TV: League Pass
- The Lakers will juggle their starting lineup again when they host the Suns tonight at Staples Center, inserting forward Shawne Williams and guard Jodie Meeks with Kobe Bryant moving from shooting guard to small forward in his second game since returning from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in April. Williams, at 6-9, will replace 7-footer Robert Sacre for the opening tip and the 6-4 Meeks will replace 6-7 forward Wesley Johnson, forming the ninth different starting lineup used by the Lakers this season. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni believes Williams is a better matchup for Phoenix power forward Channing Frye, who has attempted the second-most 3-pointers on the team. Meeks should also give the Lakers more speed in the backcourt as the Suns have two speedy point guards in their starting lineup in Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic, who have played a big role in Phoenix averaging an NBA-leading 20 fast-break points this season. Bryant, who played 28 minutes in his season debut Sunday against the Raptors, will play a similar amount tonight, D’Antoni said.
- Phoenix will try for its first three-game winning streak of the season after winning two in a row five times. To accomplish that feat, the Suns will need to buck the home-arena advantage both teams have recently enjoyed in the series. The home team has won the last nine meetings between the Lakers and Suns.
- The Lakers gave up a career-high 32 points to Amir Johnson of the Raptors in Sunday’s loss and they’ll face another power forward who’s enjoying the best start of his career. Markieff Morris came into the season with a career-high of 23 points, but has eclipsed that mark five times this season, most recently with 25 points Friday night against Toronto. Morris comes off the bench along with his twin brother, Marcus, so Sacre will likely be asked to guard one or both of the 6-10 players.
– Dan Arritt
TV: League Pass
- Starting forward Thabo Sefalosha will miss the Thunder’s game Tuesday at the Hawks because of a strained right knee. Rather than bump Jeremy Lamb into the starting lineup in his place, OKC coach Scott Brooks will tab rookie Andre Roberson to keep the rest of his rotations intact. The 6-foot-7 Roberson, who played at Colorado, had considerable success in the D-League while averaging 17.3 ppg and 11.7 rebounds for the 66ers. Sefalosha was injured in Sunday’s blowout of the Pacers.
- Hawks big man Gustavo Ayon, who suffered a sprained left ankle and left leg contusion in the final minute of Friday’s win over the Cavs, will not be available Tuesday against the Thunder.
- DeMarre Carroll is expected to draw the duty of defending OKC’s Kevin Durant.
– Matt Winkeljohn
TV: League Pass
- Tonight’s game will be between two of the most injured teams in the league. The Bulls announced before the game that center Joakim Noah is out with a right thigh bruise. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau did not immediately state a starting lineup replacement. Noah joins an injury report that includes small forward Luol Deng (Achilles tendon), swingman Jimmy Butler (toe) and guard Derrick Rose (knee). There was some hope Deng would return tonight, but with four games in five nights, the Bulls may have decided not to test it against the Bucks. Veteran guard Mike James is back after missing two games with his own knee injury, and could see time backing up Kirk Hinrich at the point.
- The Milwaukee Bucks have suffered though a horrible first quarter of the season, with only four wins in 20 games. But they have a built-in excuse with their injury report, which has just gotten longer with the addition of center Zaza Pachulia, who fractured his foot against Detroit on Dec. 4. He has not played the last two games while waiting for a diagnosis of the injury. He will be re-examined in four weeks. He joins center Larry Sanders, who had the pin removed from his right thumb on Monday, and has been fitted with a split. His return date is still unknown. Caron Butler has a knee injury and will miss his seventh game of the season tonight against the Bulls. The Bucks are suggesting he could be back in a week to 10 days. “Whenever I feel good, I will be playing basketball,’’ Butler told team beat reporters. Gary Neal did not travel with the team to Chicago due to an ongoing battle with plantar fasciitis. Carlos Delfino remains out after having surgery on his right foot.
- Milwaukee coach Larry Drew is going to ask his struggling team to come up with a big effort against the Bulls, with expectations that they will be facing a physical game. “They have veteran guys who lay it on the line every night,’’ Drew said. “We have to play with physicality, because they are going to try to make it physical as they possibly can.”
- The Bulls have two players who are making good use of their extra time on the floor. Gibson is starting in place of Luol Deng, and is just continuing his streak that he had going off the bench. In the last five games he has averaged 21.4 points and 8.4 rebounds while shooting an amazing 61 percent from the field. Rookie Tony Snell has stepped in for butler and is averaging 103 points while shooting 43 percent from 3-point range in six starts.
– Kent McDill
TV: League Pass
- The Nets will use their ninth different starting lineup tonight with the return of Deron Williams from an ankle injury. Paul Pierce will also return and come off the bench for the first time since Feb. 9, 2007, incidentally when Pierce played for the Celtics against the Nets. Nets coach Jason Kidd said Pierce would come off the bench in order to get acclimated to the glove he would be wearing to protect his injured hand.
- Gerald Wallace will come off the bench for the Celtics. Before the game, Wallace called a potential matchup with Pierce “intriguing.” The former Net, included in the deal that brought Pierce back, also praised the atmosphere at Boston sporting events.
- Kidd responded to comments that ex-Celtics and current Clippers coach Doc Rivers made about Pierce and Kevin Garnett’s minutes. Rivers, who coached the future Hall-of-Famers in Boston, said that the duo’s play was hurt by minute restrictions that disrupted rhythm. “I respect Doc’s opinion,” Kidd said, before citing out-of-reach games as another reason for the decrease in their minutes.
- Kidd also touched on his relationship with re-assigned assistant coach Lawrence Frank, noting that he had been reading Frank’s daily reports.
- Celtics coach Brad Stevens praised his team’s ability to get off to great starts defensively of late, but noted how fickle that trend can be. “The bottom line is we have to be locked in defensively early,” he said.
– Jake Appleman
TV: NBA TV
- Dwyane Wade will play but Michael Beasley will not for the Heat tonight. Wade missed his sixth game of the year Sunday in Detroit with a minor knee injury and missed shootaround this morning but was pronounced good to go after a pregame workout. Miami is 13-2 with Wade in the lineup, 3-3 in games he’s missed. Beasley will miss his third consecutive game with a strained left hamstring.
- Danny Granger said he hopes to return to the Pacers Friday after missing the first month of the season with a strained left calf. Granger practiced Friday and again on Monday and was pain-free so he expects to be able to play against the Bobcats. Granger said he anticipates playing limited minutes off the bench until he rebuilds conditioning.
- The Pacers have offered varying opinions on the importance of this Eastern Conference Finals rematch. Both Paul George and Roy Hibbert shrugged it off as just another game. But Lance Stephenson said because of the Pacers’ pursuit of the best record in the East, this had a playoff-type feel. “We’ve said just about every game this year that every single night we’re playing for the No. 1 seed,” said Indiana coach Frank Vogel. “It doesn’t matter if we’re playing Utah at home or the Miami Heat on the road, it’s going to be a game that could impact whether we get home court advantage.”
- Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said his focus was more on building winning habits on the road. The Heat dropped the first game of this road trip in Chicago but bounced back to beat Minnesota and Detroit. “It was a very disappointing start to our road trip,” he said. “We’re not thinking anything more than that than just trying to build on it and take steps forward instead of steps back. But at the same time we understand all the talk out there. You can call it whatever it is. It’s competition and our guys won’t shy away from that.”
- Indiana will start its usual lineup of George Hill, Stephenson, George, David West and Hibbert. That group is 15-3.
- Miami will start Mario Chalmers, Wade, LeBron James, Shane Battier and Chris Bosh. That lineup has a 6-1 record.
– Conrad Brunner
TV: League Pass
- Pistons guard Chauncey Billups returns to action after missing 14 games with left knee tendinitis. He will back up both guard spots. The Pistons are still without Rodney Stuckey (knee) and Will Bynum (hamstring). “We need him,” Detroit coach Mo Cheeks said. “We need another ballhandler back in the lineup, another guy who can take some pressure off Brandon (Jennings). Peyton (Siva) did a decent job last game but I look forward to having Chauncey back on the floor.”
- Detroit center Andre Drummond has recorded six-plus offensive rebounds in six straight games. He’s averaging a league-high 5.2 per game. Cheeks played with some prolific offensive rebounders, such as Moses Malone and Charles Barkley, but he says what Drummond is doing is more impressive because he’s not a focal point of the offense. “Those guys had offensive plays run for them, so they were probably closer to the rim,” Cheeks said. “We rarely run a play for Andre and he’s still around the rim. He chases the ball and finds the ball. That’s the most common trait for guys who are good offensive rebounders, they are relentless going to get the ball.”
- Timberwolves shooting guard Kevin Martin has made just 38.2 percent of his shots over the last five games. “He’s got to let his teammates help him out a little bit more,” coach Rick Adelman said. “Sometimes, he’s too quick. The midrange shot, he can get that anytime he wants. Lately, sometimes he’s been holding the ball too long.”
- Minnesota center Kevin Love is back in the lineup after missing the loss to Miami on Saturday because of his grandmother’s death.
– Dana Gauruder
TV: League Pass
- The Toronto Raptors (7-12) will be short-handed once again on Tuesday. In addition to injured forward Tyler Hansbrough, the incumbent Raptors acquired in Monday’s deal with the Sacramento Kings — John Salmons, Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez — will also be unavailable for action. The trade saw Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy sent to Sacramento.
- On Monday evening, Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri spoke about the trade. ”We thank Rudy, Aaron and Quincy for their time here,” Ujiri said. “They were great professionals and strong community ambassadors of the Raptors. The trade gives us good flexibility and more certainty as we plan for our future.”
- The Raptors also announced Monday that they have waived point guard D.J Augustin.
- Amir Johnson and Terrence Ross will join Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas in Toronto’s starting lineup.
- The San Antonio Spurs (15-4) will be without center Tiago Splitter who did not make the trip to Toronto due to a calf injury.”I don’t think it’s serious, but it’s a nagging thing,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said about the injury. “If he doesn’t just sit, it’s going to come back again.”
- The Spurs have won five straight meetings with the Raptors.
– Scott Campsall
TV: League Pass
- Small forward Metta World Peace makes his first start with the Knicks, while power forward Kenyon Martin (left ankle soreness) is out. World Peace moved into New York’s rotation two games ago and responded with a pair of 12-point performances. “Metta has earned the right to be out there because he’s stayed true in terms of being a pro,” coach Mike Woodson said. “He patiently waited for his opportunity and when he got it, he played well.” World Peace is averaging 6.5 points in 17 appearances off the bench.
- The Knicks’ lineup is point guard Raymond Felton, shooting guard Iman Shumpert, World Peace, power forward Carmelo Anthony, and center Andrea Bargnani. Woodson said World Peace will guard Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson, while Bargnani has been assigned Cleveland center Andrew Bynum. “They’ve got a very big team, so we’ll try and match up that way,” Woodson said.
- New York’s inactives are Martin and center Tyson Chandler (right fibula fracture). Martin is sitting out his second straight game, but Woodson hopes to have him available Wednesday when the Knicks play in Chicago. Chandler was injured on Nov. 5 against Charlotte, but worked out on the court before the game. “I know I’m still a little while away, but I feel all right,” Chandler said.
- The Cavaliers’ starters are All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, shooting guard C.J. Miles, small forward Alonzo Gee, Thompson, and Bynum. Cleveland has won three straight home games and is 6-3 on the season at Quicken Loans Arena. Not in uniform for the Cavaliers are rookie shooting guard Carrick Felix and center Henry Sims.
- New York has lost 10 of its last 12 games and is coming off its largest loss of the season, 114-73 to Boston at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. “Everything went wrong Sunday, but we had a good, spirited practice yesterday and a good shootaround this morning, so we’ll see how we come out tonight,” Woodson said.
– Brian Dulik