Starting 5: Moral Victories

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Every morning, we will give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.

1: Lakers see progress in loss

Brett Deering/Getty Images/ZimbioThe Los Angeles Lakers do not have moral victories. They have NBA championships and a tradition of getting what they want in free agency and trades to remain relevant. Team building? That is out of the question. Thre is only the now and how close you get to winning a championship.

If the Lakers do not have that expectation as a franchise, Kobe Bryant certainly had that expectation of himself and his teammates.

So the comments following a 114-108 loss to Oklahoma City, likely leaves Los Angeles fans and the NBA pundits a bit shocked.

Sure, the Lakers have been struggling mightily this year. They are still below .500 and still seem like a mismatched group trying to learn how to play together — with injuries hampering that process to boot. There was finger pointing and bickering in the press as players urged each other to step up without actually following that advice, or pointing the fingers at themselves.

So when Oklahoma City built a 19-point lead it seemed like Los Angeles was headed for the pits again. The Lakers fought though and made a game of it. They scored 33 points in the final quarter and outscored the Thunder 55-48 in the second half.

I guess you can call that a sign of progress. The bottom line though is it is another loss.

2: ET > Rondo

AP/Boston HeraldOK, not really. Rajon Rondo did have a triple double in the Celtics' 95-94 loss to the 76ers in overtime on Friday. But Evan Turner was the one who came through for his team at the end.

Turner had 26 points and 10 assists. To add insult to injury, he hit the game-winning shot with 3.9 seconds left. He displayed the overall talent that made him the No. 2 overall pick three years ago. He continues to have flashes of that all around brilliance in some crucial moments.

Philadelphia and Boston are surprisingly trailing behind New York and Brooklyn in the Atlantic Division. And so the game Friday night in Philadelphia and Saturday's rematch in Boston serve even more importance in the division.

Perhaps Boston is still biding its time, as the team always seems to do in pacing itself for the postseason. Kevin Garnett had a double double with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Paul Pierce scored 27 points, proving he is still more than capable of scoring a lot of points. And Rondo was Rondo with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists. That is just a Rondo stat line.

The result though was not typical for a Boston team used to success and against a Philadelphia team that is continuing to fight with Andrew Bynum still on the shelf.

3:  HIGHLIGHTS!!!

JaVale smash

Klay Thompson crashes Wallace

Greg Monroe's rip and slam

4: Line of the Night: Paul Millsap — 20 points, 11 rebounds

There were a lot of great lines to pick from tonight. Joakim Noah turned in a 30-point, 23-rebound performance. Rajon Rondo had a triple double. Kevin Durant did KD things. But Millsap was a big catalyst of a big blowout win over the Raptors. Utah won 131-99. Let me repeat that: 131-99. The Jazz did this without Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors too, putting all the low-post onus on Millsap. Utah hit 13 threes in the process.

5:  You can quote me on that

We have to develop a killer instinct. We had a team on the ropes and clearly had the momentum. We just have to develop that killer instinct. Tonight we didn’t have it. We didn’t do it. I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen us get into games and we have stretches where we really play well, we get leads and we have a lapse. We had one tonight.

-Hawks coach Larry Drew after Atlanta's 104-95 win over the Wizards

They basically run around like chickens with their heads cut off.

-Rudy Gay describing playing the Hornets

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily

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