Three Things to Know: He’s back! Poster dunk, more than 3s, highlight Thompson return

Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
0 Comments

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) He’s back! Poster dunk, more than 3s, highlight Klay Thompson return

It was the poster dunk that made you realize he is back.

In any return from an ALC tear or a ruptured Achilles — let alone both — there is some hesitancy from the player. They don’t fully trust their leg again yet. They are tentative.

Then in his 17 points in 20 minutes return Sunday, Klay Thompson did this:

Thompson was not much of a dunker pre-injury, and he’s not going to suddenly become one at age 32 — this was the first game he played in his 30s — but it was a sign of just how healthy he feels and how much he trusts his body again.

It was a highlight amid a celebration of a night. After missing more than two years, his return to the court could not have gone much better: 17 points, 3-of-8 from 3, all in 20 minutes. He was making plays.

“This is a night I will never forget,” Thompson said in his walk-off interview.

From the opening tip, it was all about Klay. After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted the team’s first play of the night was not designed for Thompson — Kerr knew that’s what the Cavaliers would expect, so he drew up a play with Thompson as the decoy so Stephen Curry could get the shot. Thompson had other ideas.

There absolutely was some rust — it took Thompson 18 shots to get his 17 points. The important thing was he moved well and there were stretches — such as early in the third quarter — when Thompson looked like his vintage self.

Because Jordan Poole is coming off the bench behind Thompson — Poole had 14 points on the night — the Warriors can ease Thompson in without the pressure of needing him to get wins.

Just as importantly, the Warriors got the win 96-82. As it has quietly been this season — and was during their peak — it was Golden State’s league-best defense that was the real key. The Warriors held the Cavaliers to a 90.1 offensive rating for the game.

But nobody is going to talk about that because Klay Thompson is back.

2) Ja Morant put on a show against Lakers, Grizzlies win

The Lakers had won four straight, beating four below-.500 teams at home — good wins, but the kind a team that entered the season with the expectations the Lakers had should expect to win.

Sunday night, Ja Morant and the red-hot Grizzlies came to town, and Morant put on a show — with maybe the block of the year.

I think we can all relate to how scary it is when we almost hit our head on the backboard.

Morant wasn’t done with the highlights, either.

The Grizzlies took care of the Lakers 127-119 in a game that wasn’t that close (Memphis led by 29 in the fourth, Los Angels made a garbage-time comeback). Desmond Bane had 23 points for the Grizzlies, Jaren Jackson Jr. added 21. It was a quality win on the second night of a back-to-back for Memphis.

LeBron James had 35 points on 14-of-19 shooting — he continued his elite play, but it is not enough against good teams like Memphis. Russell Westbrook shot 2-of-12 and Malik Monk was 3-of-13 from the floor. It was one of those nights.

Things don’t get easier for the Lakers, who have 9-of-12 on the road coming up.

3) Bol Bol is going to get his chance Detroit

There are a lot of people out there — *raises hand* — who have wanted to see how he performs if 7’2″ Bol Bol would get some regular run as part of an NBA rotation. Something that was not happening in Denver.

We’re about to find out, thanks to Detroit.

The Nuggets are trading Bol Bol to the Pistons for Rodney McGruder and a second-round pick.

Detroit is doing exactly what rebuilding teams should do —taking low-risk fliers on players with potential. Maybe this works out and we see Bol Bol can be a rotation player in the NBA, and perhaps we learn he can’t, but at least he will get a shot. Detroit is pretty solid at center — Isaiah Stewart, Kelly Olynyk (out with a sprained knee) and rookie Luka Garza — but this is a low-risk play by the Pistons.

Bol Bol is on an expiring contract and he becomes a restricted free agent next summer. The Pistons get a close look at him and then make their call next offseason.

The Nuggets are expected to waive McGruder to create a roster spot heading to the trade deadline. The second-round pick is reportedly Brooklyn’s for 2022, which belongs to Detroit, but will be late in the second round.

Highlight of the night: Cam Thomas with the OT game-winner for Nets

As he should, Steve Nash drew up a final play of overtime for Kevin Durant. It was a 1-4 flat — Durant with the ball out top, every other Net close to the baseline — but when Cam Thomas’ man doubled Durant, the rookie cut to the open space, got the pass, put it on the floor when Jakob Poeltl closed out, got in the lane and drained a difficult floater for the game-winner.

Last night’s scores:

Brooklyn 121, San Antonio 119 (OT)
LA Clippers 106, Atlanta 93
Washington 102, Orlando 100
Toronto 105, New Orleans 101
Minnesota 141, Houston 123
Denver 99, Oklahoma City 95
Dallas 113, Chicago 99
Golden State 96, Cleveland 82
Portland 103, Sacramento 88
Memphis 127, LA Lakers 119