Three things to Know: Markkanen joins high-scoring show, drops career-high 49
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) Markkanen joins high-scoring show, drops career-high 49
Lauri Markkanen has found a comfort level in Utah as a finisher he has shown nowhere else in his career.
“I’ve said it over and over again this year, it’s just my teammates, the coaching staff, they put me in the right spots to succeed,” Markkanen said Thursday, via the Associated Press. “My teammates did a great job delivering me the ball and it was just finishing my shots.”
He finished them to the tune of a career-high 49 points.
Markkanen’s outburst sparked a 131-114 Jazz win over the Rockets, a needed win for a Utah team that has stumbled of late and fallen below .500 and into the play-in (leaving Danny Ainge and the front office with some hard choices heading into the trade deadline, but that’s another story).
One of the reported hesitations when Ainge and the Jazz traded away Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert last summer was that owner Ryan Smith wanted to be sure his team had an All-Star when the Jazz hosted the NBA All-Star Game this year. It looks like he’ll get that wish in the form of Markkanen, who has played well enough for the coaches to put him in as a reserve. Games like this add to the odds he gets the invite.
2) Tatum’s triple-double sparks Celtics, who snap Mavericks’ win streak
After a frustrating loss to Oklahoma City, Jayson Tatum said the Celtics had gotten into the bad habit of picking and choosing when they played hard and were focused. That had led to a couple of straight losses on the road.
They brought the focus Thursday night on national television and reminded everyone why they have been the best team in the NBA for much of the season.
Jayson Tatum was at the forefront of a bounce-back game and put together just his second career triple-double — 29 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists — to spark a 124-95 win over Dallas, snapping the Mavericks’ seven-game winning streak.
As much as the 3-pointers were falling again and the offense was clicking, the Boston defense holding Luka Doncic to “just” 23 points on 7-of-23 shooting was the key to the game. Doncic has overwhelmed everyone of late, the Celtics made him look human.
The Celtics close out this road trip in San Antonio before heading home for a couple of games.
3) No surprises here: LeBron, Durant lead NBA All-Star fan voting
You, the fans, have spoken — and you want big-name, established stars in Salt Lake City next month for the All-Star Game.
The NBA released the first round of fan voting on Thursday, and LeBron James and Kevin Durant would be the team captains, they had the most votes from each conference (they would pick the teams playground-style on TNT, as has been done in recent years).
Based on this early fan voting, the starters would be:
WEST: LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic.
EAST: Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell
Lurking nearby and close to the top five in the West is Zion Williamson in the frontcourt, and in the East Jayson Tatum and James Harden are close. These fan votes for the starters will count for 50% of the total for each player, with votes from NBA players counting for 25%, and votes from a panel of NBA media making up the other 25%. (It will be interesting to see what kind of support Irving gets from players and the media, he’s unquestionably played well enough to be an All-Star, but will he get the starting nod?)
That is just the starting five, the reserves for each conference are picked by a vote of the coaches. From there all the players are put in a pool (starters and bench players are separated) and picked by the two captains for their teams.
Fan All-Star voting continues at the NBA app and NBA.com through Jan. 21 (there is no voting via social media this year). On Jan. 6, Jan. 13, Jan. 16 and Jan. 20 all fan votes will count triple.