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Three Things to Know: Lou Williams drops 34, becomes NBA’s all-time leader in bench scoring

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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) Lou Williams drops 34, becomes NBA’s all-time leader in bench scoring in Clippers win. Who is the greatest sixth man in NBA history? Manu Ginobili is at or near the top of the list. Kevin McHale, Jamal Crawford, John Havlicek, Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson, Michael Cooper, and Dell Curry should all get mentioned in the conversation.

Make room for Lou Williams on that list.

Williams, the two-time and defending NBA Sixth Man of the Year (and a leading candidate to win it again), came off the bench to score 34 points against the Celtics on Monday night and in doing so passed the elder Curry for most points scored off the bench in NBA history at 11,148.

Williams can just get buckets. Go under the pick and he’ll drain the three (35.9 percent this season), fight over the pick and he’ll use his handles to get to the left elbow area (he doesn’t seem to miss from there) or to the rim. And he’s sneaky good at drawing fouls.

The feisty Clippers handled the Celtics 140-115, the most points Boston has given up in a game since 1994 to the Washington Bullets. Don’t read much into this loss for the Celtics, it was the last game of a West Coast road trip where they went 3-1 and played well. Teams let down in that last game of a trip, plus they may have had the Los Angeles flu after a few days in the city. It happens. So long as it doesn’t carry over when they get back home it’s just one of those games. Flush it and move on.

The Clippers have now won five in a row and have moved up to the six seed in the West. They are going to be a tough first-round matchup for somebody.

2) Toronto’s Serge Ibaka goes after Marquese Chriss and throws punches. Well, it looks like Marc Gasol will be starting the next couple of games in Toronto.

Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and Cleveland’s Marquese Chriss had been talking smack back-and-forth all game long. It came to a head when, with one second to go in the third quarter Monday night, Norman Powell threw a length-of-the-court inbounds pass to Ibaka, who was being defended by Chriss. The two got hooked up, but Ibaka goes to the ground. Chris walks by and appears to say something, and Ibaka gets up and goes hard at Chriss, grabbing him by the neck, ramming him into the stanchion, and throwing punches.

Ibaka and Chriss were both ejected.

Ibaka is going to get suspended for this, and probably not just one game. Remember, Ibaka was suspended for one game two seasons ago after throwing punches at Robin Lopez. Last season he was suspended for a game for throwing punches at James Johnson. The league sees a pattern and that’s when it comes down hard.

The Raptors fell apart after that and the Cavaliers won 126-101. Toronto looked like a team on the second night of a back-to-back, they just went through the motions against an inferior team and paid the price. Since they’re locked into the two seed, it’s not that big a deal.

3) Russell Westbrook gets into it dropping a profanity-laced tirade on Jazz fan… oh, Oklahoma City beat Utah. There was a game, one with playoff implications in the crowded West. Nobody is talking about the game.

Russell Westbrook got into a verbal exchange with Jazz fans on Monday night, yelling profanity at them. (Note: This video has profanity and is not safe for work or those offended by such language.)

What started it? From Westbrook’s postgame statement:

“How it started was, a young man and his wife in the stands told me ‘to get down on my knees like you used to.’ To me, that’s just completely disrespectful, to me, I think it’s racial, and I think it’s inappropriate.”

The fan denied it, saying he told Westbrook to ice his knees. What we know for sure is five Jazz fans were handed warning cards saying their language and behavior violated the NBA Fan Code of Conduct. However, they were allowed to return to their seats.

Westbrook will get a fine for this. As I have written about before, this is an increasing issue around the league, fans crossing the line with comments looking to get a reaction or rise from players. Sometimes security in the arena is on it and the fan is removed, but it’s far from consistent. Whatever happened in this case, the broader trend is something the league needs to deal with.

As for the game, the Thunder are built to give the Jazz trouble. Donovan Mitchell is the primary — often only — shot creator on Utah, they lean heavily on him and try to hunt mismatches he can exploit. That’s hard against the Thunder. Oklahoma City can start with Defensive Player of the Year candidate Paul George on him, but can switch Jeremi Grant, Terrence Ferguson, or even Russell Westbrook onto him no problem. Because those guys can do a respectable job on Mitchell, defenders can stay home on shooters and contest threes.

The result is a 98-89 Oklahoma City win. The game leaves the Thunder as the four seed in the West but drops the Jazz to the eight seed (a spot they want to get out of, they don’t want the Warriors in the first round).

Hornets’ Miles Bridges on All-Rookie: ‘I didn’t get snubbed. I played like a— all year’

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The NBA released its All-Rookie teams yesterday. Hornets forward Miles Bridges missed out, getting only one first-team vote and four second-team votes.

Bridges:

I love this attitude. Bridges didn’t deserve to make it. It’s silly to for anyone, including him, to pretend otherwise.

He’s obviously being too hard on himself. He had an OK rookie year. It just wasn’t one of the NBA’s 10 best this season.

Players often hold inflated opinions of themselves. That might help them succeed in a high-pressure job, and that’s obviously their priority. To be clear: I’m not criticizing them for adopting an approach that helped them reach this high level. But it leaves them as lousy analysts of their own performance.

Bridges doesn’t have that problem. It’s easy to see how this will drive him to improve.

His humility won’t work for everyone. But it works for him, and it’s a refreshing change of pace.

Warriors nine-day layoff before NBA Finals one of longest in NBA history

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The NBA Finals will begin May 30 – their earliest start in 33 years.

The Warriors will still have to wait a while to begin play.

Golden State, which completed a sweep of the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals Monday, is in the midst of nine straight off days. That’s tied for the fourth-longest layoff during a postseason in NBA history:

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The Warriors probably don’t mind the long break. Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins are battling injuries and can use the time to recover.

The big question: Is rest or rust more important?

Of the previous 10 teams with such long layoffs, seven won the ensuing Game 1 and seven won the ensuing series. But we’re dealing with varying levels of team quality, major differences in opponent rest and a small sample.

It seems clear rest matters more for a banged-up Golden State. But that doesn’t mean rust won’t be a challenge against the Bucks or Raptors.

Magic Johnson not keeping his stories straight (video)

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As Lakers owner Jeanie Buss repeatedly asked Magic Johnson about problems within the organization, he reportedly said there were none. Then, he went on television and detailed a ton of internal dysfunction.

After resigning as team president, Johnson said he had a good working relationship with general manager Rob Pelinka:

Then, Johnson went on television and accused Pelinka of betrayal.

In that same interview, Johnson also said Buss approved his part-time status while running the front office:

I told her, I said listen, ‘I can’t give up all my businesses. I make more money doing that than becoming president of the Lakers. So, you know that I’m going to be in and out. Is that OK with you?’ She said yes

In this case, Johnson went on television and contradicted himself… TWO YEARS EARLIER.

Darius Soriano of Forum Blue & Gold:

Johnson:

If it was probably any other situation, I probably wouldn’t have left my business aside, left my business to concentrate fully, 150 percent on Lakers business. But because of her leadership – and I know she wants to win so bad – I decided hey, I wanted to work side-by-side with her.

So, Johnson and Buss (who was at his side for that interview) apparently knew the importance of saying Johnson was fully committed to running the Lakers. They apparently didn’t understand the importance of Johnson actually being fully committed to running the Lakers.

No wonder he was so bad at his job.

Reports: Michigan hiring Heat assistant Juwan Howard as head coach

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Juwan Howard made an All-Star team and an All-NBA third team. He spent 17 seasons in the league. He has been a Heat assistant coach the last five years.

But he might best be known as a member of the Fab Five.

That connection will resonate even more strongly as Howard returns to Michigan.

Miami Heat Beat:

Jeff Goodman of Stadium:

Michigan needed a coach after losing John Beilein – who had no NBA-coaching experience – to the Cavaliers. So, the Wolverines are hiring Howard, who has no college-coaching experience.

Shifting levels will be an adjustment for Howard. So will becoming a head coach for the first time.

But Howard was has established himself as a steady contributor to the Heat’s respected coaching staff. He interviewed for the Lakers, Cavs and Timberwolves head-coaching positions. Howard brings far more credibility than just his Michigan-alumnus status to this job.