Starting 5: Close with a flourish


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

1: A grand finale

Fernando Medina/Getty Images/Yahoo!It was quite a calendar year for LeBron James. A third MVP award. A second Olympic gold medal. A first NBA Championship.

About "damn time" indeed for James. He made the amazing seem mundane, displaying playmaking ability and scoring ability that has been unmatched in the NBA perhaps since Larry Bird and Magic Johnson or some horrible combination of the two, terrorizing defenses with his size, athleticisnm and precision.

His final game of 2012 was not short of that. He finished 2012 strong, scoring 10 of the Heat's 13 points in overtime to lead the Heat to a 112-110 overtime win against the Magic that had the many Heat fans in attendance at Amway Center chanting the inevitable M-V-P chants.

Not like there seems to be any doubt at this point.

James had another ho-hum 36-point, 11-assist, 8-rebound game in snapping Miami's two-game losing skid. It overshadowed Nikola Vucevic's 20-point, 29-rebound effort for the Magic. The second-year player from USC broke the franchise mark set by Shaquille O'Neal in 1993.

It was clear who the best player on the floor was. James was the difference as this incredibly game Magic team had everything necessary to defeat the Heat except the closer. James closed all right and Orlando turned the ball over three times in its final three possessions to suffer its sixth consecutive loss.

2: Grand flop

Darren Abate/AP/Connecticut News TimesIt is probably going a bit too far to call the biggest move in the NBA this year a flop quite yet. After all, we are not midway through the season yet. The Nets' move to Brooklyn is looking more and more like a bunch of hype — at least for the product on the floor.

By all accounts, Brooklyn has embraced its new team and has enjoyed having a team to call its own. The team got off to such a hot start that Barclays Center was becoming a hub for basketball in the 2012-13 season. There was palpable excitement.

Things have changed and continue to change faster than you can blink in Brooklyn. Avery Johnson is gone and the Nets are trying to get back to their winning ways.

That process is still ongoing and seems further and further away.

San Antonio defeated Brooklyn on Monday 104-73, holding Brooklyn to five points in a 30-5 third quarter. Deron Williams continues to struggle to find his footing and find his flow within this offense — which still features a lot of isos. The Nets are hoping 2013 is better than 2012.


Going to have to give Durant less room… somehow

Hakim Warrick smash

James Harden, no sight required

4: Line of the Night: Russell Westbrook — 24 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds

These LeBron-like lines are becoming commonplace now for a player like Russell Westbrook. His efficiency is not where James are and he does not have the scoring chops playing alongside Kevin Durant, but there is no doubt Westbrook is playing better this year. And he should be puting up near triple double numbers every night like he did in the Thunder's 114-96 win over the Suns on Monday.

5:  You can quote me on that

I put the playbook in the freezer.

Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap on what he changed to help Charlotte snap its 18-game losing streak in a win over the Bulls.

No matter who you’re playing, who is in the uniform, you’ve got to fight for every win in this league, particularly on the road. We haven’t been playing particularly well on the road so maybe this will change the dynamic and hopefully we’ll have a paradigm shift in 2013 and we’ll take off and start playing the way we’re capable of on the road.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on fighting through road struggles to defeat a scrappy Magic team

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