The Starting 5: Magic Decimated, Warriors Still Learning, & Welcome Baron Davis


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

1:  Everyone make Magic “disappearing” puns!

I love headline writers, especially when it comes to the Orlando Magic playing poorly.  How many “disappearing act” headlines are there today?

But they’re appropriate today.  In a game against a very shaky Boston Celtics team that was missing five players, including Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Mickael Pietrus, the Magic mustered a franchise low 56 points in a 31 point loss.

How did that happen?  It all started with the defense of 2nd year guard Avery Bradley, who picked up Jameer Nelson the second he touched the ball and never relenting.  Nelson had five turnovers in the game, including an eight-second violation, and routinely started the Orlando sets with less than 15 seconds on the shot clock.  

This very well could just be an anomaly in the Magic season.  They could have just laid an egg, thinking they were getting an easy win facing an already struggling team missing a third of its roster.  This could be, though, a turn around for the Boston Celtics, who played with more energy than they have all season.  They’re 7-9 now, but there are still 50 games left to play.  

2:  Warriors have a lot to learn

Marc Jackson is trying to teach the Golden State Warriors how to be a basketball team, rather than a collection of players that can run and score.  They learned a valuable lesson last night about putting a team away. 

With the Warriors up 20 at one point in the third, the Memphis Grizzlies turned it on, outscored the Warriors 39-22 in the fourth, and stole the game, 91-90.  But this one hurt in Oakland.

The loss was more than just the Warriors’ third straight at home, extending the team’s losing streak to three games. It was an indictment on their proclaimed progress and a serious blow to the lofty predictions made by Jackson and the ownership.

There are chances to make a statement.  There are chances to prove you are turning things around.  The Minnesota Timberwolves, despite still having ups and downs, had that kind of game on Friday when they beat the Clippers on Kevin Love’s last second shot.  

A blowout win over Memphis would have been nice, but it could have been blown off as Memphis just not showing up.  But holding off the hard-charging Grizzlies, keeping your poise, and hanging on to win… THAT would have shown something.  Because, as they say, every team makes a run. But do you have the fortitude to hold off that run?  The Warriors didn’t, which now has a lot of people around that team asking questions that Jackson had hoped to avoid this season.


Tim Duncan calmly sinks a dagger… in the form of a running hook with a 1.4 seconds left to win the game… into the hearts of New Orleans Hornets fans.  


I still don’t know how Russell Westbrook even saw a way through that scrum at the top of the key.

Watch Jason Richardson at the top left corner of the screen.  Orlando only had four players on the floor… so Richardson gets up off the bench to put an end to that.

4:  Line of the Night:  Kevin Love: 39 points, 12 rebounds

Kevin Love made 13 field goals last night… the Orlando Magic made 16.  Too bad the Minnesota Timberwolves weren’t playing the Orlando Magic, though.  Love’s Wolves faced the Houston Rockets, who made a significant amount more baskets than Orlando.  In fact, after starting 3-7, the Rockets have now ripped off seven straight wins.  

Love, though, continues to show an expanded game.  He was 5-5 from 3.  He’s shooting 39% from 3, which is very respectable, especially for a big man.  My only concern right now is that he’s 9th in the league in attempts.  I don’t want Love, a rebounder, to fall in love with the 3.  It’s a great weapon for him.  He should take the open 3’s.  And I know it’s odd making this argument when he was perfect from long range.  But I don’t want him spending too much time from crashing the offensive boards.

He’s second in the league in offensive boards, so right now, this is all working for him.  My only concern would be down the road.  We’ve seen guys fall into this trap before.  The 3-pointer sings a siren song that that has changed many games and left them broken on the rocks.  I don’t want Love to lose any balance to his game because he’s a special player right now.  

5:  Baron Davis hits the practice floor

The New York Knicks offense have been terrible.  Just flat-out awful.  Their attempt to go without any real point guard to speak of has been a disaster.  The 6-10 Knicks need a facilitator out there to make sure shots are dispersed appropriately.  

Enter Baron Davis.

More than a month after being signed, Davis hit the practice floor.

“It felt wonderful,” Davis said, “considering like three months ago every time I came to the gym, I could barely walk or even pass the ball when I was working out with my kids. It just felt good to be out there with my teammates. I had a smile on my face. I just wanted to bring some spirit and some joy. It’s been a long time coming.”

A healthy Davis could help the Knicks.  But, let’s face it, that’s not saying much right now.  The Knicks need a lot of help at the point guard position.  The question is, can Davis reach his career average of 7.3 assists per game.  If he can do that, then the Knicks will be a much better team. 

The Knicks offense runs through Carmelo Anthony right now, and Melo is a scorer.  If he gets the ball and the Knicks need a basket, he’s looking to score the basket.  But a good point guard can see beyond “Melo must shoot” and assess the entire situation.  Maybe Amar’e Stoudemire has a better match up.  Or maybe the defense is keying too much on Melo and Tyson Chandler is trying like hell to make eye contact with someone to get a lob. 

Davis not only has the ability to do that, he also has been a big enough star to look Melo in the eyes and say “no, you’re not getting the ball” without fear of Melo’s wrath.  And THAT might be the most important thing he brings to the table.  A strong-willed floor general who can say no to Melo every once in a while is huge.  

This all, of course, hinges on Davis (a) being able to play consistently and (b) Davis not going into hero mode himself.  But still, the Knicks have a reason to look forward to this.  Then again, they have no choice but to look forward to this.  None of the other options is working.