Three things to know: Ugly start to Jason Kidd coaching era in Dallas

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We’re back. NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap up of the night before in the NBA has returned with the start of a new NBA season Come back to NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before in the NBA, plus some of the rumors, drama, and dunks going on.

1) Ugly start to Jason Kidd coaching era in Dallas, Hawks rout Mavericks

Trae Young remains the superstar face of the franchise and the guy rightfully about to get All-Star/All-NBA level love due to the Hawks’ success. However, throughout the preseason, we kept saying De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish would be the real keys to Atlanta taking a step forward off its deep playoff run.

It’s just one game, but Hawks fans have got to be riding high after Hunter and Reddish sparked an opening night blowout of the Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, 113-87. Hunter’s defense on Doncic kept the MVP candidate in check, while Reddish led the team with 20 points off the bench.

All that meant it was one ugly start to the Jason Kidd coaching era in Dallas. How ugly? A picture is worth a thousand words; here is the Mavs shot chart from the night through the competitive part of the game (Dallas made some straight-on threes late to help this look marginally better).

Atlanta played sharp defense, with Hunter doing an excellent job on Doncic — he had 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting, plus 11 rebounds and seven assists — but more than that, the Hawks rotations were sharp, chasing players off the arc, and Clint Capela was in the paint cleaning things up.

Dallas had no good adjustment through the competitive parts of the game. The offense was stagnant and keeping two bigs on the floor for much of the time led to ugly spacing issues, resulting in a lot more midrange shots than they took last season, and those were not falling. Nobody else stepped up, either: Kristaps Porzingis shot 4-of-13, while Dorian Finney-Smith was 2-of-12 (and his shot selection was odd: post ups?).

The bigger issue for Dallas is when its shots didn’t fall early, it got in the team’s head and impacted the team’s defensive effort as well. That’s when things got ugly.

All the missed shots had Atlanta running — 26.6% of their possessions were in transition (according to Cleaning the Glass), and in the halfcourt the Hawks were moving the ball beautifully. The scoring was balanced, Young had 19 and Reddish 20, plus John Collins added 16, Clint Capela had a dozen, and six Hawks players were in double figures.

It’s just one game, and we’re not drawing any sweeping conclusions about either team. Still, Atlanta looked like a team brimming with confidence and continuity, looking to build off its run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Dallas… has some serious work to do.

2) Stephen Curry put on a show dropping 45 on Clippers

We are not discussing the MVP race the first week of the season. But let’s just say Stephen Curry is playing like one and tearing apart teams from Los Angeles.

A few nights after a “trash” (his word) triple-double against the Lakers, Curry came out on fire scoring 25 points on 9-of-9 shooting in the first quarter against the Clippers Thursday.

Curry continued his hot streak all game long on his way to 45 points, including the late 3-pointer that put the Warriors up for good against a feisty Clippers team.

Curry wasn’t the only stud. Paul George had 29 to lead the Clippers and was 5-of-11 from 3. But the Warriors are off to a fast 2-0 start this season, beating both Los Angeles teams, and Curry is playing like an… well, we said we weren’t going to discuss it yet.

3) NBA names full 75th anniversary team — and there were snubs

The final names dropped, and it turns out the NBA’s 75th anniversary team has 76 players on it because of a tie among voters. Here is the complete list.

It’s a good list, although there seemed to be some recency bias.

And there were snubs — a handful of Hall of Fame players have very legitimate cases to be on that list, but here are three I thought were clear snubs.

• Dikembe Mutombo. The finger wag had to be on this list — he has the resume: four-time Defensive Player of the Year, eight-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA, and he led the league in blocks three times. He earned it on the court, and as Ernie Johnson on TNT noted, he earned it off the court as well — Mutombo’s efforts to build hospitals in his native Congo and to raise awareness of issues there are what the NBA hopes to see in terms of community activism from their stars. This was a glaring oversight.

Dwight Howard. Too many fans — and, apparently, voters — get hung up on what Howard has become near the end of his career (almost playing himself out of the league, not living up to his potential, being a role player) and ignore the Howard who was a dominant big man for a decade at the start of his career. Howard’s resume includes an NBA title, 3-time Defensive Player of the Year, he’s an eight-time All-NBA player and 8-time All-Star and five-time rebounding champion. He has 13,000 rebounds and 2,000 blocks in his career, and everyone else with those stats made the team, except Howard.

• Artis Gilmore. Another big man who should have made the list, he was dominant in the ABA and NBA. Gilmore was the 1972 MVP, an ABA champion who was an 11-time All-Star, and made the All-Defensive Team five times. He had one of the smoothest games from a big the league has ever seen, a precursor to today’s bigs with his athleticism and style.

Highlight of the night:

Tyler Herro dropped 27 in Miami’s blowout of the Bucks, and when shots like this are falling, you know it’s your night.

Last night’s scores:

Atlanta 113, Dallas 87
Miami 137, Milwaukee 95
Golden State 115, L.A. Clippers 113

 

Watch LeBron’s big night: Moves into fourth in assists, triple-double, win over Knicks

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LeBron James always saves something special for Madison Square Garden.

LeBron had a triple-double of 28 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds — he became the first player in NBA history to have a triple-double in his 20th season.

That wasn’t the only bit of history, with those 11 dimes he moved past both Mark Jackson and Steve Nash into fourth on the NBA’s career assists list. And if that wasn’t enough, the 28 points moved him within 89 points of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA all-time scoring record: Abdul-Jabbar has 38,387, LeBron is now at 38,299.

For LeBron, however, what mattered most was the win — 129-123 in overtime, giving a Lakers team starved for wins its first on this road trip out East.

“I didn’t get to this point in my career by thinking about records or how many points I have, whatever the case might be,” LeBron said, via the Associated Press. “I just play the game the right way. I approach the game every night only trying to be a triple threat by scoring, rebounding, assisting, defending, and may the chips fall where they may.”

LeBron had help, with Anthony Davis adding 27 points and nine rebounds. The Knicks got 37 from Jalen Brunson, and Julius Randle had 23 points and 12 rebounds.

LeBron needed that help as he wasn’t the sharpest he had been this season, starting 2-of-8 from the floor, then missing a couple of long jumpers in the game’s final minutes when the Lakers had the chance to seal the win. But he was good enough and put on a show for the sold-out crowd in New York.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?
89

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,299

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Feb. 2 at Pacers
Feb. 4 at Pelicans
Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks
Feb. 11 at Warriors

When is LeBron projected to set the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 7 at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, although that would be by one point, so Feb. 9 against Milwaukee is certainly a possibility.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• LeBron had his first triple-double of the season — and became the first player ever with one in his 20th season — scoring 28 points with 10 rebounds and 11 assists — to help lead the Lakers past the Knicks in overtime on Tuesday night. With those 11 assits LeBron moved past both Mark Jackson and Steve Nash to be fourth on the NBA’s all-time assists list.

• LeBron James did suit up to play Tuesday night against the Knicks (in Madison Square Garden on national television, that shouldn’t have been a surprise). Anthony Davis was cleared to play as well.

• After sitting out against the Nets on Monday, LeBron is officially questionable to play Tuesday in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks and will be a game-time decision. Lakers coach Darvin Ham said LeBron has “really significant soreness” in his left foot (after playing 44 minutes against Boston). LeBron and the medical staff will speak after LeBron starts to warm up Tuesday to determine if LeBron can play in Madison Square Garden, a game he hates to miss because he loves playing in that venue.

• The Lakers have officially listed LeBron (and Anthony Davis) as out for the game Monday night in Brooklyn. That is the first game of a back-to-back for the Lakers, and they have rested LeBron in half of those for most of the season. This will push back the date he breaks the record, making it likely it happens at Crypto.com Arena.

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”

Paolo Banchero, Scoot Henderson highlight player pool for Rising Stars during All-Star weekend

Orlando Magic v Miami Heat
Megan Briggs/Getty Images
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The big winner in last year’s All-Star Friday night Rising Stars game was the new format (and Cade Cunningham). The new setup saw players onto four teams of seven, with those four teams going into a tournament bracket. The games were not timed, but players competed to a target score — something that actually had the young stars defending and playing hard. Things too often lacking All-Star weekend.

That format is back, and an impressive crop of players is involved: Rookie of the Year favorite Paolo Banchero, last year’s ROY Scottie Barnes, and expected No.2 pick in the upcoming draft Scoot Henderson of the G-League Ignite. Here is a complete list of the players competing (the rookies and sophomores will be drafted into three teams of seven players each, and the G-League players will make up their own team).

Rookies

Paolo Banchero (Orlando Magic)
Jalen Duren (Detroit Pistons)
AJ Griffin (Atlanta Hawks)
Jaden Ivey (Detroit Pistons)
Walker Kessler (Utah Jazz)
Bennedict Mathurin (Indiana Pacers)
Keegan Murray (Sacramento Kings)
Andrew Nembhard (Indiana Pacers)
Jabari Smith Jr. (Houston Rockets)
Jeremy Sochan (San Antonio Spurs)
Jalen Williams (Oklahoma City Thunder)

Sophomores

Jose Alvarado (New Orleans Pelicans)
Scottie Barnes (Toronto Raptors)
Josh Giddey (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Jalen Green (Houston Rockets)
Quentin Grimes (New York Knicks)
Bones Hyland (Denver Nuggets)
Evan Mobley (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Trey Murphy III (New Orleans Pelicans)
Alperen Sengun (Houston Rockets)
Franz Wagner (Orlando Magic)

The G-League team will consist of:

Sidy Cissoko (G League Ignite)
Scoot Henderson (G League Ignite)
Mojave King (G League Ignite)
Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Memphis Hustle)
Mac McClung (Deleware Blue Coats)
Leonard Miller (G League Ignite)
Scotty Pippen Jr. (South Bay Lakers)

There are former NBA stars to coach each of the teams: Former All-Stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and Deron Williams will coach the three Rising Stars teams, while former Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry will coach the G League team.

There will be three games Friday night during the Rising Stars challenge, with each game played to a target score of 40. If it’s anything like last year, it’s worth tuning in.

Needing defense, Kings reportedly eyeing 76ers Thybulle for trade

Philadelphia 76ers v Sacramento Kings
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
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At 28-21, the Sacramento Kings sit as the No.3 seed in the West with the second-best offense in the league — they seemed destined to break their 16-year playoff drought and very well could even host a first-round playoff series.

However, their 23rd-ranked defense (using Cleaning the Glass’ numbers) will undo them come the playoffs.

That has the Kings looking for some defensive help and they are eyeing Sixers wing Matisse Thybullereports Marc Stein in his latest Substack newsletter.

Sacramento is said to be monitoring the availability of Philadelphia’s Matisse Thybulle as the Kings, unexpectedly holding the West’s No. 3 seed after a league-record 16 consecutive seasons out of the playoffs, ponder the pursuit of a more defensive-minded option on the perimeter.

Thybulle has lived in the rumor mill for a while, this is nothing new. However, those rumors carry more weight because Thybulle’s role in Philadelphia has shrunk considerably with the additions of De'Anthony Melton and P.J. Tucker as defensive-minded forwards who can provide more offense than Thybulle. Doc Rivers also leans into Georges Niang more off the bench because of his shooting.

Thybulle is in the final year of his contract and is headed for restricted free agency, the Kings might be interested in re-signing him (depending on the price and his fit with the roster). The Kings can match salaries easily enough with Davion Mitchell, Terence Davis or Alex Len, the question is who will the 76ers want back, and will the Kings need to throw in a second-round pick?

There’s some logic to this trade getting done in some form, it’s worth keeping an eye on.