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) Curry drops 50 yet Warriors still winless on road
The Warriors have a defensive rating this season of 113.6, 25th in the NBA.
The Warriors’ winless road record and the fact they can’t get a stop go hand-in-hand — and not even a 50-spot from Stephen Curry can change that.
Steph is up to 50 points pic.twitter.com/iZkQ55NKRT
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 17, 2022
That was Curry’s 11th 50-point game.
Curry was epic, but the Suns put up 130 at home and not even Curry’s greatness could match that. Phoenix is without two starters — Chris Paul and Cameron Johnson — but is doing what elite teams do: trust their depth and find wins. Cameron Payne had 29 points including six 3-pointers filling in for CP3, Devin Booker added a smooth 27, and the Suns shot 21-of-40 from 3 as a team to pick up the win.
A frustrated Steve Kerr referred to the team’s play as a pickup game — code for individual play and no commitment to defense. Kerr didn’t hold back after the loss.
“If somebody helps on a rotation, crack back and help on the big guy. If things aren’t going well, somebody call the group into the foul line, get everybody together and motivate the group.
“All that stuff is missing right now. I saw a lot of hanging heads tonight. I think we’re feeling sorry for ourselves. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. Everyone can’t wait to play us and kick our ass. We’ve had a lot of success and a lot of fun, a lot of joy beating people over the years and teams don’t forget that. So they’re having their fun now, as they should.
“I’ve always felt the game rewards you if you commit to the game. If you really compete together, shots go in, calls go your way, breaks fall your way. We’re not earning any of that stuff. That’s why we’re winless on the road. It’s a pickup game.”
Most of the Warriors’ struggles have been in the half-court defensively, where they are bottom 10 in the league (via Cleaning the Glass), but the offensive struggles are letting teams run on them more than the Warriors might like as well. However, as Kerr noted, the larger issue is the commitment in the half-court right now.
There are other concerns in Golden State, such as the inconsistent play of Jordan Poole (0-of-5 against the Suns) and Klay Thompson still trying to find his shot (6-of-17). But the Warriors’ four rings are built on an elite defense — last season they entered the playoffs with the best defense in the NBA. If the Warriors have dreams of a repeat — or just winning a game on the road — it has to start on the defensive end of the floor.
2) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drains stepback game-winner against Wizards
We wrote a few days ago that we’re not talking enough about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
We’re talking about him today after he drained a game-winning stepback 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left to cap off a career-high 42-point night, lifting the Thunder past the Wizards 121-120.
Bradley Beal looked like he might have hit the game-winner with his midrange jumper with 6.1 seconds left, putting the Wizards up 120-118 on the road. But that left enough time for Gilgeous-Alexander to get one last chance.
Beal finished with 25 points in his first game back after missing five (three when in the league’s health and safety protocols), while Kristaps Porzingis added 27. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 30 of his points in the second half.
Gilgeous-Alexander is playing at an All-NBA/bottom of the MVP ballot level this season, and we’ll be talking a lot about him and the 7-8 Thunder.
3) Celtics win streak up to 8, Cavaliers losing streak reaches 5
The streaks for two of the East’s top teams continue: The Celtics upped their win streak to eight, while the Cavaliers dropped their fifth straight.
Boston got a comfortable 126-101 win over the Hawks. The Celtics won this one with depth. Jayson Tatum (19 points) and Jaylen Brown (22) had off shooting nights, and the Celtics were already without Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon.
So the role players stepped up: Grant Williams had 18 points with four 3-pointers, Derrick White finished 16 points and 10 assists, Sam Hauser and Luke Kornet each had 15 points, while Payton Pritchard chipped in with 14 points. That balanced scoring was too much for the Hawks.
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) November 17, 2022
For Cleveland, no Jarrett Allen (sore left ankle) and this team continues to struggle when all its stars are not on the court. Evan Mobley could not slow Brook Lopez (29 points, including seven 3-pointers), Giannis Antetokounmpo was getting anywhere he wanted to go, and it was all too easy for the Bucks.
Allen is the defensive lynchpin for the Cavaliers and without him they’re not near the same team on that end.
On the bright side for the Cavaliers, Mobley had a better, more fluid offensive game with 20 points — he has struggled to find his offensive fit playing with Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell (both guards and 23 in this game).
Next up for the Cavaliers is the injury-riddled Charlotte Hornets. Cleveland needs to break its streak there because things get tough after that (Hawks and Heat back-to-back).