Three things to know: Does it matter Nets ‘big three’ have had little time together?


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) Does it matter Nets “big three” have had so little time together?

Seven games. Fewer than 400 total possessions.

Brooklyn’s “big three” of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden have remained largely a theoretical juggernaut because they have barely played together. That trend will continue tonight when Durant returns to the court against the Pelicans after missing 23 games with a hamstring issue, but it comes just as the news came down that Harden will miss at least the next 10 days with his own hamstring issue.

It’s not what Nets management pictured, but does it even matter?

It hasn’t so far.

The Nets are tied atop the East with the 76ers (the Bucks are 2.5 games back). Brooklyn has won 7-of-10 with Durant out, and Irving missed three of those games — they have not fallen apart yet and are not likely to now with Durant returning to the court (he has played at an MVP-level when healthy this season).

Two things should matter to Brooklyn from here on out:

1) Getting the top seed in the East.

2) Getting the big three enough time on the court together over the final 21 games to build some chemistry.

Getting the No. 1 seed in the East will have a real impact for the Nets (or 76ers, or Bucks) — there are three contenders in the East and the top seed only has to face one of them. If Brooklyn gets the top seed, then Philadelphia and Milwaukee are lined up to face each other in the second round while Philly would take on a team like Atlanta or Miami or New York — lesser teams not playing at a contending level. It’s an easier path.

The Nets want to avoid what the Clippers faced last season in the bubble: Heath concerns kept Kawhi Leonard and Paul George from developing chemistry with each other and their teammates, issues that became unsolvable against Denver. Other concerns had the chemistry off with the Clippers last season, but this was a team that played well through the season and thought it could flip the switch to a higher gear in the postseason. Except, having not been tested enough during the season, they couldn’t even find the switch. Brooklyn needs to build chemistry and know where that switch is located.

The Nets are the favorite to win the title, according to odds provided by our partner Points Bet. They should be, their talent has the potential to be overwhelming, and unlike the Lakers they have kept winning through injuries.

But at some point it’s going to take all three of Durant, Harden, and Irving playing as a unit — not just individuals — to win a title. At that point, deep into June, it will matter if the big three don’t get more time together.

2) Joel Embiid is back, does any team in the East have an answer for him?

If Philadelphia is going to return to the NBA Finals for the first time since Allen Iverson was stepping over Tyronn Lue, it will be because no other team in the East has an answer for Joel Embiid.

Embiid — in just his second game back from a bone bruise in his left knee — dropped 35 points on a Boston team that could not slow him. Embiid got to the free-throw line 20 times as Boston’s defense resorted to fouling to slow him.

“I’m not all the way there, but tonight is a big step,” Embiid said after the game. If he gets all the way there, h

3) Stephen Curry scores 41, Andrew Wiggins saves Warriors win with a block

When Stephen Curry is on the court, the Golden State Warriors’ offense is good — not great, but a little above average — and when he sits it is as bad as any offense in the league. Tuesday night, it took a full 41 points from Curry to get the Warriors past a Milwaukee Bucks team sitting Giannis Antetokounmpo for the night.

Even with Curry going off, it took an Andrew Wiggins block to save the game.

For the Warriors, this is the kind of win they need to hold off the Pelicans for the final play-in spot. Even better news long term, this was maybe  James Wiseman‘s best game of the season as he scored 13 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.

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.