Starting 5


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

1: Vintage

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/ZimbioKobe Bryant sees the end of his career. Age takes over everyone at some point. Bryant has said he may have only two years left in his career. Or he may wait until he wins his sixth championship so he can pass Michael Jordan.

Kobe had extra motivation Sunday when Mark Cuban suggested the Lakers might have to amnesty Bryant to get under the luxury tax line and avoid the hefty bill coming. And you do not want to give Bryant extra motivation.

Bryant scored 14 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter to finish off the Mavericks 103-99. Dallas seemingly had the game in its control and then Bryant just kept scoring. He told ABC after the game that making shots was the difference. That certainly helps.

This though was a classic fourth quarter duel of the league's old guard. And I am sure they hate that label.

The fourth quarter featured Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant going back and forth making shots that had made them two of the best players in the league's history. Nowitzki had a season-high 30 points, seemingly giving Dallas control with a fast break dunk.

Perhaps though, Nowitzki is not quite all the way back from his knee injury that knocked him out of the lineup earlier this year. But he is getting closer and closer.

However, the loss was a big one for Dallas. The Lakers and the Mavericks are fighting for that last Playoff spot. And this was a difficult loss to take at home.

2: D-Wade is still here

C.W. Griffin/Miami HeraldLeBron James does amazing things every night. He is the best player in the league and the presumptive MVP — unless the media gets bored with his mastery this season, something that seems to be occurring. James makes it easy to forget that Dwyane Wade still exists.

Wade still exists. And Cleveland knows that now.

Dwyane Wade put together an incredible fourth quarter performance to put away the Cavaliers in a 109-105 victory at American Airlines Arena. Wade had 24 points for the Heat, still playing second fiddle to James in the box score. But it was Wade's show in the fourth quarter.

The Heat built a 22-point lead in the first half, but saw Dion Waiters and Marreese Speights lead a charge to give the Cavaliers the lead in the fourth quarter.

Miami is too experienced though to let that phase them. And so it was James finding Wade time and time again to help Miami withstand the momentum Cleveland had built. It was Wade getting the pass at the top of the key, breaking down the defense and rocking the rim. It was Wade playing the role of closer.

Perhaps, that is what makes the Heat all the more dangerous this year in their title defense.


Jason Smith blocks Tyreke Evans

That's Amar'e

Still Duncan

4: Line of the Night: Wesley Matthews — 24 points, 8/11 FGs

The Blazers outlasted the Celtics 92-86 at the Rose Garden on Sunday and Matthews surprisingly efficient performance was a big reason. Matthews' 3-pointer with 50 seconds left gave the Blazers a four-point lead and the win over a very game Celtics team.

5:  You can quote me on that

Obviously, holding a team to 29-percent shooting says a lot about the commitment we had on that end of the floor. You know, I thought they did miss some shots, but I thought we made them miss a lot of shots. I'm not going to give all the credit to us, but we did play hard on the floor. We did make them miss a lot of shots, and they did have an off shooting night. Defensively tonight, there were no complaints.

-Thunder coach Scott Brooks on Oklahoma City's defensive performance in a 102-72 win over Chicago

Those are shots that I work on. I didn't feel like I was hot or anything. I feel like I was making shots that I'm supposed to make. When you work on them hundreds of times, then you've got to put them in the basket.

Kobe Bryant on the difficult shots he took in the fourth quarter

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