The NBA season is into its second half, 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) Love, respect evident in reactions to Elgin Baylor’s death
Before today’s game, before Michael Jordan — and before him Dr. J — inspired the NBA game to be played above the rim, there was Elgin Baylor.
He was the original high-flier and one of the most underrated superstars the game has ever seen. He’s a Hall of Famer, a 10-time All-NBA player who averaged 27.4 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists — only four players in NBA history averaged more than 25 and 10 for a career. Baylor even ended his career in the classiest of ways.
One of the wildest things about Elgin Baylor's DRAMATICALLY UNDERRATED career is he never won a ring because he wasn't willing to not be great. He walked away during the Lakers' 71-72 championship season because he wasn't playing up to his own standards.
— Benjamin Hoffman (@BenHoffmanNYT) March 22, 2021
The love and respect for Baylor were evident as thoughts poured in from players past and present.
A statement from Jerry West on the passing of Elgin Baylor. pic.twitter.com/JTczP8ia5I
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 22, 2021
Heat president Pat Riley: “Besides being one of the greatest players in the history of the game, Elgin Baylor was one of the classiest, most dignified men of integrity I have ever met. He will be missed.”
I am saddened by the passing of my boyhood idol @Hoophall @theelginbaylor He was the first player I watched as a kid to captivate fans with his athleticism and style of play. My prayers go out to his wife and family @NBAonTNT @NBA @NBATV @ESPNNBA @NBAcom
— Rick Barry (@Rick24Barry) March 22, 2021
Adam Silver: “Elgin Baylor set the course for the modern NBA as one of the league’s first superstar players. An 11-time All-Star during his Hall of Fame career with the Lakers, Elgin produced remarkable results with his athleticism and groundbreaking style of play, including setting an NBA Finals record with 61 points in Game 5 of the 1962 championship series – a performance made all the more extraordinary by the fact that he had spent part of that season away from his team while on active duty in the Army…. Elgin will be deeply missed, and we send our thoughts and prayers to his wife, Elaine, his family and friends.”
Our game lost a pillar today. Rest in Power to the great Elgin Baylor 🙏🏾
— Chris Paul (@CP3) March 22, 2021
RIP to one of the best to ever touch a basketball, Elgin Baylor 🙏🏽🕊
— Karl-Anthony Towns (@KarlTowns) March 22, 2021
Rest In Peace to one of the best people ever! Lucky enough to meet him with my time here in La and he was a great guy!🐐 https://t.co/nDFlfIiaZs
— kuz (@kylekuzma) March 22, 2021
2) Rockets win! Rockets win! Rockets win!
The last time the Houston Rockets had won a game was Feb. 4, and how much of a toll that was taking on coach Stephen Silas — the respected rookie coach thrust into a season that started with James Harden lighting fire to the franchise — was evident.
Silas could finally sleep last night. Monday the Rockets got their win — beating the Raptors 117-99 — and snapping a 20-game losing streak behind a triple-double from John Wall (just ignore the fact he shot 8-of-30 and be happy for the man).
All credit to Houston for the win, but Toronto — which has now lost nine in a row — did more than its part to help the cause. The Raptors shot 15-of-45 in the second half, missing 17 three-point attempts. It was the kind of ugly outing for the Raptors that makes one wonder if we will not see something bold from Toronto at the trade deadline because what they are doing isn’t working.
3) Bucks’ hot streak continues even with Antetokounmpo on sidelines
The big story coming into this game was Giannis Antetokounmpo sitting out with a left knee sprain — he has played MVP-level basketball of late — and how would the Bucks fare without him?
Just fine, it turns out.
Maybe the bigger story should have been Myles Turner sitting out for Indiana because he cleans up a lot of messes at the rim from an otherwise unimpressive defensive roster (there’s a reason he’s in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation). Without him the Bucks did whatever they wanted, putting up 48 points in the first quarter on their way to a 140-113 Milwaukee win. Jrue Holiday scored 28, Khris Middleton 25, and this game was a blowout by the second quarter.
Antetokounmpo still may have been the most entertaining thing on the court in this game.
Jrue: Making it rain.
Meanwhile, Giannis: 😴 pic.twitter.com/f5GAgKHXrp
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) March 23, 2021
The Bucks have won seven in a row, 12-of-13, and sit just 1.5 games back of top-seeded Philly in the East.