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Good morning, Lance Stephenson's breath is in LeBron's head

That and much more in Thursday's NBA newsletter.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning. Let's basketball.

FOUL MOOD: LeBron James played just 24 minutes due to foul trouble, but Miami still had a chance to win the game after the Pacers missed crucial free throws. But James' pass to Chris Bosh in the corner led to a brick, and Indiana survived another day.

Paul George was ridiculous, scoring 21 in the fourth and 37 overall. And he only had six at halftime! And Lance Stephenson was ... uh, wild. He blew in LeBron's ear at one point; I'm convinced that decided the game. And Rashard Lewis hit six threes! Maybe Lance should get into his head, too.

Whatever, Doug Collins spit a Birdman lyric.

Here's Indy Cornrows on the survival game. And Hot Hot Hoops.

TONIGHT: We're back in San Antonio for Game 5 of Thunder vs. Spurs. We're all tied up at 2-2. Here's Pounding The Rock's Travis Hale on tension replacing fear for the Spurs. WTLC's Ali Fahdel investigates whether we're reliving the 2012 Thunder-Spurs series.

Mike Prada digs in on the impact of Serge Ibaka's rim protection.

Paul Flannery defends Scott Brooks and explains why he's not as bad as critics suggest.

NEW LIMIT: Ricky O'Donnell imagines how the 2014 NBA Draft would go if the league's higher age minimum were in effect. Hello, Marcus Smart!

OH: The owners of the Knicks and New York Rangers haven't paid property taxes on Madison Square Garden in 32 years thanks to a state exemption with no expiration date. That has saved the Garden $350 million, according to Jim Dwyer of the New York Times.

HMM: Interesting work by Austin Clemens in attempting show the defensive impact of various players based on court location.

ON KYRIE'S CONTRACT: Nate Silver wrote last week that Kyrie Irving probably isn't worth a max early extension. The retort from WFNY's Jacob Rosen is good.

NEAT: Comparing the size of average pro athletes with average humans.

MANU! Jared Dubin on how Ginobili embodies the weirdness of the Spurs.

MOCK SOME MORE: A very long mock draft by the Hardwood Paroxysm crew.

Happy Thursday. (Thursday already!) See you next time.


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