Starting 5

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

1: Falling fast

Associated PressNothing gets you excited for the Playoffs quite like the battle of the 8-seeds!

OK, maybe not. The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks are bringing up the rears of their respective conference's Playoff contenders and the hope for either getting out of the first round is non-existent to only in a video game. I will let you figure out which one is which.

Despite vast amounts of talent, the Lakers continue to struggle to integrate things. At some point the season is going to start . . . and it might be after it ends.

That looked to be the case as the Bucks scored 95 points in the final three quarters and got a career-high 21 points from Larry Sanders. No, he did not get kicked out this time. Marquis Daniels added a surprising 16 points off the bench and made Kobe Bryant work hard for 30 points. Bryant revealed after the game he had bone spurs, perhaps another injury hampering the Lakers.

What is hampering the Lakers even more was a 113-103 loss to the Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The Lakers did not lose control over the eighth seed, not yet. But they are losing ground on the seventh place Rockets and are falling further behind the pack. That would mean a first round matchup with the Spurs most likely.

Sure, Los Angeles could turn things around and it could all click in the way we always imagined. That does not seem likely with about 10 games remaining and the Lakers teetering once again.

2: But not catching up

Mike Fuentes/AP Photo/Franklin (Ind.) Daily JournalThe Mavericks hired a barber to sit in waiting and deliver shaves to a victorious Mavericks team should they get back to .500 and complete their beard pact. A while back, Dallas pledged as a team not to shave until the team reached .500.

The Mavericks were one game away from completing that goal and, as a result back into the Playoff race. With the Lakers losing yet again, here was another chance for the Mavericks.

And another opportunity missed. The barber will have to wait at least another two games.

Indiana got David West back on a night the team learned Danny Granger would be out the rest of the year, and absolutely pummeled Dallas at American Airlines Center with a 103-78 win.

Paul George had 24 points and six assists as the Pacers turned a tie game at halftime into an absolute rout. That is what a 34-17 third quarter will do and that is what a team vying for the second seed in the East will do too.

The Mavericks have to pick themselves up again and get back into the race. They still trail the Lakers by a game and a half. Still plenty of opportunity to come back and surprise with that Playoff berth.

3:  HIGHLIGHTS!!!

Cousins says hello

Dwight spins past Sanders

Bango surprise

4: Line of the Night: DeMarcus Cousins — 34 points, 14 rebounds

Cousins helped the Kings win their second straight game with a monstrous 34-point, 14-rebound performance in a 117-103 win over the Suns. He was not even the King who picked up a technical foul. The moments of brilliance like this make you forget his moments of pouting and immaturity.

5:  You can quote me on that

We came out and accepted the challenge. We needed a win bad. We came out with more intensity and more energy. You just try to make all his shots tough and make him work for everything that he got.

-Bucks guard Marquis Daniels

Whether Danny came back or not, we weren’t interested in picking up another wing at the trade deadline because we believe in the depth we have at the wing spot.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel on Danny Granger's season-ending injury

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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