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Three things to know: Jonas becomes Dirk Valanciunas, drains seven 3s in first half

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Clippers

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 29: Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the New Orleans Pelicans reacts against the LA Clippers in the fourth quarter at Staples Center on November 29, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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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) Jonas becomes Dirk Valanciunas, drains seven 3s in first half, Pelicans upset Clippers

“The guys were calling him Dirk Valanciunas.”

That was coach Willie Green after the game, where Jonas Valenciunas went 7-of-7 from 3 in the first half and finished with a career-high 39. Green wasn’t the only guy impressed, a former teammate of JVs noticed.

The Pelicans have found a little groove with different players stepping up — remember Devonte’ Graham draining a game-winning three in Utah just a few days ago — and have won three-of-our. That includes splitting a pair with the Jazz and now beating the Clippers, and they have a +6.4 net rating in those four games with a potent offense leading the way and some solid defensive moments. It’s a start — the Pelicans are still in the hole they created to start the season, but at least they stopped digging. With the return of Zion Williamson looming, there are reasons for optimism in the Big Easy.

Meanwhile, the strong Clippers defense can’t bail out a 25th-ranked offense forever — and the Clippers O has been four points per 100 possessions worse the past eight games. The biggest problem is the Clippers are not getting enough easy buckets in transition — they run a fair amount (11th in pace, 17.4% of plays start in transition), but they are 27th in the league in points scored per play in transition (stats via Cleaning the Glass). The Clippers keep trying to win grind-it-out low-scoring games, their shooting hasn’t been good enough for that, and it is coming back to haunt them.

2) Porter, Harris, Suggs: injuries mount up around the NBA

If, like my grandmother used to say, bad news comes in threes, the NBA got the injury bad news cycle all out of the way in one day on Monday.

First came the news that the Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. is likely done for the season due to back surgery — his third before age 24. Fate is taking out its frustrations on the Nuggets, who have a title-contending team if healthy but lost Jamal Murray a season ago to an ACL and now this. Denver just gave Porter a five-year, $172 million max extension, they are all in on him and will bank on his return, but he fell down the draft because of red flags about his back and this is a troubling long-term sign.

Brooklyn will be without sharpshooter Joe Harris for at least a month, maybe two, after he had his ankle scoped to remove a loose body. Harris had missed six games because of a sprained ankle already, but it turned out to be more than that. The fact the Nets keep on winning despite guys being out — including one key guy keeping himself out — is impressive. Brooklyn is still a contender, it just has to get everyone on the court at the same time.

Finally, Magic rookie Jalen Suggs will be out for an “extended period” after fracturing his thumb Monday night against the 76ers. Suggs has shown flashes of potential as a rookie but has struggled to find his shot — he’s got a lot of development to do. Which is why time off to recover is not ideal, but hopefully he can use the time to step back, watch games and film with coaches/veterans in his ear, and it will all slow down for him a little and he will come back better. Suggs has a lot of potential.

3) Jokic Brothers come to Miami and… watch their brother win

The last time Nikola Jokic faced off against the Miami Heat, bodies went flying — specifically the body of Markieff Morris (who remains out due to whiplash from that hit… how did Jokic only get a one-game suspension again?). That led to the Jokic brothers starting a social media account just to troll Markieff’s brother Marcus.

The Heat and Nuggets were back at it in Miami Tuesday, and the Jokic brothers were in the house.

Of course, nothing was going to happen — the players are professionals, they move on. Same with the LeBron James/Isaiah Steward rematch Sunday. The Heat fans booed Jokic when he touched the ball, but Jokic had moved on and the players did their jobs.

Jokic returned to the court after missing four games with a sprained wrist and was instantly back to his MVP level — 24 points, 15 boards, 7 assists, 7-of-8 shooting in the first half.

However, the story of the game was the Heat fell behind because they could not make a bucket early (35.4% shooting as a team in the first half) and never could get out of that hole. Denver’s defense was solid, but Miami just looked dead-legged after a four-game road trip and seemed a little short, including the clean looks they were generating. It was one of those nights, and no Jimmy Butler on top of it.

Highlight of the Night: Kevin Porter Jr., get that triple-double

Rockets second-year point guard Kevin Porter Jr. got his first-ever triple-double Monday — but only because teammates made him come back and grab a rebound to get him there.

Porter finished with 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

Don’t look now, but the Rockets have won three straight after a 102-89 win over the Thunder.

Last night’s scores:

Philadelphia 101, Orlando 96
Denver 120, Miami 111
Chicago 133, Charlotte 119
Houston 102, Oklahoma City 89
Minnesota 100, Indiana 98
Cleveland 114, Dallas 96
San Antonio 116, Washington 99
Utah 129, Portland 107
New Orleans 123, LA Clippers 104