Starting 5: Off to the races

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

1: By George, he's hot

ESPN

The Pacers and Heat actually played an entertaining six-game series in last year's Playoffs. That can be hard to remember considering the Heat's run to the championship and the Pacers got off to such a slow start.

It has taken a while, as we will find out later today on Crossover Chronicles, for the Pacers to find their footing without Danny Granger and after the trade of Darren Collison. Indiana still has that team some thought could get the second seed and was the preseason favorite to win the Central Division with Derrick Rose out for the Bulls.

New guys have stepped into roles and stepped up in big ways. A good Pacers team can be very dangerous.

Even to the Heat.

Miami rallied in the first half behind Dwyane Wade's scoring outburst in the second quarter to tie the game. But the Heat did not have a second wind. Not this night in an 87-77 Indiana win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indiana's eighth straight home win. Not with Paul George scoring 29 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, a stat line that is quietly becoming more commonplace for him. David West had 14 points and 11 rebounds too.

More impressively for Indiana in the win, the team held Miami to 41.2 percent shooting and 77 points. Miami. One of the league's top offensive teams.

George probably said it best: the way to beat the defending champs is on the glass. Indiana held a 55-36 edge with an astounding 22 offensive rebounds. That is something Miami will have to fix on the rare night LeBron James is not utterly amazing.

2: Track meet

Scott Halleran/Getty Images/Zimbio

We are used to high-scoring games when the Rockets are involved. We are used to high-scoring games when Mike D'Antoni is involved. The Lakers and Rockets did not disappoint on Tuesday.

Well, maybe Los Angeles did as the team suffered another loss and another hapless defensive effort. At least this time, the Lakers had the excuse of not having Dwight Howard around.

That will not make them feel any better though. The Rockets stampeded past the Lakers 125-112 behind James Harden's 31 points, six rebounds and nine assists. Houston scored 38 points in the third quarter and were up around 30 points per quarter. The Rockets had to be, I guess, to score that many points.

That seems commonplace for this team that just goes, goes, goes.

It is the Lakers that are coming to the reality that they cannot play defense. And you are not going to win a championship without defense. And so Los Angeles is probably coming to realize that this season is going to be an abject failure, if it is not already.

3:  HIGHLIGHTS!!!

Reggie Evans reboundin'

Sweet Georgia Brown

Block jam

4: Line of the Night: James Harden — 31 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists

It is getting difficult to find out what scoring stats Harden cannot put up now that the offense is his in Houston. The Rockets continue to climb the West standings with an offense that probably makes Mike D'Antoni a bit jealous. It certainly did as Houston raced past Los Angeles on Tuesday.

5:  You can quote me on that

I just think it’s all about confidence and opportunity. The simple fact that Danny Granger is hurt has given him an opportunity to showcase what he’s capable of doing. He’s going out there and doing a little bit of everything.

-Heat forward LeBron James on Paul George

We waited way too late to start playing. The first half we were soft. Soft. We did not guard very well. I thought physically they did just about anything that they wanted to. We played with no urgency in that first half. I told the guys at halftime, it’s not a sometimes thing. You can’t come out and play sometimes. You’ve got to come out and start the game highly energized. We can’t play normal. We can’t be a team that just sits back and allows other teams to do what they want to do. We have to be the aggressor.

-Hawks coach Larry Drew after his team's rally fell short in a 108-103 loss to the Timberwolves

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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