National Basketball Association
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                ***** NBA Previews from The Sports Network *****
                              Friday, December 19
                              (All times Eastern)
 
 
 UTAH JAZZ (7-19) AT ORLANDO MAGIC (10-18), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Utah Jazz possess just two wins in their last 14
 games, but they have come against last year's NBA finalists.
 
 The Jazz aim to build off a recent win in south Florida when they close out
 their Sunshine State tour Friday against the Orlando Magic.
 
 Utah overcame a 42-point outburst from Dwyane Wade to post a 105-87 triumph in
 the third game of a six-game road trip (1-2). Gordon Hayward scored 29 points
 to lead the Jazz and Enes Kanter had 18 points. Alec Burks scored 12 points
 and Utah shot 53 percent from the field, making a season-best 14-of-25 shots
 from 3-point range.
 
 Hayward made four of his five 3-point attempts.
 
 "A big-time win for us," Hayward said.
 
 The Jazz led 33-16 after the first quarter and the Heat stayed tight
 throughout until the visitors used a 10-2 run to pull away. Hayward and Burks
 both buried 3-pointers in the fourth to pad the lead. Hayward has scored 15 or
 more points 10 times in the past 11 games.
 
 The win ended a six-game road losing streak for the Jazz and they are 3-10
 outside Salt Lake City. Charlotte and Memphis are the final two destinations
 on this junket for Utah.
 
 Orlando is home for the next four games against Utah, Philadelphia, Boston and
 Cleveland, and has a 3-6 record at Amway Center.
 
 The Magic were on the road the last two games and dropped decisions in Toronto
 and Boston. The Celtics put together a 109-92 win and the Magic suffered
 defeat for the 10th time in the past 14 tries.
 
 Nikola Vucevic paced the Magic with 18 points and 13 rebounds, Tobias Harris
 scored 17 points and both Channing Frye and Evan Fournier provided 13 points
 for Orlando, which made 43.5 percent from the field and couldn't shut down a
 Boston club that sank 55 percent of its shots.
 
 "They were scoring at will on us," said Harris. "You're not going to beat
 teams if you don't play defense."
 
 Orlando is second-to-last in scoring with 93.8 points per game and will take
 on a Jazz team allowing 101.7 ppg. The Magic defeated the Jazz, 98-93, on the
 road Dec. 5 and were led by Harris' 22 points. Derrick Favors had 21 points
 and 13 rebounds for Utah in that one, but has been bothered by an ankle
 problem recently.
 
 The Magic ended a seven-game losing streak in the series with that win. Utah
 has won its last three visits to Amway Center. Hayward averaged 14.5 ppg
 against Orlando in 2013-14.
 
 
 CHARLOTTE HORNETS (6-19) AT PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (2-22), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Philadelphia 76ers are still searching for their
 first win at home and will close out a three-game residency Friday night
 versus the Charlotte Hornets at Wells Fargo Center.
 
 The 76ers are 0-13 in south Philly and have lost four in a row, including the
 first two tests on this current stay. In a 105-87 setback to the Boston
 Celtics on Monday, Nerlens Noel had 19 points and both Robert Covington and
 Michael Carter-Williams provided 13 points.
 
 "Nerlens was the shining light. This was his best offensive game," Sixers head
 coach Brett Brown said.
 
 Philadelphia made 35.5 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 23
 times, leading to 32 Boston points. The Sixers are turning the ball over an
 NBA-worst 17.8 times a game.
 
 Covington has started the past three games and is averaging 19.0 points and
 7.0 rebounds in that time for Philadelphia, which is six home losses away from
 matching the 1993-94 Dallas Mavericks (0-19) for the worst home start in
 league history.
 
 The Sixers, who sit last with 91.3 ppg and a 41.1 field goal percentage, were
 10-31 at home last season and lost 26 of their last 30 contests at Wells Fargo
 Center.
 
 After entertaining the Hornets, Philly will start a lengthy seven-game trek
 Sunday at Orlando, followed by stops in Miami, Portland, Utah, Golden State,
 Phoenix and Los Angeles (Clippers).
 
 Charlotte has lost four in a row and 14 of the last 16 games, including
 Wednesday's 111-106 setback to the Phoenix Suns. Al Jefferson led the hosts
 with 28 points and 10 rebounds, while Kemba Walker scored 27 points. Walker is
 averaging 22.5 ppg in his last four games.
 
 The Hornets scored 61 points in the first half and made 46.5 percent for the
 game.
 
 "It started when they went small in the second quarter," Hornets coach Steve
 Clifford said of his team's loss. "The last three minutes they outworked us
 and we couldn't keep up."
 
 Gary Neal had 13 off the bench and Lance Stephenson was limited to seven
 points in 25 minutes. Stephenson is expected to miss Friday's game with a
 pelvis injury suffered in the third quarter. He came back in the fourth.
 
 Charlotte is committing the fewest turnovers in the league at 11.0 and had
 seven in the loss to the Suns.
 
 The Hornets will try to stop a six-game road losing streak Friday and are only
 1-10 away from The Hive this season. They will play the first of three
 meetings with the 76ers and went 3-1 against them last season. The Sixers have
 lost four of the last five in this series after winning six straight.
 
 Carter-Williams averaged 21.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists in the
 three meetings last season, while Jefferson posted 23.0 points and 10.5
 boards. Walker posted an average of 17.3 ppg against the 76ers.
 
 
 BROOKLYN NETS (10-14) AT CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (14-10), 7:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt was
 embarrassed with the previous loss and hopes his team gets the message Friday
 night versus the Brooklyn Nets at Quicken Loans Arena.
 
 The much-improved Atlanta Hawks left the Forest City with a 127-98 beatdown of
 the Cavaliers on Wednesday and shot a sizzling 64.5 percent from the floor.
 Shelvin Mack came off the Atlanta bench to score 24 points and sank all six of
 his 3-pointers. Atlanta buried 16-of-28 3-pointers on the night.
 
 "That was embarrassing, how we played," Blatt said. "I apologize to all the
 good fans who came out here. Really, just a poor, poor performance."
 
 LeBron James and Dion Waiters scored 21 points apiece and Kevin Love posted
 his 14th double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. The Cavs shot 45.1
 percent and received nine points and six assists from Kyrie Irving.
 
 James, who didn't play in the fourth quarter, was asked if he was embarrassed
 with the loss and he responded, "nah, I'm embarrassed losing the Finals."
 
 James is four points shy of passing Charles Barkley (23,757) for 23rd on the
 NBA's all-time scoring list. He is averaging 31.0 ppg in his last four games
 and is second in the NBA with 25.4 ppg.
 
 Cleveland has lost three of four games following an eight-game winning streak
 and will also welcome Memphis and Minnesota to the Q on this five-game
 homestand. The Cavs are 8-5 at home this season and 9-1 in the last 10 games
 against teams from the East.
 
 The Cavs, who have won six of the past seven at home, are 12-4 against
 conference foes.
 
 Brooklyn has lost two in a row and five of its last seven games, and dropped a
 105-89 decision at Toronto on Wednesday.
 
 Mason Plumlee scored a career-high 23 points, Joe Johnson had 17 and Mirza
 Teletovic added 14 for Brooklyn, which shot 43.2 percent and struggled from
 beyond the arc, making only 9-of-27 shots downtown.
 
 "Having that time on the court has given my teammates confidence in me,"
 Plumlee said after the first meeting between the Atlantic Division foes since
 Brooklyn's seven-game win in the first round of the playoffs. "It's a great
 opportunity for me."
 
 Deron Williams finished with 11 points and seven assists, and is averaging
 that many assists in the past nine games. Nets veteran big man Kevin Garnett
 did not play against the division-leading Raptors and is day-to-day.
 
 The Nets were coming off a close 95-91 loss to Miami on Tuesday in the first
 of a back-to-back, and hope the recent rest will pay off Friday. They are 5-7
 on the road this season.
 
 Brooklyn lost the first of four meetings with Cleveland, 110-88, at Barclays
 Center on Dec. 8, as Garnett and Williams scored 14 and 13 points,
 respectively. Waiters led all scorers in that one with 26 points, Love chipped
 in 19 and 14 rebounds and James added 18 points and seven assists.
 
 The Cavs broke a 61-61 tie by closing out the third quarter on a 24-6 run and
 have won two in a row against the Nets.
 
 
 WASHINGTON WIZARDS (18-6) AT MIAMI HEAT (12-14), 7:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - Reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week John Wall
 and the Washington Wizards are in Miami for Friday night's showdown with the
 Southeast-rival Heat.
 
 The Wizards are just ahead of the Atlanta Hawks for first in the division and
 have won five straight and nine of the last 10 games.
 
 Wall and the Wizards closed out a perfect three-game homestand with Tuesday's
 109-95 victory versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, as the star guard registered
 21 points and tied a career high with 17 assists.
 
 "I thought John was terrific on both ends of the floor," Wizards coach Randy
 Wittman said.
 
 Rasual Butler scored a team-best 23 points, Marcin Gortat ended with 15 and
 Bradley Beal collected 10 points. Washington, which exploded for 35 points in
 the fourth quarter, shot 50 percent from the floor and connected on 10-of-17
 3-pointers.
 
 Washington is going for its first 19-6 start since 1974-75 and is averaging
 106.7 ppg this month (8-1). It pushed its mark to 15-0 this season when
 holding opponents under 100 points.
 
 The Wizards are 5-4 on the road and will play two in a row back at home versus
 Phoenix and Chicago on Dec. 21-23. Wizards veteran forward Paul Pierce is
 questionable Friday with a sore toe.
 
 Miami has stumbled out to a 3-7 record in December and opened a seven-game
 homestand with a disappointing 105-87 loss to the Utah Jazz Wednesday.
 
 Dwyane Wade's 42 points on 12-of-19 shooting weren't enough and Mario Chalmers
 was the other double-digit scorer with 11 points for the Heat, who shot just
 38.6 percent and were in a 33-16 hole after the opening 12 minutes. Utah
 entered the final stanza with a 77-59 advantage.
 
 "You want to win games like that so you can feel good about yourself," Wade
 said. "It's hard when you lose, even when you have a good individual
 performance."
 
 The Heat fell to 4-8 at home on the second night of a back-to-back and did not
 have forward Chris Bosh for a third straight games because of a calf injury.
 Bosh is averaging 21.6 points and 8.2 rebounds this season and is expected
 miss Friday's game.
 
 Like most teams with talent, the Heat have an 11-0 mark when leading after
 three quarters and are 7-2 when scoring at least 100 points. They have been
 held under 100 points in each of the previous three games and are averaging
 just 94.0 ppg (25th in NBA).
 
 Miami is also scheduled to host Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Memphis and
 Orlando on the lengthy homestand.
 
 In what should be a matchup between past and present with Wade versus Wall,
 the Heat and Wizards will play the third of four meetings this season. Miami
 won the first matchup, 107-95, at home on Oct. 29 and Washington returned the
 favor courtesy of a 107-86 victory in DC on Dec. 1.
 
 Washington has lost six of the past nine meetings in this series and will host
 Miami on March 6. The Heat are unbeaten in the past five at home versus their
 Southeast foes.
 
 
 MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (5-19) AT BOSTON CELTICS (9-14), 7:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Timberwolves know a lot about shipping
 their top player away in an effort to rebuild the team.
 
 And so do the Boston Celtics.
 
 The Celtics made news off the parquet floor by dealing point guard and assist
 machine Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks and will begin life without the
 facilitator Friday versus the Minnesota Timberwolves.
 
 On Thursday, Rondo joined forces with Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Chandler
 Parsons in Dallas in exchange for guard Jameer Nelson, forward Jae Crowder,
 forward/center Brandan Wright, a conditional first round draft pick, a 2016
 second round draft pick and a $12.9 million trade exception.
 
 Forward Dwight Powell was also sent to the Mavericks.
 
 "We would like to thank Rajon for everything that he has done for the Celtics
 organization and the success we have experienced during his tenure with us,"
 Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations, said in a statement.
 
 Rondo takes an NBA-leading 10.8 assists per game to the Lone Star State and is
 also averaging 8.3 points and 7.5 rebounds. He won't have to worry about
 scoring with the Mavericks; just make sure to get the ball inside and on the
 wing. Mavs center Tyson Chandler should benefit with Rondo running the floor,
 but chemistry will be the most important ingredient.
 
 The Celtics have won two in a row and five of their last eight games, and are
 clearly stock piling draft picks for down the road. It will be a long building
 process for Boston and its fans, who witnessed a 109-92 triumph over the
 Orlando Magic Wednesday at TD Garden.
 
 Jeff Green, who could be on the trade block next, and Jared Sullinger scored
 16 points apiece. Brandon Bass led the Celtics with 18 points off the bench
 and they shot 55 percent from the field.
 
 Boston scored 31 points in the fourth quarter and held Orlando to 19.
 
 "We've done a pretty good job this month of playing in the fourth quarter,"
 said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. "I thought we played well after the middle of
 the second quarter on."
 
 After hosting the Timberwolves, Boston will visit the Sunshine State to take
 on Miami and Orlando.
 
 The Celtics are 6-8 at TD Garden this season and rookie guard Marcus Smart
 (Achilles) is listed as questionable Friday.
 
 Minnesota said sayonara to Kevin Love this offseason in a deal with Cleveland
 in hopes of revamping the franchise from scratch. Thaddeus Young came over
 from Philadelphia in that trade and posted 29 points in Tuesday's 109-95 loss
 to the Washington Wizards.
 
 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins recorded just nine points, while Shabazz
 Muhammad scored 21 for the T-wolves, who have lost three in a row and nine of
 10 games to fall to 5-19 on the season.
 
 "We just don't have enough firepower," Wolves coach Flip Saunders said after
 his team's fourth consecutive loss on the road.
 
 Saunders is still without Kevin Martin (wrist), Ricky Rubio (ankle) and Nikola
 Pekovic (wrist/ankle), and now Mo Williams (back) and Anthony Bennett (blister
 on foot) are questionable Friday. Bennett came over from Cleveland.
 
 The Wolves are 2-9 on the road and in the midst of playing six of seven games
 away from home. They will play the first of two games against Boston this
 season and are scheduled to host the Celtics Jan. 28.
 
 Minnesota and Boston split two meetings last season. The Timberwolves have
 lost eight in a row in Beantown.
 
 
 TORONTO RAPTORS (20-6) AT DETROIT PISTONS (5-21), 7:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors will take a four-game winning streak
 on the road Friday night when they visit The Palace of Auburn Hills to battle
 the Detroit Pistons.
 
 The Raptors haven't lost in 10 days and during that stretch, they've won by
 double figures in three of the four contests. Toronto is the Eastern
 Conference's only 20-win team and has won three of its last four as the
 visitor.
 
 On Wednesday, Kyle Lowry had 20 points and 12 assists and the Raptors pulled
 away for a 105-89 victory over the Brooklyn Nets at Air Canada Centre.
 
 Patrick Patterson and Lou Williams each had eight points in the fourth quarter
 and Lowry scored six as the Raptors outscored the Nets 29-16 over the last 12
 minutes to wrap up their fourth consecutive win.
 
 "From the players all the way up to the management, it just shows how close we
 are and how focused we are," said Patterson.
 
 Jonas Valanciunas added 16 points and 10 assists with Patterson, Amir Johnson
 and Greivis Vasquez each scoring 13.
 
 The Raptors (20-6) have had three winning streaks of at least four games this
 season.
 
 The Raptors are back home on Sunday afternoon, then hit the road for six
 straight. It'll be a tough trek for Toronto as it visits the Chicago Bulls,
 Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State
 Warriors and Phoenix Suns.
 
 The Pistons have dropped two straight after a two-game winning streak. They
 fell in Los Angeles to the Clippers, then came home Wednesday night and lost
 to the Dallas Mavericks, 117-106.
 
 The 117 points allowed was a season high, topping the 113 the Clippers hung on
 Detroit on Monday.
 
 Andre Drummond ended with 19 points, 24 rebounds, four steals and three blocks
 for the Pistons, who have lost 11 straight at home. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
 had 14 points and Brandon Jennings and Jonas Jerebko each contributed 13
 points.
 
 "I just really base my game on playing hard, period, both on the offensive end
 and the defensive end," said Drummond. "Tonight was a good night for me, but
 we didn't win the game."
 
 The Pistons were in the game until a late Dallas surge in the third quarter.
 Detroit fought to make it a single-digit deficit, but the Mavericks were too
 much.
 
 After Friday, the Pistons play four of their next five on the road.
 
 The Raptors have won three straight against the Pistons and five of the last
 six. Toronto has taken two in a row in Motown, but Detroit is 4-2 in its
 previous six as the host in this series.
 
 
 CHICAGO BULLS (16-9) AT MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (21-4), 8 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Memphis Grizzlies own the NBA's longest current
 winning streak and they'll try to extend it Friday night when the Chicago
 Bulls pay a visit to FedExForum.
 
 The Grizzlies have won six in a row and trail the Golden State Warriors by
 just a single game in the race for the best record in the association. During
 this run, Memphis knocked off the aforementioned Warriors on Tuesday, then
 earned another sensational win Wednesday.
 
 The Grizzlies pulled out a 117-116 triple-overtime victory in San Antonio over
 the defending champion Spurs.
 
 Zach Randolph scored all six of Memphis' points in the third overtime, lifting
 the Grizzlies over the Spurs. Randolph ended with 21 points and 21 rebounds
 for the Grizz.
 
 "It's the biggest game for us because they've been beating us," said Randolph.
 "The last time we won here was what, the playoffs, right? It's a long time.
 They have our number. It felt good to get a win, to get that confidence."
 
 Marc Gasol tallied 26 points and nine boards.
 
 Vince Carter made five 3-pointers en route to 18 points for Memphis, which won
 despite blowing a 23-point lead. Mike Conley donated 14 points, 10 assists and
 eight rebounds.
 
 Kosta Koufos chipped in 16 off the bench and Courtney Lee, who played almost
 53 minutes, added 14.
 
 The Grizzlies face a stiff challenge Sunday when they visit LeBron James and
 the Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
 The Bulls have won four of their last five and got back into the win column
 Thursday night with a 103-97 victory over the New York Knicks at the United
 Center.
 
 Jimmy Butler scored a career-high 35 points and dished out seven assists to
 lead the Bulls to victory.
 
 "I worked on everything, all aspects," Butler said of his game. "You know when
 my confidence is up and I'm out there smiling and just having fun, it's
 nothing. It's basketball."
 
 Pau Gasol contributed 20 points with seven rebounds and Aaron Brooks added 18
 points off the bench for Chicago, which played its ninth game of the season
 without star point guard Derrick Rose.
 
 Rose missed the contest with an illness and his status for Friday's game at
 Memphis is uncertain.
 
 The Bulls, who improved to 5-4 without Rose this season, have won four of
 their last five games overall. Chicago owns the most road victories in the
 Eastern Conference with 11. That is the second-highest number in the league
 behind the Warriors.
 
 The Grizzlies have won four of their last five versus the Bulls, who won their
 most recent trip to Memphis. The Grizzlies are 7-2 in their last nine as the
 host in this series.
 
 
 PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (20-6) AT SAN ANTONIO SPURS (17-9), 8 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The San Antonio Spurs will try to put a disappointing
 loss behind them Friday night when they face the Portland Trail Blazers at
 AT&T Center.
 
 On Wednesday, the Spurs dropped a heartbreaker at home to the Memphis
 Grizzlies, 117-116 in three overtimes.
 
 "It was great all around. There were some good shots made and some big shots
 missed," said Tim Duncan. "We put ourselves in a tough position to start the
 game because we were down so much. It was just the little things. We really
 fought back into it though and gave it all we had, but we came up short."
 
 The Grizzlies marched out to a 34-19 lead in the first quarter. San Antonio
 made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes throughout the contest, then couldn't
 stop Zach Randolph, who had all six of Memphis' points in the third extra
 session.
 
 Danny Green went 7-of-13 from beyond the arc and finished with 25 points and
 seven boards for the Spurs, who have lost two in a row. Duncan had 23 points,
 16 rebounds and three blocks.
 
 Manu Ginobili had 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
 
 San Antonio was without Kawhi Leonard (hand) and Tony Parker (hamstring). Both
 are listed as out for Friday's contest as the Spurs try to avenge the first
 loss during this skid.
 
 On Monday, the Blazers bested the Spurs, 108-95, at the Moda Center.
 
 Portland has won three in a row, but begins a brutal road slate Friday that
 will have the Blazers visit the New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets and
 surging Oklahoma City Thunder.
 
 On Wednesday, the Trail Blazers secured one more victory before hitting the
 road thanks to a 104-97 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
 
 LaMarcus Aldridge tallied 23 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Blazers.
 
 Thomas Robinson, who is starting in place of the injured Robin Lopez, matched
 a career-high with 15 points and pulled down 16 boards for the Trail Blazers,
 who enjoyed a 52-32 edge on the glass on their way to victory.
 
 "That's him. We see him do that every day in practice, bring that energy,"
 said Portland guard Damian Lillard. "He was the biggest difference."
 
 Lillard led all scorers with 29 points and added seven assists for Portland.
 Wesley Matthews chipped in 11.
 
 The Blazers have won four of their last five against the Spurs in the regular
 season. San Antonio dispatched Portland in five games in the second round of
 last season's playoffs en route to a fifth NBA title.
 
 Including the postseason, the Spurs have won four straight as the host in this
 series, but Portland is 2-1 in its last three stops in Alamo City during the
 regular season.
 
 
 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (18-7) AT DENVER NUGGETS (10-15), 9 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Clippers will hit the road with a two-
 game winning streak Friday night when they make a stop at the Pepsi Center to
 face the Denver Nuggets.
 
 Los Angeles swept a recent two-game homestand with victories over the Detroit
 Pistons and Indiana Pacers. The Clippers have dropped two straight on the
 road.
 
 Blake Griffin had 31 points and 16 rebounds in the Los Angeles Clippers'
 102-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.
 
 Chris Paul added 20 points and nine assists for the Clippers, who have won six
 in a row at home. J.J. Redick tallied 16 points and DeAndre Jordan contributed
 15 points and 23 rebounds.
 
 "We made a lot of bad mistakes down the stretch," said Griffin. "I missed free
 throws; a lot of things that are uncharacteristic for us. But we got the win.
 That's all that matters."
 
 The Clippers went 28-of-45 from the foul line, but did overcome a six-point
 deficit about halfway through the fourth quarter.
 
 The Nuggets have lost three in a row and seven of their last eight. Denver
 dropped the first two during this homestand, which ends Saturday against
 Indiana.
 
 On Wednesday, the Nuggets fell at home to the Houston Rockets, 115-111, in
 overtime.
 
 Denver couldn't handle James Harden, who went for 44 points, including eight
 in a row in overtime, and a triple-double.
 
 The Nuggets were lucky to get to the extra session. Harden could've put the
 game out of reach, but missed a late free throw. Out of timeouts, Ty Lawson
 raced down the floor and handed to Arron Afflalo, who forced OT with a 3-ball
 as the buzzer went off.
 
 Denver couldn't score with Houston in overtime and went down in defeat.
 
 "I'm proud of the guys and the way they played. So these kinds of losses I can
 stomach a little bit better," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said.
 
 Wilson Chandler led Denver with 23 points, Afflalo scored 22 and Lawson handed
 out 16 assists to go along with 12 points.
 
 Danilo Gallinari scored 16 off the bench, followed by 12 from Darrell Arthur
 and a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds out of Kenneth Faried.
 
 The two squads have split the last 10 meetings, although the Nuggets have won
 four in a row over the Clippers in Denver.
 
 
 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (12-14) AT LOS ANGELES LAKERS (8-17), 10:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - Will the Oklahoma City Thunder have reigning MVP Kevin
 Durant in the lineup Friday night when they stop by Staples Center to take on
 the Los Angeles Lakers?
 
 Durant scored 30 points in the first half of Thursday night's loss to the
 Golden State Warriors, but didn't play in the second after suffering a
 sprained right ankle just before halftime.
 
 The Thunder were 7-1 over their last eight games with Durant in the lineup.
 The reigning MVP missed the first 17 games of the season following foot
 surgery.
 
 "I was a little nervous but I knew when I stood up and started walking it felt
 good," Durant said. "I'll take it a day at a time. Tomorrow morning I'll see
 how it reacts and go from there."
 
 Golden State prevailed, 114-109.
 
 Russell Westbrook picked up some of the slack, netting 33 points with eight
 assists but shooting just 11-for-30 from the field. Serge Ibaka finished with
 12 points and Andre Roberson chipped in 10 points and 12 rebounds.
 
 The Thunder head home for a Sunday tilt against the New Orleans Pelicans, then
 host the Portland Trail Blazers. On Christmas Day, OKC will face the defending
 champion Spurs in San Antonio.
 
 The Lakers are back in Los Angeles after a successful 2-1 road trip.
 
 During that time Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan for third on the all-time
 scoring list in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday. One night
 later, the Lakers fell to the Indiana Pacers, 110-91.
 
 The Lakers scored the final six points of the second quarter. The Pacers, who
 had lost eight straight games, still led by 33 at halftime.
 
 C.J. Miles' layup at 2:22 of the first quarter gave the Pacers a 26-4 lead.
 Los Angeles scored 11 points in the final two minutes of the period and still
 trailed 34-15.
 
 The second quarter went much like the first, with a 14-2 Indiana run pushing
 the margin to 48-17 five minutes before halftime. The Pacers led by 39 points
 when Bryant and Wesley Johnson hit consecutive 3s to send the two teams into
 halftime.
 
 "They came out and just jumped on us," Lakers head coach Byron Scott said.
 "They have a good team."
 
 Bryant shot 3-for-13, the bench was 2-for-19 and the Lakers stumbled to a 16.3
 percent shooting performance over the first 24 minutes. Bryant put up 21
 points on 8-for-26 shooting. Nick Young netted a more efficient 18 points on
 12 shots and Carlos Boozer went for 13 and 10 boards.
 
 The Thunder have won six of their last eight encounters with the Lakers. The
 two teams have split the previous eight regular-season games at the Staples
 Center.
 
 12/19 10:09:01 ET

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