Good morning. Let's basketball.
EVOLVED: Kawhi Leonard is now burying game-winners in isolation sets. He's become a hero in the slightly pejorative sense. He's becoming a monster! But hey, the Magic caught the Spurs napping on the ensuing inbounds and Elfrid Payton was a blown layup from sending this game to overtime.
A STAR IN PLAIN SIGHT: Eric Koreen with an excellent piece on how the Raptors, looking high and low for a superstar, found one developing right before them in DeMar DeRozan.
THE GYMS OF HOLMES COUNTY: Really spectacular longform by Matt Tullis on the importance of girls' basketball in rural Ohio.
NOT GREAT, BOB: Markieff Morris chokes and shoves Archie Goodwin in a huddle. Man, Markieff Morris seems like a real nice teammate. Morris says it's OK because the two are close friends and "big brothers shake up little brothers some times." Earl Watson seems fine with the explanation. Alright, man ...
SCORES GALORE ...
CHA 117, IND 95
SAS 98, ORL 96
SAC 114, PHI 110
LAC 134, BOS 139 (OT)
MEM 109, BKN 90
DEN 103, DET 92
LAL 111, CLE 120
ATL 113, CHI 90
TOR 112, MIN 117
UTA 96, NOP 100
GSW 112, PHX 104
HOU 103, POR 116
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING: Despite all the early season contrarianism claiming that the West's dominance had ended, the East is now 145-169 (.462) against the West this season. The East's No. 8 might end up better than the West No. 9 for the first time in a long time, but the imbalance overall still exists.
STANDINGS CHECK: Yep, the Rockets are back in No. 9 in the West after a loss to the Blazers. Portland has moved into No. 7 and Utah is sitting at No. 8.
DREAM BIG: Leandro Barbosa tried to throw Steph Curry (!) an alley-oop off the glass.
QUIZ TIME: Which fired NBA coach are you?
#BANSHOULDERS: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kevin Love both seemed to aggravate fairly recent shoulder injuries.
LOL: In the ongoing war against intentional fouls, Chris Paul devises a solution: he puts himself between the fouler and DeAndre Jordan.
ON THE MARC: Woj on why Marc Gasol is so wrapped up in the fate of the Memphis Grizzlies.
LOL OK MITCH: Brian Windhorst reports that the Lakers felt out the Cavaliers on a Kobe-for-LeBron swap in 2007. Cleveland folks say that's the only time another team actually had the spine to pitch a LeBron trade.
OH MAN: I really have no idea why the Clippers fake beat up Paul Pierce during player intros in Boston, but I kinda love everything about it. It's spellbinding. Like, what the hell is C.J. Wilcox (back left toward the end) doing? Taebo?!
BIG SHOT: On occasion of the Pistons retiring his number, Chauncey Billups writes a letter to his younger self.
HEAVY HEARTED: Monty Williams, former Pelicans coach and current Thunder assistant, lost his wife Ingrid in a tragic car accident on Wednesday. Monty and Ingrid have five children. What horrific news.
See you next time.