Three things to know: Curry makes way-too-early MVP case with 50 vs. Hawks

Atlanta Hawks v Golden State Warriors
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Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks going that make the NBA great.

1) Stephen Curry makes way-too-early MVP case with 50 spot on Hawks

Ten games into the season — about mile three of the NBA season marathon — is too early to have a serious MVP conversation.

It’s not too early to start making an MVP case.

Stephen Curry broke out of a four-game mini-slump (for him, anyway) and dropped 50 on the Hawks as the Warriors improved to 9-1 on the season with a comfortable 127-113 win. It was a bombs-away night for Curry, who was 9-of-19 from 3 and had just one shot at the rim (he was 3-of-6 total in the paint).

This gives Curry 10 50+ point games as a Warrior. However, that is not even in the ballpark of the franchise record.

All this ended up not being that taxing of a night for Curry, he had 50 points and 10 assists in 35 minutes of play. Trae Young had a solid 28 points for the Hawks in defeat.

Again, it’s far too early to talk MVP and if you do the list probably starts with Kevin Durant, who leads the NBA in scoring and has been otherworldly with the Nets, looking like the best player on the planet. The previous two MVPs, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo, also would need to be in the conversation after fast starts. Jimmy Butler is the surprise candidate on the list but he’s earned it averaging 25.3 points a game and leading a red-hot Heat team to open the season.

But Curry is in the mix, he is second in the league in scoring and the best player on a 9-1 team. To ultimately win MVP a player needs a couple signature games to point to during the season — Curry racked up one Monday night.

2) Jokic should have suspension coming after cheap retaliation foul

Take-fouls (or Euro fouls, if you prefer) to stop a fast break have become a plauge on the NBA this season, and the competition committe is already talking about how to stop them.

Markieff Morris‘ take-foul on Nikola Jokic near the end of a decided game Monday night was particularly cheap — an elbow to the midsection out of frustration. It did not warrant this over-reaction from Jokic — a forearm to the back that sent Morris flying and injured him.

Jokic was ejected, and this should earn Jokic a suspension, not just a fine. Yes, it was a retaliation, but it was way over-the-top, and Jokic has a history of losing his cool on the court and getting physical — remember he as thrown out of the Nuggets Game 6 loss to the Suns last playoffs for a cheap shot on Cameron Payne.

That said, who knows what the NBA will do, it’s easier to predict a roulette wheel than the NBA’s fines/suspension system.

Morris was injured and on the ground for a while. They even brought out the stretcher for him before he walked under his own power to the locker room, but Morris did suffer a neck injury according to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

Morris was given a flagrant foul and an ejection for the elbow that started it.

Jimmy Butler was hot after the incident and wanted to fight someone on Denver, which earned him a technical (and likely a fine from the league is coming).

All this detracted from what was a quality win for the Nuggets, 113-96 over a red-hot Heat team. Denver is 6-4 on the season with a solid +3.5 net rating, the kind of numbers that would have them in the top six and avoiding the play-in if they can keep it up (and a possible Jamal Murray return the second half of the season makes the Nuggets a real playoff threat).

3) 76ers crushed by COVID: Joel Embiid is the latest to be sidelined.

Tobias Harris. Matisse Thybulle. Isaiah Joe.

Now add Joel Embiid to the list of 76ers players who tested positive for the coronavirus and have been sidelined by NBA health and safety protocols.

With both Embiid and Harris “struggling with it,” that could mean they are out a little longer than expected as they try to get right.

The Knicks took full advantage of the 76ers being shorthanded with a 103-96 win behind 31 points from Julius Randle, who didn’t have to contest with Embiid protecting the rim on the night. R.J. Barrett added 15 for New York.

The shorthanded 76ers were gritty and got 19 from Furkan Korkmaz to lead the way.

The 76ers face the Bucks Tuesday night on the second half of a back-to-back still without all those stars.

Highlights of the night: Ja Morant with dunk to tie game, three to win it

Ja Morant is a walking highlight. He had 33 points against the Timberwolves, and when it mattered in the clutch had a dunk and a three to get the Grizzlies the win.

Last night’s scores:

New York 103, Philadelphia 96
Chicago 118, Brooklyn 95
Memphis 125, Minnesota 118
Dallas 108, New Orleans 92
Denver 113, Miami 96
Golden State 127, Atlanta 113
Phoenix 109, Sacramento 104
LA Lakers 126, Charlotte 123 (OT)