Three things to know: LaMelo Ball, Hornets bring Warriors win streak to end

Golden State Warriors v Charlotte Hornets
Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out 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) LaMelo Ball, Hornets bring Warriors win streak to end

Home cooking and a soft schedule had served the Warriors well with their fast start to the season — eight straight games at the Chase Center, which led to a seven-game win streak and the best record in the NBA.

But the Warriors forgot to pack their offense when they went out on the road Sunday.

Golden State shot 9-of-39 (23.1%) from 3 — the Warriors’ bench was 0-of-9 from deep — and scored less than a point per possession against a Charlotte team with a bottom-five defense. It wasn’t that the Hornets were locking the Warriors down; Golden State was just missing clean looks. Also, in crunch time, the Warriors struggled to generate good looks out of their halfcourt offense and shot 6-of-22 in the fourth (those struggles when it started to feel like a playoff game are not the best omen for Warriors fans).

Despite all that, the Warriors still could have walked away with a win, a Draymond Green dunk with :44 left tied the game. But then Miles Bridges got up a little a hook shot to put the Hornets up two, Kevon Looney missed a pair of free throws, and after Green tied up Rozier late and forced a jump ball, it was Rozier who won it, and not long after iced the game with two free throws.

The Hornets got 20 points in the second half from Rozier, Bridges scored 22 including that key bucket in the paint late, and LaMelo Ball did his damage early and finished with 21 points. This is a quality win for a Hornets team that now has its own three-game winning streak and seems to have found a rhythm.

The highlight of the game still belonged to Stephen Curry, who got some help from Jonathan Kuminga’s defense then made the pass of the night to Jordan Poole.

The Warriors are on the road for three more games, and it doesn’t get any easier with Kevin Durant and the Nets coming up on Tuesday.

2) DeMar DeRozan loves playing in L.A., helps Bulls snap Clippers win streak

DeMar DeRozan was born in Compton, played his college ball just down Figueroa Street from the Staples Center at USC, and seems to save his best performances for when he returns home to Los Angeles.

DeRozan had 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting in the first half and finished the night with 35 points on 12-of-16 from the floor, plus he drained a couple of key buckets late. That sparked the Bulls to a 100-90 win over a Clippers team that had won seven straight but looked tired on the second night of a back-to-back.

“Our guys got tired,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said, taking the blame for a team that didn’t have its legs under it after beating the Timberwolves the night before. “I messed up and played them too many minutes. That was on me.”

The other big scorer for the Bulls was Zach LaVine, who dropped 29. However, the most interesting move by coach Billy Donovan was to insert Alex Caruso into the starting five, replacing Javonte Green. Caruso is a quality on-ball defender and drew the task of slowing Paul George, who still had 27 points but shot 7-of-25 for the night. We may see more of Caruso as a starter, even once Nikola Vucevic returns to the lineup (health and safety protocols).

The Bulls got off to a fast 4-0 start against a soft schedule this season, but as things got tougher they have gone a respectable 5-4. The defense that was supposed to be the Achilles heel of this team has been top-10 in the league, and as long as that continues, the Bulls will continue to rack up wins.

3) Atlanta snaps losing streak but picks up another loss

Atlanta was riding a six-game losing streak and was about to take on the defending NBA champions, but Trae Young took it upon himself to change the Hawks’ fortunes and scored a season-high 42 — hitting 8-of-13 from 3 — to get Atlanta a win against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season.

That win came despite the return of Giannis Antetokounmpo to the lineup, he scored 26 points (he had missed a game with a sprained right ankle). The Bucks are still shorthanded and have dropped 7-of-10 because of it, but they expect to get Khris Middleton back Wednesday. He had been in the league’s health and safety protocols.

While the Hawks got a big win on the court Sunday, they had a big loss off it.

Atlanta’s starting wing De'Andre Hunter is going to miss the next two months following wrist surgery, the team announced. Hunter has struggled with injuries, a knee issue last season kept him out of all but 23 games, and now he’s having surgery a dozen games into this one.

Kevin Huerter has moved into Hunter’s starting role, but there will be more run for Cam Reddish, Delon Wright, Danilo Gallinari, and Lou Williams.

Highlight of the Night: Anthony Davis to himself off the backboard

Anthony Davis showed up ready to play for a Sunday matinee, scoring 34 points and grabbing 15 boards for the Lakers in a win over the Spurs. He even threw himself an alley-oop off the glass.

(Yes, technically that hit the rim, so it should be a missed shot and offensive rebound in the scorebook, but we know what he was trying to do.)

Last night’s scores:

LA Lakers 114, San Antonio 106
Atlanta 120, Milwaukee 100
Charlotte 106, Warriors 102
Phoenix 115, Houston 89
Brooklyn 120, Oklahoma City 96
Denver 124, Portland 95
Chicago 100, L.A. Clippers 90

Nowitzki, Wade, Gasol, Popovich reportedly headline Hall of Fame class


It will not become official until Saturday, but this is shaping up to be a legendary Hall of Fame class.

Dwyane Wade. Dirk Nowitzki. Gregg Popovich. Pau Gasol. Tony Parker. Becky Hammon. They are all in, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a deep class, and there was no question about any of those players’ Hall of Fame credentials.

Wade is one of the (arguably THE) greatest shooting guard in the history of the game, winning three rings as a member of the Miami Heat, plus making eight All-NBA teams and 13 trips to the All-Star game. Nowitzki is the greatest Maverick ever and the greatest European player in NBA history, an NBA champion and Finals MVP, plus he won the regular season MVP in 2007.

Popovich, the legendary coach of the five-time champion San Antonio Spurs — a team that won 50+ games 18-straight seasons with him at the helm, plus he coached Team USA to the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Parker was the point guard for much of that Spurs run, is a four-time NBA champion and was Finals MVP in 2007. Gasol is a two-time NBA champion, four-time All-NBA,and led Spain to the FIBA World Championship in 2006 and won three Olympic medals.

The Hall of Fame class will officially be announced on Saturday.


Draymond Green is good with facing Kings in first round — because of the travel


If the NBA playoffs started today, the Golden State Warriors would be in the play-in and host the Pelicans in the 7/8 game. Win that and they would hop on a more than three-hour flight to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies.

Draymond Green said on his podcast he is hoping the Warriors finish as the No.6 seed and dodge the play-in, then face the Kings to open the playoffs (which is how the standings stood 24 hours ago). Why? It’s a 90-mile drive to Sacramento.

“The reason why I said Sac is simply just because of the travel. That’s a lot on your body. If we can bus ride an hour and 10 minutes up the way, I just think that’s much better for us. At the end of the day, I don’t really care who we play in the playoffs, I think we can win.”

Green is not wrong about the travel.

While some teams may have looked at the top four in the West (Nuggets, Grizzlies, Kings, and Suns) and seen Sacramento as the obvious target, that plan could backfire. The Kings’ offense is diverse and elite, and they have the Clutch Player of the Year in De'Aaron Fox, and their building will be rocking like no other after the franchise has not been in the playoffs since 2006. In a West filled with flawed teams, the Kings winning a couple of rounds is well within the realm of possibility.

This could be the first year since the Kings moved to Sacramento that all four California teams make the playoffs (it is likely that all four at least make the play-in). The Kings are all but locked in to be the No.3 seed, while the Warriors, Lakers and Clippers are in the crowded field at the bottom of the playoff bracket where three games separate the No.5 and 11 seeds.

Bradley Beal reportedly under investigation after confrontation with fan who lost gambling

Washington Wizards v Orlando Magic
Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

On March 21, Bradley Beal had an off game — 16 points on 4-of-15 shooting — as the Wizards fell to the Magic in Orlando.

Walking off the court, Beal got into a confrontation with a couple of fans, one of whom blamed him for a gambling loss. The next day that incident became a complaint filed with the Orlando Police Department by the fan. David Purdum of ESPN summarized the police report this way:

Beal and the Wizards were exiting the court and in the visitors’ tunnel, headed to the locker room, when, according to the police report, an unidentified man remarked to Beal, “You made me lose $1,300, you f***.”

Beal, according to the report, turned around and walked toward a friend of the man who made the comment and swatted his right hand toward him, knocking the man’s hat off and contacting the left side of his head.

Police reviewed video footage of the altercation and heard Beal say this is his job and he takes it seriously, and the man is heard apologizing, implying he did not intend to offend him, according to the report.

At this point, no charges have been filed against Beal. According to TMZ, Beal told the heckler, “Keep it a buck. I don’t give a f*** about none of your bets or your parlays, bro. That ain’t why I play the game.” The entire incident lasted less than a minute.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass said, “We are aware of the report and are in the process of gathering more information.”

Sports betting is not currently legal in the state of Florida.

While there is nothing official from the team, speculation abounds that the Wizards have shut down Beal and Kyle Kuzma for the season.


Trail Blazers shut down Lillard for season… and here comes the trade speculation


While it was unofficial but understood for some time, now it is official: Damian Lillard has been shut down for the season. Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report (who has close ties to the Lillard camp) Tweeted out the news.

The Blazers are five games out of the final play-in spot with seven games to play, they aren’t making up that ground. They are tied for the fifth-worst record in the league, which comes with a 10.5% chance at the top pick and Victor Wembanyama. This was the right play.

Before it became official, Shams Charania at The Athletic wrote in “The Bounce” newsletter Monday that Lillard is “essentially” shut down for the season – and then lit a fire under the topic that makes Trail Blazers’ fans’ eyes roll:

Damian Lillard trade talk.

On the other side of things, you now have to wonder if Lillard ever steps on the court again for Portland. There was a ton of optimism going into this season after the team landed Jerami Grant and got off to a good start to the campaign. Now, not making the playoffs for a second year in a row, a soon-to-be 33-year-old star of this league who has never gotten a chance to win it all will have tons of questions to ask the front office this offseason, and I expect there to be serious conversations about what’s next for both sides.

We all knew the Lillard trade speculation was coming. Same with Bradley Beal in Washington. The same core rule applies to both of them:

Lillard will not get traded unless he asks to be moved. He has never done so, in fact saying just weeks ago about playing the rest of his career in Portland, “To that point, I’m also willing to die on that hill.” Portland has been loyal to him and Lillard signed a massive contract extension last offseason and has four years, $216.2 million left on that deal, including about $63.2 million in the contract’s final season when he is 36. He’s happy where he is and has deep roots in the community.

The odds are better than not that Lillard will retire a Trail Blazer, even if that’s not the path other stars would walk. Lillard is wired differently.

Can you construct an argument that the Trail Blazers should trade Lillard while his value is sky-high — he will be an All-NBA player again this season — because the organization’s best path to a ring is with whoever and whatever’s next? Maybe. However, that ignores the financial reality of the Blazers — Lillard brings the fans in the door, brings in team sponsors who want to be associated with him, and he sells jerseys. Lillard is good business for Portland, there is no incentive for ownership to move on right now.

In fact, it may be the opposite. Portland can throw multiple picks and good young players such as Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons into a trade to bring in another star to play with Lillard. That is more how their front office pictures this summer — they want to go all in on building around Lillard. Not sending him away.

Other teams covet Lillard, and trade packages can be constructed (would Miami be willing to move on from Bam Adebayo for the chance to pair Lillard with Jimmy Butler?). But it’s all idle talk until Lillard sits down with franchise ownership/management and says it’s time for him to move on. That has yet to happen. It may well never happen.

Just expect the avalanche of Lillard speculation to begin. Warranted or not.