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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.

DeMar DeRozan fined $25,000 for throwing ball at ref Scott Foster

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Many people would like to throw a basketball at NBA official Scott Foster — he’s not exactly the favorite of several NBA players. San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan got his chance to do exactly that this week, and he was promptly given a technical and a ejected from the game.

Now, the NBA has handed down discipline for DeRozan.

On Sunday morning, the NBA announced that they had fined DeRozan $25,000 for throwing a ball at Foster.

This comes in the wake of the brouhaha around the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers getting into a bit of a tussle involving Joel Embiid and Jared Dudley. Sunday morning, the NBA also fined Nets general manager Sean Marks $25,000 and suspended him for entering the referee locker room to argue about Embiid not being assessed a flagrant 2 foul.

Things are heating up in the NBA playoffs, and emotions are running high. No doubt the referees are doing their best, but it’s not been the most impressive performance by the boys in gray thus far.

The officials will continue to face criticism as the playoffs go on, but hopefully people will calm down and cooler heads will prevail from here on out. There’s no need to throw balls or rush into the officials’ locker rooms the way DeRozan and Marks have.

Nets GM Sean Marks gets suspended for going into ref’s locker room after Game 4

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Emotions are high as the playoffs move into the second week. Things got a little testy between the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night as Jared Dudley got in the face of Joel Embiid after the Sixers big man committed a hard foul on Jared Allen.

That caused Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler to respond to Dudley, who overreacted to a good, hard playoff foul by Embiid. The result of the fracas was an ejection for Butler and Dudley, and a flagrant 1 on embiid.

But apparently that’s not the end of the disciplinary process for the NBA.

Nets general manager Sean Marks went into the officials locker room after the game — no doubt to discuss what happened here — which is a big problem in the eyes of the league.

According to a release by the NBA, Marks has been suspended for one game without pay and has been fined $25,000.

Marks will be suspended for Game 5 between these two teams on April 23rd.

The playoffs are high-stakes, but Embiid blocking the crap out of somebody shouldn’t result in someone going crazy like Dudley did.

Philadelphia beat the Nets, 112-108.

Everyone’s hero is dad who pulls son away from Nets/76ers fracas (VIDEO)

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Fathers everywhere can relate to this one.

You set up a bonding experience with your son or daughter, one you hope will leave an impression on them and create a memory that will last a lifetime… for example, you get courtside seats, just behind the basket, for one of the first NBA playoff games in Brooklyn, ever.

Then everything hits the fan.

Joel Embiid commits a flagrant foul on Jarrett Allen, Jared Dudley rushes in and shoves Embiid to stand up for his teammate, Jimmy Butler runs in to shove Dudley on the same premise, and suddenly there is a wave of large professional athletes about to trample you and your son. So, you grab him, move onto the court, and get out of the way.

There were two fathers with the same thought, one on either side of the fracas that spills into the first row.

Well done Dads. Well done, indeed.

Andrew Bogut says he plans to return to Australian league next season

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Unable to find a new NBA contract for this season, Andrew Bogut went home. The Australia native signed to play for the Sydney Kings in Australia’s NBL, where Bogut ended up being the league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year, leading the Kings on a deep playoff run.

When that run ended, the Golden State Warriors came calling, asking him to fill a role — a role that got much larger after DeMarcus Cousins tore his quad. Bogut has played well for the Warriors in the postseason, and there is a good chance Cousins will not be back in Golden State (the Warriors can only offer him a small raise off what he made this season, that likely will not be enough, even after the injury), so the Warriors may try to retain Bogut for next season.

However, Bogut says he is returning to Australia. Speaking to Matt Logue from the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney, Bogut said he gave his word to the Kings he would return.

“The be all and end all is that I gave my word (to the Kings)… That is basically what it comes down to…

“Someone outside of the Warriors could offer me a deal that would be pretty lucrative and a decent one-year deal, but I’m sold and locked in on coming to the Sydney Kings again to try and better what we did last season.”

Saying you’ll walk away from a lot of money and actually doing it are two different things, but Bogut is a man who stands by his word. He probably returns to Sydney for next season.

When that season ends, however, don’t be shocked to see Bogut back somewhere in the NBA helping a team make a playoff run.