HORNETS AT CAVALIERS, 8 P.M. ET
February 20, 2013 · 7:11PM
- Hornets shooting guard Eric Gordon (right knee soreness) will not play for precautionary reasons as New Orleans is on the second half of a back-to-back game set. The fifth-year pro scored 20 points Tuesday in a 96-87 loss to Chicago, but is not being permitted to play on consecutive days on orders of the Hornets’ medical staff. “I wish that (policy) was over, but we don’t see it ending anytime soon,” New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. “For whatever reason, the doctors feel that’s best for Eric. But he’s healthy, so it’s tough.” Williams added that Gordon’s sprained right hand is fully healed.
- With Gordon out, New Orleans is starting rookie Austin Rivers at the two. Rivers was named after Cavaliers broadcaster — and former Cleveland All-Star — Austin Carr, but the two had never met until this evening. “I just went out and introduced myself to him, which was incredible,” Rivers said. “It was an honor and very exciting, knowing my dad (Celtics coach Doc Rivers) chose his name for me because he looked up to him so much. It’s unbelievable knowing that I’ll be playing in front of him tonight.”
- The Cavaliers are making their only national television appearance of the season. ESPN originally scheduled the Miami at Atlanta game for the 8 p.m. broadcast window, but dropped it in favor of the first pro matchup between the last two No. 1 overall draft picks: Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving (2012) and New Orleans power forward Anthony Davis (2013). “We want to show the world what we can do,” Irving said.
- Irving shined brightly on all three days of All-Star weekend in Houston. The reigning Rookie of the Year won the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, and played very well in the NBA All-Star Game and BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. “I’m still trying to catch up on my sleep, but I’m ready to get back out there tonight,” said Irving, who ranks sixth in the league with a 23.5 scoring average.
- The Hornets’ starters are point guard Greivis Vasquez, Rivers, small forward Al-Farouq Aminu, Davis, and center Robin Lopez. The Cavaliers’ lineup is Irving, shooting guard Dion Waiters, small forward Alonzo Gee, power forward Tristan Thompson, and center Tyler Zeller. New Orleans won the teams’ last meeting, 89-84 on Feb. 22, 2012 in Cleveland.
- The NBA trade deadline is Thursday at 4 p.m. Cavaliers center Marreese Speights is among the prime candidates to be dealt as he can opt out of his contract at the end of the season. “Mo Speights has always been a bit of a wildcard, especially when he’s knocking down his jump shots,” Williams said. “He can be a physical presence, as well.”
- Cavaliers coach Byron Scott plans to fly to Los Angeles for the funeral of Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Lead assistant coach Paul Pressey will run Cleveland’s practice on Thursday.
– Brian Dulik
HORNETS AT CAVALIERS, 7 P.M. ET
February 22, 2012 · 6:13PM
TV: League Pass
- Cavaliers shooting guard Anthony Parker (lower back strain) is inactive for the 12th straight game, but might return to action immediately after the NBA All-Star break. “I don’t see any reason to have him play tonight — even if he could — with us having four days off after this game,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. Daniel “Boobie” Gibson will make his seventh start of the season in Parker’s spot, joining point guard Kyrie Irving, small forward Omri Casspi, power forward Antawn Jamison, and center Semih Erden in the lineup.
- Hornets center Emeka Okafor (left knee soreness) and power forward Jason Smith (concussion) could be back on the court when the team resumes play Tuesday in Chicago, according to New Orleans coach Monty Williams. No timetable has been set for power forward Carl Landry (left knee sprain) and point guard Eric Gordon (right knee contusion) to return. “There is a chance Jason could be back then, and maybe Emeka, but Carl’s situation is a little bit different,” the coach said.
- Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (right wrist fracture) continues to work out each day with his teammates, but is still 3-5 weeks away from being cleared for action. Varejao was having the best season of his career before he was injured against Milwaukee on Feb. 10, averaging 10.8 points and 11.5 rebounds while shooting .514 from the floor. “Andy is coming along and doing cardio every day,” Scott said. “Looking at the schedule, he could be back for our last 20-25 games.”
- The Hornets will start center Chris Kaman, power forward Gustavo Ayon, small forward Trevor Ariza, shooting guard Marco Belinelli, and point guard Greivis Vasquez. Kaman is averaging 11.2 points and 7.3 rebounds on the season after being acquired from the Clippers in the Chris Paul trade. “Chris has been decent,” Williams said. “But defensively, that’s where he has to understand what we do.”
- New Orleans guard Donald Sloan and forward Lance Thomas are on their second 10-day contracts with the team, while power forward Solomon Jones will have his first such pact expire Friday. “Unfortunately, we probably won’t keep all of them, but they’ve all given themselves a chance to come back or maybe come to training camp down the road,” Williams said.
- New Orleans is completing a three-games-in-three-nights set after losing Monday at Oklahoma City (101-93) and Tuesday at Indiana (117-108 in overtime). “This is the ultimate test of how much you love the game,” Williams said. “It’s like I tell the guys, ‘You’re playing a game. It’s really cool to get to do this for a living. Always remember that.’”
- The Cavaliers are seeking their first three-game winning streak since Nov. 5-9, 2010. They enter the evening 1 1/2 games behind Boston in the race for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
– Brian Dulik