Three Things is NBC’s five-day-a-week roundup of the day before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every morning of the week to catch up on what you missed the night before, plus the rumors, dramas, and dunks that make the NBA great.
1) It’s the Nets team that scares the rest of the NBA
The Nets were the betting favorite and the choice of most pundits to win the NBA title before the start of the season, as everyone envisioned nights like this:
Kevin Durant had 27 points on 7 of 10 shots, plus nine assists. James Harden had 25 points and 16 assists. Patty Mills, back in her comfortable sixth man role, scored 21. Blake Griffin was diving to the floor for loose balls and was +34 on the night.
Brooklyn entered Chicago on Wednesday night and routed the East Bulls 138-112.
Never read too much in a regular season NBA game when trying to project a potential playoff game. There are still too many variables to say that this is an apples-to-apples comparison (eg Alex Caruso is out for the Bulls due to health and safety protocols).
However, it’s the team’s version of the Nets that makes the team so scary – a team that can get a 146.8 offensive rating on a night Kyrie Irving plays but looks good (that’s maybe the ankle problem that kept him from playing the last game). Down two at halftime, the Nets made a third-quarter statement that included a 30-8 streak. The Brooklyn stars were an elite, their actors stepped up and the Bulls couldn’t do anything.
– Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 13, 2022
We could list everything that has gone well for the Nets, from their rookie play to strong defense, but you get the point.
The Nets have their big three intact, and on nights like this, they seem inevitable.
2) Another frustrating night for LeBron, Lakers
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: LeBron James had another strong game, the kind that puts you on the MVP ballots, and scored 34 points. However, he didn’t get enough help, the Los Angeles defense was a mess and the Lakers lost to a team that had lost five straight games and wouldn’t even make the game if the playoffs started today. hui.
Sacramento 125, Los Angeles Lakers 116
LeBron James leads the NBA with 19 games at 30 points this season, including 11 of his last 12 games.
But after tonight’s loss, the Lakers are just 10-9 when LeBron scores at least 30 points. pic.twitter.com/1apmnHnZav
– ESPN statistics and information (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 13, 2022
The Lakers are 21-21, and only five of those wins have come against teams over 0.500. There’s still a feeling around the team that they can figure it out and flip the switch – like the 2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – but watch them on the pitch and there’s little evidence the Lakers know where the switch is located.
De’Aaron Fox had 29 points and Harrison Barnes 23 to lead the Kings.
The Lakers and Kings will be interesting to watch at the trade deadline.
The Lakers need to make plays for guys who might change their seasons – the Pistons’ Jerami Grant would be a perfect choice – but they really only have one trade option, a combination of Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn and a 2027 -28 first round picks. It may not be enough to do it.
The Kings ultimately put everyone on the trading block, including Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. However, while the Lakers need to think short term with a 37-year-old LeBron on the team, the Kings need to think bigger and longer. They need to build something that works, because what they have doesn’t work.
3) Damian Lillard undergoes abdominal surgery and is absent indefinitely
Damian Lillard hasn’t been himself this season, even dating back to the Tokyo Olympics. He has lower abdominal tendinopathy and has tried rest, play and a cortisone injection. Nothing worked.
Now he’s under the knife – Lillard will have surgery to fix his abdominal problem and be reassessed in a few months. At that point, it’ll be March, and the Trail Blazers currently 16-24 will have to ask if it’s worth it for him to come back so they can do a play-in push.
Hopefully for Lillard that fixes the problem and the next time he steps onto a pitch, whenever it does, we’ll see the player’s dynamic top 10 in the league again. We all miss watching this Lillard.
The question now is what does this mean for the Trail Blazers as the trade deadline approaches? Will interim general manager Joe Cronin be aggressive to retool the squad and trade CJ McCollum or Jusuf Nurkic? Does he have the backing of the property for being this aggressive, or is he more of a caretaker until a new GM is hired? No one knows the answers to these questions outside of Portland, and everyone is watching to see what they are doing.
Highlight of the evening: Tyler Herro was one second from the triple-double
Miami continued to show its depth and strength of its culture, traveling to Atlanta and beating the Hawks 115-91 despite the absence of either Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo.
Tyler Herro continued his campaign as the sixth man of the year with a team-record 21 points off the bench, plus 11 assists and nine rebounds. Herro wanted the triple-double, and if there had been just one more second on the clock …
Last night’s scores:
Boston 119, Indiana 100
Charlotte 109, Philadelphia 100
Washington 112, Orlando 106
Miami 115, Atlanta 91
New York 108, Dallas 85
Houston 128, San Antonio 124
Cleveland 111, Utah 91
Brooklyn 138, Chicago 112
Sacramento 125, LA Lakers 116