Three Things to Know: What boos? New York brings out Hawks’ swagger they’ve missed

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 that make the NBA great.

1) What boos? New York brings out Trae Young‘s, Hawks’ swagger they’ve missed

The Atlanta Hawks have played this season like they expected to roll the balls out and just pick up where they left off after last season — playing with swagger, flair, draining deep 3s and beating everyone in their path.

That’s not how sports work — every season is different. Every team is different. Even with the same core, a team has to put in the work to get back to where they were a year before. There is no skipping steps.

There is something about Madison Square Garden — and the boos from New York fans — that sparks Trae Young and the Hawks to play their best.

For a Hawks team looking to find its mojo again before the playoffs, this was the kind of game they needed. The type of win they needed. An inspired Trae Young scored 45, and Bogdan Bogdanović added 32 off the bench as the Hawks beat the Knicks, 117-111.

New York fans took out a season’s worth of frustration on Young, but it didn’t phase him.

The Knicks were without Julius Randle in this one due to a sore right quadriceps tendon, and Obi Toppin was solid but not spectacular in his place. The Knicks are trying to find their mojo — and lineups that work, too — which leads to this interesting note from Dan Devine of the Ringer: New York is +4.4 per 100 in minutes with RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley on the court but no Randle this season. The Knicks made their runs with that combo on Tuesday. Just something to watch.

Can the Hawks build on this win? Yes, but how much they can build this season may not matter much. The 36-36 Hawks are destined for the bottom half of the play-in — they would have to win a couple of tough games (Charlotte, then Brooklyn/Toronto) just to get out of the play-in, and the reward is the Miami Heat. Another magical deep playoff run may be too much to ask.

But wins like this can remind the Hawks who they are and who they need to be heading into the offseason and next year, when they can climb back to the top of the East.

2) Warriors drop game to Magic; Draymond Green calls team “soft”

When Stephen Curry is on the court this season, the Warriors have the equivalent of a top-four offense in the NBA (and that is with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green each missing significant time). When Curry is out, that falls to a bottom-five offense in the league. Curry’s shot creation, Curry’s gravity to pull defenders to him and warp defenses means that much to Golden State.

Curry is out for another week or two (hopefully that’s it) with a foot injury, and on Tuesday the Warriors scored less than a point per possession on their way to a loss to the lowly Orlando Magic, 94-90.

That’s the kind of game an elite team, a championship team, wins without their star (the Suns are 10-4 in this streak without Chris Paul, the Grizzlies are 14-2 without Ja Morant this season). After the game, Draymond Green ripped his team.

“I think we’re playing soft, we’re playing stupid. We’re just not playing good basketball, we’re getting punked. It’s hard to win a game getting punked. That’s kind of where we are right now… No disrespect to the Orlando Magic, but they are one of the worst teams in the league. And we can’t match up with them. And if you can’t match up with them, you’re definitely not going to do it against the great teams. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a concern, but that’s what’s happening. I don’t doubt that we can fix it, but if we’re going to win some games then it’s got to be fixed.”

The concern in Golden State is picking up enough wins the rest of the way to hold on to their No. 3 seed — Utah is two games back and Dallas three (the Warriors have 10 games left). The Warriors need wins, but things are not going to get easier. Next up for the Warriors? The Miami Heat.

3) NBA tried to hit its fine quota for the month in one day Tuesday

Like a motorcycle cop setting up a speed trap to hit his ticket quota for the month, the NBA handed out fines on Tuesday to everyone who crossed their path. Here’s a quick rundown.

• Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic, who was in street clothes for the game in Indiana, was fined $40,000 for confronting a fan and throwing his phone.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CbV56I2lUdr/

The league doesn’t want its players confronting fans, but when the fans are yelling things that go WAY over the line and security doesn’t do anything about it, then I have no issue with players sticking up for themselves. League and team security have to do better police fans in these circumstances.

• The Timberwolves Patrick Beverley got a $20,000 fine, and the Bucks George Hill was hit with $15,000 for escalating a minor little thing between Taurean Prince and Serge Ibaka into a genuine scuffle.

• Draymond Green got a $25,000 fine for what he said to a referee, which got him ejected from the Warriors’ loss to the Spurs.

• The Knicks Julius Randle must have said something much worse than Green because he got $40,000 for what he said to an official after Randle and Rudy Gobert got into it after the Knicks/Jazz game. For those counting at home, that is four fines totaling $130,000 for Randle this season.

Highlight of the Night: Zion throwing down dunks in an empty gym

Zion Williamson will not play a minute this season for the New Orleans Pelicans. He’s still recovering from foot surgery last offseason.

But Zion is doing this in an empty gym.

He still has his hops. So there’s that.

Yesterday’s scores:

Orlando 94, Golden State 90
Atlanta 117, New York 111
Milwaukee 126, Chicago 98
Denver 127, LA Clippers 115

LeBron James passes Magic Johnson for sixth all-time in assists

Los Angeles Lakers v Milwaukee Bucks
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
0 Comments

Magic Johnson is one of the greatest, most creative passers the game has ever seen.

Friday night, LeBron James passed Magic for sixth all-time in assists in the NBA. For LeBron, doing that in a Lakers’ jersey like Magic wore was special.

It happened with 8:41 remaining left in the game, LeBron found Anthony Davis for a 3-pointer on the right wing.

LeBron finished the night with 11 assists and 28 points, which along with a monster 44-point night from Anthony Davis led the Lakers to an impressive win over the Bucks in Milwaukee.

 

 

 

Jimmy Butler returns, hits clutch shots to lift Heat past Celtics

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics
Nick Grace/Getty Images
0 Comments

BOSTON (AP) — Bam Adebayo scored 28 points, Tyler Herro had 26 and the Miami Heat completed a split of two games in Boston, beating the Celtics 120-116 on Friday night after Jaylen Brown banked in a long 3-pointer to force overtime.

Heat leading scorer Jimmy Butler returned to the lineup and had 25 points in 36 minutes after missing the previous seven games with a sore right knee. He added 15 rebounds.

“Obviously having JB back is big time for us,” Herro said. “He helps us in so many different ways.”

Kyle Lowry chipped in with 20 points before fouling out in OT for the Heat, who sent Boston to just its second loss in 16 games.

“My team welcomed me back and let me do what I do,” Butler said. “It was a big `W’ for the team.”

Brown sent the game to overtime by banking in his long 3 with 1.7 seconds to play in regulation. He finished with 37 points.

“It felt good coming off my hand,” Brown said. “I know we wanted to get a shot up off the rim as fast as possible, just in case we missed we could get a rebound, a tip out.”

The Celtics had won 10 straight at TD Garden.

Boston star Jayson Tatum scored just 14 points on a cold shooting night, going 5 of 18 from the floor, including 0 of 7 on 3-point attempts. He had 49 points in the Celtics’ 134-121 victory on Wednesday night.

“That’s the biggest thing about the league; you’re not going to stop anybody from just scoring,” Adebayo said. “I feel like (we’re) making him take tough shots every time we play him and living with the result.”

Butler hit a clutch jumper over Al Horford, making it 110-107 with 5.1 seconds left in regulation before Brown took a pass near midcourt, dribbled to his right and nailed his shot.

In OT, the teams were tied twice before Butler nailed a foul-line jumper over Horford with 1:45 left, but Brown hit two free throws to tie it.

Adebayo nailed two free throws and, after Tatum misfired on a 3, Butler hit a jumper to seal it.

“Jimmy made two tough, tough baskets,” Brown said. “That’s just a credit to his work and his skill and his development. He gets going in games like this; on the road in a hostile environment. … Tonight, two shots that in our defensive scheme we could live with, but Jimmy a big-time player made both of them.”

Unlike Wednesday, when shots were open more and both teams were making them effectively (each shot over 50%), defense was tighter and it resembled more of the postseason matchup last season between the pair that went seven games before Boston captured the Eastern Conference title.

Anthony Davis scores 44, outduels Antetokounmpo (40) leading Lakers past Bucks

0 Comments

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Anthony Davis and LeBron James tore apart the NBA’s top-rated defense and gave Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham a triumphant return to Milwaukee.

Davis scored a season-high 44 points and James passed Magic Johnson on the NBA’s career assists list Friday night in the Lakers’ thrilling 133-129 victory over the Bucks.

It marked Ham’s first game in Milwaukee since taking over as Lakers coach after working as an assistant on Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer’s staff from 2018-22.

Ham and Budenholzer shared a big hug before the game.

“It was a beautiful night,” said Ham, who also played for the Bucks from 1999-2002.

It also was quite a night for Davis, a Green Bay Packers fan who delivered his big performance with Aaron Rodgers in the stands. Davis spoke with the Packers’ four-time MVP quarterback before and after the game.

“I saw him before the game and he said, `I need 30 tonight,”‘ Davis said. “I just saw him and he said, `I only said 30, not 40.’ It’s always good for him to come out and watch the Lakers play.”

James made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:22 left and finished with 28 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. He upped his career assist total to 10,144 and moved into sixth place, ahead of Johnson’s 10,133.

“It means a lot, obviously,” James said. “The way Magic approached the game, it was very infectious. His teammates loved playing with him because of the joy he played with and the ability to pass the ball and get other guys involved. He was always excited about seeing his teammates be great. I always admired that in him. What’s even more humbling and super duper cool is the fact that I’m doing it in a Laker uniform and knowing how much Magic means to the Laker franchise.”

The Lakers had the highest point total and field-goal percentage (.536) the Bucks had allowed all season. Milwaukee entered Friday with the NBA’s top defensive rating.

“It was too easy, too easy, too easy,” Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “They were living in the paint. That’s not who we are.”

Los Angeles withstood a 40-point performance from Antetokounmpo, who also had seven rebounds and five assists.

The Lakers also spoiled the 2022-23 debut of Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, who had 17 points and seven assists in his return from offseason wrist surgery.

Milwaukee missed two potential tying 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds.

After Davis missed a fadeaway jumper, the Bucks called a timeout with 21.4 seconds left and then found an open Grayson Allen, whose 3-point attempt went off the side of the rim.

The Lakers’ Russell Westbrook missed two free throws with 13.3 seconds remaining, but Jrue Holiday couldn’t connect on a 3-pointer with just over five seconds left. Davis made a clinching free throw with 4.5 seconds left.

“Grayson got a good look,” Budenholzer said. “Good execution. Good screening. We’ll live with that shot all the time. And Jrue, similar. We got the kick ahead, playing against a defense that’s not set. Jrue, kind of a good rhythm shot for him. It was contested, but Jrue was 6 of 12 tonight (from 3-point range). He was feeling it.”

Holiday had 28 points for the Bucks, and Bobby Portis added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Westbrook had 15 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds for the Lakers.

Hawks’ Collins out weeks with sprained ankle, Hunter also at least a week

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
0 Comments

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks will be without both of their starting forwards for at least the next three games.

John Collins will miss at least the next two weeks with a sprained left ankle and De'Andre Hunter will be sidelined for at least one week with a right hip flexor strain, the Hawks said Thursday.

Both departed with injuries during Wednesday night’s win over Orlando. Hunter played only seven minutes and Collins was hurt after a dunk that didn’t count at the halftime buzzer.

Hunter is third on the Hawks in scoring at 14.9 points per game, and Collins is fourth at 12.3 points.

Hunter, a fourth-year player out of Virginia, has yet to play a full season because of various injuries.