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Three things to Know: ‘Old man’ LeBron drops 48 on Rockets

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) “Old man” LeBron drops 48 on Rockets

Rockets rookie Jabari Smith had the highlight of the night. Mic’d up, he went up to LeBron James early in the game and reminded the Lakers star just how old he is — his first NBA game was against Smith’s dad.

“It made me feel extremely old when junior said that…" LeBron said with a smile postgame. “I’ve been extremely blessed to be able to play this game to touch multiple generations, I mean Kenyon Martin Jr. was out on the court tonight and I played against his dad.”

LeBron didn’t look old in the final game of Martin Luther King day, scoring 48 points — all of which the Lakers needed to beat the Rockets 140-132, snapping a three-game losing streak for Los Angeles. He also had eight rebounds and nine assists.

It was the second night of a back-to-back for the Lakers, and in an ideal world it might have been a night LeBron got off — he admitted to being sore after the Lakers’ loss to the 76ers the night before. But his team was five games below .500, it can’t wait on wins anymore, so LeBron suited up.

“I could have very easily took tonight off, but I don’t feel like the momentum of our ball club could use me taking a night off tonight,” LeBron said. “I don’t feel like I wanted to sit on that loss to Philly last night, I wanted to get that out of my tastebuds and see if we could win a ballgame tonight.”

Russell Westbrook scored 24 off the bench for the Lakers (and reportedly had some words with the Lakers coaches during the game, although it got downplayed when everyone was asked postgame). Alperen Şengun led the Rockets with 33 with 15 rebounds, while Jalen Green added 23.

The Lakers can’t sustain winning if it takes 48 from LeBron to beat the lowly Rockets. The good news is Jared Greenberg of NBA TV reports he was told Anthony Davis is on pace to return before the end of the month. That would be the boost the Lakers need.

2) Jayson Tatum makes an MVP statement with 51 on Hornets

There was a time that the best player on the best team was the automatic MVP frontrunner. This season, that would be Jayson Tatum, but in an East deep with frontcourt talent he might not even start the All-Star Game.

Monday he went out against the Hornets and made an MVP statement.

Tatum said postgame that he had gotten close to 50 earlier in the season but the Celtics had that game in the bag so he didn’t push for it. After that game, NBA legend Jamal Crawford texted him and said when you have a chance for a historic 50, you do it. So Tatum drained a 3-pointer with :38 seconds left to get to 51. That’s seven 50-point games in Tatum’s career.

The Celtics beat the Hornets130-118 (the second time they played in three days, and the second Celtics win). Derrick White had 19 points and eight assists, while Malcolm Brogdon added 16 for the Celtics. That’s seven straight wins for the Celtics.

3) Curry gets Warriors’ rare win on the road with 41 against Wizards

Stephen Curry is a walking cheat code.

He put up 41 on the Wizards on Monday in the nation’s capital and is back to drawing MVP chants on the road with his play.

The Warriors picked up a needed road win 127-118 behind Curry and Jordan Poole’s 32 (he started and stepped up with Klay Thompson resting on a back-to-back). This win was needed because things get wild from here for Golden State: They visit the White House to celebrate their title, then have to face the Celtics and Cavaliers in a back-to-back.

The win moved the Warriors to .500 and into seventh place in the West, within striking distance of the safety of the top six. If the Warriors can get in that top six and get to the playoffs healthy — and with some good habits built up, like the ones they showed against the Wizards — they are a threat in a still wide-open conference.

The Wizards have dropped five of six and sit 12th in the East, but they should get Bradley Beal back soon and are hoping that will key a turnaround.