Three Things To Know is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA must-watch.
1) Poole hits game-winner in Warriors’ new rivalry with Grizzlies
The NBA’s “Rivalry Week” can feel forced at points, but this game is what a rivalry feels like.
The Warriors — the old guard — held off the upstart Grizzlies in last year’s playoffs, but it may have been the toughest series they had in a title run, and if Ja Morant‘s knee hadn’t been injured in Game 3… who knows.
Wednesday night, they met again and this felt like a rivalry game. Sure, it started out sloppy with a lot of turnovers and the referees apparently in love with the sound of their own whistles, but the ending felt as close to a playoff game as you can get in January.
The Grizzlies led 111-100 with five minutes remaining, but the Warriors closed the game on a 22-9 run, complete with big 3s from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson — and Curry getting ejected for throwing his mouthpiece into the stands (in frustration after Jordan Poole launched an ill-advised 3-pointer early in the clock while Curry asked for the ball).
“He knows he can’t make that mistake,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, via the Associated Press. “To win the game after the Steph ejection was great. I liked the execution down the stretch.”
Poole made up for it by hitting the game-winner on a baseline out-of-bounds play (that Ziaire Williams defended poorly).
The Warriors did not look dominant, but this game is a reminder they do have a switch to flip, one that can take them on another deep playoff run.
This makes four straight losses for the Grizzlies on this five-game road trip. The concerns about the Grizzlies as contenders remain the same:
The concerns about the Grizzlies as a playoff team remain the same: Can they score consistently in the half-court, and can Jaren Jackson Jr. stay out of foul trouble?
Both of those were on display Wednesday. Jackson Jr. fouled out again with 2:33 left, leaving the Grizzlies without their Defensive Player of the Year candidate in the clutch (and the Grizzlies are without Steven Adams for 3-5 weeks with a knee sprain, making them especially shorthanded up front). Then in the half court… yikes.
The Grizzlies’ half-court sets got better when they focused and started hunting Poole (the Warriors did the reverse, hunting Ja Morant in key minutes).
This is a rivalry now, the Grizzlies are coming for the Warriors’ crown and Golden State is not just going to give it up (will GM Bob Myers stick around to see the end of this era?). We need another playoff series between these teams.
Huge scoring numbers just keep coming in the NBA this season.
The thing is, Damian Lillard was doing this before this was trendy — the 60 points he put up on the Jazz Wednesday was his fourth 60+ point game of his career. The history is pretty staggering: Only two players have more than four 60+-point games — Kobe Bryant (6) and Wilt Chamberlain (32) — and Lillard is now tied with Michael Jordan and James Harden with four.
Lillard did it efficiently shooting 21-of-29 (72.4%) on the night.
Devin Booker was impressed.
Portland led comfortably the entire second half and won 134-124. Lauri Markkanen led seven Jazz players in double figures with 24.
3) Anthony Davis scores 21 in his return to action, Lakers win
The Lakers picked a soft landing spot to bring Anthony Davis back and insert Rui Hachimura into the lineup, playing the tanktasktic Spurs at home.
It worked, Davis scored 21 points and had four blocks coming off the bench — which he is going to do for a week or so coach Darvin Ham said, while he’s on a minutes limit — and the Lakers picked up the win. 113-104.
“He makes the game look so easy and takes the pressure off us,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said of Davis.
Hachimura played 21 minutes off the bench as Ham tested out different lineups and combinations all game. Hachimura finished with 12 points, six coming during a fourth-quarter run when the Lakers took control.