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Three Things to Know: Paul George starts fast, Dennis Schroder takes over late, Thunder win

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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) Paul George starts fast, Dennis Schroder takes over late, Thunder keep rolling. Everything is going the Thunder’s way right now — they have won six in a row, and Tuesday in Orlando was the perfect example of how they just keep finding ways.

Paul George started it out, owning the first half, scoring 31 of his 37 before halftime. His play keeps his name in the MVP conversation (he’s at least on the ballot).

Orlando would not go away though, and a 21-3 Magic run in the third quarter — Nikola Vucevic had six of his 27 in the frame — had Orlando in the lead entering the fourth.

That’s when the Thunder’s Dennis Schroder took over with 18 points in the fourth to spark a 23-5 Thunder run, leading them to a 126-117 win.

Russell Westbrook had his fourth straight triple-double as the glue in this one for OKC.

There’s another reason, besides its stars, the Thunder are on a role: They have become a good shooting team. For the first 40 games of the season, the Thunder shot 32.3% from three as a team (bottom 10 in the league). However, in the last 10 games they are shooing 42.9 percent. Those shots falling off kick-outs or other actions opens up everything else because defenders have to contest.

The Thunder need to keep it up as OKC has the toughest remaining schedule in the NBA (based on opponent win percentage).

2) James Harden keeps scoring streak alive, but Rockets have no answer for Jahlil Okafor in an ugly loss. Who needs Anthony Davis when you’ve got Jahlil Okafor?

Anthony Davis remains out with a finger injury — and whether he will or should ever return to the court for New Orleans after his trade request is an open question (I would say no) — but on Tuesday night Okafor stepped up and exposed how much the Rockets miss Clint Capela, with the former No. 3 pick scoring 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting, plus pulling down 12 boards, to lead New Orleans to a 121-116 in Houston.

James Harden did his thing on the way to 37 points — that’s 24 straight games with at least 30 points. Harden doing his thing means getting some calls from the officials he should not.

But at the end of the game, with everything still in doubt, Harden could not get the call he wanted (nor should he have, this is a good no-call).

3) Rudy Gay drains game-winner, then Popovich rips Spurs anyway. Traditionally, the coach of the team that gets the win on a game-winner as time expires is a happy man. That’s what Gregg Popovich and the Spurs got courtesy Rudy Gay Tuesday night against a scrappy Suns team.

Popovich is not your traditional coach, however. This was his entire post-game press conference (via ESPN), where the Spurs coach says the Suns got robbed.

“We were really fortunate to win the game,” Popovich said. “I thought that they outplayed us, outcoached us, outphysicaled us, outexecuted us. We had no respect for them or for the game. We didn’t play with each other. It was a pathetic performance, and Phoenix got robbed.”

Well, the Spurs film session Wednesday should be fun.

Report: Celtics wouldn’t include Jayson Tatum in Anthony Davis trade talks

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Anthony Davis is headed to the Los Angeles Lakers. The New Orleans Pelicans got a significant haul in exchange for their beleaguered star, and LeBron James is openly happy his team finally got the player they wanted all along.

Other favorites to land Anthony Davis this offseason were the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. Danny Ainge had to wait until after July 1 to make a trade for Davis thanks to some special CBA rules regarding Kyrie Irving‘s contract.

But that no longer appears to be on the table, in part because Boston decided not to offer Jayson Tatum in any deal for Davis. Thought to be the crown jewel of any potential Celtics-Pelicans trade, there was also concern by Ainge that Davis would not re-sign in Beantown.

Via Twitter:

This runs contrary to everything we’ve heard about Boston going after Davis. Ainge has always been one to leverage his assets in a way that’s less conservative than other team execs. Plus, the reports have been that the Celtics were not concerned about Davis re-signing. Perhaps Davis gave them a little extra information, telling them directly that he would not re-sign? Davis’ agent Rich Paul said as much publicly, but what’s posturing and what’s negotiating isn’t one in the same.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pelicans and Lakers will complete the deal on July 6. There’s a lot of time before we hit that date, and Pelicans leader David Griffin won’t back out of his deal with L.A. But the fact there’s still time on the table and the Celtics didn’t change their tune on Tatum tells us all the information we need to know.

Rumor: LeBron James hoping Kyrie Irving might join Lakers despite Nets talk

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The Anthony Davis trade saga is finally over. The deal between the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers hasn’t been completed yet, and is expected to be done on July 6.

For now, L.A. can move its attention elsewhere to look for another star. The Lakers will have significant cap space — $23.7 million, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks — and they’ll need another star.

Talk recently has been that former LeBron James running mate Kyrie Irving is headed to the Brooklyn Nets. But no deal is officially in place, and free agency hasn’t started. According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, there are folks in LeBron’s camp who are hopeful that Irving could still join L.A.

Via The Athletic:

Just days before the Davis deal was done, a source close to James indicated some optimism that – Nets noise be darned – Irving was still in play for the Lakers.

Remember, Irving and James had a heart-to-heart talk earlier in the season. They hashed out what happened in Cleveland, with Irving apologizing to James for how he acted as a younger man.

That sparked speculation that Irving could be looking to join LeBron with the Lakers this summer when he had the ability to opt out of his contract with the Boston Celtics.

We haven’t even reached the 2019 NBA draft yet, and already free agency is ramping up and getting crazy. This July is going to be wild, and until the music stops and the butts are in the seats, don’t count anyone as being a sure thing for any team just yet.

There’s already an Anthony Davis Lakers mural up in Los Angeles (PHOTO)

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Anthony Davis isn’t in Los Angeles yet. In fact the trade between the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans hasn’t been completed, and reportedly won’t be completed until July 6.

But that doesn’t mean that Lakers fans aren’t already anticipating his arrival.

On Instagram Sunday, Venice muralist Gustavo Zermeño Jr. posted an incredible new rendering of Davis, draped in Forum blue and gold.

Via Twitter:

Zermeño is the artist who painted one of the LeBron James murals that was defaced in L.A. last summer.

The Lakers did nothing right last season, and are a train wreck of an organization. Despite that, they have landed one of the best players in the NBA and if he can stay healthy they should be able to find their way back to the playoffs next season. There’s lots of work to do on this Lakers roster, and as much as people want to jump to conclusions, it’ll take some filling out before they’re contenders.

Davis is a step in the right direction, but this whole thing could go in the direction of “Now This Is Going To Be Fun” very quickly.

Never put it past Lakers fans to go all in. Less than 24 hours from the announcement of the trade and we already have a mural of Davis.

Reports: Pelicans fielding calls from teams interested in No. 4 pick

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The trade for Anthony Davis has not been completed yet. The New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers are apparently not expected to finalize the deal until July 6.

But one thing that could throw those plans out the window is if GM David Griffin gets another offer before Thursday’s NBA Draft. According to multiple reports, teams have been calling the Pelicans interested in the No. 4 overall pick they gleaned in the deal in principle for Davis.

Via Twitter:

From a distance it appears Griffin is not looking to completely rebuild from the bottom. His roster isn’t really set up for that, anyway. Jrue Holiday is already 29, and having two 19 or 20-year-olds would necessitate waiting longer to contend than perhaps Holiday’s contract lasts.

Still, it’s not as though Griffin couldn’t have another deal in principle in place by Thursday for that pick. Teams select for other teams all the time. A wink-and-handshake deal could be done so the Pelicans select for whomever a potential trade partner wants at that No. 4 spot.

The NBA is a weird place so I wouldn’t be surprised if this deal gets done earlier, or even later as Adrian Wojnarowski has suggested is possible. At the end of the day, the outcome is that Davis is on the Lakers despite that organization doing absolutely nothing right to get him there other than being in L.A.