It may be impossible to follow up the amazing night of NBA action on Wednesday, but the Lakers, Clippers, Pacers and Bulls will try to do so on Thursday. Last night was special. Stephen Curry dropped 54 points on the Knicks in a loss, Monta Ellis drilled a buzzer-beater to down the Rockets, Wes Johnson added his own buzzer-beater to help the Suns shock the Spurs and the Grizzlies held the Mavericks to five points in the third quarter during a big win. That's the act Kobe Bryant et al. will be forced to follow.
A lot of the intrigue surrounding Thursday's games involves story lines of underachievement. The Lakers have dropped below every preseason projection, but home losses by the Rockets and Jazz on Wednesday have helped to keep them afloat in the Western Conference playoff race. Kobe's crew will meet up with the banged-up Timberwolves in the late game on TNT. The Clippers are back on track now, but will take on a red-hot Pacers team that has won 10 of its last 12 games in the only game that won't be televised nationally.
The early game on TNT is depressing. Tom Thibodeau and Doug Collins have struggled to inspire their short-handed squads. The Bulls have dropped nine of their last 12 games, and it appears things are coming unraveled while everyone waits for Derrick Rose to return, but the Sixers have managed to be even worse.
Philadelphia has dropped six in a row (and seven of eight) to fall to 11 games below .500, and Collins finally went off on his team after a listless loss to the Magic on Tuesday night. Someone has to win that Bulls vs. Sixers tilt, but nobody has to watch. If you have NBA League Pass, the Clippers vs. Pacers game that starts a 7 p.m. ET with local broadcasts may be the best play. Meanwhile, the Lakers and Timberwolves are the only show in town for the late action.