Irving reportedly will land in Dallas Monday, take the standard post-trade physical, and could be available for the Mavericks on Wednesday against the Clippers.

Brooklyn had several suitors to choose from but wanted in return players it could slot in around Kevin Durant now (or, once he is healthy and returns) so they could still have a puncher’s chance to win the East. Dinwiddie gives Brooklyn a point guard and shot creator who can play some off the ball — and he returns to Brooklyn, where he made a name for himself in the league. Finney-Smith is a coveted two-way wing who can step in right now. Plus, the Nets add some potentially valuable picks down the line.

That offer gave the Nets more win-now possibilities than they got out of the Lakers’ offer (two future first-rounders and Russell Westbrook) or what the Suns and Clippers put in the mix.

There are questions for Dallas, but ones they believe they can answer — elite talents figure out a way to make it work on the court. Off the court, it helps that both coach Jason Kidd and former Nike executive turned Mavericks GM Nico Harrison have strong relationships with Irving. That’s a start.

The pairing of Dončić and Irving should lead to games and stretches where they look brilliant, but the question is not the highs but the lows — how deep and how prolonged will those be? Irving works well off the ball (as he has done with Durant and LeBron James) and should be able to play off Dončić. However, can Dončić play well off the ball when Irving is hot? Do the Mavericks — with Tim Hardaway Jr., Christian Wood, Maxi Kleber, Reggie Bullock and the rest — have enough around their two stars to be a serious threat in the West? Off the court, can the very different personalities of Irving and Dončić mesh, or at least work well enough not to be a distraction?

The biggest question: Do Cuban and the Mavericks really want to re-sign Irving for the four-years, $198.5 million he demands at the end of the season? There are reports that Dallas (like every other front office in the league, including Brooklyn) is hesitant to do a long-term deal with Irving that gives him that kind of guaranteed money.

But that is a concern for the future — Dallas got its second star. It has vaulted itself into the upper echelons of the Western Conference and positioned itself to contend.

Reports: Stephen Curry out ‘weeks’ with leg injury, Warriors hope for return after All-Star Break

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This is bad news for the Warriors. How bad depends on how the word “weeks” is ultimately defined.

Stephen Curry has torn ligaments in his leg — in the shin area just below the knee — and while the team does not have an official timeline he will be out “weeks” reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“Weeks” is a vague word, and for the Warriors the difference in Curry being out three weeks (with one of those being the All-Star Break) versus him being out six to eight weeks could be the difference in how long a playoff run the Warriors have.

The Warriors are hoping for a Curry return just after the All-Star break, reports Monty Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Of short-term concern, this has Curry out for the All-Star Game where the fans voted him a starter. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will bump one of the reserves up to a starting spot — likely Ja Morant, who was third in fan voting — and name an injury replacement for the team. The top candidates are Devin Booker (if he returns from injury this week as expected), De'Aaron Fox or Anthony Edwards.

Longer term, the Warriors can’t afford to be without Curry for an extended period.

Curry is averaging 27.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists a game, and the Warriors outscore opponents by 5 points per 100 possessions when he is on the court and get outscored by 5.4 when he is off. With the team one game above .500 and struggling to avoid the play-in, an extended absence for Curry is trouble for a Warriors team that has never found its footing this season.

 

Nets reportedly going to sit Kyrie Irving until he is traded

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This time it looks like it’s going to happen, the Brooklyn Nets will trade Kyrie Irving (unlike this summer).

Just don’t expect to see Irving on the court for Brooklyn until he’s moved, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

That is at one time a combination of smart, the only real call to make, the Nets wanting to look like they have control over the situation because Irving’s camp already leaked that he was going to sit out the rest of the season if not traded.

Irving did not play Saturday night when the Nets went down by 20 in the first quarter but rallied behind 44 points from Cam Thomas to get a much-needed win.

Four primary suitors have stepped up for Irving: The Lakers (considered Irving’s preferred destination), Suns, Mavericks and Clippers. The question is what do the Nets want back in a trade? If, as most around the league expect, the goal is to remain in the championship picture around Kevin Durant, Brooklyn will prize quality players and depth over draft picks. That’s bad news for the Lakers (the core of their offer is two future first-round picks plus Russell Westbrook) and good for the team down the hall, the Clippers can offer good players — John Wall, Luke Kennard, Reggie Jackson, plus young players such as Terance Mann — plus a pick if they need it.

The question for teams: Irving wants a max contract after this summer, similar to the four-year, $198.5 million fully guaranteed extension the Nets would not offer after Irving had 10 weeks or so of not being disruptive and focusing on basketball. Around the league, front offices are very hesitant to get into the Irving business for that long (most thought he would never get more than a two-year offer). Are the four teams above desperate enough for a bold move that ownership would sign off on four years with Irving? Will any of them? Or, like this summer, will Irving find the market not to his liking?

It’s going to be interesting until the Feb. 9 trade deadline.