Starting 5:The race is on


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

1: Taking all comers

Alonzo Adams/AP/Yahoo!Oklahoma City had to fight. There was no doubt about that. Dallas was in a sour mood following a blowout loss to San Antonio in its last outing. The Thunder lost an emotional road game against the Heat, but they knew they had to dig down and get a win to keep their home streak alive and keep pace in a now exciting and fast-paced Western Conference.

The Thunder's weaknesses — namely that half-court offense and Russell Westbrook's shot selection at times — were on display as the Mavericks took the Thunder to overtime and held a 10-point lead at various times in both halfs. Still Oklahoma City held serve on its home court surviving a buzzer-beating three from Darren Colison to send the game to overtime.

From there though, it was Russell Westbrook's show in a 10-2 run that enabled the Thunder to win 111-105 in overtime. Westbrook had eight of his 16 points in the overtime taking over with his incredible athleticism. This game saw plenty of OKC's other superstar too as Kevin Durant scored 40 points for the Thunder.

All this seems par for the course though when it comes to OKC. Obviously the real goal comes in May. Oklahoma City went to the clubhouse though with the lead in the Western Conference and they may have a battle to keep their interest in the regular season.

The Thunder have all the tools to win the West again. It is going to come down to execution. But when this team gets rolling, it is best to stay out of the way.

2: Underdogs no more

Harry How/Getty Images/ZimbioMaybe Boston is still in mid-season cruise mode. It is hard to think otherwise after the Clippers dismantled the Celtics 106-77 at Staples Center on thursday.

Perhaps the unsettling thought though is to believe Los Angeles' other team is the team to beat in the Western Conference. The Clippers are certainly looking down on the rest of the Western Conference after the win as they have the best record in the league and a 15-game win streak to boot.

Just the thorough routing of one of the preseason powers was just so stunning though. Particularly considering the ease the Clippers seem to be running through the league.

The Clippers did not even need big games from their main players — Chris Paul had eight points and 11 assists and Blake Griffin had 15 points and eight rebounds on 6-for-11 shooting. The bench again was the difference for the Clippers as their depth continues to astound. Matt Barnes had 21 points and Jamal Crawford had 17 points. This seems to be par for the course now.


Kevin Durant blocks and jams

Jamal Crawford breaks down the Celts D

Russell Westbrook snaps it to K-Mart

4: Line of the Night: Kevin Durant — 40 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists

The line speaks for itself. Durant is just a scoring machine, shooting 13 for 28 and 4 for 8 from beyond the arc. He was able to get out on the break and wreak havoc and do all the Kevin Durant things that he does. Sometimes you just have to sit back and watch.

5:  You can quote me on that

Time will tell exactly what level we're going to be at, and I think we have a good balance in the locker room that will give us an opportunity to stay grounded and to understand that there's a lot more work to be done.

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro

Before the ball tipped, I told him this is his time. And he came out there and responded and made some big plays.

He was just frustrated with himself. I think he let it take over him a little bit. We all do it. He just let it go and came out there and made some really, really big plays and in the overtime really took over.

Kevin Durant on what he told Russell Westbrook

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