Starting 5: Pain and Panic


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

1: More than a hiccup

Pat Sullivan/AP/Yahoo!Remember when it was supposed to be easy for the Lakers. You know, stick Dwight Howard and Steve Nash on a team with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol and voila you have a championship team.

Things are not that easy as the Lakers have found out in going 8-10 in their first 18 games. Something that seemed only to get worse when the Rockets stormed back and recorded a 107-105 win at Toyota Center on Tuesday.

The Rockets outscored the Lakers 34-22 in the final quarter. Toney Douglas scored 22 points. Little-known center Greg Smith had 21 points. James Harden shot only 3 for 19 from the floor in scoring 15 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. You are not supposed to beat a superstar-laden team with statistics like that.

But there were the Lakers struggling on defense again. And struggling to get any offensive rhythm.

Sure, Kobe Bryant had his 39 points and Dwight Howard had his 16 points and 12 rebounds (shooting 8 for 16 from the line as Houston employed the intentional fouling strategy Orlando used so successfully). But this team resembled more of those post-Shaquille O'Neal Lakers than the triangle championship teams. Bryant shot 31 field goal attempts and was very much a gunner since the Lakers could nothing else on offense.

That is not championship basketball. Kobe knows it. But this is what he had to do to keep the Lakers in this game. And ultimately it was not enough for the Lakers to keep the lead.

Perhaps now is the time to officially panic in L.A.

2: Wizards defeat Heat

Rob Carr/Getty Images/ZimbioThat headline is not a misprint.

The one-, now two-win, Wizards defeated the Heat on Tuesday night. How the hell did this happen?

LeBron James had a triple double for crying out loud, scoring 26 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists! Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade had 20 points and 24 points respectively. It was not like the Heat rolled in and did not play a decent game.

Post play is always important. And it was not even Nene this time. Kevin Seraphin had 16 points and 10 rebounds. And then there was Jordan Crawford's 22 points off the bench.

The Wizards just played one of those games where everything broke their way. Even James missed a couple of free throws late with the game in the balance.

Good win for Washington, one the team's fans can savor and cling to for hope. It probably helped that Robert Griffin III was in the house. This game should serve as a reminder (ESPN) that there games are not played on paper. You have to actually go out and play them.


Stackhouse not to old to be posterized

Lance Stephenson finishes what Paul George couldn't

Shannon Brown baseline jam

4: Line of the Night: LeBron James — 26 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists

Win or loss, sometimes what LeBron James does is absolutely amazing. James recorded his 33rd career triple double. And that is what LeBron does. This is par for the course it would seem for the league's best player. Even in a loss.

5:  You can quote me on that

I know I’m struggling and I keep getting asked about it, but I’ll get out of it.

Pacers guard Paul George before scoring 34 points against the Bulls

I told the guys, the only people that really think you have a chance is us here, right in this locker room. I said we needed to have a statement game. What better opportunity to come and play in front of the fans that we knew were going to be here and to beat this team? And they took it to heart.

Wizards coach Randy Wittman

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