Three Things to Know: Night of insane endings featuring Lakers’ Reaves, Pelicans’ Graham
Three Things 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 going that make the NBA great.
1) The wildest end of a game you will ever see, Graham heave wins it for Pelicans
We know that comes off as a classic clickbait headline… but this ending genuinely is the wildest thing you will see today. First, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drains a prayer of a 3-pointer to tie the game, leaving Devonte’ Graham and the Pelicans 1.4 seconds to go the length of the court.
That was enough.
That win improves the Pelicans to 9-21 and gets them out of last place, up to 14th.
The buzz that the Pelicans are going to go for a win-now, make the play-in move at the trade deadline reeks of desperation. Maybe the desperation of a POBO/GM trying to keep his job, maybe of a franchise desperately trying to appease a young star, maybe the desperations flows down from ownership. Who knows. But desperation rarely leads to good decisions.
2) Austin Reaves is Lakers’ new fan favorite after game-winning 3
Austin Reaves did this for the Lakers at Summer League. Undrafted out of Oklahoma, he walked in the door with NBA confidence and an aggressive game, plus he had NBA handles (maybe the best crossover of anyone in the last draft). He had to hit all the big shots in college (and create most of them himself). He hit a game-winner for the Lakers in Summer League.
But it’s one thing to do it in a glorified pickup game in Las Vegas, and another to do it on the NBA stage. Reaves brought that confidence to the big stage and knocked down the game-winner for the Lakers in OT in Dallas.
There was a wild end to that game worth watching before Russell Westbrook kicked the ball out to Reaves.
In a year, the Lakers have needed some role players to step up, Austin Reaves has. It’s an impressive story.
3) What does Danny Ainge to Utah mean? Probably not much short-term, but long…
The Utah Jazz are 20-7, have won eight in a row, and have the best net rating in the NBA once you filter out garbage time from the equation (and they’re second if you don’t). Go ahead and take a “let’s see them do it in the playoffs” stance if you want (they know that’s where the season gets judged), but this team is a regular season powerhouse and a title contender.
That’s not the profile of a franchise that should change out the head of basketball operations, but that’s just what the Jazz have done. Dennis Lindsey was out six months ago. New owner Ryan Smith got his guy — Utah legend and former Celtics’ executive Danny Ainge is now the CEO and head of basketball operations for the Jazz.
At his introductory press conference, Ainge said that general manager Justin Zanik will run the day-to-day, take the calls, but what he didn’t need to say is ultimately it is Ainge at the top of the food chain. Smith said he wanted a front office where Ainge, Zanik and others work together and come to a consensus, that this is not some old-school rigid hierarchy, but at the end of the day Ainge will have the hammer. It’s ultimately his call.
(Side note: If I were Portland ownership, I would call Zanik today.)
In the short term, Ainge’s first move should be to keep his hands off. While the Jazz reportedly are looking for a wing defender at the deadline (what contender isn’t?), this isn’t a team that should see a major shakeup before the February trade deadline.
Next summer? Maybe. Let’s see what happens in the playoffs. This is a stable team and continuity is a good thing.
Ainge had a good run for much of his tenure in Boston — his team did win a title in 2008. He had some major successes: Bringing in Kevin Garnett, or trading the No. 1 pick and the rights to Markelle Fultz to get the No. 3 pick and Jayson Tatum. Ainge also had some big misses, like anything to do with acquiring Kyrie Irving. He had some excellent draft pickups, and some free agent flops. It’s a mixed bag, there are questions about Ainge’s people skills, but this is not an insane hire.
It’s Smith’s team and if he wants to put his friend in charge, it’s his prerogative. Ainge is qualified for the gig.
Just be careful messing with something already working.
Highlight of the Night: Rubio, Okoro putting on show in Cleveland
We could just run the entire Rockets/Cavaliers game as a highlight, this game may have been the most entertaining, highlight-filled game of the year. Two great ones below.
First, Ricky Rubio is the definition of a crafty vet.
And Isaac Okoro, that’s just nasty. Houston defenders just bounce off him.
Last night’s scores:
Cleveland 125, Houston 90
Atlanta 111, Orlando 99
Miami 101, Philadelphia 96
LA Lakers 107, Dallas 104 OT
Milwaukee 114, Indiana 99
New Orleans 113, Oklahoma City 110
Charlotte 131, San Antonio 115
Minnesota 124, Denver 107
Utah 124, LA Clippers 103
Memphis 113, Portland 103
Sacramento 119, Washington 105