Good morning, Heat vs. Pacers was a real slobberknocker

That and much more in our NBA newsletter for Thursday.

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Good morning. Let's basketball.

WOO BOY: Heat-Pacers was a real slobberknocker. Literally, in the case of Roy Hibbert's Head Has A Date With LeBron James' Elbow. There was also the touching moment in which Dwyane Wade tattled on a foolishly taunting Lance Stephenson, resulting in Lance picking up his second technical and getting booted in the fourth.

No matter: the Miami's 'bows nor trolling could stop Indiana, who won thanks to a clutch triple from David West. The Pacers now have a 3-game lead for the No. 1 seed.

RECAPS GALORE: Lots more interesting stuff happened, and we have all the gory details in our team blog recaps.

EMBIID IS IN: Woj reports the Joel Embiid will indeed enter the 2014 NBA Draft, joining teammate Andrew Wiggins. Speaking of which, DraftExpress' Wiggins scouting report and video breakdown is up!

FAIRNESS: Jahlil Okafor, the best high school player in the country, expresses why he thinks the NBA raising its age minimum would be unfair: "I think it's just withholding a kid's dreams if they wanted to make that leap to the NBA to help their family or whatever the reason may be."

STANDINGS SHUFFLE: The Knicks gained a game on the sinking Hawks; New York is two back for the No. 8 seed. Charlotte gained on Washington in the all-important race for No. 6 in the East, aka the Race for Not Miami Or Indiana In The First Round. Memphis and Phoenix both won in the West deathrace; Dallas was inactive. We're almost ready to sprint into the finish.

PING PONG DERBY: Utah and Boston are at 23 wins, the Lakers are at 24, Sacramento is at 25 and Detroit is at 26. Cleveland has splintered off on an inexplicable hot streak; the Cavs have 29 wins and will likely end up with the No. 9 pick.

BASKETBALL PHDS: An unnamed ex-player complained to ESPN about all the GMs without "basketball PhDs" getting hired. Since that's an invented problem and an invented degree, I debunked the former and created the latter. Glad an erstwhile student pursued the program.

SWAGGY FOREVER: Nick Young celebrates a three ... then realizes he missed it.

SWEE' PEA: A trailer for the Swee' Pea doc, via TrueHoop.

THE BREAK-UP: J.A. Adande with some good thoughts on why the NBA should break up with the NCAA for good.

SPEAKING OF WHICH: Student-athletes hoping to unionize college sports get their first victory.

LIFELINES: Five lottery-bound vets contenders should pick up in the offseason.

HOW MEMPHIS GOT ITS GRIND BACK: James Herbert with a long look at the Grizzlies' return to form.

CULTURE CLUB: How Monta and Dirk saved each other.

THE WAR ON CAILLOU: ... is alive and well.

ONCE UPON A TIME: Oh man RZA is a genius. No wait that's GZA. Oh dammit.

Happy Thursday. See you next time.

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