Starting 5


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

1: Bring your A game

There is one inevitable truth that every team has to remember during the course of an 82-game schedule. No matter what a team's record, they are still NBA players. They are among the best players in the world. And each player in this league has the capability to turn in a stellar game. The trick is doing it night-by-night.

When you are fighting for a division championship, every game matters and you have to take care of games like this one against the bottom-feeding Wizards.

Oh, but Washington likes to pick off those divison leaders — having defeated four division leaders including Miami and Oklahoma City — and Washington did it again on its home floor thanks to a 36-point fourth quarter. The Wizards' stunning 106-96 victory over the Knicks left the Knicks seeking answeres about their team's overall effort.

The crazy part was Washington spent most of the second half in control of the game and playing with a lead. This did not look like a team with just 14 wins entering the game and very little to play for. However, since John Wall has returned, the Wizards have played significantly better and this is not a team to sleep on.

Especially defensively. If the defense blinks, they are liable to miss John Wall, whose blinding speed in the open court creates tons of mismatches and gives his shooters plenty of space by sucking the defense in. Wall had 21 points and nine assists.

The difference for the Wizards in this game was in hitting 11 of 20 3-pointers including five each from Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza. Webster in particular has been on a hot streak lately as the Wizards do not look like a cellar dweller as much anymore.

2: Same old, same old

Genevieve Ross/AP/Palm Beach PostThe Spurs let Tim Duncan sit as he nursed an injury and Manu Ginobili was not quite back. San Antonio are used to these minor inconveniences.

The Spurs are also used to the nuisance that is other teams, be they at the top, bottom or middle of the standings. And the Spurs are a veteran enough team to know how to deal with these nuisances and pull away at the end.

San Antonio turned a close game in the fourth quarter into a comfortable 104-94 win over Minnesota at Target Center on Wednesday. The Spurs did it the way they always do: strong defense reminiscent of their championship days for stretches, brilliant point guard play from Tony Parker and plenty of 3-point shooting.

Parker had 31 points and eight assists to lead San Antonio. And Danny Green scored 28 points, hitting 8 of 12 3-pointers. He hit at least three of them in the fourth quarter as San Antonio made the run to put some distance between it and Minnesota.

The Timberwolves certainly did some of the things they wanted to do with Nikola Pekovic in the post and Ricky Rubio handling the ball. They just were not efficient enough to overome the seasoned Spurs.

This was a game where the score was close, but it still seemed like San Antonio was just biding its time to turn on the afterburners. When the Spurs did the Timberwolves could seemingly just watch it happen.


Over the head and in

Hibbert to George

John Wall spin cycle

4: Line of the Night: Eric Bledsoe — 27 points, 6 steals, 6 assists

Eric Bledose is not making anyone with the Clippers forget about Chris Paul. The fact Los Angeles only manage 86 in a 10-point win over Orlando to snap a 3-game losing streak shows the offense needs some work. And Bledsoe needed 21 shots for his 27 points. However, when the Clippers needed a boost early in the second half, Bledose provided it by picking up the pace and shooting into passing lanes for steals. The Clippers ground out the win and that is what good teams have to do.

5:  You can quote me on that

It felt good. The only other time I rested was against Detroit and we were losing. I'm glad to be on the other side.

-Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving on sitting out the entire fourth quarter in a 122-95 win over the Bobcats

We just know when one of the guys is out, you don't talk about it, you just go out and do it.

Heat forward LeBron James on stepping up with Chris Bosh out in a 114-108 win over the Rockets

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