Stroll through the paint – Thursday’s soap operas

Getty ImagesORLANDO - Soap opera day in the NBA has arrived and it trumps everything we've seen thus far.ORLANDO - It starts in Orlando, where Dwight Howard's teammates, thrown under the bus for being unable to sustain excellence enough to keep the game's best big man happy, get an opportunity to relieve frustration and open eyes.

ORLANDO – It’s a big game for the Magic, one they need to generate confidence early in a season that had the air let out of it before it even started.

Jameer Nelson gets a crack at Deron Williams, who is feeling the strain of having to haul the Brook Lopez-less Nets around two games in. Create your own hyperbole out of what it’s going to mean to him to keep Williams from keeping his inferior team in the game. Needless to say, he’ll be engaged.

It’s a big game for Glen Davis, attempting to carve out the same cult hero status he enjoyed in Boston by providing energy and a physical presence off the bench. He’ll see more than his share of Kris Humphries and has arrived in a city that will definitely boo him like they did in D.C. It’s uncomfortable how many Kardashian campers there figure to be in Central Florida’s basketball community, so Davis will have a big stage.

For Howard, it’s an opportunity to throw around Humphries, Johan Petro, Mehmet Okur and Shelden Williams, big bodies designed to club him into submission, while proving to his fans that he’ll do his thing so long as here. He’s right to question why that was ever doubted, but seems intent on making sure that message comes through loud and clear.

No Matter the result, there will be plenty to dissect, but it’s just the appetizer.

The juice trickles down to Oklahoma City, where after last night’s second-quarter disagreement in Memphis, all eyes will be on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

Because they overachieved and got to the Western Conference semis a year ago and because the nation witnessed Westbrook’s questionable decision-making costing them more, this relationship came into the season under a microscope. Tomorrow, Thunder fans might be utilizing their DVRs for any hints of animosity.

My take on it is that it was simply a basketball argument in the heat of furstration, which anyone who can appreciate this level of competition should relate to. There is reason for concern, that Westbrook’s need to get himself going in order to take the Thunder to the next level may ultimately sabotage what the other pieces are doing. Oklahoma City is great when he’s at full throttle, but can get by without him when the game’s best scorer, rim-protectors Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka, sniper Daequan Cook and elite perimeter defender Thabo Sefolosha are doing their jobs.

Westbrook can’t simply fit in. That’s not in his DNA, which is what makes him such a force. Right now, he’s fighting through striking a balance. Better early than late.

Oh yeah — and the defending champions are hoping to avoid an 0-3 start.

Denver and Portland are undefeated Western Conference sleeper title contenders and almost certainly puts on the night’s best show of pure basketball, but that simply doesn’t fit this drama theme.

Not when there’s the Sacramento experiment to monitor against Chicago. The Bulls are coming off a flat effort and will be in defensive vice grip mode. Tune in to see if either Tyreke Evans’ or DeMarcus Cousins’ heads explode.

Lakers-Knicks, laden with star power, was so good that New York’s new star frontcourt of Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler skipped the Golden State game in order to be ready for the Andrew Bynum-less Lakers. New York will need all three to be on their game to combat Kobe Bryant, who for the first time this season, gets to show off what his fancy, super-secret German knee procedure can produce after a day off.

Gonna be some night. True reality TV, despite the Kardashian angle. They seem to have their tentacles into everything.