Three things to know: All-Star teams are set; Team LeBron is stacked


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) The All-Star teams are set… and Team LeBron is stacked

If you’re picking from 24 of the top players in the game — as LeBron James and Kevin Durant did Thursday night when picking their teams for the All-Star Game this Sunday in Atlanta — you can’t really go wrong. There are no bad choices.

But damn, Team LeBron is STACKED.

LeBron used his first pick on reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the one after that on former MVP Stephen Curry, and it went from there. What did Antetokounmpo think?

Here are the All-Star Game teams:

Team LeBron

• LeBron James, captain (Lakers)
• Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)
• Stephen Curry (Warriors)
Luka Doncic (Mavericks)
Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)

Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
Ben Simmons (76ers)
Chris Paul (Suns)
Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
Paul George (Clippers)
Domantas Sabonis (Pacers)
Rudy Gobert (Jazz)

Team Durant

Kyrie Irving (Nets)
Joel Embiid (76ers)
Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
Bradley Beal (Wizards)
Jayson Tatum (Celtics)

James Harden (Nets)
Devin Booker (Suns)
Zion Williamson (Pelicans)
Zach LaVine (Bulls)
Julius Randle (Knicks)
Nikola Vucevic (Magic)
Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)

Durant (who will not play in Atlanta due to the hamstring issues that have sidelined him for weeks) did what every captain of an All-Star team has done — used his picks first on his teammates. He took Irving with his first pick of the starters, then Harden with his first pick of the reserves. The Nets are together.

The interesting twist of the process was Mitchell and Gobert of the Jazz being the last two players selected — Charles Barkley called it “slander” against the NBA’s best team so far this season. LeBron’s answer dumped salt on the sounds of Jazz fans:

“There’s no slander to the Utah Jazz,” LeBron said. “You’ve got to understand, just like in video games growing up, we never played with Utah. As great as Karl Malone and John Stockton was, we would never pick those guys in video games.”


The All-Star Game — with the Skills Challenge and Three-Point Competition beforehand, then the Dunk Contest at halftime — takes place Sunday and will be broadcast on TNT.

2) Jrue Holiday caps wild ending, gets Bucks the win against Grizzlies

Ja Morant thought he hit the game-winner for the Grizzlies. Morant drove to his left, got into the middle of the lane, split the defense, got to the rim, and hit the acrobatic lay-up — Memphis was up 111-110 with :07.3 seconds left.

That was enough time for Jrue Holiday to do this.

The Bucks held on for the 112-11 win. It helped that Milwaukee was out of timeouts and was forced to play fast, which caught the Memphis defense scrambling, and Holiday took advantage getting to a spot he is comfortable.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists, while Khris Middleton scored 22 and added 10 boards for Milwaukee. Morant scored 35, while Dillon Brooks added 23 points for the Grizzlies.

3) Damian Lillard is NBA’s best clutch player — scores 10 in a row to get Blazers win

He probably will not win it, but Damian Lillard has to be in any MVP conversation this season, in part because his clutch play has the Trail Blazers winning.

Lillard did it again on Thursday night. Sacramento hot just gotten a Harrison Barnes‘ layup and Buddy Hield three to go up 108-103 with 3:49 left. Then it was Lillard time — he responded with 10 straight points (including a couple of threes). With just more than a minute left, it was 115-108 Portland, and it would hang on to win.

Lillard finished with 44 points on the night.

More impressively, Portland is 21-14 heading into the All-Star break, having had to play most of the first half of the season without their second and third best players — CJ McCollum (who has been cleared for contact workouts and should be back not long after the break) and Jusuf Nurkic — both out with injuries.

Portland has been one of the “luckiest” teams in the NBA this season — it has the net rating of an 18-17 team (via Cleaning the Glass; Basketball-Reference suggests 17-18), but the Blazers have an additional three or four victories because Lillard keeps winning them clutch games.

Portland sits fifth in the West and needs to keep winning those close games to hold on to that spot after the break.

Curry drains 7 3-pointers, Nets start homestand with win over Blazers


NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 31 points, Seth Curry added a season-high 29 off the bench and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 111-94 on Sunday.

Curry was 7 for 10 on 3-pointers and had his highest point total with the Nets and the most by a Brooklyn reserve this season.

“I’ve always felt like if I get good shots I’m going to make them at a high clip,” Curry said. “Our offense was flowing pretty well. Guys found me open early on to start the game and I felt pretty good, aggressive.”

Kyrie Irving added 22 points for the Nets. Ben Simmons took just three shots but had 12 rebounds and eight assists.

“Ben did a great job of getting downhill,” Curry said. “He’s a great passer (and) he knows how to find me out there on the floor.”

Jerami Grant scored 29 points for Portland. Jusuf Nurkic had 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Anfernee Simons added 15 points and Justice Winslow had 14.

The Nets have won four of their last six games, while the Trail Blazers, who are playing without Damian Lillard, have dropped five of six.

“Tough little stretch that we’re in right now,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said. “It is what it is. Every team goes through it.”

Brooklyn made 52.6% of its shots from the field overall, and 42.9% from 3-point range, in the second matchup between the teams in 10 days.

“It’s a make-or-miss league,” Durant said. “It’s about baskets.”

With the Nets leading by four entering the fourth, Curry scored Brooklyn’s first eight points of the quarter. Royce O'Neale‘s free throw gave the Nets a 93-87 lead and following a Portland turnover, Curry made a 3 that extended the advantage to nine.

Nurkic sandwiched a hook shot and free throw around two free throws by Irving to cut Brooklyn’s lead to 98-90. However, after a timeout, Durant hit a 3 to push the lead to 101-90.

Brooklyn led 58-57 at halftime, and 84-80 after the third quarter.

T.J. Warren targets Dec. 2 for return to court for Brooklyn Nets

2022-2023 Brooklyn Nets Media Day
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

T.J. Warren was a breakout star in the bubble, averaging 26.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Pacers.

Warren has played just four games since the bubble due to stress fractures in his foot.

The Nets signed him this season hoping he could get healthy and provide some depth off the bench at the four. We’re about to find out if that can happen on Dec. 2, with Warren targeting his return then Toronto, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Nets have not confirmed this timeline. However, coach Jacque Vaughn has recently talked up Warren’s workouts and hinted that a return is getting close.

A healthy Warren could be a big boost for a Nets team looking for more of a spark off the bench.


LeBron becomes oldest player with 39 points, 11 boards, seven 3-pointers (he’s also the youngest)


The first question after LeBron James put up 21 and 8 to help the Lakers beat the Spurs Friday night was whether he would play in the back-to-back Saturday. He had just missed five games with a groin strain, after all.

Not only did LeBron play Saturday, he had a historic night.

LeBron had 39 points, 11 rebounds, and shot 7-of-12 from 3 — making him the oldest player in the history of the NBA with a 35+, 10+ with seven 3-pointer game.

The youngest player ever to put up that stat line? Also one LeBron James.

The 39 points were also the second most points ever scored by a player in his 20th NBA season, trailing only Kobe Bryant gunning his way to 60 in his final game.

The Lakers got the second straight win over the Spurs on Saturday behind LeBron, 143-138, a game more likely to be remembered for Zach Collins getting ejected for a foul that left Russell Westbrook bloody. The Lakers have won three straight and 5-of-6 but have done it against a very soft part of the schedule (three of the wins were over the tanking Spurs). Los Angeles beat the teams in front of it and started to show signs of life this season, but now they have to carry that over into a stretch against better teams, beginning Monday against the Pacers.

Watch Deandre Ayton put up 29 points, 21 rebounds, lead Suns past Jazz 113-112


PHOENIX — There was much debate during the NBA offseason about whether Deandre Ayton was worth a max contract.

On nights like Saturday, the answer is a resounding yes.

Ayton notched season highs with 29 points and 21 rebounds, Devin Booker added 27 points and the Phoenix Suns held on for a hard-fought 113-112 win over the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz led 81-78 after three quarters, but the Suns pushed ahead 99-93 by midway through the fourth. The game remained tight through the final minutes, but Phoenix never lost the lead. On top of Ayton’s scoring and rebounding, he also had a crucial steal in the final minutes that helped thwart a final Jazz rally.

“I don’t know what he ate for Thanksgiving,” Booker said. “I should have been over there.”

Ayton grabbed his 21st rebound of the game on the final possession, securing Booker’s miss off a 3-pointer to keep the Jazz from a final possession. Ayton signed a four-year, $133 million deal during the offseason after the Suns matched an offer sheet from the Indiana Pacers.

“That young man has been coming to the gym at crazy hours, lifting with (coaches), so that he can be prepared for moments like this,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “It’s just good to see the work pay off. It’s good to see him have monster games against really good teams on a back-to-back. That’s pretty impressive.”

Ayton was the first player to have at least 28 points and 20 rebounds in a game for the Suns since Amar’e Stoudemire in 2007. He shot 11 of 19 from the field and added three assists and two blocks.

“I want to do more, I feel like I can do more,” Ayton said. “I’m just trying to do what I can to contribute to my team.”

Curiously, the Jazz didn’t foul the Suns on their final possession, essentially allowing them to run out the clock. Utah coach Will Hardy said the last play simply didn’t unfold like the team expected and there was some miscommunication.

“We wanted to get the ball out of Booker’s hands, and then foul,” Hardy said.

Ayton scored a season high for the second straight night. He poured in 28 points against the Pistons in a 108-102 win on Friday. Booker had a tough night shooting, making just 8 of 27 shots.

Utah was one of the NBA’s surprise teams in the first few weeks of the season, starting with a 10-3 record. The Jazz are just 3-7 since that point.

“One game, one stretch of the season doesn’t define your season,” Jazz forward Kelly Olynyk said. “You’ve got to go through ups-and-downs. Adversity – learn from it and come out the other side better for it.”

The Suns have an 11-1 record at home this season and have won four straight games.

Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points for the Jazz. Collin Sexton added 20 while Lauri Markkanen had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Jazz had a 54-51 lead at halftime. Clarkson led the Jazz with 12 points while Ayton had 11 points and seven rebounds.