The NBA season is in full swing, and we will be here each weekday with the NBC Sports daily roundup Three Things to Know — everything you might have missed in the Association, every key moment from the night before in one place.
1) With the game on the line, Chris Paul trusted Devin Booker — and was rewarded
Chris Paul has a career full of clutch moments, and he may have had one of his best seasons in the final minutes last season in Oklahoma City.
But Monday night, with his Suns down two in the final seconds, CP3 gave up the rock and found Devin Booker for the game-winner. Booker sprinted off a Deandre Ayton screen — which created just enough separation between Booker and Josh Richardson — and that gave room for Paul to get him the ball and Booker to knock down a three-pointer with 1.5 seconds left to lift Phoenix to a 109-108 win over the Mavericks.
#DevinBooker. In his first game back.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) February 2, 2021
Booker finished with 24 points, 20 in the second half. Paul was the best player on the court in this one, finishing with 34 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists.
Dallas has now lost six in a row, 9-of-11, and sits at 8-13 in 13th place in the West. The Mavericks defense has been dreadful the past couple of weeks, and it bit them at the end of this game — they had a foul to give, coach Rick Carlisle told them to use it during the timeout, but Maxi Kleber guarded Paul and didn’t foul him, and that let Paul find Booker for the win. Dallas’ season is a story of little mistakes like that costing them.
It’s far too early to write off Luka Doncic and Dallas, but these losses are digging them a hole that will not be easy to climb out of.
2) LeBron exchanges words with a fan, then “courtside Karen” jumped in… and was ejected
It’s one thing to heckle a player, but some lines cannot be crossed.
Four fans were ejected from Monday’s Lakers win over the Hawks, two of them because they got in a verbal spat with LeBron and would not put on a mask.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 2, 2021
LeBron pretty much shrugged it off afterward.
“At the end of the day, I’m happy fans are back in the building. I miss that interaction. I need that interaction…” LeBron said postgame. “I don’t feel like it was warranted to be kicked out…
“They might have had a couple drinks, maybe [said with a laugh], and they could have probably kept it going during the game, and the game wouldn’t have been about the game no more, so I think the referees did what they had to do.”
LeBron then won the night with this Tweet.
Courtside Karen was MAD MAD!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
— LeBron James (@KingJames) February 2, 2021
The Hawks are investigating the incident.
3) LaMelo Ball got his first start, but it was red-hot Malik Monk that got Charlotte a win in Miami
Starting about the third game of the season, there have been calls in Charlotte to start LaMelo Ball. Coach James Borrego ignored them and stuck with his plan to keep the pressure off Ball and start a quality backcourt of Devonte' Graham and Terry Rozier. Ball got plenty of run, but he hasn’t been just handed the keys to the franchise.
However, with Rozier out with a sprained ankle Monday, Ball got the first start of his career.
Ball finished with 14 points and 7 assists, but Malik Monk set all kinds of personal bests — 36 points and 9 threes — and that decided the game. Monk played the best game of his career Monday.
With the loss, Miami falls to 7-13 on the young season, 13th in the East, with troubles on both sides of the ball. Part of the challenge has been injuries and COVID-19 protocols keeping players sidelined — Miami has not been able to find a groove — but it has dug itself a deep hole with losses like this one. The defending Eastern Conference champs need to string together some wins, and fast.