***** NBA Previews from The Sports Network *****
Wednesday, December 18th
(All times Eastern)
INDIANA PACERS (20-4) AT MIAMI HEAT (18-6), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Just one week removed from the biggest regular-season
game of the season, the rematch between the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat
heads to South Beach Wednesday, but possibly without a major star.
LeBron James tweaked his left ankle in Monday's easy victory over the Utah
Jazz. He did not practice on Tuesday and his status for Wednesday is
"Very stiff, very sore," James said after practice on Tuesday. "I'm going to
be around-the-clock treatment. We'll go from there. It' doesn't matter if it's
the Pacers or not. We're a long-term team and I'm a long-term player."
It would be a disappointment to not just Miami fans, but NBA fans if James
isn't able to go on Wednesday.
The two teams, who engaged in an epic seven-game battle for the Eastern
Conference title last season, met last Tuesday in Indianapolis. The Pacers
came out on top, 90-84, after a spectacular second-half surge.
Indiana outscored the Heat by 13 over the final 24 minutes to secure the
victory. Once again, as was the case in Miami's successful run to another NBA
championship last season, Roy Hibbert posed a huge problem for the Heat.
Hibbert was Indiana's leading scorer with 24 points, but he also grabbed six
rebounds and handed out five assists. He shot 10-for-15 from the floor and
helped hold the Heat to a shade under 43 percent shooting from the field.
Indiana's other big man, David West, finished with 17 points and nine boards
against the Heat.
"Those guys are a huge problem," James acknowledged.
James had 17 points, 14 rebounds and six assists against the Pacers.
The Heat thrashed the Utah Jazz, 117-94, on Monday. They've won two straight
and four of five, with the only loss during that span coming in Indiana.
Wednesday night will be the third of a five-game homestand and Miami is 11-2
at home this season.
The Pacers lost their first home contest of the season on Monday when the
Detroit Pistons topped them, 101-96. The Pistons are one of two teams to
beat Miami in South Beach as well.
Both teams shot identical 43.2 percent from the floor and committed only eight
turnovers apiece. Josh Smith of Detroit was the difference with 30 points,
followed by 13 and 12 boards from Greg Monroe.
"We didn't compete tonight," said West. "We didn't come ready to play. They
were more aggressive and took advantage of our errors."
Lance Stephenson paced the Pacers with a career-high 23 points, seven rebounds
and six assists. Paul George tallied 17 points with nine rebounds and Luis
Scola scored 18 off the bench.
The Pacers lost their last road game, a 118-94 setback to the Oklahoma City
Thunder at the end of a brutal road trip.
Indiana has won four of the last five regular-season matchups, but has dropped
four straight in Miami and eight of nine.
UTAH JAZZ (6-21) AT ORLANDO MAGIC (8-17), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the NBA's more struggling franchises hook up
Wednesday night when the Utah Jazz visit the Amway Center to take on the
The Jazz own the second-worst winning percentage in the NBA, just ahead of the
Milwaukee Bucks. Orlando has the sixth-lowest mark in the league.
The Magic return home from a road win in Chicago on Monday night. They play
their next six in the Magic Kingdom, a span which will keep them home for the
"We have to take care of home, but let our family know that we have to go to
work every day also," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn told the team's website.
"Enjoy the season of giving, but go and do your job also."
Orlando has played eight of its last nine away from home and collected only
two wins during that span, including the only home game in the group. But, on
Monday, the Magic knocked off the depleted Bulls, 83-82.
Luol Deng of Chicago missed an open layup with 2.9 seconds left.
"I am glad that we pulled it out," said Orlando guard Arron Afflalo. "At the
end of the day you get a road win, it's well deserved."
Afflalo led the way with 23 points, followed by 14 apiece from Glen Davis and
Jameer Nelson. Davis pulled down 11 rebounds and Nikola Vucevic added 10
points and 11 boards.
The Jazz lost their opener of a five-game eastern trip Monday when they fell
to the two-time defending champion Miami Heat, 117-94, in a game where the
biggest news came when LeBron James tweaked his left ankle.
However, James still finished with 30 points and was a rebound and an assist
away from a triple-double. The Heat shot a blistering 63.4 percent from the
"They shot a pretty good percentage in the first half. They shot 63 percent
for the game. We didn't match their intensity in the second half. Give them
credit," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin.
The Jazz starting five struggled for a combined 38 points and 17 of those came
from Derrick Favors. Alec Burks carried the load with 31 for the second unit
and Enes Kanter, who now comes off the bench, added 14.
Utah will visit Atlanta, Charlotte and Memphis before returning to Salt Lake
The Jazz won both of last season's meetings with Orlando and have taken five
straight. Utah is only 3-6 in its last nine at Orlando.
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS (11-14) AT TORONTO RAPTORS (9-13), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors have played great basketball since
trading Rudy Gay and they hope to continue that momentum Wednesday night when
they welcome the Charlotte Bobcats to Air Canada Centre.
The Raps are 3-1 since shipping Gay, Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray to the
Sacramento Kings. Toronto has won two straight and Wednesday's contest will be
the last one at home until a brutal three-game swing through Dallas, Oklahoma
City and San Antonio.
On Saturday, the Raptors demolished the Chicago Bulls in the Windy City to
the tune of 99-77. Toronto was up seven after three quarters, then stifled the
Bulls in the fourth, 26-11.
Kyle Lowry paced five Raptors in double figures with 16 points and Jonas
Valanciunas netted 15 points with 11 rebounds and four blocks for Toronto.
DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson scored 15 and 14, respectively, while newcomer
Patrick Patterson added 12 points.
"Everyone contributed. The bench was huge. We have a bench where guys can come
in, hold strong and increase the lead. They were huge in that respect," said
Raptors coach Dwane Casey.
The Raptors' opponents on Wednesday saw the other side of the Gay trade on
Tuesday. They buried the Sacramento Kings, 95-87, in Charlotte, but the Kings
lost Gay to knee stiffness after just over 24 minutes of action.
The Bobcats, who led by 13 after the first quarter, never trailed in the
second half but the game was very much up for grabs early in the fourth
quarter, when Jason Thompson's layup cut Charlotte's lead to 80-78.
Out of a timeout, however, Charlotte buckled down defensively and went on an
11-1 run to assume control. Al Jefferson made a pair of field goals during the
surge, including a layup with 3:32 remaining to make it 91-79. The Bobcats
weren't challenged after that.
"Tonight I think we did a better job of finishing the game," said Gerald
Henderson. "Against some of the really good teams we struggle with that, but I
think we're getting better at it."
Kemba Walker led the way for Charlotte on Tuesday with 24 points, followed by
20 from Henderson. Ramon Sessions chipped in 16 off the pine and Jefferson had
10 points and nine rebounds.
The Bobcats held the Kings under 38 percent from the field and under 27
percent from long range.
Charlotte has taken two in a row in this series with Toronto, including a
92-90 home victory on Nov. 6. However, the Bobcats have dropped three straight
DETROIT PISTONS (12-14) AT BOSTON CELTICS (12-14), 7:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Pistons will try to knock off another
division leader on Wednesday when they visit TD Bank Garden to meet the Boston
The C's, despite a sub-.500 record, are tops in the Atlantic by a game over
the Toronto Raptors.
On Monday, Detroit handed the Indiana Pacers, the team with the best record in
the Eastern Conference, their first home loss of the season. The Pistons, who
also have beaten the Miami Heat on the road this season, knocked off Indiana,
It was especially gritty victory considering the Pistons were coming off a
heartbreaking overtime home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers the night
"Tonight was a character game. We had a chance to win last night, so we knew
tonight was going to be a test against a tough team and we were able to get
the win," said forward Greg Monroe. "I thought we wanted the ball more
Josh Smith was sensational with 30 points and a solid defensive effort,
helping to hold Paul George to 17 points.
Monroe had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds and Brandon Jennings
finished with 18 points and eight assists, compared to just one turnover.
The Celtics have won two in a row and Wednesday's game will be the fourth of a
five-game homestand. Boston is 2-1 with the only loss coming in Doc Rivers'
return one week ago.
On Monday, the C's held off the Minnesota Timberwolves, 101-97.
Jared Sullinger led the way for the Celtics with 24 points and 11 rebounds. He
also handed out five assists and made a 3-pointer as his all-around game is
becoming very impressive.
"He's a scorer. He's always been a scorer. He's been a scorer as long as I've
known him. It never surprises me when scorers make plays," Boston head coach
Brad Stevens said of Sullinger.
Avery Bradley had 19 points and Jordan Crawford added 15 for the Celtics. They
were the only players in double figures as starters Jeff Green (8 points) and
Brandon Bass (0 points) struggled.
The bench didn't have a high-scoring player, but all six second-unit guys saw
about 12 minutes of action and each had at least four points.
The Celtics close the homestand with the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.
The Pistons bettered the Celtics by 10 (87-77) in Detroit on Nov. 3, but
Boston is 5-1 in its last six at home against the Pistons.
SACRAMENTO KINGS (7-16) AT ATLANTA HAWKS (13-12), 7:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Hawks have owned the Sacramento Kings in
recent history and they will try to extend that domination Wednesday night at
The Hawks have won 11 straight against Sacramento, including a 105-100 victory
at Sleep Train Arena on Nov. 5. The last time the Kings beat the Hawks was
Feb. 20, 2008 and the Hawks have taken six consecutive as the host.
The Hawks toppled the Los Angeles Lakers, 114-100, at home on Monday. Six
Atlanta players scored in double figures and the Hawks tightened the clamps in
a decisive third quarter that went their way, 35-19.
"In the third quarter, I thought our aggressiveness and our intensity on the
defensive end set the tone for a good second half," said Atlanta head coach
Al Horford led the way 19 points and 11 rebounds. Jeff Teague also recorded a
double-double in the victory with 17 points and 10 assists. Paul Millsap
tallied 18 points, nine boards and four steals.
Kyle Korver was held scoreless in the first half but came alive in the third
period, scoring all 11 of his points while extending his NBA record 3-point
streak to 94 games.
DeMarre Carroll (13) and Mike Scott (14) also cracked the 10-point mark.
The Kings started their four-game stint in the southeast with a 95-87 loss in
Charlotte on Tuesday.
To compound the difficulty of the loss, Rudy Gay, who was just acquired in a
trade with the Toronto Raptors, left in the third quarter with right knee
"I'll get treatment and shoot for trying to start tomorrow," Gay told The
Sacramento Bee after the Bobcats loss.
Charlotte jumped all over the Kings in the first quarter, winning that period,
35-22. That proved to be more than enough as Sacramento lost for the third
time in four games.
"For me, this game was lost in the first quarter," said Kings head coach Mike
Malone. "You look at quarters two, three and four, we outscored them 65-60 and
hold them to 38 percent from the field. I thought our defense after that first
quarter was great."
The loss spoiled a sensational night from DeMarcus Cousins. He scored 30
points on 9-for-13 shooting and grabbed 17 rebounds.
Isaiah Thomas was the only other Sacramento player in double figures with 21
WASHINGTON WIZARDS (10-13) AT BROOKLYN NETS (9-15), 7:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Don't look now, but the Brooklyn Nets are playing good
They will try to keep the momentum going Wednesday night when they welcome the
Washington Wizards to the Barclays Center.
Brooklyn has won four of its last five, including three straight at home, and
three of the last four since Deron Williams returned to the lineup after ankle
It was a different former All-Star who carried the load for the Nets last time
Joe Johnson had a third quarter to remember, scoring 29 of his 37 points in
the frame, to lead the Nets to a 130-94 drubbing over the Philadelphia 76ers.
He buried 8-of-10 from beyond the arc in leading the Nets to a 100-73
advantage heading to the fourth. Johnson's eight 3-pointers tied former
Milwaukee Bucks sniper Michael Redd for most in a quarter and his 10 in the
game were the most this season.
"It was just a good feeling," Johnson told the team's website. "It seems you
catch the ball with the seams every time and it's right. Every time it comes
out of your hand, it's going in. I can't really explain it."
Five other Brooklyn players scored in double digits as Andray Blatche managed
20 points off the bench. Williams had a double-double with 13 points and 13
Brook Lopez missed his second straight game with an ankle injury. He is listed
as questionable for Wednesday with Jason Terry (knee) and Andrei Kirilenko
(back) still out.
The Wizards halted a four-game slide against the New York Knicks on Monday
Bradley Beal returned from a nine-game absence with a leg injury to score the
winning layup with 5.9 seconds left to give the Wiz a 102-101 victory.
"There was absolutely nobody even paying attention, so I just drove it in
there," Beal said of the layup.
The end of the game was rather bizarre, not just because of the poor defense
on Beal. New York elected to not take a timeout and Carmelo Anthony ended up
hoisting an off-balance 3-pointer.
Martell Webster led the Wizards with 30 points on 6-for-8 shooting from 3-
point range. Beal finished with 21 and John Wall had 20 points and eight
assists. Trevor Ariza chipped in 10.
The Wizards head to Boston and Minnesota to finish this road trip, although a
Christmas break falls between games.
Washington beat the Nets in overtime in D.C. on Nov. 8, but the Wizards have
dropped three in a row as visitors in this series.
NEW YORK KNICKS (7-17) AT MILWAUKEE BUCKS (5-19), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson may have the
support of superstar Carmelo Anthony, but it remains to be seen if it will
keep his job secure.
Woodson and the embattled Knicks will pay a visit to the Milwaukee Bucks
Wednesday in hopes of getting back on track. Woodson said recently he would
like to see how the Knicks perform playing with a full deck because Tyson
Chandler (leg) has been sidelined and both Raymond Felton (hamstring) and
Kenyon Martin (abdomen) are out.
Chandler may return soon and now Amare Stoudemire is expected to miss
Wednesday's game with a sore knee.
Anthony gave his coach some support on ESPNNewYork.
"As far as I'm concerned, he's secure right now. I haven't heard anything,'
Anthony said. "There's nothing to discuss. He's our coach, and we're rolling
The Knicks are coming off Monday's 102-101 loss at home to the Washington
Wizards, as Wizards young guard Bradley Beal returned to action and hit the
go-ahead basket with 5.9 seconds remaining. New York opted not to take a
timeout and put the game into Anthony's hands, but the NBA's second-leading
scorer (26.3 ppg) missed on a running 3-pointer over two defenders.
"I probably should've taken the timeout at the end for sure," Woodson said
after his team fell to 7-17. "That's on me."
Anthony poured in 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting and J.R. Smith ended with 18
points for the Knicks, who have lost four of six games since a season-high
two-game winning streak.
New York will try to stop a two-game road losing streak Wednesday and is 3-8
away from Madison Square Garden this season.
Milwaukee has struggled to a 5-19 record this season and hopes to get back on
track versus the Knicks at the Bradley Center.
The well-rested Bucks dropped a 106-93 decision at Dallas on Saturday, as John
Henson led the way with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Brandon Knight scored 16
points and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 13 for Milwaukee, losers in three
straight and 17 of its last 20 games. Antetokounmpo is averaging 12.0 points
and 8.7 rebounds in the last three games.
"I think a culmination of injuries, games and travel has played a part in it.
We have a couple days off now to regroup. Hopefully we can get back on track,"
Henson said of the Bucks' recent struggles.
The Bucks still lost with Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki absent because of an
illness. They have been without Caron Butler, Carlos Delfino, Larry Sanders
and Zaza Pachulia. Gary Neal (foot) is questionable versus the Knicks.
Milwaukee is winless in four straight at home and owns a 2-10 record as the
host this season. The Bucks last prevailed at home on Nov. 30 versus Boston.
New York defeated Milwaukee, 90-83, on Oct. 30 at MSG and has won six in a row
in this series. The Knicks, though, have lost six of nine games in Brew City.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (22-4) AT MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (12-13), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard has been cool
in the clutch and the Portland Trail Blazers are reaping the awards.
Lillard and the Blazers shoot for a sixth straight win when they close out a
four-game road trip Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target
Center. The Blazers are 3-0 on the trek following Tuesday's 119-116 victory at
Cleveland, as Lillard nailed the game-winning 3-pointer over Alonzo Gee with
less than a second on the clock.
The talented second-year player, who burned the Detroit Pistons with a game-
winning shot in overtime on Sunday, took the inbounds pass with 7.1 seconds
remaining and knocked down a triple from the top of the key. Lillard's
teammates swarmed him after the big bucket and he finished with 36 points on
11-of-23 shooting, 10 assists and made 8-of-12 from beyond the arc.
"I made a move to get (Gee) off-balance, and I made sure that I was ready when
I froze him," Lillard said.
Lillard is averaging 25.0 points per game in his last three for the Blazers,
who have won five in a row, nine of 10 games and are an NBA-best 22-4 this
season. LaMarcus Aldridge posted 26 points and 15 rebounds, while Wesley
Matthews and Nicolas Batum scored 19 and 14 points, respectively.
Portland surpassed last season's road win total by improving to 12-2 as the
guest and has scored 100-plus points in 13 straight games. The Blazers are
first in the NBA in scoring (108.3 ppg) and will start a three-game homestand
this weekend versus New Orleans, the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami.
Aldridge has posted 10 or more field goals in five straight games and leads
the Blazers with 23.6 ppg and 11.0 rpg. Aldridge, who is probable Wednesday
with a bruised right hand, has tallied four straight double-doubles and is
averaging 25.6 ppg in his last five games.
Minnesota is back home for a quick matchup with Portland and went 1-2 on a
recent road trip, which culminated with Monday's 101-97 loss at Boston.
The Timberwolves entered their meeting against the Celtics with three wins in
the past four games, but couldn't slow down Jared Sullinger, who scored 15 of
his 24 points in the fourth quarter. Wolves star Kevin Love ended with 27
points and pulled down 14 rebounds, while Nikola Pekovic posted 13 points and
Dante Cunningham added 12 in defeat.
"We had every chance to win that game; couldn't make a layup, couldn't make a
shot, for our starters it really was a struggle. We just missed too many
opportunities that were right there for us," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said.
Love leads the T'Wolves in points (25.0) and rebounds (13.6), and is averaging
30.2 points per game in the last five. In injury news for Minnesota,
Cunningham (ankle) and Kevin Martin (knee) are questionable Wednesday.
Minnesota, which will visit the Lakers and Clippers this weekend, is 0-5 when
failing to score 100 points this season and lost all four meetings with
Portland in 2012-13. The Blazers have won five straight, 21 of 23 and 25 of
the past 29 meetings with the Timberwolves.
Portland is 10-1 in its last 11 trips to the Twin Cities.
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (10-14) AT DALLAS MAVERICKS (14-10), 8:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The start of a three-game homestand for the Dallas
Mavericks got off to a good start and they will try to stay dominant in Big D
Wednesday versus the slumping Memphis Grizzlies.
The well-rested Mavericks are 10-2 at American Airlines Center and halted a
two-game slide with a 106-93 triumph over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
Brandan Wright scored 19 points in his season debut and Jose Calderon added 18
for the Mavs, who were without head coach Rick Carlisle and star forward Dirk
Nowitzki due to unspecified illnesses.
Wright, who made 9-of-10 shots and grabbed six rebounds in 19 minutes off the
bench, was recovering from a fractured left shoulder.
"It was great to see him out there. His athleticism on defense, on offense,
all of those in-between shots that we know he's really good at - he showed us
that again," Mavs assistant coach Monte Mathis said. "He did a great job with
the game plan, the schemes on defense. He's just an experienced guy, so it's
great to have him back."
Shawn Marion registered 13 points and 12 rebounds, while veteran Vince Carter
had 15 points and a season-best nine assists for the Mavs, who grabbed a 75-45
lead in the second half and were ahead by as many as 34 points. The Mavs have
won four of their last six games overall and back-to-back contests at home.
Dallas scored a season-high 38 first-quarter points against Milwaukee and is
8-2 this season when posting 30 or more points in the first 12 minutes.
Dallas will end the homestand Friday versus Toronto and hopes to have Nowitzki
back Wednesday. He is probable versus the Grizzlies and has scored at least 20
points in nine of his last 13 games. Nowitzki needs 11 steals for 1,000 in his
career and 77 points to pass Alex English (25,613) for 13th place on the NBA's
all-time scoring list.
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies have lost a season-high four straight games and
sustained a 96-92 loss at home to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
Zach Randolph did all he could to lift the Grizz with 18 points and 16
rebounds, but it wasn't enough to prevent them from losing for the sixth time
in seven tries. Tony Allen scored 16 points and both Jerryd Bayless and Jon
Leuer ended with 13 for Memphis, which shot 40.7 percent and remained winless
in its last three games on Beale Street.
The Grizzlies were behind the eight ball right away and trailed 34-24
following the first quarter. After Memphis took the next two stanzas, the
Lakers recorded a 29-25 edge the decisive fourth quarter.
"What I wasn't pleased with was that we eased into a game that we needed to
start quickly," Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said.
Memphis guard Mike Conley sat out with a left thigh contusion and is
questionable for Wednesday's game. Mike Miller (ankle) and Tayshaun Prince
(knee) are also questionable against the Mavericks.
The Grizzlies will also visit New York on their short trip and have a 5-4
record as the guest. They lost in Dallas, 111-99, on Nov. 2 and have still won
seven of the past 10 meetings between the teams. Dallas, though, is 21-4 in
the last 25 encounters as the host.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS (19-5) AT PHOENIX SUNS (14-9), 9 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Phoenix Suns failed in their first test with the San
Antonio Spurts, but that was more than a month ago.
The Suns are soaring now with a season-high five-game winning streak and will
welcome the reigning Western Conference champions to US Airways Center
Phoenix suffered a 99-96 loss in San Antonio back on Nov. 6, as Spurs guard
Tony Parker scored 15 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, including the
go-ahead jump shot with 31.9 seconds to go. Markieff Morris tallied 23 points
and 12 rebounds off the bench in that one for the Suns, losers in 14 of the
last 18 games against the Spurs.
San Antonio has won three in a row and four of five trips to the desert.
The Suns will try to keep the Spurs in the loss column and made it five
consecutive victories with Sunday's 106-102 win over Golden State in the
middle portion of a three-game homestand. Eric Bledsoe scored 24 points, Goran
Dragic added 21 and Channing Frye posted 20 to lead Phoenix to a 9-3 mark in
its last 12 contests.
Phoenix was able to survive against Golden State guards Steph Curry (30
points) and Klay Thompson (19 points).
"We think our guards can play with any of them. Those are two great guards
that they have on that team and our guys fought them all game," Suns coach
Jeff Hornacek said.
P.J. Tucker played solid defense on Curry's late shot and Bledsoe sank a pair
of foul shots to give the Suns some breathing room.
Dragic is averaging 27.0 ppg in his last three games and Frye has stepped it
up as well lately, posting an average of 14.3 ppg in the past 12.
The Suns have won three in a row at home and are 8-3 as the host.
San Antonio had a four-game winning streak cut short with Monday's 115-92 loss
against the Los Angeles Clippers in the second test of a four-game western
road trip (1-1). The Spurs, who opened the trip with a win at Utah, lost
Parker late in the game because of a right shin contusion with about five
minutes to go in the third quarter.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said Parker was experiencing pain and trouble
walking on the leg, and the star guard ended with eight points and six
assists. Parker is expected to miss the next two games and is averaging 17.5
points, 6.1 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 23 games this season.
Tim Duncan had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Manu Ginobili added 16 points and
Kawhi Leonard ended with 12 in the loss to the Clippers. The Spurs shot 48.7
percent and committed 22 turnovers, leading to 37 L.A. points.
"We were in control in the first quarter, then turnovers took over," Popovich
Los Angeles trailed 28-21 after 12 minutes, then had a 34-21 advantage in the
second quarter and posted a 37-22 difference in the fourth. Spurs center Tiago
Splitter returned after missing four games with a strained left calf and
finished with two points and three rebounds.
Duncan has recorded four straight double-doubles and is averaging 17.0 points
and 12.4 rebounds this month (7 games).
The Spurs are fourth in the NBA in opponents' scoring (94.1) and is averaging
102.9 ppg on offense. They have a 10-3 record away from the Alamo City and
will close out the current trip Thursday against Golden State.
CHICAGO BULLS (9-14) AT HOUSTON ROCKETS (16-9), 9:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets are back home briefly following a
three-game western road trip and will entertain the Chicago Bulls Wednesday
before departing the Lone Star State.
The Rockets will visit Indiana and Detroit on back-to-back nights this weekend
and went 1-2 on the previous trek. The Rockets lost to Portland to kick off
the trip, then defeated Golden State before dropping a 106-91 decision at
Sacramento on Sunday.
James Harden scored 25 points and Dwight Howard ended with 13 and 10 rebounds.
Chandler Parsons and Aaron Brooks scored 19 and 13 points, respectively, for
Houston, which had won three of its previous four games and shot a miserable
7-of-27 from 3-point range.
"No knock on Sacramento, they are a talented young team, but we're striving
for greatness. To reach greatness we have to look at the teams before us,"
Howard has recorded six straight double-doubles and 16 on the season. Harden
has scored 20 or more points in five straight games and is averaging 25.8
points per game in his last four.
Houston is 10-3 as the host this season and has an extensive infirmary list
for Wednesday. Harden (ankle), Parsons (toenail) and forward Terrence Jones
(illness) are questionable versus the Bulls and guard Jeremy Lin (back) is
listed as doubtful.
Chicago knows a thing or two about injuries and is already without former NBA
MVP Derrick Rose (knee surgery). Guard Kirk Hinrich has been bothered by a
back issue and is questionable for Wednesday.
The Bulls have two tough road games on the horizon against Houston and
Oklahoma City and have struggled to the tune of a 3-11 record in their last 14
games. They lost both home games to Toronto and Orlando, and are coming off
Monday's 83-82 setback to the Magic.
Luol Deng scored 26 points, while Mike Dunleavy and D.J. Augustin each netted
14 points. Joakim Noah added 13 to go along with eight rebounds for the Bulls,
who are winless in the last four games at home.
"We got ourselves into a little bit of a hole early," said Dunleavy. "We
fought back and battled, but we didn't make enough plays down the stretch."
Deng has been the lone bright spot lately when healthy and is averaging 25.0
points per game in his past eight. Deng is one of three players in the NBA
(Kevin Durant, Kevin Love) to post averages of at least 19.0 points, 7.0
rebounds and 4.0 assists.
Chicago, which is third in opponents' scoring (92.4 ppg), has a 3-9 road
record this season.
The Bulls lost both meetings with Houston a season ago. They have dropped
three straight overall in this series and 14 of the past 20 matchups between
NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (11-12) AT LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (17-9), 10:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Confidence is running high for the Los Angeles Clippers
and they'll try to keep it going Wednesday versus the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Clippers passed an early test with Monday's 115-92 victory over the
reigning Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs. A big second quarter,
which the Clippers won by a 34-21 margin, propelled the home team to its
fourth win in five tries and a 9-2 mark at Staples Center.
Blake Griffin had 27 points and nine rebounds, while Chris Paul added 23
points, eight rebounds and seven assists for Los Angeles, which showed no
signs of rust after going 4-3 on a previous road trip and was back in town for
the first time since Dec. 1. The Clippers scored 37 points off 22 San Antonio
turnovers and made 11-of-23 from 3-point territory.
"We got deflections and steals and we like to run," Paul said.
Jamal Crawford scored 17 points and Jared Dudley added 14 for L.A., which will
also host Denver and Minnesota on the homestand. Dudley buried a pair of shots
from beyond the arc during a 20-4 run that launched the Clippers to 106-86.
The Clippers are 11-0 when scoring at least 104 points and Paul has totaled 61
in his last two games, both wins. He scored 38 points on Saturday at
Los Angeles is 11-2 against the Western Conference. Clippers head coach Doc
Rivers, who notched win No. 600 earlier this month, will face his son, Austin,
who is a guard for the Pelicans. It will be the third meeting between the
coach and his son.
New Orleans fell to 0-2 on a five-game western jaunt with Tuesday's 104-93
setback at Golden State, as Ryan Anderson scored 21 points and Jason Smith
added 12. Jrue Holiday and Rivers both had 11 points for the Pelicans, who
shot just 37.5 percent and made only 5-of-18 3-pointers.
Al-Farouq Aminu recorded 10 points in a losing cause.
"Just a tough game. Another one of those that they just had a little bit more
energy than us," said Anderson, who has scored 20-plus points in three of four
The Pelicans still have Portland and Sacramento to visit on the trip and are
4-7 outside the Big Easy. Pelicans young star forward Anthony Davis is still
out because of a broken bone in his left hand and could return in a few weeks.
Guard Tyreke Evans (ankle) has missed two straight games and is questionable
for Wednesday. He played sparingly in Friday's win over Memphis.
New Orleans lost three of four meetings with the Clippers last season and six
of nine overall in this series. Los Angeles has also prevailed in four of the
previous five encounters at Staples Center.
12/18 10:44:10 ET