Starting 5: Primetime


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

1: Return to fame

Hannah Foslien/AP/Yahoo!It had been six or seven years since TNT had broadcasted a Minnesota Timberwolves game.

Kevin Garnett had long been a fixture that made the Timberwolves relevant. But as the team fell apart and the franchise eventually moved Garnett on to a new home, the Timberwolves fell into despondency. They were more than irrelevant. The Wolves became the butt of a lot of jokes.

To some extent, they are still battling that perception. Kevin Love's questions about the franchise's future and his own recently shed some light on a franchise that is still figuring things out.

If there are more games like Thursday's 99-93 win over the streaking Thunder, however, TNT will be in Minneapolis much more often and the Timberwolves will find themselves fighting for more than Lottery position.

Nikola Pekovic dominated the first half with the Wolves moving the ball seamlessly in and out on pick and rolls, something Pekovic is extremely adept at running particularly when he gets near the rim. He had 24 points, 10 rebounds. When you throw in Kevin Love doing his thing — 28 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists — and then some strong play from Alexey Shved (12 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds) and J.J. Barea (18 points off the bench) and it was a scary good performance from Minnesota.

Are we ready to call Minnesota a Playoff threat? That might be presumptuous, especially with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka continuing to develop.

2: Still the Champs

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/ZimbioAny talk that the Heat were slipping or falling off is likely exaggerated.

With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the roster, Miami is going to be fine and be able to compete for a championship. Yes, the defense has slipped some this year, but you wonder how much of that is championship hangover, how much of it is pacing themselves through the marathon of the regular season and how much of it is integrating a new team.

When you see the signs Miami will get itself together and be fine, it can be downright impressive.

Sometimes LeBron does it all by himself.

It seemed like he was doing that at times in Miami's 110-95 win over Dallas on Thursday.

The Heat took a 31-20 lead after one quarter and opened up a lead as big as 35 points in the rout over the Mavericks. James scored 24 points on 9-for-13 shooting and Dwyane Wade was on the court for an asounding +40 in his 19-point, 6-assist performance.

Yeah, the Heat can be downright scary.


And he can dunk too

Shved pulls a Rubio

Wade finds James deep

4: Line of the Night: Kevin Durant — 33 points, 12/21 FGs, 7 rebounds, 6 assists

Even in a losing effort you cannot help but stare in awe of Durant and his scoring ability. He had one shot where he was fouled and still pushed the ball toward the hoop, it hit the top of the backboard twice and fell in. The Thunder did not lose this game because of Durant. Durant had his moments where he took over and helped bring the Thunder within single digits.

5:  You can quote me on that

It was good to see us play to our identity. The starting group set the tone for us. We've developed a little more consistency. Now you're seeing a little bit more of a consistent 48 minutes.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra

We don’t have a statistical formula for winning. But I think when we play together, and do what’s necessary, we do pretty well.

Blazers coach Terry Stotts

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