LOS ANGELES — The NBA season has returned, and so has the NBC Sports daily NBA roundup Three Things to Know — everything you might have missed, every key moment from the night before in the Association in one place.
1) Dallas makes history with 50-point halftime lead over Clippers, 51-point victory
This was a throwback Clippers loss, in the tradition of Michael Olowokandi, Eric Piatkowski, Benoit Benjamin, Bo Outlaw, and so many others.
The Clippers physically showed up to Staples Center Sunday. They put on their uniforms. That was about it.
From the opening tip, Dallas was in charge. Paul George scored the first two points of the game with a stepback two, and then the Mavericks scored the next 10. George struggled to open the game (4-of-12 shooting in the first half), but he was on fire compared to his teammates — the other Clippers started 0-of-9 shooting, with the first non-George Clippers points coming with 2:13 left in the first quarter on an Ivica Zubac putback. By that point the score was already 27-9 Dallas. The non-George Clippers shot 5-of-25 in the first half. As a team, Los Angeles shot 1-of-19 from three in the first 24 minutes.
Tyronn Lue would call a timeout and you’d expect the Clippers to come out of that, shake the cobwebs out of their head, and get serious about the game, but no. The rout just continued. At the end of the first quarter it was 36-13 Dallas, and the Mavericks’ win probability was over 90%. The second quarter just saw more of the same.
Dallas led 77-27 at the half — the largest halftime lead any team had in the NBA in the shot clock era. So, essentially, since forever.
What happened? This was far worse than just Kawhi Leonard being out after Serge Ibaka’s inadvertent elbow to his jaw on Christmas Day.
Paul George’s explanation was the Clippers were on the road beating Denver on Christmas, so they came home and celebrated on Saturday.
“I take full responsibility…” George said. “I enjoyed my Christmas Day, and this game came up on me a little fast… I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas yesterday and that was the reason for a sluggish day.”
Meanwhile, Dallas was not about to take their foot off the gas against the team that eliminated them from the playoffs the year before, including a 43-point blowout in Game 5.
“I would be lying if I sat here and told you there wasn’t some [revenge to it],” Tim Hardaway Jr. said.
In the end Dallas won 124-73, Doncic scored or assisted on 44 Dallas points, outscoring all the Clippers starters with 41. Dallas led by at least 40 points for the game’s final 31 minutes, the longest stretch of being up 40+ the past 25 NBA seasons (both those stats via ESPN Stats and Info).
After the game, there was a sense from the Clippers that this was a one-off, a game they flush and move on. This team beat the Lakers and Nuggets their first two games; they want to focus on that end of their potential. They should.
But it’s going to be hard to get this taste out of their mouths for a while.
2) Nets, Bucks, 76ers all fall on upset Sunday in NBA
The Clippers did it with more style, but they were not the only top NBA team to take Sunday off (at least mentally).
Brooklyn looked invincible with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in their first two games, but then they went to Charlotte and ran into Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier and company. On the second night of a back-to-back, Charlotte played with more energy and focus, and they had Hayward drop 28 in the win. Brooklyn pushed back late and Durant had a fairly good look from the midrange to tie the game late and force OT, but it fell just short. It was that kind of day for the Nets, while Charlotte picked up its first win of the season.
Things were supposed to be different for the Sixers this season — a better, more balanced roster that could compete on the nights Joel Embiid sat. Or, maybe not. Embiid was out with back tightness and Philadelphia got rolled by Cleveland, 118-94. Without Embiid to check him, Andre Drummond had 24 points and 14 rebounds. Without Embiid as a backstop, the 76ers’ defense was worrisome.
The Bucks were flat Sunday at Madison Square Garden in the kind of way normally blamed on the New York nightlife… except there isn’t any right now with the city locked down. Julius Randle was the best big man on the court in a game with Giannis Antetokounmpo — Randle had 29 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists — and Mitchell Robinson handled the Bucks size well. Elfrid Payton Elfrid Payton gave the Knicks quality point guard play (at least for a night) with his 27-point, seven-assist performance.
The Knicks have played harder and smarter this season under Tom Thibodeau, showing real signs of an organization getting itself on track. There’s a long way and a lot of player development to go, but Knicks fans should be thrilled to see an organization run in a professional and smart way, headed in the right direction.
3) Stephen Curry reaches 2,500 threes, but it’s Damion Lee who drains game-winner
Reggie Miller. Ray Allen.
That was the entire list of guys who have made 2,500 threes in their career. At least that was the list until Sunday, when Stephen Curry joined the ranks with a first quarter three.
Curry had 36 points on the night, so when the Warriors had a sideline out of bounds play with :05 left in the game and down two, he was the primary target, or maybe Andrew Wiggins (he had 19 on the night), but just as Curry seemed to be curling open Damion Lee — who had played great off the bench all game — called his own number, inbounded the ball to Kevon Looney, took the dribble hand-off from him and curled into a good look three. Splash. Game-winner.
The Warriors needed that win after a couple of losses to elite teams (Milwaukee and Brooklyn) to start the season. Now we will see if Golden State can build on that.