Starting 5: This kid is special


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

1: Lillard has his moment… again

Portland had blown a 16-point second half lead. The Hornets were spent trying to get back but Austin Rivers managed a deep 3-pointer to tie the game. Shortly after, LaMarcus Aldridge left the game after rolling his ankle and being helped off the court.

There were still plenty of options for the Blazers to turn to: Nicolas Batum, the hot-shooting Luke Babbitt, or even J.J. Hickson. The answer though seemed clear for all that he has done this year and all that he could do in the future for this franchise.

Damian Lillard was getting the ball at the end of the game with the chance to win. And was there any doubt that he would deliver?

Lillard took the ball from Luke Babbitt on a handoff dribbled back around a screen and sank a cold-blooded 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left to win the game for Portland 97-94 over New Orleans. If there was ever a statement about who should be rookie of the year Lillard made it in front of top overall pick Anthony Davis, returning from a stress reaction in his ankle off the bench.

Lillard scored 16 points on 4-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc. It was not his most efficient game, but he provided the exclamation point for his team.

2: Calderon ups his value

Ron Turenne/Getty Images/RotoInfoJose Calderon's name has come up among the candidates that could be available as the trade deadline approaches. Yes, that time is coming.

Calderon's name has actually been on that list for a few years now as Toronto always seemed to have another plan for that position — the latest being Kyle Lowry. With Lowry and Andrea Bargnani out, the Raptors turned to Calderon to deliver a win against the Rockets.

Alan Anderson scored a surprising 24 points, but it was Calderon's second career triple double that helped Toronto get the 103-96 win over Houston.

Calderon scored 18 points, dished out 14 assists and had 10 rebounds as he continued some pretty solid play this season.

With the trade market becoming more open, it is unclear what Calderon's future will bring. He will be able to contribute somewhere however and it seems like he still has plenty of quality basketball in him.

Whether he will be playing that basketball in Toronto remains to be seen. Calderon's two triple doubles this year have shown that he can still be a leader for this team and can help the Raptors get back onto their Playoff track before it is too late.


Another McGee lift off

Thaddeus Young goes down South Street

Lillard's Game-Winner

4: Line of the Night: Kobe Bryant — 34 points, 12/21 FGs, 6 assists

Bryant always tries to do something special for his return to Philadelphia, the city where he played his high school basketball. The boos have not stopped since he made some non-choice words about the city during their 2001 Finals battle. Bryant though does not care so long as he wins, which the Lakers did. Bryant continues to carry the majority of the scoring and playmaking load though. This was a seemingly typical Bryant game this year. He cannot wait for Steve Nash's return.

5:  You can quote me on that

McGee and Andre have a good connection of getting lobs in the game and easy baskets. We got a lot of our favorite shots, which is the dunk and the layup. We got a lot of easy baskets.

Nuggets coach George Karl after the Nuggets' 122-97 win over the Kings

I made up my mind, I want to be the guy, I’m here, this is my team.

I’m going to go out there and be the guy asking for nothing. I want to win with this team until somebody says something different, it doesn’t matter how long I’m on the court, it doesn’t matter how many minutes I play, I’m here to help my teammates and help this team win games.

Raptors guard Jose Calderon

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