Three Things to Know: How happy is Curry to have Draymond Green back?

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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) How happy is Stephen Curry to have Draymond Green back?

Draymond Green walks through the door with a level of swagger the Warriors have been missing — an attitude they need if the Warriors are going to add another banner to the rafters.

“Whether we’re two seed or three seed, we’re going to win a championship, so it don’t really matter,” Green said after the game.

Nobody was happier to see Green back than Curry. For all the talk about Green’s defense — and he was leading the Defensive Player of the Year race when he got injured — his ball movement and offensive creation and just as critical to the Warriors. Green’s first play upon his return was a pass to Curry for a triple — and look at the smile on Curry’s face afterward.

Curry was smiling a lot as he dropped 47 points on his birthday, breaking out of any slump he was in — not so coincidentally when Green returned to the team.

Curry was playing so well Kentavious Caldwell-Pope tried to get him to sub out late.

Green is the beating heart of the Warriors and it showed in a comfortable Warriors win, 126-112 over the Wizards. It’s not just his play on the court — although that makes everything else possible — it’s his emotion, his swagger that feeds Warriors basketball. The Warriors played with an energy, a vitality, a fire they had lacked for a couple of months while Green was out with a back issue.

The Warriors looked like contenders again on Monday. Green is right, they can win another ring with him back on the court.

2) MVP frontrunners Embiid, Jokic go head-to-head, Bones Hyland comes out winner

On a night where Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic went head-to-head for the first time since 2019, on a night where the two frontrunners could make an MVP statement for that award, the race didn’t change at all.

Embiid did his thing with 34 points on 20 shots, got to the line nine times and pulled down nine rebounds. Jokic also did what he does, 23 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists. The dimes were jaw-dropping.

In the horserace for MVP, this was not game changing any voters’ minds. (Also, if a voter is going to cast their ballot for a season-long award based on one game out of 82, maybe that voter needs to step back and rethink their process.)

ESPN’s Tim MacMahon’s hot take was the best of the night.

A clear dig at James Harden (who had 24 and 11 on the night). But Denver’s supporting cast was overall better, and that’s why they got the win.

Specifically, it was rookie Bones Hyland who showed out. On a night more than 600 family and friends (by his own estimation) came out to watch the Delaware kid play, he scored 21 and hit four 3-pointers in the fourth to fuel the Nuggets win.

After a fast start against weaker teams, the Harden/Embiid 76ers again looked vulnerable against a good team. Once again, the biggest problem for Philly was transition defense. Denver had 29 fast-break points to Philadelphia’s 11, and the Nuggets had a 138.9 offensive rating in transition for the night (stat via Cleaning the Glass).

Philly has some work to do. Both Embiid and Jokic have work to do, too, if they want to secure the MVP trophy at the end of the season.

3) Karl-Anthony Towns scores NBA season-high 60

Karl-Anthony Towns declared himself the greatest shooting big man of All-Time after winning the All-Star weekend 3-point Shooting Contest.

He looked like that guy on Monday night, hitting 11-of-14 shots at the rim, he was 6-of-10 shooting straight-on 3-pointers from the top of the arc, and he was 15-of-16 at the free throw line.

Towns took over the game with 32 points in the third quarter alone on his way to a 60-point night.

That 60 is the most scored in an NBA game this season (topping both LeBron James and Trae Young, who each had a 56-point night).

Towns finished the night shooting 19-of-31 plus pulled down 17 rebounds. Minnesota got the win over the Spurs, improving to 40-30 on the season.

Highlight of the Night: Evan Mobley shuts down Zubac at the rim

When Evan Mobley wins Rookie of the Year, don’t simply compare stat lines with Cade Cunningham and Scottie Barnes. Remember the defensive impact Mobley has made with the Cavaliers since Day 1.

On this play Monday night, Mobley contests the shot of the Clippers’ Amir Coffey, then recovers and blocks Ivica Zubac‘s dunk.

Mobley is going to be a special player in this league.

Yesterday’s scores:

Cleveland 120, LA Clippers 111 (OT)
Atlanta 122, Portland 113
Denver 114, Philadelphia 110
Charlotte 134, Oklahoma City 116
Minnesota 149, San Antonio 139
Golden State 126, Washington 112
Sacramento 112, Chicago 103
Milwaukee 117, Utah 111
Toronto 114, LA Lakers 103