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) Chris Paul has Suns almost unstoppable in clutch
The Phoenix Suns are 11-1 in clutch games and have a 53.5 net rating in those minutes (final five minutes of a game within five points).
That’s not a typo. That’s the Chris Paul effect.
There are a few reasons the Phoenix Suns have to be listed with the title contenders of the NBA, and their play in the clutch is one of them. The Suns’ defense drives them in those moments, and the Spurs found out about that the hard way Monday night.
Credit the Spurs for making a game of it, they trailed by 15 late in the third but fought back to make a game of it behind another strong game from Dejounte Murray and 15 points off the bench from Bryn Forbes.
Ultimately, the Spurs made it close late, but then became the 11th victim of the Suns in the clutch. Phoenix got the win, 108-104.
The Suns have a ridiculously good 82.7 defensive rating in clutch minutes. That defense fuels a few turnovers, and in clutch minutes the Suns play fast (fourth-fastest pace in the league) and move the ball (they assist on 68.4% of made clutch baskets, third highest in the league). This is a team effort, not one man in isolation on offense.
And that makes Phoenix a real threat come the playoffs.
2) Joel Embiid is a force of nature, drops season-high 43
This was a bad recipe for the Hornets:
Charlotte is not a good defensive team in the paint (they give up the third-most points in the paint per game this season) and on top of it, starting center Mason Plumlee is out (health and safety protocols). Joel Embiid is a force of nature in the paint and was coming to town Monday.
The result was Embiid going off for a season-high 43 points and scoring six of his team’s eight points in overtime.
Credit the shorthanded Hornets for a gritty game and forcing overtime. Kelly Oubre Jr. went off for 35 (more on him later).
But in the end, Charlotte had no answer for Embiid.
The good news for 76ers fans, Embiid says he is “nowhere near” 100% yet after he recovered from COVID-19. He’s only going to get better.
3) Andrew Wiggins goes off for eight 3-pointers in Warriors win
Andrew Wiggins has developed into a consistent and quality role player for the Warriors, giving them a fairly efficient 18.7 points a game and good defense.
But every once in a while he reminds you why he went No. 1 overall in the draft.
Monday was one of those nights as he drained eight 3-pointers against the overmatched Magic. (Stephen Curry added seven himself.)
You know Wiggins was hot when Curry was in awe.
Steph is in awe of Wiggins right now 🤯 pic.twitter.com/PIjXkAeGVo
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 7, 2021
Golden State cruised to a 125-96 win. Curry finished with 31 points, Wiggins 28.
Highlight of the Night: Kelly Oubre, c’mon man
We could have put a Lonzo Ball alley-oop finish or a Stephen Curry half-court buzzer-beater in this slot, but what is the highlight you’re going to be talking about after seeing it? Kelly Oubre’s Shaqtin moment.
Last night’s scores:
Philadelphia 127, Charlotte 124 (OT)
Oklahoma City 114, Detroit 103
Indiana 116, Washington 110
Memphis 105, Miami 90
Chicago 109, Denver 97
Milwaukee 112, Cleveland 104
Atlanta 121, Minnesota 110
Phoenix 108, San Antonio 104
Golden State 126, Orlando 95
LA Clippers 102, Portland 90