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) LaVine, Bulls bounce back to snap Celtics win streak
The Boston Celtics came into Monday night having won nine in a row and looking every bit the best team in the league.
The Chicago Bulls entered the game having lost four in a row and having star player Zach LaVine benched for the final 3:43 of their most recent loss following a 1-of-14 shooting night.
Monday night the tables flipped. Chicago played with desperation and couldn’t seem to miss from 3 (LaVine and DeMar DeRozan combined to go 8-of-13 from deep), while the Celtics seemed flat. The Bulls’ offense was just flowing on Monday night.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) November 22, 2022
The result was a 121-107 Chicago win that the Celtics can shake off and call a bad night, but something the Bulls needed.
It was just that kind of night. The Celtics followed the playbook that has worked for a lot of teams, such as dropping off Patrick Williams and Alex Caruso and daring that duo to shoot 3-pointers. They combined to hit 5-of-8 from deep. It was just that kind of night.
Important for Chicago, Zach LaVine had a bounce-back night scoring 22 and looking active on both ends of the floor. It appears benching him for the closing stretch against Orlando worked, both firing him up and sending a message to the team.
— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) November 20, 2022
Those protestors bringing “energy” were members of Israel United in Christ, a group that endorses many of the things in the movie Irving Tweeted about that got him in hot water in the first place. They distributed flyers to people walking into Sunday’s game called “The Truth About Anti-Semitism” and “The Truth about Slavery.”
I was not aware of what specific group that was outside of Barclay’s Center tonight. I was celebrating the unification of our people welcoming the return of Kyrie to the court, first glance I thought it was a known fraternity the (C/Que’s) Omega psi phi (step’n) showing support
— Jaylen Brown (@FCHWPO) November 21, 2022
Brown addressed the issue, courtesy of Jamal Collier of ESPN.
“I saw a large group of our people from our community showing support for [Kyrie] and his return,” Brown said Monday. “Me being proud of that support and being proud of our community for doing that does not mean I endorse or celebrate some of the things that were being done or being said.
“My instinct when I saw this was I didn’t notice which group it was. I just noticed the support, and that’s what I commented on. I reemphasize that I don’t think that everything that is said or being done or being said is something I endorse or represent.”
Both Irving and Brown are on the players’ union executive committee.
2) Giannis Antetokounmpo dominates, drops 37 in Bucks win
In a season with a lot of stars having incredible years — Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, Jayson Tatum and others — somehow Giannis Antetokounmpo gets taken for granted. He’s the best player in the world but he doesn’t even make everyone’s top-five MVP ballot.
As a reminder, Antetokounmpo dominated and dropped 37 on 16-of-24 shooting to lead the Bucks past the Trail Blazers 119-111.
Giannis went to WORK in the @Bucks win 💪
— NBA (@NBA) November 22, 2022
Milwaukee is 12-4 on the season playing without their best ball handler in the halfcourt, Khris Middleton, plus starter Pat Connaughton. Antetokounmpo averages 30.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists a game, and if you’re knocking him because his two-point shooting has fallen to 57% this season, that seems like hunting a reason to go against him.
It’s far, far too early to have a serious MVP conversation, but if you have it Antetokounmpo has to be in the mix.
3) For second time this season, Warriors sit stars in New Orleans
Imagine you live in New Orleans and you decide you want to see your team take on Stephen Curry and the defending champion Golden State Warriors. You would have had two chances, Curry and company came to town on Nov. 4 and Nov. 21.
Except Nov. 4 was the second night of a back-to-back and the final game of a five-game road trip for the Warriors, so Steve Kerr rested Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins. Anthony Lamb started and played 36 minutes for the Warriors, and the Pelicans won.
Monday night was the second time the Warriors came to town — and again it was the second night of a back-to-back the third game in four days and Kerr rested all his stars (Lamb played 34 minutes). The Pelicans cruised to an easy 128-83 win behind 34 points from Brandon Ingram.
This is bad for the fans in New Orleans. It’s not Steve Kerr’s fault, he has to do what’s best for the long-term health of his team, they are title contenders (despite the slow start to the season) and he has to look at schedule-maker losses and get his guys some rest.
The league has to do better by cities. By fans. Unquestionably there are going to be nights where players get rested at the end of a long road trip and it will disappoint fans, there is simply no way around it (you could lessen the impact by playing fewer than 82 games, but good luck going down that road). But the NBA can’t give a city two of these games, essentially telling fans “you’re not going to get to see the best version of the defending champs because we’re got a schedule to keep and money to make.”
It’s not fair to the fans in New Orleans and many other cities hoping to see the best players in the world.