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Three Things to Know: Night of the young guards as Trae Young, Coby White go off

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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) Trae Young has made the leap and is pulling Hawks up with him. There were a lot of NBA pundits who looked at the Hawks’ roster before the season and said, “they are one year away” (*sheepishly raises hand*).

Trae Young is having none of that.

He is playing like an All-Star right now — and dragging the Hawks into potential playoff contention with him. Tuesday night he had 42 points, shot 8-of-11 from three (with some Stephen Curry-ranged makes), dished out 11 assists, and willed the Hawks to an impressive 125-121 win on the road in Denver.

That included the disrespectful — and brilliant — nutmeg of Will Barton.

Young is making history right now — he is the first Hawks player to have three straight games with at least 30 points and 10 assists. Tuesday night he became just the eighth player in NBA history to have a game with at least 40 points, 10 assists, and eight made threes. In his second season, he is averaging 28 points a game (sixth-best in the league so far, ahead of guys like Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard).

It is Young who has willed the Hawks to a 4-6 record (part of a four-way tie for seventh in the East early in the season). He has the team ignoring the fact John Collins is out until December due to a PEDs suspension (barring an unlikely successful appeal). Young got some help from Jabari Parker (20 points) Tuesday, and De’Andre Hunter’s length on the wings can be a boost (he had 12 points), but right now the Hawks are the Trae Young show.

And it’s one of the most entertaining shows in the league.

2) Bulls rookie Coby White hits seven threes in the fourth quarter, outscores Knicks by himself, leads Bulls to win. The Bulls want Roy Williams to show up to more games.

Rookie Coby White’s college coach showed up at the United Center Tuesday night to support his guy and White showed out for coach — seven threes in the fourth quarter (an NBA rookie record) as he outscored the Knicks 23-17 in the fourth all by himself and sparked the Chicago win, 120-102.

Coby White has looked every bit the rookie this season, with flashes of potential in an up-and-down roller coaster of a season. He came into Tuesday’s game shooting 21.2 percent from three, but this is the second time this season he has gotten red-hot and secured the Bulls a win.

Chicago also got a good game out of another young guard in Kris Dunn, who matched the physicality of the Knicks in the first half.

This was not a turning point for Chicago — one player got hot and that masked the flaws this roster has for a night. A rookie hitting seven threes in a quarter is not a sustainable way to win games. But for now, the Bulls will take any win they can get.

3) Watch Joel Embiid’s game-winning dunk to list Sixers past Cavaliers. No bogus push-off call this time, the Sixers wanted to feed Joel Embiid in the post with the game on the line Tuesday night, and they did.

Embiid finished with 27 points and 16 rebounds in a game that was probably closer than it should have been — but that’s this year’s Sixers. Four of Philadelphia’s seven wins have been by eight points or less. At some point, if they keep playing with fire they are going to get burned.

For a night, however, Embiid was too big and too strong and bailed them out.

Former Celtic Guerschon Yabusele fined for not looking at flag during Chinese national anthem

Guerschon Yabusele
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Guerschon Yabusele washed out with the Celtics.

So, now the former first-rounder is playing in China – and running into trouble.

The Chinese Basketball Association fined him for not looking at the flag during the national anthem:

Though Yabusele is French, this comes amid heightened tension between the NBA and China. Most Americans will probably find it ridiculous that looking at the flag during the national anthem is required in authoritarian China.

Meanwhile, let’s ostracize anyone who dares not to stand for the Star Spangled Banner.

Portland reportedly applies for disabled player exception after Rodney Hood injury

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Rodney Hood‘s season coming to an end because of a ruptured Achilles was a real blow to Portland — he had become a critical part of their rotation. That has led to a lot of speculation about already shorthanded Portland jumping into the trade market soon looking for someone to absorb those minutes, as well as hitting the buyout market hard next February.

Portland is now looking for a little more money to spend to bring someone in, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The “disabled player exemption” allows a team over some space to go after a replacement for a player lost due to injury. This is a fairly standard process and likely will be approved. Portland can use that money on a free agent (Iman Shumpert is available again) or someone bought out by another team.

Portland is 10-16 on the season, set back in part due to injuries to the front line. The Blazers knew Jusuf Nurkic would miss most of the season, and he was vital to them, but they were counting on Zach Collins to step up and absorb those minutes. Then he needed shoulder surgery. Portland eventually turned to Carmelo Anthony to help along the frontline, and he has performed well enough for them to guarantee his contract for the season.

Portland is going to be active, both looking at free agents and on the trade market. Just don’t expect a Kevin Love deal (he may want it but his contract makes that nearly impossible).

Rumor: Dwight Howard and Chris Paul stated intent to join Mavericks until Howard backed out

Chris Paul and Dwight Howard
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The Mavericks went from winning the 2011 NBA championship to missing the playoffs within two years.

Somewhat by choice.

Of course, they wanted to remain competitive. But they were willing to accept a lower floor to maintain financial flexibility. They let key players – most notably Tyson Chandler – leave in order to chase bigger stars.

Dallas was repeatedly linked to Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, who could’ve become free agents in 2012 but opted in. They finally hit the market in 2013, but once again spurned the Mavericks. Paul re-signed with the Clippers, and Howard left the Lakers for the Rockets.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

I really think that they, Chris and Dwight, basically wink, wink said they were going to Dallas, from what I’ve heard, and that Dwight backed out.

Word on the street. But we hear a lot of stories. That’s one story I’ve heard.

This is the peril of making arrangements in underground free agency. They’re unbinding. That was especially true with Howard, who waffled through the Dwightmare with the Magic. The Mavericks might have proceeded in the smartest way, but it backfired. Dallas is only now re-emerging upward with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.

This also creates a fun “what if?” How good would Dallas have been? Paul remained elite, but Howard and Dirk Nowitzki were slipping. Where would the Clippers have gone with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan but without Paul? Would they still have held the credibility required to lure Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer? Where would Houston have turned without Howard as the star to pair with James Harden?

Serge Ibaka says he nearly goaltended Kawhi Leonard’s iconic shot: ‘I would’ve retired’

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Kawhi Leonard hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history – a buzzer-beater that bounced, bounced, bounced, bounced in during Game 7 of last year’s second-round Raptors-76ers series and propelled Toronto toward an eventual title.

Raptors forward Serge Ibaka, via Josh Lewenberg of TSN:

“I didn’t think it was going in. I was under the basket trying to go for the offensive rebound. The ball was bouncing and one time I was so close to going [for it]. Thank God I didn’t because it could have been goaltending. That would’ve been bad. I would’ve retired. If that had happened I would have retired.”

In hindsight, that would’ve been catastrophic. It would have been been bad at the time, too – but only so bad.

The Bucks, Toronto’s opponent in the Eastern Conference finals, looked better than the Raptors. The Western Conference-winning Warriors were widely viewed as invincible. Few would have thought Ibaka’s goaltend would’ve cost Toronto a championship.

Thankfully for him and the Raptors, we now know better.