Starting 5


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

1: All about Melo

Jim O'Connor/USA TodayCarmelo Anthony is often embattled and often fighting perception. Oh, he scores too much and does not make his teammates better. We have heard all that.

Anthony though is in the midst of his best all-around season and has the Knicks as division champions for the first time since 1994 and looking at their first Playoff series win since 2000 as the second or third seed in the East. New York has a lot to be excited about. Anthony is the center of all that.

While Indiana and New York, a familiar battle if you saw Winning Time, are vying for home court in the second round, TV executives undoubtedly like the idea of New York and Carmelo Anthony reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. The Knicks, after all, beat the Heat in three out of four games this year. Anthony is continuing to lift his game to another level.

Anthony scored 41 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, his third straight game of scoring 40 points or more, as the Knicks thrashed the Bucks 101-83. The Knicks trailed 42-36 at halftime and scored 42 points in the third quarter alone behind Anthony's dominant play and the 3-point shooting that makes the Knicks dangerous.

New York may not quite be championship contenders. No one quite trusts Carmelo Anthony in the Playoffs. That is a long way away perhaps. New York though is on a 10-game win streak and is hitting its stride as the season winds down.

2: Lakers keep pace

Gary A. Vasquez/USA TodayThe Lakers need every win they can get at this point in the season. The Jazz appear to have righted their ship and own the tiebreaker of the Lakers if they were to tie for the last Playoff spot in the Western Conference. Utah had already defeated New Orleans earlier in the evening.

Los Angeles needed a Pau Gasol cut and pass from Kobe Bryant with 1:36 left to secure the lead after losing a seven-point halftime advantage at the Staples Center. Mike Conley's runner with four seconds left fell off and the Lakers scored an 86-84 win over the Grizzlies on Friday.

Kobe Bryant had 24 points and Pau Gasol added 19 points and nine rebounds. Bryant also had nine assists, including that go-ahead bucket.

Nothing is perfect for the Lakers it seemed. Dwight Howard failed to get a double double as he dealt with foul trouble. The important part for the Lakers though was holding back the Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol duo and keeping them to 26 points and 15 rebounds combined. That is a big key to defeating the Grizzlies.

The Lakers though continue to show the promise they had. Good teams are able to grind out wins like these. The Lakers still have that ability. Now it is about doing it again and again. Before time runs out.


Earl Clark measures up

Westbrook to Durant

Isaiah Thomas beats the buzzer with a flourish

4: Line of the Night: Tristan Thompson — 29 points, 17 rebounds

Tristan Thompson has taken advantage of a big opportunity with all the injuries on Cleveland's roster and is having a strong sophomore year. That was on full display as the Cavaliers defeated the Celtics 97-91 to snap a 10-game losing streak. Thompson is making good on his fourth overall pick and might very well be the partner Kyrie Irving is looking for.

5:  You can quote me on that

That was the championship team out there and that’s our goal. Today was a legendary game with all the legends in the house. It’s an inspiration to know that history, know what they’ve been able to do. They’re fans of ours as much as we’re fans of theirs. Great night, great feeling for us and the legends

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony

They're carrying rings with them through these competitions. They won in San Antonio and look who didn't play. Someone is going to have beat them, because they don't beat themselves.

Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap on the Heat's star-depleted lineup

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