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Three things to Know: Mitchell feels love in return but Utah gets win

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) Donovan Mitchell feels love in return but Utah gets win

Donovan Mitchell is still beloved in Salt Lake City. He heard that from Jazz fans in his return to Utah — he was traded this summer to Cleveland —but was treated like the prodigal son on his return, complete with a stirring tribute video and with much love from the Jazz crowd on Tuesday night.

Then Mitchell went out and reminded those Jazz fans why they loved him — and what they are missing without him — dropping 46 on Utah.

Utah had shown grit and fought much of the night, but late it appeared Mitchell and Cleveland were going to pull away and get the win when Jordan Clarkson took over, scoring 15 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter — including nine in :38 seconds on a couple reviewed plays — that turned the game around and got the Jazz a much-needed win at home. Utah needs to start racking up some wins if it wants to stay in the play-in mix.

2) Curry returns but looks rusty, Suns pick up

Golden State thought they had picked a soft landing spot for Stephen Curry’s return: At home (where the Warriors were 17-4) against a reeling Suns team without Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, Cameron Johnson (four-fifths of their starting lineup), Cameron Payne or Landry Shamet.

Instead, the Warriors hit a new low on the season, trailing by as many as 27 in the second half and losing 125-113 Mikal Bridges and what was left of the Suns’ roster.

Curry looked expectedly rusty after missing 11 games with a shoulder injury, he scored 24 points but on 8-of-22 shooting overall and 5-of-15 from 3. Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 29.

The Warriors were not focused and the Suns outworked them. That showed up on the glass where Phoenix grabbed 19 offensive rebounds — they got second chances on 39.6% of their missed shots. It showed up on defense, where the Bridges and the Suns put up a 121.5 offensive rating on the Warriors. Golden State coasted into this game expecting a win and ran into a hungry NBA team.

The Warriors, 20-21 on the season, can’t keep having these games, these unfocused nights. We keep waiting for them to find their groove again, but at some point it can become too late.

“We have to be honest with ourselves about details of what makes a winning team,” Curry said after the game, via Monte Poole at NBC Sports Bay Area. “Remind ourselves of what that is and hold ourselves to that standard, like everything you saw in the fourth quarter.

“I’m not saying you’re going to pick up 94 feet every possession and be able to sustain that for 48 minutes. But the level of focus, the level of togetherness, toughness, high-IQ basketball. We demonstrated a lot of that to try to give ourselves a chance to win.”

3) Dedmon ejected for launching massage gun onto court of Heat win

Miami’s win over the Thunder saw a couple of unexpected things happen.

First was Dwyane Dedmon getting ejected for launching a massage gun onto the court.

Dedmon had come off the bench for the shorthanded Heat, playing from late in the first quarter through the first couple of minutes of the second. When he was subbed out he was hot and had words with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, and in storming past him and toward the locker room Dedmon hit one of the team’s massage guns launching it onto the court. That will get you tossed.

“We’re all a bunch of gnarly personalities,” Spoelstra said, via the Associated Press. “That part was unfortunate. Everything before that, that’s the Miami Heat. That part was unacceptable.”

The other unexpected thing from this game was how the Heat earned the win — they were a perfect 40-of-40 from the free throw line, led by Jimmy Butler going 23-of-23, including drawing a foul for what became the game-winner.

Miami needed that win as it tries to crawl out of the play-in into the top six in the East (the Heat are currently 1.5 games back of the Pacers for the sixth seed).