Three things to know: Jazz players aren’t worried after recent losses, should they be?

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The NBA season has less than a month to go, 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) Jazz players aren’t worried after back-to-back losses to Timberwolves, should they be?

It was not pretty — and it could cost them the No. 1 seed.

The Utah Jazz just dropped two straight games to the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team already eliminated from the playoffs and with the second-worst record in the NBA. Monday’s loss was excruciating because two-time — likely soon to be three-time — Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert blew a switch, allowing D'Angelo Russell to have an uncontested layup for the game-winner. “If I don’t f*** up defensively, we win,” is how Gobert put it.

Two straight losses to the Timberwolves, plus one to the LeBron-less Lakers, and the Jazz have dropped 3-of-5 and their lead over the Suns for the best record in the West and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs is down to just one game. The losses lead to many questions: Can the Jazz defend scoring guards well enough to reach the Finals? What happened to the Jordan Clarkson from the first half of the season? What happened to the entire bench? Why won’t Royce O’Neale take a clean-look three, and can he make it if he does?

All of this has Jazz fans worried. Understandably. Utah is an ensemble team, one that can’t have off nights from its third or fifth best players and still beat the Lakers or Clippers of the world. Everything has to be clicking, and the losses to the Timberwolves prove it is not with just three weeks to go in the season.

The Jazz, however, are not worried.

The fantastic Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune asked Gobert if he had any worries: “None. I would be concerned if we were giving up 140 points. … Every team has some nights like this.”

Quin Snyder gave a much more coach-speak answer to the same question, but it was essentially the same — he’s not worried.

They have a point for one key reason: Donovan Mitchell is out. He’s missed the last five games with a sprained ankle (and likely will miss another week or more).

Mitchell is their best player and the one guy on this team capable of flipping a switch, going into attack mode, putting up 40, and taking over a game. He is the one Jazz player who can decide “we’re not losing to Minnesota again” and just flip a switch and make that happen.

The Jazz are an ensemble, and if it is going to struggle if its third or fifth best player is off, we should expect the same when their best player is out. Utah should be whole come the playoffs, and that’s when the real test comes (not against the Timberwolves).

2) Chris Paul ends Knicks’ win streak, Suns keep on rolling

While the Jazz stumble atop the West, the Suns keep on rising.

Phoenix went 3-2 on a tough five-game East Coast road swing and topped it off Monday night knocking off a Knicks team that had won nine in a row. Devin Booker had 33, Mikal Bridges had an efficient 21 points, but it was Chris Paul taking over late — scoring the Suns’ final seven points and sticking the dagger in them with a “how did he get that off” free throw line jumper — that was the difference.

Phoenix is just one game back of the Jazz for the best record in the West, and while Utah stumbles without Mitchell, the Suns keep finding ways to win.

The Suns have a tougher schedule the rest of the way — starting with the Clippers Wednesday then the Jazz on Friday — but this team has surprised the league all season long. Why can’t it keep on doing it now?

3) John Wall is out for the season with a hamstring strain

The basketball gods have had it in for Houston of late: D.J. Augustin, Eric Gordon, Sterling Brown, Dante Exum, and David Nwaba are all out due to injuries, Christian Wood missed the last game, and rookie Jae’Sean Tate had to go to the locker room during the middle of the last game with a tight back.

Now the Rockets will be without John Wall the rest of the season due to a strained hamstring, the team announced.

Wall started the season on fire and, even after slowing down of late, averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists a game this season. While the efficiency is not there anymore, but his confidence is, Wall sees himself as an All-Star in this league.

With two years and $91.7 million left on his current contract, expect Wall to be back as the face of the Rockets next season (they would have to give up so many sweeteners to move that contract it wouldn’t be worth it).

LeBron, Grizzlies, NBA world reacts to death of Tyre Nichols

Memphis Grizzlies v Minnesota Timberwolves
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Hours after the excruciating video of Memphis police fatally beating Tyre Nichols was released, the Memphis Grizzlies chose not to open their locker room and not speak to the media about it — it was too raw, too painful.

“The senseless loss of life for Tyre Nichols has really hit us hard,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said pregame in an interview with local broadcast partner Bally Sports (via the Associated Press). “It’s been tough being on the road, not being home. I wish I could extend my arms through this camera right now to the family. They’re going through a lot.”

The Grizzlies weren’t the only ones who felt that way around the NBA, emotions were high around the league Friday (as they were around the nation). Miami, Atlanta, Cleveland, Minnesota and Milwaukee released states echoing what the Grizzlies said.

LeBron James used his platform to make a statement, as he has in the past.

Statements were released from the NBA, WNBA, players, the players union and more.

“This is just crazy,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said unprompted to open his press conference, discussing the video and incident.

Nichols, 29, was pulled over in a traffic stop by Memphis police officers on Jan. 7 and was beaten to death by five officers. The bodycam footage shows Nichols being brutally beaten as he calls out for his mother and is defenseless. Nichols died in the hospital three days later. The five officers involved have been fired and charged with second-degree murder.

Dolan says he he has no plan to sell Knicks, retire, but he loves facial recognition

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - October 06, 2022
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Knicks owner James Dolan has been better in recent years about staying out of the way of the front office and staying out of the media spotlight — both of which are good for the Knicks and their fans’ sanity.

However, he stepped back in the spotlight the past couple of days — doing an interview on “Good Day New York” on Fox 5 Thursday then WFAN sports talk radio on Friday — and reminded everyone why it’s best when he stays out of it. Here are the highlights of these interviews.

• Dolan isn’t going anywhere, saying to WFAN he is not selling the team, nor does he plan to retire. Via Fred Katz at The Athletic:

“I have no plans whatsoever to sell at this point. I’m not retiring anytime soon. It’s a family-controlled asset, so someone in the family will eventually own it.”

That was a bit of a pipe dream for Knicks fans, there had been no rumors of a sale. With the value of NBA franchises rising rapidly and Dolan enjoying being the owner of one of the biggest brands in the sport, there has been little chance of a sale.

• Dolan defended Madison Square Garden’s controversial use of facial recognition technology to ban attorneys from firms involved in lawsuits against the Knicks or MSG from entering the property (or other Madison Square Garden properties, such as Radio City Music Hall).

“At Madison Square Garden, if you’re suing us, we’re just asking of you — please don’t come until you’re done with your argument with us. And yes, we’re using facial recognition to enforce that…

“If someone is suing you, that’s confrontational. It’s adversarial. If you’re being sued, you don’t have to welcome that person into your home.”

Except, it isn’t a home, it’s a public building where sports and entertainment events take place for which tickets are sold. Also, there are fans saying they have been banned from the building because of social media posts critical of Dolan.

• This policy has created a considerable backlash, including from the New York Attorney General, who said the policy could violate anti-discrimination laws in the state. Lawmakers in the New York state assembly introduced a bill prohibiting sports venues — such as Madison Square Garden — from refusing entry to attorneys or others involved in lawsuits against the organization.

• Dolan said on FOX 5 that the State Liquor Authority reached out to the Madison Square Garden company saying the use of facial recognition technology in this manner could lead to a suspension of their liquor license.

“This isn’t going to bother me because I’ve been sober 29 years. I don’t need the liquor.”

Dolan even hinted he could do a dry New York Rangers game on Fox, but he backed away from that idea the next day speaking on WFAN.

• Dolan reiterated his support of current Knicks decision-maker Leon Rose.

Dolan also went on to say he expects the Knicks to make the playoffs this season, however, there is no timeline for the team to contend for a ring.

What will Rockets do at trade deadline? Send out Gordon? Bring in Collins?

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets
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There’s a sense in league circles that this is the final season Houston will be okay with having one of the worst — as of today, the worst — record in the NBA. The Rockets hope to grab one of the big names at the top of the draft board this season, but they already have drafted Jalen Green at No. 2 (2021) and Jabari Smith Jr. at No. 3 (2022), plus made a draft night trade for Alperen Şengün (who is playing well). With cap space to spend and extensions coming up, the tanking days will be over.

How will that impact the Rockets at this trade deadline? Here are a few names to watch.

Kelly Iko at The Athletic reports the Rockets have interest in the Hawks’ John Collins and the sides have talked, but there is no real traction yet.

There has been nothing concrete from the Rockets — merely ideas floated by the Hawks to Houston among other teams — but the interest is real.

The Rockets could also be part of a larger, three-team trade to move Collins.

Eric Gordon remains on the trade block, as he has been for more than a year. Gordon has been frustrated waiting, but the Rockets have held out for what they thought was fair — a first-round pick — to no avail. That price likely comes down, and according to Iko at The Athletic, the front office is “more inclined to trade him now” than in the past, but the proof will be in a deal.

• Teams also are calling about K.J. Martin, according to Iko.

K.J. Martin, there continues to be interest in the 22-year-old combo forward who has been quite productive as a starter — averaging 14 points and seven rebounds on 35 percent shooting from 3 — but nothing concrete at this juncture in terms of offers on the table.

The Rockets like Martin, it’s going to take a serious offer to get them to consider it.

Knicks reportedly offered multiple first-round picks for OG Anunoby, got nowhere

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors
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What are the Toronto Raptors going to do at the trade deadline?

It’s less than two weeks before the trade deadline and the entire NBA is still asking that question, the Raptors are the one team that could turn this trade deadline from a dud to epic if they decide to pivot toward a rebuild. Are they willing to trade players like OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam, or will they look to add a more traditional big man such as the Spurs’ Jakob Poeltl, who has been linked to the Raptors in rumors? Everything seems to be on the table.

Anunoby is a player a lot of teams covet, including New York. The Knicks reached out to the Raptors, reports Ian Begley of SNY.TV.

“And Anunoby with Toronto, I mean, that would cost you a lot. That would cost you significant draft compensation. Maybe the Knicks are there, maybe they’re feeling like they could make the playoffs and make a big push if you added in Anunoby. I know that we reported they contacted Toronto on Anunoby and I was told in that conversation they offered multiple firsts. But this was a while back… Toronto has done a lot since then. But I don’t think the league is crystal clear on what [the Raptors] want to do on Anunoby.”

Anunoby is an elite on-ball wing defender who can be a finisher, averaging 17.3 points and 5.6 rebounds a game at age 25 — the asking price will start at two unprotected first-round picks in this market. The Knicks may have thrown some of their protected picks in the conversation, but Toronto’s asking price is reportedly sky-high because they’re not eager to get rid of him.

Anunoby is making $17.4 million this season and is under contract for $18.2 million next season, a fair price for what he brings to the court (he has a player option at $19.9 million in 2024-25). What the Raptors do with him may signal their direction.

At the deadline, most people around the league expect Toronto to trade Gary Trent Jr., but that’s it. Any other big moves are likely this offseason. If ever.