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Three things to Know: Dončić, Durant, Zion, injuries dominate West playoff chase

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Vincent Goodwill and Sherrod Blakely join the show to scrutinize the top NBA storylines, including the competition to be named the league's Most Valuable Player, as well the Eastern and Western Conference playoff races.

Three Things To Know 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) Luka Dončić leaves game with thigh injury; Zion out at least two more weeks

This is worrisome: When asked after the game how he felt, Luka Dončić said, “It’s not good.”

Dončić was clearly slowed all game Wednesday by a thigh issue, something he admitted after the game he had been playing through for about a week (via Andrew Lopez at ESPN) — “I think it was the second game after the All-Star break... This one, I didn’t get hit.”

Non-contact injuries are the most concerning. Dončić left the game in the third quarter not to return and will get an MRI on Thursday to better understand what is causing the thigh pain.

The Mavericks catch a little break because they are off until Saturday when they will face the shorthanded Grizzlies.

With or without Dončić, the Mavericks’ defense is terrible and the Pelicans took full advantage. CJ McCollum scored 32 points — 16 straight at one point — and the Pelicans picked up a needed 113-106 win as they fight to make the play-in.

Not that it was all good news for New Orleans: The team announced that Zion Williamson — who has been out since Jan. 2 with a hamstring issue (which he re-aggravated at one point) — will remain out and be re-evaluated in two weeks.

It’s fair to ask if we will see Zion again this season. Even if he does come back, will the Pelicans have time to build chemistry and find their form again like they did just after Thanksgiving last year when they looked like a team that could be a real playoff threat?

2). Durant misses home debut after tweaking ankle

Kevin Durant was set to make his home debut in Phoenix Wednesday night when this happened during warmups.

Durant got up and continued his warmup, but just before tip-off, it was announced he would miss the game due to left ankle soreness.

There is concern among the team this is a grade 2 ankle sprain, which would have him out 4-6 weeks — the rest of the regular season and maybe the playoffs, reports Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.

That would be a real punch to the gut for the Suns and their playoff dreams. Durant is averaging 26.7 points and 7.3 assists a game on ridiculously efficient shooting (80.8 true shooting percentage with the Suns), and Phoenix is 3-0 since he entered the lineup.

The Suns went on to easily beat the Thunder 132-101 anyway, behind 44 points from Devin Booker.

If Durant is out the rest of the regular season the Suns will stay afloat and make the playoffs, but they will not have the chance to develop the depth of chemistry and good habits needed to make a deep postseason run (and that’s if he is back for the start of the playoffs). If this is that serious a sprained ankle, it is bad news in Phoenix.

3) Fred VanVleet gets his fine’s worth when ripping official

The standard NBA fine for disparaging referees during a postgame interview is $25,000-$35,000, depending on what is said and that player or coach’s history of criticizing the official publicly.

The Raptors’ Fred VanVleet had enough and decided if he was going to get fined, he would get his money’s worth.

A lot of players around the league should pitch in to pay VanVleet’s fine because he just spoke for them. Not about Ben Taylor specifically, but officiating in general.

The Raptors fell to the Clippers 108-100, with Kawhi Leonard scoring 24 points and Paul George 23.