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Three Things to Know: It wasn’t pretty, but Lakers get first win without LeBron James

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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.

1) It wasn’t pretty, but Lakers get first win without LeBron James. There were positives if you’re a Laker fan: Brandon Ingram looked the most comfortable he has all season, and any time you get a win against another team in the playoff chase in the West while your best player is out it’s a good thing.

But if I were going to choose a word to describe the 121-114 Lakers win over the Kings Sunday night it would be…

Sloppy.

This game was filled with all kinds of passes into the front row, guys picking up their dribbles without a plan, moving screens, three-second violations, and Willie Cauley-Stein getting the rebound and trying to go coast-to-coast type moments. Defense was often an afterthought.

Honestly, it was fun. Entertaining as heck (surprisingly, the Kings have become a League Pass favorite this season because their games are always a show). It just was not pretty.

Especially for Sacramento fans. At the 7:25 mark of the fourth quarter the Kings had a 108-101 lead, but Sacramento would shoot 3-of-14 the rest of the way, including 0-of-7 from three. While the Lakers picked up their defensive intensity, the Kings just missed wide-open corner threes and other looks they had been hitting all night.

“We missed some shots, the open ones that we had, and we didn’t get stops down the stretch,” De’Aaron Fox said after the game. “The last few games we’ve won, we got stops down the stretch and we didn’t do that today.”

The loss stung the Kings.

“Trying to make the playoffs in this conference, you really start to think about the ones you let slip,” Fox said.

For the Lakers, it was a win without LeBron, but the best part was Brandon Ingram, who finished with 21 points on 13 shot attempts, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds. He had passes that could have led to 11 more assists, but guys just missed the shot. The difference was Ingram was making quick decisions rather than facing up and surveying, and with that the offense flowed better.

“I thought Brandon Ingram, he showed, tonight, the complete game…” Laker coach Luke Walton said. “With him, it’s not about looking for his teammates first or not, it’s just making the right play. I thought tonight he did that. He seemed to have a joy about him playing tonight that, when he has it, it’s a lot of fun to watch.”

The question is, will Ingram have that joy when LeBron returns from his groin injury?

For now, the Lakers will ignore the questions and just take the win. They are 1-2 without LeBron and Oklahoma City is up next.

2) Luka Doncic drops Paul George, Mavericks come back in last two minutes to beat Thunder. And the legend of Luka Doncic continues to grow… how about a hesitation move that drops Paul George? Here you go.

Much like Sacramento is kicking itself for letting a game it thought it had get away, Oklahoma City is doing the same thing. The Thunder were ahead 101-95 with less than 2 minutes to go in the game, but the Mavericks went on a 10-2 in the final 1:56 to get the 105-103 win. That’s a tough loss for OKC.

3) Karl-Anthony Towns goes off for historic 34 points, 18 rebounds, in Minnesota win in Miami. Minnesota has struggled this season, never really defending well, not scoring consistently, and never really recovering fully from the Jimmy Butler-induced nightmare to start the season.

But they still have Karl-Anthony Towns, and he is still outstanding. Just ask the Miami Heat, who had no answer for him on Sunday.

Towns had 34 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists, six blocks, and three steals. Those are Kareem-Abdul Jabbar numbers.

Devin Booker tries to meet Gorgui Dieng in locker room after both get ejected (VIDEO)

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NBA players like to talk a big game about getting into fights with one another. It rarely actually happens, and when things get a little too heated sometimes we get a little extracurricular activity that helps us weave the tapestry that is the story of the NBA.

As the Minnesota Timberwolves took on the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, Gorgui Dieng and Devin Booker decided to have a little chat with one another. The two got into a jawing match after a play in the third quarter when Dieng elbowed Booker in the face.

Booker took exception to that and decided to start flapping his gums at Dieng. Both were ejected after official review, and as they exited to opposite sides of the floor, Booker appeared to make eye contact with Dieng and accept an offer to meet him in the concourse under the stands that lead to the locker rooms.

The Suns guard then had to be restrained from running at full speed to meet Dieng.

Via Twitter:

Devin Booker vs. Gorgui Dieng is the bitter rivalry you didn’t know you needed.

Report: Anthony Davis fears fractured finger, could be out up to a month

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New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis hurt his hand against the Portland Trail Blazers earlier last week. Initial reports had Davis missing 1-2 weeks with a sprained finger.

Now it appears things could be much worse.

Reports surfaced on Tuesday night that Davis could be facing a potential fracture in his left index finger. If that’s the case, Davis could miss anywhere from 2-4 weeks with a more serious injury.

Via Twitter:

The Pelicans cannot afford to have Davis out for that amount of time. The team has not met expectations this season, and are struggling to stay in playoff contention as we near the All-Star break.

If Davis is going to miss significant time, now is probably the best place in the NBA calendar. The real problem is that the Pelicans won’t be able to stay afloat without him. Even with Davis on the floor, New Orleans has struggled to win recent games against top Western Conference opponents like the Blazers and Golden State Warriors.

It’s probably too much to extrapolate this into what this could mean for Davis staying with the Pelicans, but it’s natural to wonder whether a missed postseason could push Davis to ask for a trade out of Louisiana.

If he’s not on the floor, the Pelicans probably aren’t winning games without Davis. That could spell disaster for their playoff hopes, and in turn, alter the future of the franchise.

Kevin Durant challenged Draymond Green to better control his emotions

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Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green has often let his emotions get the better of him. Green famously missed Game 5 of the NBA finals in 2016 after he repeatedly kicked LeBron James in the crotch.

Meanwhile, things have been heated in the Golden State locker room like never before. It’s bubbled over to the public sphere, with Kevin Durant and Green seemingly at odds at different times during this year.

Things seem to have studied in the meantime, particularly after Stephen Curry returned to the lineup At the beginning of December. But Durant and Green are still trying to find a way to work together to win another championship in the Bay Area.

According to a story from The Athletic, that meant a challenge from Durant to Green to maintain his emotions and to keep himself in check.

Via The Athletic:

Durant told Green he wasn’t accepting the emotional excuse. Green’s fire is what makes him great even if it also makes him volatile. But Durant wasn’t buying that it’s uncontrollable. He’s seen Green control it. He’s seen him keep his composure in the crucible of championship stakes. He’s seen him locked in and focused, forcing his emotions to submit to his will.

So Durant challenged him to be better. Green accepted.

Green has had a down year and it’s not clear Why that is. Is he simply aging? Or is this more due to the internal strife in the Warriors locker room?

No matter what, Golden State will need a semblance of the old Draymond Green to win NBA title this year. This agreeent between the two stars should be helpful both in healing their wounds and moving toward their shared goal.

These guys might not ever fully reconcile, but another championship ring could act as a salve.

Paul George joined Knicks fans in cheering for Raymond Felton (VIDEO)

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There’s not much to cheer about at Madison Square Garden these days. Kristaps Porzingis is still not playing for the New York Knicks, and it’s not clear whether the team will land a big free agent like Kevin Durant this summer or strike out and continue their run of dismal play.

As such, it makes sense that New York fans are trying to keep themselves entertained, and that includes during Knicks games.

When the Oklahoma City Thunder came to town on Monday night, fans in Manhattan found themselves cheering for a former Knicks player on the Thunder bench. With the game out of reach, it only seemed appropriate.

In the fourth quarter, MSG started a chant for Raymond Felton, who played for the Knicks for three seasons over two stays. As cheers rained down from the stands, even Paul George got involved in the action.

Via Twitter:

George scored 31 points as the Thunder rolled New York, 127-109.