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Three things to Know: Nobody wants to face Luka, Mavs in wide-open West

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) Nobody wants to face Luka Doncic, Mavs in wide-open West

Discussions about which team could come out of the West focus on Golden State (if they get healthy, flip the switch and start figuring out how to win on the road), Memphis, maybe Phoenix, or the Los Angeles Clippers (if L.A. gets healthy and has time to build chemistry), and lately Denver (if they defend).

Not Dallas. Other top teams believe they can beat the Mavericks over a seven-game series. After losing Jalen Brunson in the offseason, the Mavericks are dismissed as a one-man show.

Oh, but what a show.

Against the Knicks Tuesday, Doncic reminded everyone why they don’t want to see Dallas in the postseason as he dropped a 60-point, 21-rebound, 10-assist triple-double.

That and some true Luka magic sparked an insane Dallas comeback to get the win. New York had this game in hand: A Julius Randle lay-up put the Knicks up nine with :44.6 left in the game. But the Knicks missed Brunson’s calming, stabilizing presence under pressure (he was out with a sore hip) and Luka sparked a 14-5 Mavericks run to end regulation that included an intentionally missed free throw and putback by Doncic with :01 on the clock to force OT.

Sometimes one photo, one image can sum up an entire game.

After the game, Luka had the line of the night in his walkout interview: “I’m tired as hell. I need a beer.”

Doncic was just 2-of-6 from 3, doing most of his work in the paint where he hit 16-of-18 for 32 points, plus drawing enough fouls to get to the line 22 times (making 16).
New York was short-handed — not only was Brunson out but they lost RJ Barrett to a right index finger laceration — but still should have closed this out. Quentin Grimes finished with 33, while Randle had 29 points and 18 rebounds.

In a wide-open West, maybe we’re too dismissive of Dallas’ chances, although heliocentric offenses like the Mavs tend to struggle in the postseason. That said, nobody wants to face Luka and the Mavs either. He single-handedly makes them a tough out.

2) Norman Powell reminds everyone he can still play in return to Toronto

Norman Powell entered the league in Toronto and spent five-and-a-half seasons there, where he was a popular role player and won a ring next to Kawhi Leonard. Tuesday night, for the first time since then, Powell returned to Toronto and the fans and organization showed him the love.

Powell has found a groove with the Clippers and in his return he put on a show, scoring 22 points including dominating the end of the third quarter.

That other former Raptor, Kawhi Leonard, played in this game and the Raptors showed him respect by doubling him much of the night, forcing the ball out of his hands, which is why he had just 15 points but also eight assists. Paul George and Ivica Zubac led the way with 23 points, Reggie Jackson added 20, and Los Angeles got the 124-113 win.

Which brings us back to the wide-open West. A week ago Memphis looked like maybe the best team in the conference, but Tuesday night the Suns’ reserves were flexing on them and picking up the win. Anyone can seemingly beat anyone. Nobody is the clear team to beat (not the injured and stumbling Golden State Warriors). It is anyone’s race to win.

Which could make the trade deadline out West very interesting, if a team decides to get aggressive.

3) Fully healthy Wizards end 76ers win streak at eight

The Washington Wizards were fully healthy. Finally and for the first time this season… at least until a frustrated Bradley Beal appeared to aggravate his hamstring again in the game’s final minutes. There were not a lot of details on that postgame.

But this first game with the Wizards’ preferred starting five and bench rotation couldn’t have gone much better. Kristaps Porzingis had 24 points and 10 boards going against Joel Embiid, Beal had 19, and Kyle Kuzma added 14. Finally with a full bench rotation, the Wizards won the bench scoring 43-16.

Joel Embiid continued his MVP-level run of play — 48 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and three steals — but he didn’t get enough help outside of James Harden, who finished with 26 points and 13 assists.

We could talk about the Wizards getting it together, but now there is a new Beal injury to monitor and Kuzma very well might get traded at the deadline. Washington is still 14-21 and looking up at the play-in right now (the 12th seed), they have a lot of work to do. But this was a quality win.