Every morning, we will give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
1: Brand new Gay
The Raptors have lost their fair share of games this season. There was still some palpable excitement entering Friday's game at Air Canada Centre. It probably helped that Blake Griffin and the Clippers were in town. But the excitement grew as a bona fide star in Rudy Gay was arriving on their front step to don the white and red for Toronto.
Rudy Gay is not quite an All Star and many would say he has disappointed compared to his talent level and certainly to the amount on his paychecks. A new location would certainly help. And it might turn Toronto's season around.
If one game is enough to judge (it isn't), the risk was well worth it. Gay fit right in as the Raptors won 98-73 with Gay scoring 20 points on 8-for-16 shooting in 33 minutes off the bench.
Maybe Gay was not meant to play that long having just arrived in Canada the day before. He certainly did not have the time to go through all of Toronto's plays and learn his teammates and their tendency. That complicated stuff comes later.
Friday though was purely about the simplest act in basketball — making shots.
Toronto hit 12 of 16 3-pointers with John Lucas III hitting five in the game. The Raptors held the Clippers to 34.7 percent shooting and simply stifled their offense. This just turned out to be the kind of game where everything went right for one team and nothing went right for the other.
We will see how long this honeymoon lasts for Gay and the Raptors.
When the Lakers build a 27-point lead in Minneapolis against the undermanned Timberwolves without Dwight Howard, it seems like everything is going right. Los Angeles can hit nine of its first 12 3-pointers and look darn near unbeatable. Especially with Kobe Bryant passing the ball more and more and getting his teammates involved.
Then you see Minnesota come back and nearly overtake Los Angeles without Kevin Love and with all the injuries that seem to pile up for that team. The Timberwolves got close but could not get the win in a 111-100 loss to the Lakers on Friday night.
In the last three games though, the Lakers have shown everything that can go right with the Mike D'Antoni offense and this roster and everything that can go wrong.
In each games — against New Orleans, Phoenix and Minnesota — Los Angeles built a double-digit lead into the second half and fourth quarter. In each game, the offense stagnated and went cold allowing the Lakers' opponent back into the game, causing some sweat in the fourth quarter.
That is what happens when you play at a higher pace and do not worry about executing on offense to increase possessions and there is little attention to defense. These problems are probably going to recur. At least it will be fun!
Jeff Green rises and jams
DeRozan is still here
The Birdman flies
4: Line of the Night: Thaddeus Young — 23 points, 15 rebounds, 11/17 FGs
Philadelphia is fighting to stay in the Playoff picture and the team will need an amalgam of players stepping up to do it. Doug Collins' teams have always been able to rally around a balanced scoring effort. In an 89-80 win over Sacramento, it was Young's turn to step up and have a big game. His double double was key for the Sixers grinding out the win.
5: You can quote me on that
When you're in the same draft class and you're on the same AAU circuit in high school and have all these interactions, there's going to be that rivalry and challenge.
We had more players, but you never know how it's going to work out in a first game. I told the new guys, 'This is who we are. We're not pretty. We defend you to death and try to grind out points.'