Three things to Know: Takeaways from Lakers comeback win over Mavericks


Three Things To Know is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out 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) Three takeaways from Lakers’ 27-point comeback win over Mavericks

As if they needed it, this is the kind of win that is going to have Lakers nation exuberantly high on their remodeled team.

After starting ice cold from the floor — while the Mavs were blisteringly hot — and getting down by 27, the Lakers climbed back to beat the Mavericks 111-118. It was an affirming comeback for the Lakers, who did it despite shooting 6-of-34 from 3 on the night — they did it with defense and physicality, with some help from the Mavericks. For Dallas, this was a reminder of how far they have to go to live up to the promise of the Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving pairing.

Here are three quick takeaways from the game

1) This is the Anthony Davis the Lakers must have to win

“This is not going to work without AD… it’s going to be invaluable. He’s the centerpiece to that championship table we’re trying to build.”

That was Lakers coach Darvin Ham before the season and we agreed with him — these Lakers needed bubble Anthony Davis to be any kind of a threat in the West. That is the Davis the Lakers got on Sunday (and have gotten recently) as he finished with 30 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots.

If Davis can stay healthy and keep performing near this level, the Lakers will make the playoffs and be a team nobody wants to see in the first round.

2) The post-deadline Lakers bring much more size to the court

The consensus after GM Rob Pelinka’s moves at the trade deadline was “he finally put some shooting around LeBron James and Davis again.” And that’s true to a degree, Michael Beasley and D'Angelo Russell are big steps up in that department for Los Angeles (even if it didn’t show against the Mavs).

However, the Lakers also got bigger — Rui Hachimura at 6’8″, Jarred Vanderbilt at 6’9″, Mo Bamba at 7-foot, and both Malik Beasley and D’Angelo Russell are 6’4″ guards. That size has helped the Lakers’ defense and rebounding since the trade.

Vanderbilt was an essential addition and is a much better fit with his size and skill set — patricianly as a point of attack defender, he did well on Luka Dončić — next to Anthony Davis than he was in Utah, where he didn’t fit as naturally with rookie emerging center Walker Kessler. Vanderbilt is a natural five next to AD, who plays more of a four.

3) The Mavericks’ defense is a mess

Jason Kidd was a bit frustrated postgame, but he knows his player must figure this out, he can only do so much.

“I’m not the savior here… I’m watching, I’m not playing, I’m watching just like you guys. Us as a team we have to mature… We have to grow up if we want to win a championship.”

Part of the reason the Mavericks blew this game was that Luke Dončić and Kyrie Irving did not have the kind of offensive nights we expect from them, especially in the second half. But this team also struggles to get stops — they were bottom 10 in the league defensively before sending their best on-ball defender away to get Irving. Over their last four games, the Maverick’s non-garbage time defense is 2.7 points per 100 possessions worse than their season average. When they needed stops against the Lakers, they couldn’t get them.

Dallas can outscore teams, but that’s not a model for playoff success.

2) Damian Lillard goes off for 71 points in win

It was Damian Lillard’s night — he set both the Trail Blazers franchise high and a career-best dropping 71 points and hitting 13 3-pointers against the Houston Rockets on Sunday night. Lillard is now tied with Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell for the most points in a game this season.

“I enjoy those moments in the game when I’m just going after people,” Lillard said postgame, via the Associated Press, “when I’m in attack mode.”

With that big night, the Trail Blazers picked up a needed 131-114 victory over the Rockets. Portland remains half a game out of the final play-in spot in the West, with the surging Lakers right behind them.

3) Hawks hire new coach, Trae Young celebrates with game-winner

What had been expected became official on Sunday: Quin Snyder will take over as the new head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, likely starting this week.

Snyder replaces the fired Nate McMillan (with Joe Prunty as a brief interim) and one of his first orders of business is to establish a strong relationship with Trae Young. It will not be easy (ask the last two Hawks coaches), and Young has not always bought into the system those coaches have wanted him to play. Young should like Snyder’s system (once it gets installed fully next season), which will feature a lot more 3-pointers but also ball and player movement, not Young pounding the ball into the floor out top for 10 seconds. There is going to be a spotlight on Young after this move.

Young thrived in that spotlight on Sunday, capping off a 31-point night with a pull-up game-winner from the elbow (with a nice pump fake thrown in) to beat Brooklyn.

The win moves the Hawks a game above .500 as the eighth seed in the East. While the goal should be climbing up to the top six in the final weeks of the season, making up that 3.5 games on the Knicks or Nets won’t be easy, it’s vital they at least hold on to the 7 or 8 seeds, meaning one win in the play-in gets them to the postseason.

Damian Lillard says Trail Blazers shut him down, talks loyalty to Portland


Players feel the wrath of fans for load management in the NBA, but more often than not it’s a team’s medical and training staff — driven by analytics and the use of wearable sensors — that sit a player. Guys don’t get to the NBA not wanting to compete.

Case in point, Damian Lillard. The Trail Blazers have shut him down for the rest of the season, but he told Dan Patrick on the Dan Patrick Show that it was a team call, not his.

“I wouldn’t say it’s my decision at all. I think maybe the team protecting me from myself… Every time that I’ve had some type injury like that kind of get irritated or aggravated or something like that, it’s come from just like a heavy load, and stress, and just, you know, going out there and trying to go above and beyond. So, you know, I would say just; there is something there, and also them just trying to protect me from myself as well.”

Maybe it’s a little about protecting Lillard at age 32 — who played at an All-NBA level this season — but it’s more about lottery odds.

Portland and Orlando are tied for the league’s fifth and sixth-worst records. The team with the fifth worst record has a 10.5% chance at the No.1 pick, the sixth worst is 9%. More than that, the fifth-worst record has a 42% chance of moving up into the top four at the draft lottery, for the sixth seed that is 37.2%. Not a huge bump in the odds, but the chances are still better for the fifth seed than the sixth, so the Trail Blazers as an organization are going for it.

Lillard also talked about his loyalty to Portland, which is partly tied to how he wants to win a ring — the way Dirk Nowitzki and Giannis Antetokounmpo did, with the team and city that drafted them.

“I just have a way that I want to get things done for myself… I just have my stance on what I want to see happen, but in this business, you just never know.”

Other teams are watching Lillard, but they have seen this movie before. Nothing will happen until Lillard asks for a trade and he has yet to show any inclination to do so.

But he’s got time to think about everything as he is not taking the court again this season.

Seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge officially retires

Indiana Pacers v Brooklyn Nets
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

LaMarcus Aldridge retired once due to a heart condition (Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome), back in 2021. That time it didn’t take, he came back to the then-a-super-team Nets and showed there was something in the tank averaging 12.9 points (on 55% shooting), 5.5 rebounds and a block a game. However, the Nets did not bring him back this season (leaning into Nic Claxton) and no other offers were forthcoming.

Friday, Aldridge made it official and retired.

Aldridge had a career that will earn him Hall of Fame consideration: 19.1 points a game over 16 seasons, five-time All-NBA, seven-time All-Star, and one of the faces of the Portland Trail Blazers during his prime years in the Pacific Northwest. Teammates and former coaches (including Gregg Popovich in San Antonio) called him a consummate professional after his initial retirement.

This time Aldridge got to announce his retirement on his terms, which is about as good an exit as there is.



Report: NBA minimum draft age will not change in new CBA, one-and-done remains


While the NBA — representing the owners — and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) continue last-minute negotiations on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) before an opt-out deadline Friday night at midnight, one point of contention is off the table:

The NBA draft age will not change in the new CBA, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The NBA one-and-done rule will remain in place.

The NBA one-and-done rule is unpopular with fans and college coaches (and, of course, players coming up). NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had worked to eliminate that restriction saying it was unfair, but he could not get it done.

There wasn’t much motivation from either side to make a move. From the players’ union perspective, lowering the draft eligibility age to 18 would bring more young players in to develop in the league and take away roster spots from veterans (and the union is made up of those veterans, not undrafted players). The union has suggested ways to keep veterans on the roster (possibly a roster expansion) as mentors, but a deal could not be reached. As for the teams, plenty of GMs would prefer an extra year to evaluate players, especially with them going up against better competition in college/G-League/Overtime Elite/overseas.

There are other impediments to a CBA deal, such as the details around a mid-season NBA tournament, the configuration of the luxury tax, veteran contract extension language, a games-played minimum to qualify for the league’s end-of-season awards.

If the sides do not reach a deal by midnight, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would likely opt out of the current CBA, meaning it would end on June 30. The two sides would have until then to reach a deal on a new CBA to avoid a lockout (although they could go into September before it starts to mess with the NBA regular season calendar and not just Summer League).


Timberwolves big man Naz Reid out indefinitely with fractured wrist

Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

This sucks for a Timberwolves team finding its groove.

Part of that groove was the offensive spark of big man Naz Ried off the bench, but now he will be out indefinitely with a fractured wrist, the Timberwolves announced. From the official release:

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) taken yesterday at Mayo Clinic Square by Dr. Kelechi Okoroha on Reid revealed a left scaphoid fracture. He will be out indefinitely and further updates on his progress will be provided when available.

A scaphoid fracture involves one of the small bones at the base of the hand that connects the wrist and fingers. Reid injured his hand on this dunk attempt against the Suns, he instinctively used his left hand to help break the fall and it took the weight of the landing.

Impressively, and despite being in pain, Reid played through the injury.

Reid developed into the sixth man, spark plug roll for the Timberwolves behind starters Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. In his last five games, Reid averaged 18.8 points on 59.1% shooting (including 45% from 3 on four attempts a night) and grabbed 5.2 rebounds in his 22 minutes.

Reid is a free agent this offseason. The Timberwolves want to keep him and have had talks with him, but he will have plenty of suitors.

His loss will be a blow to Minnesota, especially heading into crucial games down the stretch — starting with the Lakers Friday night (a team Reid had some big games against) — and into the postseason. Expect coach Chris Finch to stagger Towns and Gobert a little more, and he can turn to Nate Knight or Luka Garza off the bench, but their role would be limited (especially come the playoffs).