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 must-watch.
1) Donovan Mitchell looks like trade of summer, Cavs win sixth straight
Donovan Mitchell unleashed has been something to behold.
Mitchell put up All-Star numbers in Utah, but Quin Synder ran a system that was more about creating opportunities through player and ball movement. In Cleveland, Mitchell has the rock in his hand and is freed up to create all he wants.
Wednesday night that meant he and the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum were trading buckets down the stretch of a tight game, and Mitchell stood toe-to-toe with a potential MVP candidate and looked like he belonged.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) November 3, 2022
Mitchell had 25 points, Darius Garland dropped 29 in his return from an eye injury, and the Cavaliers got the kind of overtime win against a top team in the Celtics that would be a statement win if you believe in statement wins in November.
Cleveland went big to get Mitchell — bigger than New York was willing to go — throwing in three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027 and 2029) and the rights to two pick swaps (2026 and 2028), plus players Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton (Markkanen is reviving himself in Utah, but that’s another story).
It was worth every penny for the Cavs — it’s the kind of move small- to mid-market teams need to make if they are going to contend. Mitchell is unleashed and averaging 31.1 points and 7.1 assists a game, shooting 43.8% from 3, and is playing at an All-NBA level to open the season. He reminded Knicks fans what they didn’t get by dropping 38 points and 12 assists on New York (whether the Knicks made the right call or overplayed their hand will depend on their next big move and if they can land another, better star; the jury is still out on that).
Mitchell also has been big in the clutch for the Cavaliers.
No team has played more clutch minutes than the Cavs this young season, 33 of them in six games — three of the victories in Cleveland’s six-game winning streak came in overtime. Cleveland is 5-1 with a +16.9 net rating in those clutch minutes (game within five points in the final five minutes or OT). Mitchel and his ability to create shots is a big part of that (the Cavs also are playing great defense in the clutch, giving up less than a point per possession).
Mitchell in Cleveland has been a perfect fit so far — the Cavaliers look like a threat, and as young Evan Mobley matures this season and over the next couple, the Cavs could become perennial contenders. It’s just seven games, but Mitchell looks like the summer’s best move so far.
2) Insane Matt Ryan corner three forces OT and eventual Lakers win
The Pelicans had this in hand. They were up three, 1.7 seconds were remaining in the game, and the Lakers had just fouled New Orleans rookie point guard Dyson Daniels. Just make one free throw and this game is over.
He missed both. That left the door open, and in walked Lakers rookie Matt Ryan. The Lakers’ Austin Reaves threw a cross-court pass to the corner where Ryan made a ridiculous, fading-out-of-bounds 3-pointer to force overtime.
🚨 MATT RYAN SENDS IT TO OT 🚨
— NBA (@NBA) November 3, 2022
The Lakers went on to get the 120-117 win in overtime. For a struggling Lakers team, this was the kind of energizing win they needed.
Lonnie Walker IV led the Lakers with 28 points, Anthony Davis and LeBron James each had 20 (LeBron added 10 rebounds and eight assists). Russell Westbrook came off the bench with 13 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
Zion Williamson led the Pelicans with 27 points and seven assists — the improved passing in his game makes him so much more dangerous. New Orleans continues to miss Brandon Ingram, who remains out in concussion protocols.
Bonus game-winner: Tyler Herro with the shot that beats the Kings
Tyler Herro’s move to the Miami starting lineup has not been completely smooth. Combine him with Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry and that’s three guys who like to create with the ball in their hands, but it limits the shooting around them, and it doesn’t help the Miami defense. Plus, the Heat bench could use more shot creation (the role they hoped Victor Oladipo would fill, but he has yet to be healthy).
However, what Herro is unafraid to do is take — and make — big shots, like this game-winner against the Kings.
The win moved Miami to 4-5 as they enter a soft part of the schedule where they can get their feet under them after a rough start.
3) Kyrie Irving, Nets combine to donate $1 million to groups working to “eradicate hate and intolerance”
The Nets hope this gesture will end — or at least quiet the noise from — the latest Kyrie Irving distraction around the team. I’m not sure it will be that easy.
Irving, the Nets organization, and the Anti-Defamation League released a joint statement where Irving said he “took responsibility” for his tweet promoting an anti-Semitic movie, and both Irving and the Nets promise to donate $500,000 each “toward causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities.”
Joint statement from Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets, and the Anti-Defamation League pic.twitter.com/5szamIClsh
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) November 2, 2022
“I oppose all forms of hatred and oppression and stand strong with communities that are marginalized and impacted every day,” Irving said in the statement. “I am aware of the negative impact of my post towards the Jewish community and I take responsibility. I do not believe everything said in the documentary was true or reflects my morals and principles. I am a human being learning from all walks of life and I intend to do so with an open mind and a willingness to listen. So from my family and I, we meant no harm to any one group, race or religion of people, and wish to only be a beacon of truth and light.”
“At a time when antisemitism has reached historic levels, we know the best way to fight the oldest hatred is to both confront it head-on and also to change hearts and minds,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the ADL, said in the statement. “With this partnership, ADL will work with the Nets and Kyrie to open dialogue and increase understanding.”
Nets GM Sean Marks said Irving would not speak to the media for a few days until things “simmer down.” But he will eventually speak, and it feels like this issue is not quite done.