Starting 5


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

1: Back at it

Reed Saxon/Bridgeport Connecticut PostThe Lakers have restarted their season about a half dozen times already. Everyone has already been disappointed with the Lakers season. But none of it matters if the team can win 16 little games in April, May and June.

Getting in is the simple goal at this point. A while back it seemed like the goal was nearly unattainable.

After Sunday afternoon's 90-81 defeat of the Bulls, the Lakers are officially in the Postseason. . . if the season ended today. The win allowed Los Angeles to pass idle Utah for the final Western Conference Playoff spot. The two teams are heading in opposite directions right now. And so, the Lakers are a Playoff team at the moment.

It has been a long strange journey for the Lakers.

The win over the Bulls was not long or strange. It was a clinic. Kobe Bryant had 19 points and nine assists. Dwight Howard had 16 points and 21 rebounds as all five Lakers starters scored in double figures. The Bulls shot only 37.1 percent from the floor.

Los Angeles took advantage of the home-heavy portion of its schedule. Now the team hits the road for an East Coast trip. And it starts in Dwight Howard's former home — Orlando.

2: Heat still scorching

Steve Mitchell/USA TodayThe going thought when it comes to the Eastern Conference is that maybe one team has a chance to challenge the Heat. Not beat them, just challenge them. That team is the Pacers.

Sunday was a night that perhaps showed the Heat are in a league of their own in the conference. For the second straight week, the Heat defeated the second-seeded team in the East. They took down the Knicks last week and then took out the Pacers on Sunday.

And they took out Indiana — a team with the size that would seemingly give Miami issues.

A 105-91 win is very convincing. So is the now 18-game win streak Miami is on. Things are going right when Mario Chalmers is the leading scorer in a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade had a relative night off offensively.

The bad news for the NBA is the Heat's defense is rounding into form and they are hungry for a second title.

The Pacers are probably not as close as they would like to think. The Heat are heads and tails better than anyone in the East.


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4: Line of the Night: Jameer Nelson — 24 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds

Nelson has had a rough time as the lone member prepping to play Dwight Howard in his return to Orlando. The warmup was a matchup against the 76ers which the Magic won to get their 18th win on the season. Nelson was stellar, hitting a couple of big shots and making plays to keep the Magic afloat as the offense struggled in the second half. He was key in defending Jrue Holiday and holding him to 8 for 24 shooting.

5:  You can quote me on that

He doesn't have to score 30 every night. We're a total team here.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade on LeBron James' season-low 13 points

As bad as it looks this week, we're playing good basketball for 35 minutes," Vasquez said. "Honestly. We were up by what, 25 against the Lakers? We're playing great basketball for three quarters, three and half quarters, and the last five minutes we just go away. We got a stop today and we won the game.

Hornets guard Greivis Vazquez

Philip Rossman-Reich

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