Every morning, we will give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
1: Magic had something to prove
Jameer Nelson was maybe the only guy willing to admit what Sunday's 113-103 win against Dwight Howard the Lakers actually meant. While Jacque Vaughn called it just another game and Glen Davis siad he was not worried about what Dwight Howard was thinking.
To Nelson though it was important. To Magic fans it was important. Fans of small market franchises thoroughly enjoyed watching this scrappy Orlando team pull out the win.
Nelson was honest. he said the win was important to him. Not only was it important to him, it was important to the teammates that remained from the Dwight-mare last year. And it was important to the fans and the organization. He knew that entering the game. That is why 15 minutes before tip off, Nelson went from a scratch thanks to tendonitis in his left Achilles to starting.
And then Nelson took over in a 40-point fourth quarter doing much of his work in scoring 19 points and dishing out 13 assists, one shy of his career high. Think beating Howard wasn't personal to Nelson? He drained two big 3-pointers to help push Orlando's lead out in the fourth quarter and the unrelenting, hard-working team out-efforted Los Angeles throughout the game.
Mike D'Antoni noted that his team did not bring the same intensity as Orlando. Of course, this game might as well have been a championship game to the Magic. A lot of players had a lot to prove. Maybe they proved it. Or maybe they just won one for the fans and found a little bit more about what it will take for this team to win.
2: Keeping it Melo
All the blogosphere wants to talk about is Rasheed Wallace's 80-second cameo in Sunday's win against the Suns as he shouted Ball Don't Lie and earned his second technical foul. That might overshadow yet another strong scoring performance from Carmelo Anthony.
Maybe that is just par for the course.
The Knicks though quickly put the Suns out of reach, withstanding a couple of small rallies throughout the game but generally dominating throughout in the 106-99 win.
Anthony had his typical 34 points and six rebounds, shooting 11 for 27 and being generally difficult to stop on the offensive end.
This game really became about New York being better than Phoenix. And that might be the plain truth about these two teams.
Jameer Nelson spins past Chris Duhon
It starts with defense
Kobe to Dwight
4: Line of the Night: Arron Afflalo — 30 points, 11-18 FGs, 5 rebounds, 5 assists
Many Magic players were not around for the Dwight Howard stuff last year. Afflalo was not one of them. This was still a homecoming for Afflalo and a coming out party for the young guard. He was two points off his career high and was making shots and matching Kobe Bryant point for point.
5: You can quote me on that
I’m just proud of our team. We’ve given our fans something to root for. But we still have a long way to go.’
It means a lot, honestly. We can all say it was just a basketball game, but we know because of things that happened in the past, especially for our fans, it means a lot more to come get this victory. A lot of guys that are on this team now didn’t go through what we went through last year: myself, J.J. and Glen and Turk. We went through some things.