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Three Things to Know: NBA family sends love after horrific Caris LeVert injury

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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) Caris LeVert’s promising season halted by a horrific leg injury, NBA family reacts with love. Caris LeVert was having a breakout season scoring 18.4 points per game, having taken on a larger percentage of the Nets’ offense yet improving his efficiency. It’s early to talk awards, but his name came up as a most improved candidate.

Then on Monday came a horrific leg injury. One that undoubtedly ended his season. Here is the video, but only watch it if you have a strong stomach. The injury pushes both Nets and Timberwolves players to tears.

NBA players reacted on Twitter, here is just a small sampling.

Our thoughts are with LeVert as well.

2) Two days after beating Bucks in OT, Clippers do the same thing to Warriors. If you’re not taking the Los Angeles Clippers seriously, it’s time to. Saturday night they knocked off the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime, a quality win against the team with the best net rating in the NBA so far.

Monday night, the Clippers knocked off the Warriors in overtime, 121-116. Lou Williams, who was ice cold for most of the game and shot 3-of-15 in regulation, was making plays and had 10 points in overtime. Tobias Harris continues to be a leader and had 17 points. But it was the youth of the Clippers that got this win. Montrezl Harrell dropped 23 points on just 13 shots while grabbing eight rebounds and blocking four shots off the bench. Rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander started at the point and finished with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, five rebounds, and three assists.

The Clippers have the seventh-best net rating in the NBA, with a top 10 offense and defense (usually the sign of a contender). If they can stay healthy — and that has always been the concern with this Clippers roster — we may need to pencil them in for a playoff spot.

Of course, leave it to the Warriors to ramp up the drama, even in a loss. Monday’s game only reached overtime because of an 11-0 Warriors run to close out regulation (and the Warriors were without Stephen Curry due to his groin injury). However, it was the last play of regulation that led to the drama — Draymond Green grabbed the defensive rebound, ignored Kevin Durant clapping and calling for the ball, decided he was going to take it the length himself and get the game winner… and fumbled it away without a shot. You don’t have to imagine how that sat with KD.

Notice Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins were the peacemakers.

It’s a long season, these kinds of spats happen to every team, but this is just one to file away and remember.

3) Now where does Carmelo Anthony go? ‘Melo is not with the Rockets as they travel to Denver for a game Tuesday, officially due to an “illness” but nobody is buying that. Frustrations about his role have led to meetings with the team and it is expected Anthony has played his last game as a Rocket, he will be released.

Just don’t expect that to happen too quickly.

Because, where is ‘Melo going to land? What team will bring him in? Where does he have a significant role? Anthony said it was “mentally challenging” to come off the bench for Houston, he expects to be tenured in and treated with the deference of a quality starting player. There was a time when Anthony was that; there was a stretch of four or five years where he was the best scorer in the NBA (not the most efficient ever, but he could get buckets with the best of them). That time, however, ended three or four years ago (at least). The fall has been rapid. At this point, Anthony is a bench player — but not one who can accept that role, making it an awkward and challenging fit anywhere.

ESPN’s Marc Spears said on The Jump he had heard Miami and Philadelphia as possible destinations. Philly is looking for depth and role players (maybe even a fifth starter), but not guys who are going to get a lot of touches — Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and J.J. Redick should get the bulk of the Sixers’ touches and shots. For years Brett Brown has worked to build a blue-collar, hard-working culture in Philly, a team that defends well and plays all out. Butler fits with that ethos. Anthony… not so much. The Lakers came up because of the LeBron connection, but they need to focus on their young players and to build a core for the future, ‘Melo never made sense there.

Miami makes more sense on paper, just because the 5-8 team could use a jolt to awaken their pedestrian offense so far. But they strike out on Butler so they go get ‘Melo? Is Pat Riley really going to bring him in?

Anthony couldn’t accept a role with a contender in Houston. No team developing young players is going to bring him in to take away touches from those guys. That doesn’t leave a lot of options. This could take a while.

PBT Podcast: Zion Williamson and the rest, an early NBA Draft breakdown

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Zion Williamson is a force of nature, an athletic freak that has become must-watch television and silenced the doubters about his game.

Before the season, scouts questioned his shot and fit, but his play for Duke so far has moved him past teammate R.J. Barrett on everybody’s draft board into the consensus No. 1 pick. The shine has really come off Barrett early this season for a guy averaging 24 points a game, Cam Reddish may be the second Blue Devil taken in next June’s draft.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports joins me to talk Duke’s trio of superstars, plus other names to watch in this coming draft, such as Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura, Oregon’s 7’2″ Bol Bol (maybe the most divisive player in the draft), Kevin Porter out of USC and many others.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Gregg Popovich passes Pat Riley, now fourth on the all-time coaching wins list

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Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest coaches in NBA history.

His resume can stack up next to anyone’s: the sustained excellence of 20 seasons of 50+ wins which has given him a .686 win percentage, the five NBA titles, and maybe most impressive of all is small-market San Antonio into an NBA franchise that was feared on the court and modeled off it.

And, of course, there are all the wins — 1,211 of them to be exact after the Spurs knocked off the struggling Suns Tuesday night.

That win moved Popovich past Pat Riley into fourth on the all-time coaching wins list.

Popovich needs just 10 more wins to tie Utah legend Jerry Sloan for third on the list, something that will happen well before the All-Star break.

Will he coach long enough to catch Don Nelson or Lenny Wilkins at the top of the coaching-wins leaderboard (it would take more than 100 additional wins)? Only Popovich knows that, although the speculation around the NBA is probably not (many expect him to retire after the 2019-20 season, although nobody knows for sure).

Whatever happens, Popovich’s place on the all-time wins list just adds to a Hall of Fame legacy.

Three Things to Know: If the Clippers were trying to impress Kawhi Leonard it went poorly

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LOS ANGELES — 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. Today we come straight from Staples Center.

1) If the Clippers were trying to impress Kawhi Leonard Tuesday, it went poorly. When the discussion turns to speculation about where Kawhi Leonard could be playing next season, the Los Angeles Clippers are high on the list. He grew up in Southern California and wants to return there, sources say he doesn’t want to play with LeBron on the Lakers, and the Clippers have been surprisingly impressive this season but are a team without a true superstar that is looking to add one (or two, the Clippers reportedly want to add both Leonard and Kevin Durant).

Not that the notoriously media-shy Leonard cares about the speculation.

“I don’t buy into reading media, don’t have no social media, so just focus on what’s in front of me,” Leonard said before his Raptors took on the Clippers Tuesday night without him (due to a tweaked hip). “At that time it’s either my family or playing basketball.”

If the Clippers — or any team — is going to impress and entice Leonard, it’s not going to be with a well-crafted marketing plan to grow his brand (the people advising Leonard on the other hand…). Leonard presents the image of being focused only on what happens on the court.

That’s where the Clippers fell short Tuesday.

Actually, “fell short” is putting it kindly. The Clippers got thumped by 24 on their home court, their worst loss of the season. Playing without its superstar, Toronto looked like a team much closer to the NBA’s elite in terms of talent and execution than Los Angeles. The Raptors won 123-99 in a game that was not in doubt from early in the third quarter on.

“I think we just played bad,” Clippers’ guard Tyrone Wallace said, summing it up well. “We just had a rough night, we didn’t play well defensively.”

That was the starkest contrast: While the Clippers looked like a dazed team on the second night of a back-to-back (and without Lou Williams, who will miss a couple of weeks with a tweaked hamstring), the Raptors’ defenders were on a string — they switched, they rotated, they even threw in a zone for a few plays and the Clippers could not adapt fast enough.

Toronto turned the stops into shots in transition and the Clippers were not getting back or handling their scrambling defense well. Serge Ibaka feasted on the Clippers with 25 points.

However, the best news for the Raptors was the “return” of the real Kyle Lowry, who had 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting to break out of his slump (he had shot 8-of-42 over his previous five games).

Whatever Leonard decides to do this summer — stay in Toronto, come to Los Angeles, or choose from the 28 other teams that will be knocking on his door — the decision will not be based on the outcome of one December game. However, if the Clippers were trying to show off an impressive young core Leonard could join and elevate, this was not the effort that they needed.

Toronto, on the other hand, looked exactly like a team with an impressive young core. One Leonard is already elevating to the top of the East.

2) The good Rockets show up — especially the bench players — and Houston knocks off Portland. About once every week or so I watch a Rockets game and think, “they can get it together and turn this around.” Not turn around to the level they expected entering the season — they are not going to be a threat to the Warriors with this current roster — but there are nights they look like a playoff team and better than their sub-.500 record.

Tuesday was one of those nights, mostly thanks to hot play off the bench. Houston’s second unit outscored Portland’s 37-13, and they were the group that blew the game open at the end of the third and into the fourth. Danuel House and Gerald Green combined for 25 points, shooing 4-of-7 from three and 64.3 percent overall, and they had nine rebounds. Houston was +22 when they were on the court together.

James Harden had 29 points (which Chris Paul continued to struggle, with 11 points on 12 shots).

While the Rockets looked better, Portland struggled. There was too much isolation, not enough ball movement, and Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum took 53 percent of the team’s shots. The Trail Blazers were predictable, and that made the struggling Rockets defense look good.

I’ve seen too many good games followed by bad ones from Houston to suggest the Rockets have turned the corner, so let’s just say the good Rockets showed up for one night. We’ll see who shows up Thursday night against the Lakers.

3) Gregg Popovich passes Pat Riley, moves into fourth on the all-time coaching wins list. When it is all said and done, Gregg Popovich will go down as one of the best coaches in NBA history. The sustained excellence, the five rings, turning small-market San Antonio into an NBA franchise to be feared on the court and modeled off it, all will be part of his legacy.

So will all the wins he’s racked up — 1,211 of them after the Spurs win over the struggling Suns Tuesday night. That moved Popovich past Pat Riley into fourth on the all-time coaching wins list.

Popovich is just 10 wins shy of tying Jerry Sloan for third, something that will happen in the coming months. I don’t know if he’s going to coach long enough to catch Don Nelson or Lenny Wilkins at the top of that leaderboard (it would take more than 100 additional wins), but Popovich’s win total just adds to his legacy and place in history.

Was Stephen Curry just using his moon landing comments to promo his new shoe?

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The current social media marketing landscape is sort of a gross place to be. People will do anything for clicks, views, and the idea of “all PR being good PR” is taken to the extreme by many parties.

We live in a world where Kanye West, who made a couple of good albums a decade ago, says something patently crazy in advance of any new marketing campaign as a way to keep his name in the news (and in search engines) prior to the release of a shoe or a new song. It’s not very subtle.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry appears to have done much the same this week. Curry proposed that he didn’t believe that humans had landed on the moon, prompting widespread discussion of the kind of negative impact those comments can have. NASA wasn’t happy about it.

Both ESPN’s “PTI” and “The Jump” issued commentary on it that was out of the ordinary, and fans denounced Curry for setting a bad example and being “anti-science” and “anti-history”.

And now, just a couple of days later, Curry has a new shoe for you to buy from Under Armour. Imagine that!

Tuesday night Curry was at an event showing off the new shoes, and he even did a Q&A on Twitter. Perfect timing, don’t you think?

Steph, let me tell you buddy. This is not the way to sell a shoe. Well, it is one way to sell a shoe in 2018, but as the two-time NBA MVP and a three-time NBA champion, it’s definitely not the right look for a guy of your stature. This is gross, and inappropriate, and honestly damages the legacy of how people will write about you and view you in the future.

Say it was a bad joke and move on. It’s not worth it to look like you’d sell your soul just to huck some rip-off Kobe 10 All-Stars anyway.

The UA Curry 6 drops soon but I’m not telling you where.