Starting 5


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

1: Russell-ing

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images/ZimbioBoos rained down from the Pepsi Center during a timeout. Russell Westbrook had just done something that would be sure to make him Public Enemy No. 1 in the Mile High City. He blocked Rocky's half-court shot that could have won the crowd free Qdoba queso. Never get between a fan and his free food.

Especially in an already contentious game with questionable calls throughout the night between division rivals. And the absolute last thing you should do is hit the game-tying bucket to send the game to overtime.

Russell Westbrook played villain all night long against the Nuggets. And in the story of hero versus villain, the hero typically wins. And, so in overtime, the mighty Nuggets vanquished the treacherous Thunder in the end 121-118.

Denver conquered its fears at the free throw line — the team is the worst in the league at the foul line — and got the usual effort and grit from Kenneth Faried, the surprising offensive explosion from Corey Brewer (26 poitns) and some timely shooting from Danilo Gallinari.

It was enough to conquer the Thunder and defeat Kevin Durant's 37 points and Westbrook's 36 points. No, not Kevin Martin's 3-pointer late and 16 points nor Oklahoma City's physical play ended up phasing Denver. Durant could not tie the game as his fadeaway 3-pointer fell no good off the back iron and an epic Sunday night ended in victory for the home team.

There is just no getting that queso back, unfortunately.

2: All is not well

USA Today Sports/SBNationDwight Howard is well known for throwing on-court tantrums of exasperation when the fouls get too hard and the whistles do not go his way. It is how he has led the NBA in technical fouls for many of the past several years. He is always bumping against the suspension line for technical fouls.

After 15 minutes of Los Angeles' game against Toronto, Howard again had enough of the referees and the referees had enough of him. Howard was ejected after picking up two technical fouls in quick succession after some physical play. It sent Howard to the locker room early.

Then the Lakers' usual troubles popped up. Kobe Bryant was playing offense alone and the defense was non-existent. that results in a 108-103 win for the Raptors on Sunday afternoon.

The Raptors outrebounded the Lakers 40-38 and the Raptors shot 54.8 percent from the floor. Those are not numbers that will help Los Angeles get back in the playoff race. Neither will having Howard, the supposed defensive difference maker and low post threat, sitting on the sidelines giving away free points off technical fouls.

And so another big issue for Los Angeles arises. Another problem for Mike D'antoni to solve. Just when things seemed to start going swimmingly.


Dwight Howard goes home early

Bynum to Drummond

Brewer gets past Durant

4: Line of the Night: Shawn Marion — 20 points, 10 rebounds

Shawn Marion turned back the clock in Orlando — along with Elton brand and Vince Carter at times — to help Dallas defeat Orlando 111-105. Marion was always where the Mavericks needed, helping facilitate the offense when it was needed, getting a big rebound when it was needed and scoring when it was needed. That is Marion's role. And he filled it perfectly in the end for Dallas.

5:  You can quote me on that

We needed this win.

-Nuggets forward Corey Brewer

Me and Vince joke about that. If it's not going well for the starting unit, that' our job, to come in and clean things up. That's what we did…and kind of righted the ship a little bit. Yeah, it's a new role, but I've kind of adjusted to it.

-Mavericks forward Elton Brand

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