Three Things to Know: Curry poised to set 3-point record in Madison Square Garden


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) Stephen Curry will set 3-point record in Madison Square Garden

Would anyone be surprised if Tom Thibodeau’s defensive game plan is to put four guys on Stephen Curry 30 feet from the basket?

After Curry hit five 3-pointers in Indiana on Monday night, he needs just one more to tie Ray Allen for the most 3s made all time, and two to pass the Hall of Famer, cementing Curry’s legacy as the greatest shooter the game has ever seen.

That will happen Tuesday night on one of the league’s biggest stages: Madison Square Garden. Technically I should say “Curry is poised to set the record” but come on, Curry can get two 3s from the tunnel before the game. Whatever defense Thibodeau and the Knicks throw at Curry, it feels as if the basketball gods have willed this to happen in NYC.

Maybe those gods want to rub salt in the wounds of Knicks fans: Curry was selected seventh in the 2009 NBA Draft, one spot ahead of the Knicks, who were reportedly high on him (New York ended up with Jordan Hill instead.

But mostly, those gods understand New York is the right setting for a coronation. Which is what this is — we already know Curry is the GOAT shooter. This is more of a celebration of that fact, an appreciation of what Curry has become as the face of a basketball generation, an official crowning for what already is reality — Curry is going to pass Allen in 511 fewer games played.

Curry also became Curry in MSG: His 2013 game with 54 points and 11 three-pointers against the Knicks was his breakout game.

Curry gets credit because of his shooting range — which has changed the game and won the Warriors titles because of how it warps defenses — but what really sets him apart is he is equally deadly shooting 3s off the dribble or on the catch-and-shoot. His lightning-quick release factors in as well. Curry can walk the ball up the court, and if a defender doesn’t respect him Curry will pull up and drain the 3. Come out on him and Curry will pass the ball and get the offense in motion, but then he moves quickly off the ball, using screens, and all he needs is a sliver of space for the pass back to find him and for Curry to make the defense pay.

Ray Allen said he would try to be there for the moment, but he has commitments as a high school coach he will not break.

“I spoke with the people at the Warriors and I actually spoke with Steph a little bit, trying to help him navigate this whole process,” Allen said on the Dan Patrick Show last Friday, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “It’s an exciting time for him and I tried to give him what I was dealing with, you know, going into the game and everything that led up to it.

Curry is the inspiration of a generation — go to NBA games, or just walk the streets, and see whose jersey all the 13-year-olds are wearing. This is a night to celebrate and savor what he has become, the GOAT shooter and an inspiration.

2) Bulls games postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak

As the NBA ramped up testing and the number of COVID-19 cases rose, this felt inevitable.

With 10 players plus some staff in league health and safety protocols, the NBA postponed the next two Chicago Bulls games, Tuesday night against the Pistons and Thursday in Toronto. The Chicago Health and Safety Department reportedly had concerns about the Bulls continuing to play amid a workplace outbreak.

This is the right thing to do — put player safety first. Technically the Bulls likely could have suited up eight healthy bodies for Tuesday night’s game, but that would have led to both increased risk and just bad basketball.

Nikola Vucevic had the best idea to salvage the games.

People around the NBA quietly expect an uptick in cases: the Omicron variant is sweeping across the nation right as people will be gathering indoors more with family and friends for the holiday. That’s a recipe for more positive tests, and while the NBA may be 97% vaccinated (the percentage of players who got the jab), it’s not going to stop the virus from spreading (it should help keep the cases from being as severe, especially for the 60% of players who got the booster).

Let’s just hope there are no severe cases.

3) Why was Nikola Jokic ejected?

Nikola Jokic was hot. Spencer Dinwiddie had driven the lane, kneed and elbowed Jokic during the shot, and there was no call. Jokic can be a hot head and snapped at referee Eric Dalen as the teams went back up court. He deserved a tech for that.

But it was the fast second one for a word to Tony Brothers that came off as an official letting his ego get in the way.

Basketball is an emotional game and referees need to check their egos and the perception of being disrespected, let the players vent a little, and move on. Some lines can’t be crossed, but two technicals from two different officials for the same play is over the top.

We pay to see the stars play, let them stay on the court until they truly earn an ejection. This was not one of those cases.

Highlight of the Night: Kevin Love jumped in the Hot Tub Time Machine

Kevin Love jumped in the Hot Tub Time Machine at the half and brought the 2014 version of himself to 2022 as he scored 23 points in the second half, hitting 5-of-7 from 3, and sparking the feisty Cavaliers past the shorthanded Heat.

Last night’s scores:

Cleveland 105, Miami 94
Golden State 102, Indiana 100
Toronto 124, Sacramento 101
Houston 132, Atlanta 126
Boston 117, Milwaukee 103
Memphis 126, Philadelphia 91
Dallas 120, Charlotte 96
Denver 113, Washington 107
LA Clippers 111, Phoenix 95

Paul George has to be helped off court after fourth quarter leg injury


Hopefully this is not serious, not something that changes the playoff picture in the West.

The Clippers’ Paul George went down with 4:38 left in the game Tuesday night after a collision with Lu Dort going for a rebound.

George had to be helped back to the locker room and struggled to put any weight on his leg.

After the game, Tyronn Lue said George was still being evaluated and had no update on his status. George was seen exiting the arena on the back of a cart with his right leg extended, according to the AP.

George had 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists before exiting the game. On the season he is playing at an All-NBA level averaging 23.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists a game, and the Clippers are 6.8 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court.

The Thunder went on to win 101-100 in a game filled with drama, including a technical foul for Kawhi Leonard, an ejection of Terrence Mann, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scoring 31 points, and Lou Dort locking up Leonard in the final seconds.


Grizzlies Ja Morant: ‘My job now is… to be more responsible’


While his coach said he anticipates Ja Morant will return to the court Wednesday for the Grizzlies, Morant downplayed expectations and said things are “still in the air.”

Whether the official return is Wednesday or a few days later, Morant is back practicing with teammates and spoke to the media for the first time since his suspension. He once again was apologetic.

“I’m completely sorry for that,” Morant said, via the Associated Press. “So, you know, my job now is, like I said, to be more responsible, more smarter, and don’t cause any of that no more.”

Morant was suspended eight games by the NBA after flashing a gun in a club and broadcasting it on social media, something NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called “irresponsible” and “reckless.” Morant used that time to go into counseling at a facility in Florida but added he “never had an alcohol problem.”.

“I went there to counseling to learn how to manage stress,” Morant said. “Cope with stress in a positive way, instead of ways I’ve tried to deal with it before that caused me to make mistakes.”

Morant said that his treatment is an “ongoing process,” adding that he was getting off social media and letting his actions speak for him.

Morant and his associates had incidents before that caught the attention of people around the league — including a run-in with Indiana Pacers security — however, this incident in a Colorado club was the first one that hit him in the wallet. The suspension cost him $668,659 in game pay, plus one of his major sponsors — Powerade — pulled an ad campaign featuring him that would have run heavily during March Madness.

The biggest hit is Morant possibly missing out on an All-NBA guard spot. Morant could make $39 million more over the five-year extension that kicks in next season if he makes one of the three All-NBA teams. However, the guard spot is especially crowded with deserving players this season and this incident and the missed games do not help his cause.

Hart will be free agent this summer seeking new contract, ‘would love for it to be New York’


Josh Hart‘s play since coming to the Knicks has made him a lot of money.

Already a darling of many front offices, Hart has been a seamless fit in New York, averaging 11.1 points and seven rebounds off the bench for Tom Thibodeau, playing quality defense, and being the kind of plug-and-play wing every team can use. He’s quickly become a fan favorite in New York, but the Knicks will have to pay up to keep him. Hart has a player option for $12.9 million next season that he is widely expected to decline — there’s a lot more money and years available to him on the open market.

Hart told Marc Spears of ESPN’s Andscape he wants to find a home, and he hopes that it is in New York.

“I want bigger things for my wife and myself,” Hart said. “Just find a home somewhere where we are valued and really like living there. And I think that can be New York. I would love for it to be New York and hopefully the organization feels the same way. Coming up, this contract is hopefully my biggest one, one where I’m making sure my family’s fully taken care of. So, I’ve also got to take that into account, too.”

That is the polite way of saying, “I like it here but you’re not getting a discount.”

While Hart will have made a tidy $33 million in his career when this season ends, his next four-year contract will be worth more than double that amount — this is the deal that sets up generational wealth for Hart’s family. This is a business and he has to make the decision best for him, as much as he may love the Knicks.

Expect the Knicks to pay up, especially as long as Thibodeau is around. This is a deal that should come together.

But first, Hart and the Knicks are headed to the playoffs, and Madison Square Garden will be rocking. It’s going to be the kind of experience that makes a guy want to stay with a team.

Hall of Famer, Knicks legend Willis Reed dies at 80


Willis Reed, the legendary Knicks’ center whose dramatic entrance onto the Madison Square Garden floor minutes before Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals sparked the team to its first title, has died at the age of 80.

The National Basketball Retired Players Association announced Reed’s passing. While no cause of death was announced, it was known Reed had been in poor health for some time.

“Willis Reed was the ultimate team player and consummate leader,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “My earliest and fondest memories of NBA basketball are of watching Willis, who embodied the winning spirit that defined the New York Knicks’ championship teams in the early 1970s. He played the game with remarkable passion and determination, and his inspiring comeback in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals remains one of the most iconic moments in all of sports.

“As a league MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP and member of the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams, Willis was a decorated player who took great pride in his consistency. Following his playing career, Willis mentored the next generation as a coach, team executive and proud HBCU alumnus. We send our deepest condolences to Willis’ wife, Gale, his family, and many friends and fans.”

Reed had an amazing career — highlighted by the two NBA titles and two NBA Finals MVP awards, plus being a seven-time All-Star — but he is best remembered for a legendary 1969-70 season. That year he became the first player to sweep the regular season, All-Star Game and NBA Finals MVP awards.

However, it was him walking out on the court for Game 7 of the Finals in 1970 — after he suffered a thigh injury in Game 5 and had to miss Game 6 of the series, and the Knicks had no answer for the Lakers’ Wilt Chamberlain without him — that became the moment of legend. Reed scored four early points that game, and while he was limited the rest of the way he sparked the team to its first title (Walt Frazier’s 36 points and 19 assists had something to do with the win, too).

Reed was born in 1942 in Hico, Louisiana, and stayed in the state through college, leading Grambling State to the 1961 NAIA title. Considered an undersized center at 6’9 “, teams quickly learned he played much bigger than that as he went on to win the 1965 Rookie of the Year award.

Reed averaged 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds a season over the course of his career, and he had his No.19 retired by the Knicks. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982.