Every morning, we will give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
1: Problems with Los Angeles?
Things seemed very peachy. Mike D'Antoni's offense was taking hold, Los Angeles was scoring and everything seemed to work.
Memphis has a way of changing that. The Grizzlies are looking like the best team in the Western Conference these days and they seemed to put the Lakers in their place with a victory Friday night.
Kobe Bryant was Kobe Bryant with 30 points. But Dwight Howard had only seven points and four rebounds, his first pair of consecutive games without a double double since March 2005. Howard has never had a streak of three games without a double double in his career.
Not helping either was Pau Gasol's return to the team he spent the majority of his career with. Gasol scored only six points and had one assists. It was Bryant doing everything by himself. And with the Lakers still struggling defensively and against a great Grizzlies team, that will not be enough.
Memphis put six players in double figures led by Rudy Gay's 21 points. The Grizzlies forced 18 turnovers and dominated the glass 39-28. Los Angeles could not just show up and be great. There is some growth that still needs to occur.
2: Houston, we have a problem
The Knicks probably did not exist a blitz like this in their first game against Jeremy Lin's offense. New York's renaissance this year has been built on defense. So giving up 131 points is not a good look. Especially on nights when New York struggles offensively and still scores 103 points.
Chandler Parsons had 31 points on 17 shots — posting a 86.7 percent true shooting percentage — and James Harden added 33 points, including a perfect 16 for 16 from the foul line. Omer Asik had 18 points too.
New York though is probably most concerned with giving up 51.7 percent shooting and 14-for-25 shooting from beyond the arc. And only Carmelo Anthony seemed to show up offensively with a typical Anthony-like 37 points. J.R. Smith came crashing back to earth with a 2-for-13 performance.
Perhaps New York is due for performances like these from time to time. Of course, if New York wants to compete for a championship, they will have to limit nights like this.
A pair of JaVale McGee jams
Jeff Green up and in
Lillard spies Hickson
4: Line of the Night: Al Horford — 26 points, 13 rebounds, 13/17 FGs
The Hawks played a spunky Bobcats team and got a very key victory for that division. Horford has been a solid player on Atlanta's front line, showing very few ill effects from the torn pectoral that kept him out most of last season. Horford poured in All-Star-like numbers to help ensure Atlanta stays in second place in the Southeast Division.
5: You can quote me on that
Like we told him, there’s going to be nights where he’s going to be the biggest guy on the court, the most dominant guy on the court, and we’re going to need him to come out and establish himself out on the court and make his presence felt, and I think he did a great job of that.
He's improving minute by minute, second by second. It's kind of scary because he is nowhere near what he's probably going to be in a few years. It's great to see.