Starting 5


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

1: Hard one to pick

Scott Halleran/Getty Images/ZimbioIf you were like me, you spent the entire day Sunday glued to your TV watching college basketball for 12 hours. It did not seem like there was a miss in any of the NCAA Tournament games and few of the NBA games taking place Sunday. The finishes were outstanding.

There was Aaron Kraft draining a jumper with 0.2 seconds left to secure Ohio State's spot in the Sweet Sixteen. The next game in Dayton, it was Victor Oladipo of Indiana sending his team to the next round of the Tournament. A little later on, it was La Salle's Tyrone Garland hit a running bank shot to defeat Mississippi.

James Harden might have them all beat.

Harden drove into the lane and was bumped on his way up. Harden is not afraid of contact. He had drawn a foul on a 3-pointer to tie the game just a possession before. On this second chance for Houston, Harden drove the lane and hit the jumper giving the Rockets a 96-95 win over the Spurs at Toyota Center on Sunday.

The Rockets fun-loving, fast-breaking offense found a way, fighting back with every Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili score. It was the kind of win the Rockets are definitely capable of. Harden scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds. That seems to be typical for Harden.

What is not typical is how the Rockets came out of nowhere seemingly to defeat the Spurs even with the Spurs making shots down the stretch. That could be a sign that Houston remains an extremely dangerous team come Playoff time. Or it might be a sign that the Rockets had their night Sunday.

2: Different rematch

Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAYThe last time the Bucks made the Playoffs, they made an unentertaining seven-game push of the Hawks. Many of the pieces from those two teams who played three years ago are the same. There is Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova. And there is Josh Smith and Al Horford.

But, you get the sense on the off chance they actually meet in the postseason, the entertainment value will be drastically different. It will not be a seven-game series of blowouts and poor one-on-one offense.

These organizations may not be closer to a championship but at least they match up better.

That certainly happened in Atlanta's 104-99 win at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Sunday.

Monta Ellis tried to have a second straight Sunday with a wild fourth quarter scoring binge on his way to 20 points. But Josh Smith and Al Horford had just a little bit more at the end. It was Smith scoring critical baskets down the stretch as he scored 23 points. Al Horford had 24 and Atlanta went on a 12-2 run to end the game.

J.J. Redick missed an open 3-pointer on the way and the Bucks shooting fell flat at the end. The Bucks are good, but still not quite ready to play with the best of the East.


Wade interviews LeBron

Robinson sees all

Return of the Mack

4: Line of the Night: LeBron James — 32 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists

No Dwyane Wade? Not a problem against the Bobcats. Not with that win streak on the line yet again. Miami upped its streak to 26 games with a 109-77 victory, putting on an absolute blitz in the fourth quarter to secure the win. James is just that good. These kind of nights seem too commonplace for him.

5:  You can quote me on that

We just didn't have it at the end. They're a talented team that creates a lot of problems at both ends of the floor. I don't think the final score is indicative of how the game went, but my hat's off to them. They're a good team.

-Blazers coach Terry Stotts after the Thunder's 103-83 win

That's finding a way to win. We're a little disjointed right now. We have a lot of guys in and out, so it's hard to build a rhythm. But that's a big-time play.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau on Luol Deng's play in a 104-97 win at Minnesota

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