TV: League Pass
- Tonight’s head coaches, Dallas’ Rick Carlisle and Portland’s Terry Stotts, were together on the Mavericks’ staff from 2008-12 — Carlisle as head coach, Stotts as his chief assistant. Is tonight any more of an emotional game for either coach? ”I have a lot of friends over there, particularly on the coaching and training staff,” Stotts said. “We spent four good years together and won a championship — those are pretty close bonds. Rick’s the ultimate competitor and a great friend. We enjoy each other’s company. You have some emotions before and after, but you don’t think about that during a game.”
- Carlisle lobbied hard for Stotts to get the Portland job. ”Terry did a great job for us,” Carlisle said. “He’s so deserving of this opportunity. He’s done more with it than I could possibly imagine anybody doing. The success (the Blazers) are having has a lot to do with how he has approached it. ”He has completely transformed the vibe here. It’s now a high-energy, entertaining, skilled team — right now, the best in the West. I couldn’t be happier for him, but they’re hard to play. Whether a guy is a friend or not, everybody’s trying to win games.”
- The feature matchup is at power forward, with Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki going up against Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge. Carlisle was asked his opinion of the way Aldridge is playing this season. ”It’s pretty simple. He’s an MVP candidate, doing damage inside, outside, rebounding — everything,” Carlisle said. “I’m a long-time fan of his game. He has more help than he’s had in awhile. The addition of Mo Williams and Robin Lopez has transformed their team. They have a starting six on this team now. Last year, they had a starting four and had to kind of piecemeal it together. Add two top-level guys to the mix, the results have shown the difference.”
- In his 16th NBA season, the 35-year-old Nowitzki is averaging 20.9 points while shooting .487 from the field and .403 from 3-point range. The best way to defend him? ”I don’t know if there is a best way,” Stotts said. “You have to make him work, get him out of his comfort zone, do the best job you can knowing he is going to hit some shots that are indefensible.”
– Kerry Eggers
TV: League Pass
- The Utah Jazz will be without two starters against the Sacramento Kings tonight. Starting center/power forward Derrick Favors is out with a sore lower back and is considered day-to-day. Marvin Williams will miss his third straight game with a sore right heel. Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin was coy when asked about lineup changes when he met with media members before the game, and it turns out that Favors is the mystery player with an injury. “We’ll see,” Corbin said. “We have some other things going on. Marvin is a question mark; I doubt he will go. There are some other guys who are a little banged up, so we’ll see what happens.”
- With Favors and Williams out, Utah will start Richard Jefferson, Jeremy Evans, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke.
- Although they’re shorthanded, the Jazz are itching to get back on the court after getting embarrassed by Portland on Friday night, 130-98. “It’s a part of being in the NBA,” Corbin said. “You don’t have a lot of time to lick your wounds. We didn’t play our best basketball. We need to fight back today because this team is not going to feel sorry for us.”
- Sacramento owns the same number of wins as Utah (four), but has been more competitive than the Jazz. New coach Michael Malone said he’s trying to change what he can within the Kings’ culture to get the franchise back on the right track. He said his impression from last year’s Kings team is that it was selfish, lazy and undisciplined. “If we change those things, continue to develop the players on our roster and acquire more and more talent, then obviously we’ll have a chance to be successful one day,” Malone said.
- Tonight is a homecoming for Kings reserve Jimmer Fredette. The former college star at BYU hasn’t played in Sacramento’s last four games, but he’ll likely have his share of fans in tonight’s crowd. Fredette lost his spot in the team’s playing rotation to Marcus Thornton, and certainly isn’t going to take any minutes from rookie Ben McLemore. “The reality is Ben McLemore is a very big part of our future and is going to get the lion share of minutes at two guard,” Malone said. “(Jimmer) is a pro. He’s a high-character kid who has done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s staying ready, which I respect.”
TV: League Pass
- Second-year forward Khris Middleton dropped in a career-high 29 points in the overtime victory at Washington Friday night. Rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo, who turned 19 on Friday, has also started to show flashes of brilliance. They both play the small forward position. So when veteran Caron Butler returns from a sore knee, Bucks coach Larry Drew has a problem. “Yeah, I do,” Drew said, with a smile coaches crack when the “problem” is too many guys to play. “With Giannis, I’ve always said this kid will grow a lot faster being out on the floor than he will sitting over there next to me. The minutes that he’s gotten, he’s made the most of them. I’ve said it before, I’m very intrigued by the fact that he’s a guy where if he’s not scoring points he does other things that affect the game — whether it’s a rebound or a blocked shot or a good pass, he doesn’t have to score to be noticed out on the floor. I see his confidence growing, as well.”
- Veteran center Zaza Pachulia will not play his second straight game after rolling an ankle Wednesday night in a loss to Detroit. Fourth-year forward Ekpe Udoh also suffered an ankle injury Wednesday but was able to push through 33 minutes Friday night. With Pachulia and Larry Sanders out, the Bucks are short on big men. “It was huge.” Drew said of Udoh’s 33-minute stint. “With no Zaza I really had to lean on him last night. He didn’t participate in the shootaround and I didn’t know whether he’d be available or not, but he toughed it out. I was really proud of him. He gave us a big lift last night.”
- Nets coach Jason Kidd said he would return Shaun Livingston to the starting lineup at point guard in place of Tyshawn Taylor. In Thursday’s 30-point loss to the Knicks, Livingston started the second half with Taylor coming off the bench. Livingston had been starting before Taylor took over in the previous three games. Kidd said that was a planned “break” for Livingston. “We’ve asked a lot for him minute-wise and production here early in the season,” Kidd said. “So we felt we’d maybe give him a little bit of a break by not starting him, and now he’s back in the starting lineup.”
- Veteran Paul Pierce is out with a fracture in his right hand but made the trip even though he’s not available to play. “He’s a leader, so with him being hurt his responsibilities are to make sure he stays in shape and he gets ready with his return,” Kidd said. “You could see that this morning with him working out (at the shootaround) that hopefully his return is here soon. But also he can be helpful in the locker room with these guys. Especially when things are tough, when he’s on the bench he can talk to guys and help them get through it.”
– Rick Braun
TV: League Pass
- Spurs center Tiago Splitter, who has been battling tightness in his left calf since San Antonio’s win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday, will start on Saturday night against the Pacers. According to Gregg Popovich, Splitter will play limited minutes. “He’s gonna play limited minutes and we’ll see how he does,” Popovich said.
- For the Pacers, forward Danny Granger is still out of action with a strained left calf and Indiana head coach Frank Vogel isn’t sure when to expect Granger back in the lineup. “Hopefully soon, but we don’t really have a timetable,” Vogel said. “He started practicing yesterday, so that’s a good sign, but we’re not sure when he’ll be back .”
- The Pacers are in the midst of a stretch where they’re playing five likely playoff teams over six games, featuring the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trailblazers, Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat, and they’re trying to find the positives in it. “I don’t know if I like it,” Vogel laughed. “It’s part of the schedule. We like challenges and we like seeing what we’re made of against the best in the toughest environments and that’s what tonight’s gonna be.”
– Andrew McNeill
TV: League Pass
- The Grizzlies will again be without starting guard Tony Allen and backup forward Ed Davis will join him on the sidelines. Allen will miss his second straight game as he recovers from a right hip contusion. Davis sprained his left ankle in Thursday’s loss to Phoenix. Both players are listed as day-to-day.
- The Warriors will again be without guard Andre Iguodala, who has a left hamstring straight. He has missed the last seven games. Coach Mark Jackson said guard Toney Douglas will be a game-time decision. he is suffering from a stress reaction, left tibia.
- The Grizzlies currently hold an 11-game winning streak against Golden State. The also have beaten the Warriors nine straight times at FedExForum. Those are two streaks Jackson would see come to an end tonight. “We own it,” Jackson said. “It’s a very good team on the other side. They have certain strengths that they take advantage of. But we look forward to tonight.” Most of those 11 wins have been close encounters, however, such as their last meeting Nov. 20 in Oakland. The Grizzlies won, 88-81, in overtime. “They’ve all been good games,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. “By and large, every game has been very competitive and have come down to the , or two. There have been a lot of great plays.”
– By Marlon W. Morgan
TV: League Pass
- Bulls forward Luol Deng will miss Saturday’s game against the Pistons with a sore left calf, an injury he claims to have suffered four games ago when the Bulls played the Pistons in Detroit Nov. 27. Including that game, Deng has scored 111 games in the four games, an average of 27.8 points per game . Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau listed Deng as day-to-day. “He has tightness,’’ Thibodeau said. “(Trainers) want to work on him and said he will be better in a couple of days.” Ninety minutes before game time, Thibodeau refused to state who would start in Deng’s place, but 30 minutes later decided forward Taj Gibson would start.
- Gibson had one of his best games of his career Thursday with 19 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes against the Heat. Gibson is averaging 12 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, and will be making his first start of the season.
- The Bulls played a tremendous game against Miami Thursday, recording a 20-point victory at home, but Thibodeau said there is no real carryover from game to game in terms of performance. “You try to learn from each game,’’ he said. “You are constantly striving for improvement. The same things always go into winning. Every game there are things you do well and things you may not do as well as you like.”
- With Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe holding court for the Pistons inside, the team has won three games in a row and also their last three road games. Their size (Drummond at 6-foot-10, 270 and Monroe at 6-foot-11, 250) gives the Pistons a strength inside that few teams in the new NBA can match. “The way NBA has been played of late, you have a ‘4’ (power forward) who can stretch the defense and shoot threes,” Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. “We try to take advantage of the guys we have, putting the ball inside, utilizing their strength, which is trying to score in the paint. But when we play against those teams that have a stretch ‘4’, it is a challenge one of our guys has to guard that ‘4’.”
- The Bulls have a 14-game winning streak at the United Center against the Pistons, dating back to Feb. 24, 2006.
– Kent McDill
TV: League Pass
- The Miami Heat have lost two in a row after a 10-game winning streak. They’ve looked listless in both performances, giving up easy baskets throughout the night in Tuesday’s loss to Detroit and getting blown out by Chicago on Thursday. They got routed on the boards in particular, getting outrebound by 34 in the two contests. Coach Eric Spoelstra said before the game, “We had to be raw about it and real and watch it. The tape exposed everything. It was a combination of a lot of different things…..the last two games have been very humbling in that regard.”
- The Wolves will look to keep this pressure on the Heat early tonight as Minnesota has been dominant in first quarters this season. They’ve outscored their opponents in the opening 12 minutes by 108 points, the largest point differential in the NBA. Conversely, Miami has been outscored by 15 points in the first quarter.
- With a front-court heavy roster, and the balky knees of Dwyane Wade, rumors are swirling that the Heat are trying to trade for a guard to balance the roster. Joel Anthony seems to be the main trade bait, but no specific names have surfaced in terms of who the Heat might get in return. Wade is active tonight.
- Kevin Love will miss tonight’s contest due to the death of his grandmother. The Timberwolves released the following statement: “The Timberwolves organization is deeply saddened to learn of the passing late last night of Carol Lee Craig, Kevin Love’s maternal grandmother. The Timberwolves send our condolences to the Love family in this difficult time.” Love is expected back in time for the next game.
- Newest Timberwolf Luc Mbah a Moute, acquired from the Kings for Derek Williams, will get his first start tonight in Love’s place. Coach Rick Adelman explained his decision before the game, “It’s match-ups for us. They have two tough guys in LeBron and Wade…..with Kevin out we’re going to have to defend to stay in the game. So we are going to start him (Mbah a Moute.)
- Michael Beasley (strained hamstring) is out for the Miami Heat tonight.
– Peter Kapsner
TV: NBA TV
- Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving went scoreless for the first time in his NBA career Friday at Atlanta, missing all nine of his field goal attempts and three free throws. Over the last three games, the 2013 All-Star is shooting 16-for-50 (.320) from the field. “We were already at the orange threat level in terms of concern about Kyrie, so we couldn’t get any higher based on what happened last night,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I’m worried that he’s going to try to go off for 50 points against us.”
- Cleveland’s starters are Irving, shooting guard C.J. Miles, small forward Alonzo Gee, power forward Tristan Thompson, and center Andrew Bynum. Bynum had his first two double-doubles of the season in the last three games, including a 20-point, 13-rebound performance in the Cavaliers’ 108-89 loss to the Hawks. “Bynum is a monster — and I mean that in a good way — because of the problems he creates when he’s on the floor,” Rivers said.
- The Clippers’ lineup is All-Star point guard Chris Paul, shooting guard Willie Green, small forward Jared Dudley, power forward Blake Griffin, and center DeAndre Jordan. Paul is averaging an NBA-high 11.8 assists per game and ranks second in the league at 2.32 steals. “They’ve got a great coach, great players, and are a high-octane team on offense,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “They’re also a capable defensive team.”
- Los Angeles power forward Antawn Jamison needs six points to reach 20,000 for his career. Jamison, who played for the Cavaliers from 2009-2012, has supplanted center Byron Mullins off the bench in the Clippers’ rotation. “We gave Byron a pretty good shot, but he didn’t do what I needed him to do,” Rivers said. “It’s a long season, but for now, Antawn has moved into his role.”
- Los Angeles’ inactives are shooting guard J.J. Redick (right hand fracture, right wrist ligament tear), small forward Matt Barnes (left retinal tear), and point guard Maalik Wayns (left meniscus tear). Redick and Barnes did not travel with the team. Not in uniform for Cleveland are rookie shooting guard Carrick Felix and center Henry Sims.
– Brian Dulik
TV: League Pass
- Sixers rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams will miss his second straight game because of right knee soreness caused by a skin infection on the front of that knee. Carter-Williams is currently at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for further evaluation. He is listed as day-to-day.
- Tony Wroten is expected to start in Carter-Williams’ spot once again. Wroten had 21 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in Friday’s 105-88 loss at Charlotte.
- Sixers forward Thaddeus Young (sore glute) is expected to start.
- Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (left hamstring strain) is out and will be replaced by Andre Miller in the starting lineup. “Obviously, we lose a lot of speed without Ty on the court,” coach Brian Shaw said. “Andre Miller is a winner.”
- Denver’s bench ranks second in the NBA in points per game (44.8) and first in rebounds (19.8).
- This is the fourth game in five nights for the Nuggets, who have dropped two in a row. “Our guys should still be fairly fresh,” Shaw said.
– Andy Jasner