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Three things to Know: Bucks fight their way past Kings for victory

Marcus Thompson calls in to discuss the Warriors’ state of mind and Steph Curry’s ornery disposition as the NBA season winds down.

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) Bucks fight their way past Kings; Lopez/Lyle scuffle

We should be talking about Giannis Antetokounmpo returning to the Bucks’ lineup and scoring 46 with 12 rebounds. Or the fact Khris Middleton was back in the Bucks starting lineup and scoring 31 while leading Milwaukee to a quality road win against a scrappy Sacramento team.

Instead, we are talking about this scuffle between Trey Lyles and Brook Lopez as the clock was winding down.

Brooks and Lyles were given technicals and ejected (expect fines to follow). The Kings took exception to what they saw as Antetokounmpo not just quietly dribbling the game out and instead cutting in front of Lyles. To a man, his Kings teammates had Lyles’ back.

“I don’t know what happened, but we ain’t taking s*** from nobody,” Kings coach Mike Brown said. “Trust me on that. And they’re all going to have each other’s backs in there.”

As for the game itself, there are no moral victories in the NBA — but if there were this was one for the Kings. The question now isn’t if the Kings make the playoffs — they will almost certainly be the two or three seed in the West — but if this team is playoff ready. Can they win a round or two? While they lost 133-124 after Antetokounmpo sparked a 7-0 run that put the Bucks up five with five minutes to go and then they held on, the Kings put up a good fight against an NBA contender. They looked more than playoff ready. Domantas Sabonis led the way with 23 points, 17 rebounds and 15 assists (his 10th triple-double of the season) while going against Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Lopez.

The Bucks’ win, along with the Celtics somehow getting upset by the Rockets, has Milwaukee up 2.5 games again for the top seed in the East. The Bucks are also up three games on the Nuggets, a few more wins and the Bucks can lock down the best record in the NBA for the season (and homecourt throughout the playoffs).

2) Morant enters counseling program in Florida; his teammates beat Mavs anyway

In his statement when stepping away from the Grizzlies, Ja Morant said he needed “to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.” That came in the wake of Morant flashing a gun at a club and broadcasting it on his social media.

That has meant Morant entering a counseling program in Florida. The Grizzlies were not adding detail to the report, working to keep things quiet and in-house).

“Outside of what I’ve said in the past, respectful to the nature of the situation and stuff, I think I said on the outset he was taking time and responsibility to get better himself so he could be better for our team,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said, via the Associated Press. “I’m not going to really comment further until there’s more updates necessary.”

Most importantly, hopefully this means Morant finds the help he seeks in finding his path forward at age 23. In pure basketball terms, it’s tough to say what this would mean for Morant returning to the Grizzlies, there is no timeline. Officially the Grizzlies have said Morant is out through Friday, March 17, but it seems unlikely he will be back that soon.

On the court Monday, Memphis picked up a win against a Dallas team without Luka Doncic (calf strain) or Kyrie Irving (foot soreness). Desmond Bane scored 23 points and rookie David Roddy again played well with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting.

The Grizzlies need the wins as they are in a race with the Kings for the No. 2 seed in the West. The Mavericks continue to tumble as they find their post-trade deadline footing and are now a game below .500 and need wins to hold on to the No. 7 or 8 seed in the play-in (or to climb back into the top six and avoid the play-in).

3) Stephen Curry goes off and Warriors win at home. Again.

The Golden State Warriors have won eight straight at home.

They have lost eight straight on the road and looked like a totally different team — one that has no idea how to defend.

Monday night the Warriors were home against the Suns, which meant a win and the Stephen Curry show.

Although it was more the Klay Thompson show. While Curry had 23 points, Thompson had 38 — 33 in the first half — and drained eight 3-pointers.

Both of these teams have championship aspirations. Both have work to do. The Suns need Kevin Durant to return from his sprained ankle first, they are not the same team on either end of the court without him (then we can discuss if the team has enough time to build championship chemistry). The Warriors must figure out how to take this show from the Chase Center on the road.

However, it’s hard to count either of them out in this West.