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Three things to know: John Wall wants back on the court, but how will that look?

Chicago Bulls v Houston Rockets

HOUSTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 24: John Wall #1 of the Houston Rockets takes practice at Toyota Center on November 24, 2021 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES — Three Things 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 going that make the NBA great.

1) John Wall wants back on the court, but how will that look?


John Wall is tired of sitting out. No trade is coming. A buyout isn’t happening (unless you think he wants to give up a big chunk of the $91 million he is owed). Wall may have agreed before to sit out, but he has been watching the Rockets struggle and wants to get back on the court.

Wall could help the 3-16 Rockets — he averaged 20 points a game for them across 40 games last season. He’s not All-Star John Wall anymore (at least right now), but on a young team that has looked overwhelmed and disorganized at points, he’s a veteran who can organize an offense and get some buckets.

What would a Wall return look like? That is the sticking point.

Wall met with Rockets GM Rafael Stone and coach Stephen Silas, and the sides could not agree on an answer to that question. From Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Wall spoke to Rockets officials and stated his desire is to play, have a starting role and compete to maintain it, but the franchise informed him that they want him to come off the bench, and not start, in order to play, sources tell The Athletic. The outcome of the conversations is that Wall will continue to sit out games while remaining professional and being around and engaged with the team, sources said.

The Rockets are rebuilding and are invested in their young backcourt of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., who are playing 30+ minutes a night. The Rockets likely envision Wall taking over DJ Augustin’s 12.5 minutes a night off the bench (maybe that gets bumped up to 15-18 a night). Wall is a proud five-time All-Star player who wants the respect of starting and getting decent run.

The sides seem at an impasse.

Ultimately, Wall is going to need to accept a smaller role and build on it. If he wants a playoff (or contending) team to find a way to trade for him — a long shot with that massive contract, but if he wants it — he’s going to have to prove he can accept and thrive in a smaller, different role than he is used to. As Jonathan Feigen points out at the Houston Chronicle, Derrick Rose is the poster child for former All-Stars who have adapted their games. Wall can start that transformation in Houston then hope to adapt it with another team.

For now, Wall continues to sit and the Rockets continue to focus on the future. But this situation isn’t going away.

2) The Clippers would appreciate the referees not pissing off Stephen Curry in the future

It was a battle of the top two defenses in the NBA, and in a lot of ways the first three quarters of the Warriors at Clippers game Sunday afternoon lived up to that billing. Aside from the Clippers shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers, it was a well-played game and offense was not easy to come by.

Then early in the fourth quarter, Stephen Curry attacked the rim and thought he was fouled by Terance Mann (he was), but there was no call. Curry snapped and drew a technical.

That lit a fire under an unstoppable offensive force.

Curry responded with 13 points in the fourth quarter, hitting 3-of-4 from 3, and for good measure he gave the referee a “T” after draining a 3.

Curry finished with 33 points, 7-of-13 on 3-pointers, and the Warriors got the win, 105-90.

Remember this win was all about the defense — the Clippers scored less than a point per possession in this game.

3) Frank Vogel, Lakers still searching for right formula

The Lakers right now will take their wins where they can get them. Even if it’s by four points at home against a 4-16 Pistons team they had down by 19 in the third. Which is what happened Sunday night. It’s still a win and pulled the Lakers up to 11-11.

What is obvious to everyone — coaches, players, fans, and haters — is that the Lakers are a work in progress. As LeBron James noted postgame, the Lakers had nine new players in training camp this year, guys have missed time with injuries (including LeBron), and everyone is still figuring things out.

Coach Frank Vogel may be feeling the pressure, but for whatever reason he is undoubtedly throwing a lot of things out there to see what works. Among the things the Lakers have done recently:

• LeBron at center lineups. For a couple of stretches Sunday night, the Lakers went small and played Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves, Wayne Ellington, with LeBron at the five. Vogel preferred the term “centerless lineup.”

“I feel this is part of our evolution as a team and what our lineups are going to look like,” Vogel said. “We played a second unit that basically closed the game out in Indiana, with LeBron and ‘Melo at the four/five. Call it a centerless lineup. There is a lot more space for Russ, ‘Bron has a lot more space to be a roller going to the basket, which was effective, and we just have more switchability on the defensive side of the ball.

• The Lakers started big with DeAndre Jordan at center and he played 20:38, but in the other 27:22, it was either Davis or LeBron at center — the smaller lineups that have looked better for them. Vogel is looking for the line where he isn’t overtaxing his stars, but he is getting them more in the 4/5 role.

• There was an obvious effort to attack the rim and play inside out — and the Lakers finished with a strong 58 points in the paint. It helps that the Pistons don’t have a real shot blocker, so guys have cleaner looks, and that meant Davis could overpower guys on his way to 24 points, but it still was a step in the right direction as they were aggressive, playing downhill, and trying to play fast.

The paint does get clogged with Jordan on the court, which is why the smaller lineups can be so effective.

• The Lakers’ defense may be improving… slowly. The Lakers held the Pistons to a 101.9 offensive rating in this game, which is good, but this is the 30th ranked Detroit offense scoring below a point per possession coming into the game. There has been a sense among Lakers’ watchers that the defense has looked better through stretches of both the loss Friday to the Kings in triple-overtime and against the Pistons, but it’s not been consistent.

“That’s why our lives are hard right now. Because we’re not fully committed,” Vogel said.

The Lakers remain in the bottom 10 in the league in defense for the season, and that has continued over the last eight games.

• The Lakers have gotten better with their third quarter problem. That quarter was their undoing for a while. The Lakers have focused more on winning the third and they have won 5-of-8 thirds, including going on a 16-0 run against the Pistons on Sunday. That stretch essentially decided the game.

Highlight of the Night:

LeBron and Davis recreated a little Showtime for the Staples Center crowd (which felt appropriate on the night the team honored the legacy of Chick Hearn):

Last night’s scores:

Golden State 105, LA Clippers 90
Milwaukee 118, Indiana 100
Boston 109, Toronto 97
Memphis 128, Sacramento 101
LA Lakers 110, Detroit 106