Good morning. Let's basketball.
NO MORE KDING AROUND: Kevin Durant was extraordinary against LeBron James, and the Thunder beat the Heat handily in Miami. Paul Flannery breaks down the memorable third quarter one-on-one Rucker Parker-style battle and wonders if the result is a harbinger of things to come.
This GIF of KD throwing fireballs into the basket is actually an accurate representation of what was happening in South Beach. Not doctored. Meanwhile, who knew Derek Fisher could hit ridiculous jumpers with basically no time left on the clock?!
STERN'S TOP 10 LESSONS: The Commish did Letterman on Wednesday. He was pretty darned funny.
BIRDCEPTION: What if every photo you saw of Chris Andersen hanging out with a celebrity was just a closeup of one of Andersen's tattoos?
FINES FINES FINES: Ben Golliver has a great list of the most sanctioned players, coaches, owner and ... uh, mascot of David Stern's tenure. Mark Cuban's numbers are staggering.
WHAT MAKES AN IMPROVED PLAYER: Also at The Point Forward, Rob Mahoney looks at previous Most Improved Players to see what it takes. The breakdown is valuable, and Rob's sentiment is spot freaking on: "'Most improved' is a term so malleable that it serves any purpose or agenda, amorphous to the point of near meaninglessness."
THE VILLAIN STRIKES: Contract Year Evan Turner hits a tough game-winner over the Celtics. Sam Hinkie throws his Evan Turner bobblehead into traffic.
THE NBA'S NEXT SUPERSTAR: Drew Garrison's stats-based nominee: Anthony Davis.
RISING STARS ROSTERS OUT: The sophomores might win by 80.
CELEBRITY GAME LINEUP OUT: Kevin Hart, Bruce Bowen, Erin Heatherton, Wallace from The Wire and Arne Duncan are your biggest stars. Ty Burrell is too busy for them at this point.
BIGGEST HORNS: Ra'Shad James of the D-League's Reno Bighorns with an epic dunk. (Note: this will not prevent rappers from denigrating the D-League in their verses.)
SCORES SCORES SCORES: Looking for a recap from a busy night in the league? Check out our NBA Scores hub. Team-focused recaps from every game.
HOW DO YOU BEAT INDY'S D?: Mike Prada has suggestions that do not include banana peels, holograms or time travel.
IMPROVING GIANNIS: Ian Levy on what Giannis Antetokounmpo needs to work on to become a star on the court (as he is already a star in our hearts).
DRUMMONDESQUE: The best part about Tony Parker's 5-foot free throw is that even though the ref blew his whistle before Parker playfully shot it short, the Bulls bench cheers the miss.
LOOKING AT THE WRECKAGE: Cavs GM Chris Grant assess the state of his disappointing team. The openness is rather refreshing.
'CREEP S--T': Hey, it's a Vine with NSFW language showing Joakim Noah making some odd faces involving his tongue when lining up for a Tim Duncan free throws.
INJURY PARTY: Manu's epic dunk led to a hamstring injury that will cost him 3-4 weeks. (The Spurs will miss him.)
HOTHLANTA: The NBA postponed Pistons vs. Hawks due to metropolitan paralysis. Speaking of which, Spencer Hall has your explanation as to why 1) Atlanta was sent into a panic despite limited snowfall and 2) why it's not funny.
THE OLD BLEACH IN THE GATORADE TRICK: Shaking my head, Middle School Kid in South Carolina.
STERN SPECIAL: NBA TV will air a one-hour David Stern retrospective on Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern. Lots of legends are expected to share some parting words. The Silver era is nigh.
DOUBLEHEADER: Cavs-Knicks (?!) followed by Clips-Warriors. I suggest an early nap.
Happy Thursday. See you next time.