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NBA • Friday Service Plays • 3/11/16

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    Preview: Detroit At Charlotte

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Friday, March 11, 2016
    Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina

    A pair of teams battling for spots at the bottom of the Eastern Conference postseason bracket will square off when the Detroit Pistons visit the Charlotte Hornets on Friday. The Hornets have won five straight games to pull into a battle for the No. 5 spot in the East while the Pistons are scraping with the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers for the last two slots.

    The No. 4 team and the No. 9 team in the East enter play on Thursday separated by only four games with just over a month left in the regular season. The Hornets are trying to separate themselves from the pack during a seven-game homestand and have taken the first three of that stretch to extend their overall winning streak to five in a row. Charlotte has benefited from playing only one winning team in those last five games and will see an uptick in competition as three teams battling for postseason spots visit in a four-day span, starting with Detroit. The Pistons have won two in a row in impressive fashion, knocking off the Portland Trail Blazers 123-103 at home before grabbing a 102-96 road victory at Dallas on Wednesday.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, FSN Southeast (Charlotte)

    ABOUT THE PISTONS (33-31): Detroit has won six of its last eight games to climb back into contention and began its key four-game road trip by squeezing out the win in Dallas. The Pistons will play in three different cities in four days starting with Charlotte before beginning a nine-game homestand and playing 11 of their final 15 in their own building. Detroit center Andre Drummond was a force with 25 points and 17 rebounds against the Mavericks but was pulled off the floor down the stretch due to his terrible free-throw shooting and finished the game 5-of-14 from the line.

    ABOUT THE HORNETS (35-28): Charlotte’s recent surge has been fueled by guard Kemba Walker, who has gone for 30 or more points in four straight games and is averaging 31.6 points on 53.3 percent shooting in the last five. The 25-year-old added seven rebounds and seven assists to his 35 points in Wednesday’s 122-113 win over the New Orleans Pelicans and was one of seven Hornets to score in double figures. “I’m just trying to be as confident as possible,” Walker told reporters. “I’m just trying to take the shots that are there for me. They’re just dropping.”


    1. Hornets G Courtney Lee recorded his first double-digit scoring effort in nine games since joining the team at the trade deadline with 16 points on Wednesday.

    2. Pistons F Tobias Harris is averaging 17.1 points on 51.2 percent shooting in 10 games with the team.

    3. Charlotte crushed Detroit 104-84 at home on December 7.

    PREDICTION: Pistons 103, Hornets 101


    Preview: Brooklyn At Philadelphia

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Friday, March 11, 2016
    Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    The Philadelphia 76ers are staring at their best chance to snap a 13-game slide when they host the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. The 76ers own the worst record in the NBA, 10 games behind the Nets, who are second-to-last in the Eastern Conference.

    Unlike Philadelphia, Brooklyn can’t be accused of trying to pile up losses in order to secure draft position since the Boston Celtics own the Nets’ No. 1 pick this June. Instead, Brooklyn is just trying to survive as it reaches the finale of a nine-game road trip that started out promising with wins in three of the first six games. The Nets ensured a losing road trip with a 104-99 setback at Toronto on Tuesday despite getting 35 points from center Brook Lopez. The 76ers are all about the future and got one building block back on Tuesday in Nerlens Noel (knee) while fellow frontcourt stud Jahlil Okafor (shin contusion) missed his fifth straight game.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, YES (Brooklyn), TCN (Philadelphia)

    ABOUT THE NETS (18-46): Lopez got the night off at Minnesota on Sunday and watched as Brooklyn allowed the Timberwolves to shoot 68.4 percent from the field. Lopez was back on Tuesday and the Nets were a different team, building up a 16-point lead at one point before falling off the pace. Brooklyn was stronger on the defensive end against the Raptors, holding them to 47.4 percent from the floor while Lopez dominated the middle with seven blocks.

    ABOUT THE 76ERS (8-56): Okafor is dealing with soreness and swelling in the shin and is having some problems with his knee as well, though coach Brett Brown seems unconcerned. “I see it with Nerlens, I see it with my young guys,” Brown told reporters. “It’s a long season for 19- and 20-year-olds. We’re trying to be wise with them and help them get through it. We believe the knee is unrelated to (Okafor’s) shin. We’ve learned more about it as we’ve treated some inflammation in his shin. It’s just felt funny.” Okafor is averaging 17.5 points on 50.8 percent shooting during his strong rookie campaign but has not played since pouring in 26 points on 12-of-18 shooting at Orlando on Feb. 28.


    1. The Nets signed G Sean Kilpatrick to a second 10-day contract.

    2. 76ers PG Ish Smith in averaging 21 points in the last five games.

    3. The teams have split two meetings this season, with Philadelphia earning a 103-98 victory on its home floor Feb. 6

    PREDICTION: 76ers 116, Nets 113


    Preview: Houston At Boston

    When: 7:30 PM ET, Friday, March 11, 2016
    Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

    The Boston Celtics are doing things at home that haven’t been seen since the days of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. They will try to extend their longest home winning streak since the original Big 3 ruled the town when they host the Houston Rockets on Friday at TD Garden.

    Wednesday’s 116-96 rout of the Memphis Grizzlies was the 14th consecutive home triumph for the Celtics – the franchise’s longest since the 1990-91 squad reeled off 18 in a row – and it gave the team a 1 1/2-game lead on Miami for third place in the Eastern Conference. The Rockets are 2-1 thus far on a five-game road trip after a 118-104 win in Philadelphia on Wednesday and have moved to within a half-game of seventh-place Dallas and 1 1/2 of sixth-place Portland in the West. James Harden landed right on his average with 29 points and he has averaged 35.2 over his last nine road games. However, the four-time All-Star is averaging 15 points on 25.8 percent shooting in his last two contests with the Celtics, including Boston’s 111-95 win in Houston earlier this season.

    TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ROOT (Houston), CSN New England (Boston)

    ABOUT THE ROCKETS (32-32): Houston has won three of four on the heels of a 4-9 stretch and it has taken two in a row on the road for the first time in nearly two months. “Defensively, we’re really keying and shutting teams down,” Harden told reporters Wednesday. “And offensively, we’re sharing the basketball, moving around and guys are just playing well.” Dwight Howard (21 points, 18 rebounds against Philadelphia) has reached the 20-point mark in consecutive games for just the third time this season and is averaging 13.3 rebounds over an eight-game span.

    ABOUT THE CELTICS (39-26): Boston entered Thursday tied for 24th in the league in 3-point percentage (33.6), but it was 15-of-32 against Memphis and its most accurate long-range threat – center Kelly Olynyk (41.3 percent) – could return for this one. Coach Brad Stevens had called Olynyk “50-50” for the Grizzlies game after the reserve big man resumed full practice earlier in the week, which could bode well against a Rockets unit that allows 9.6 3-pointers per game — tied for the second-highest total in the league entering Thursday. Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley both hit 4-of-7 long-range shots in the rout of the Rockets back in November.


    1. Rockets PG Patrick Beverley is shooting 45.5 percent from 3-point range and averaging 2.8 steals in four March contests.

    2. Celtics PG Marcus Smart was 1-of-11 against Houston in November but had nine rebounds, six assists and five steals.

    3. The Celtics have three days off after this one before beginning a stretch in which they play eight of 11 on the road.

    PREDICTION: Celtics 111, Rockets 102


    Preview: Miami At Chicago

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, March 11, 2016
    Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois

    Miami has been thriving without forward Chris Bosh and the 11-time All-Star will again be sidelined when the Heat visit the Chicago Bulls on Friday. However, Bosh stated Thursday that he is not dealing with a repeat of last season’s blood clot issues and hopes to return in time to help the Heat make a playoff run.

    Miami has closely guarded information regarding Bosh’s unspecified health issues while speculation has run rampant in NBA circles that he is still dealing with blood clots – also known as deep vein thrombosis – in his left leg. “I know there have been many questions regarding my health and when I will play again,” Bosh said in a statement. “My situation this year has never been life threatening. I am feeling great and currently I do not have deep vein thrombosis.” Chicago also has an injured star player as shooting guard Jimmy Butler has missed 12 of the past 13 games with a left knee injury and sought out a second opinion from renowned Dr. James Andrews on Thursday. Butler had 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in Saturday’s victory over the Houston Rockets but his sore knee flared up after the following day’s practice.

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), WGN (Chicago)

    ABOUT THE HEAT (37-27): Miami is 8-3 since Bosh went down with the blood clot issues and is holding on to fourth place in the tightly congested Eastern Conference playoff race. The Heat had to play the final 30 games of last season without Bosh so it was better adjusted to handle his absence this time around. Small forward Luol Deng has stepped up in Bosh’s absence with 13 straight double-digit outings and the addition of veteran swingman Joe Johnson has also proved timely as he is averaging 13.5 points in six games since joining the team.

    ABOUT THE BULLS (32-31): Chicago has dropped five of seven games after losing 109-101 to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday to fall into ninth place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind the Detroit Pistons for the final playoff spot. The Bulls are anxious to get Butler healthy as their caliber of play has dipped sharply during his absence and coach Fred Hoiberg said Butler was encouraged after meeting with Dr. Andrews. “I think the mental aspect is huge in something like this,” Hoiberg told reporters. “Jimmy went down and saw one of the best doctors in the world, that’s worked on a lot of athletes, and was told that everything looked structurally sound in there. That’s I think what he was looking to hear and wanted to hear.”


    1. The Heat are 2-0 against the Bulls this season, winning by an average margin of 11.5 points.

    2. Miami backup C Hassan Whiteside has recorded 10 straight double-digit rebounding efforts and is averaging 18.5 points and 15 rebounds during the stretch.

    3. Chicago PG Derrick Rose (tailbone) scored 21 points against the Spurs for his second straight 20-point outing.

    PREDICTION: Heat 103, Bulls 100


    Preview: New Orleans At Memphis

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, March 11, 2016
    Where: FedExForum, Memphis, Tennessee

    The Memphis Grizzlies look to finish off a four-game season sweep of New Orleans when they host the Pelicans on Friday. Memphis resides in fifth place in the Western Conference but is battling injury issues, including the season-ending loss of center Marc Gasol (foot).

    Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley (foot) could miss his third straight game, power forward Zach Randolph (knee) is questionable after missing Wednesday’s 116-96 road loss to the Boston Celtics, and Memphis also lost backup point guard Mario Chalmers (Achilles’ tendon) for the season during the Boston contest. “When it rains it pours,” small forward Matt Barnes told reporters. “To lose this many guys to injury, back-to-back-to-back, once we finally started to get a rhythm with our new guys, it’s a crazy situation.” New Orleans had lost five of its last six games after falling 122-113 to the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. All-Star power forward Anthony Davis (40) and point guard Jrue Holiday (career-best 38) combined for 78 points but the duo couldn’t overcome the defense allowing 71 first-half points.

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN New Orleans, FSN Southeast (Memphis)

    ABOUT THE PELICANS (24-39): Holiday was 13-of-23 shooting and made five 3-point baskets in the top scoring effort of his seven-year career and he is averaging 26.7 points over the past three games. Injuries that have decimated the backcourt – starters Tyreke Evans (knee) and Eric Gordon (finger) are out for the season – have led to Holiday being more of a shoot-first player than he typically has been in his career. Davis had 32 double-doubles and the 40-point outing was his third of the season but his season-long trend of big outings aren’t leading to victories.

    ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (38-26): Chalmers was injured on a noncontact play and the club waived him Thursday after learning the severity of the injury to open up a roster spot. “He has been an important part of our success this season, both coming off the bench and when called upon as a starter,” general manager Chris Wallace said in a statement. “But with Mario’s season-ending injury and our already depleted roster, it became necessary to free up a roster spot.” Chalmers was acquired from the Miami Heat earlier this season and averaged 10.8 points and 3.8 assists in 55 games for the Grizzlies.


    1. Davis is averaging 20.3 points and shooting just 42.6 percent from the field against the Grizzlies this season.

    2. New Orleans backup G Norris Cole (back) missed the Charlotte game, prompting the Pelicans to sign D-League G Orlando Johnson.

    3. Memphis F JaMychal Green tied his personal best of 17 points and collected a career-high 13 rebounds in the loss to Boston.

    PREDICTION: Grizzlies 101, Pelicans 93


    Preview: Minnesota At Oklahoma City

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Friday, March 11, 2016
    Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

    The Oklahoma City Thunder look to continue their dominance of Minnesota and complete a four-game season sweep of the visiting Timberwolves when the teams square off on Friday. Oklahoma City has won 10 straight and 24 of the last 27 meetings and also has recorded 12 consecutive home wins against Minnesota.

    Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook posted a career-high 20 assists to go with 25 points and 11 rebounds in Wednesday’s 120-108 home victory over the Los Angeles Clippers to record his 11th triple-double of the season. “More important just to see all my teammates happy and see all my teammates enjoy the game and enjoy this win,” Westbrook told reporters afterward. “That’s the most important part for me, is just making sure everybody feels comfortable about their game.” The Timberwolves have dropped five of their last six games and were routed 116-91 by the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday. “They need to remember these losses though,” interim coach Sam Mitchell told reporters. “If you’re ever going to get better, if you’re ever going to win, you have to remember the times where you got your butt kicked.”

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), FSN Oklahoma

    ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (20-45): Second-year guard Zach LaVine has stood out against the Thunder this season by averaging 23 points and shooting 68.4 percent from the field in the three games. He scored a season-best 35 points in a 126-123 loss on Jan. 27 and the contest catapulted him into increased playing time, and he has scored in double digits in 19 of the past 20 games while playing both guard positions. “I’m cool with whatever position I play at,” LaVine told reporters. “Lately with me and Ricky (Rubio) on the floor, whichever one gets it, can bring it up. We can both run the offense and (produce) so much pressure.”

    ABOUT THE THUNDER (44-20): Backup guard Dion Waiters will miss his second straight game after leaving the team due to his brother, Demetrius Pinckney, being shot to death in Philadelphia on Tuesday. The tragedy is the third for the Thunder in a span of a month as car accidents took the life of Ingrid Williams – the wife of assistant coach Monty Williams – on Feb. 10 and part owner Aubrey McClendon on March 2. “That’s how life throws it at you sometimes,” All-Star small forward Kevin Durant told reporters. “Definitely unfortunate to go through it, but the only thing we can do is continue to stick together as an organization, as a family and help everyone through this. That’s what brings everyone together.”


    1. Durant, who had 30 points against the Clippers, is averaging 26 points against the Timberwolves this season.

    2. Minnesota rookie C Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 21.7 points and 11 rebounds over the past seven games.

    3. Oklahoma City backup C Enes Kanter is 14-of-19 from the field over the past two games.

    PREDICTION: Thunder 120, Timberwolves 101


    Preview: Washington At Utah

    When: 9:00 PM ET, Friday, March 11, 2016
    Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah

    The Washington Wizards are losing ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race and attempt to snap a three-game losing streak when they visit the Utah Jazz on Friday. Washington resides in 10th place in the East with just 19 games remaining and opened a three-game road trip by losing at Portland on Tuesday.

    Utah is also spiraling in the wrong direction and has dropped seven of its last eight games after losing to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. The Jazz have slipped to three games behind the eighth-place Houston Rockets for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Washington’s slump follows a stretch in which it roared out of the All-Star break with seven victories in nine games. All-Star point guard John Wall has notched back-to-back double-doubles and is averaging 22.6 points and 9.8 assists over the past five games.

    TV: 9 p.m. ET, CSN Mid-Atlantic (Washington), ROOT (Utah)

    ABOUT THE WIZARDS (30-33): Shooting guard Bradley Beal missed the Portland loss with a bruised pelvis but has a chance to return either against the Jazz or Saturday against the Denver Nuggets. Beal was injured in a hard fall against the Indiana Pacers last Saturday to continue an injury-plagued campaign in which he has also missed time due to shoulder, leg and concussions ailments. Beal is averaging a career-best 17.8 points but has played in just 41 contests.

    ABOUT THE JAZZ (29-35): Utah was at the .500 mark before the current slide that threatens to keep them out of the postseason for the fourth straight season. “We’re going to have some more opportunities in the 18 games left,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder told reporters. “Hopefully we get a chance to get some wins and just keep grinding and see where we end up.” The Jazz play three of their next four games at home – including one against the Cleveland Cavaliers – before embarking on a crucial five-game road trip that could seal their fate.


    1. C Marcin Gortat had 22 points and 10 rebounds as the Wizards recorded a 103-89 home win over the Jazz on Feb. 18.

    2. Utah SG Rodney Hood (back) could return after sitting out against Golden State.

    3. Washington signed journeyman G Marcus Thornton and waived veteran G Gary Neal.

    PREDICTION: Wizards 112, Jazz 109


    Preview: Orlando At Sacramento

    When: 10:00 PM ET, Friday, March 11, 2016
    Where: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, California

    Two teams desperate for a victory, with their slim playoff hopes fading, meet when the Orlando Magic visit the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. Orlando has dropped three in a row after a setback against the struggling Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday and the Kings have lost three straight and seven of their past eight contests.

    The Magic have allowed 109.3 points during their slide and could be without leading scorer and rebounder Nikola Vucevic (groin) for a third consecutive contest. “We may make some changes, see if we can try to come up with something to try and re-energize us a little bit,” Orlando coach Scott Skiles told the Orlando Sentinel. “But everybody throughout the year has gotten an opportunity, so it’s about taking advantage of the opportunity.” DeMarcus Cousins, who leads Sacramento in scoring and rebounding, including a 29-point, 12-rebound, six-assist, three-block performance in the 97-91 victory at Orlando on Nov. 21, will not play after being suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team. Cousins, who is fourth in the league in scoring (27.4) and fifth in rebounds (11.5) through Wednesday, has averaged 33.3 points in the last three contests.

    TV: 10 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Orlando), CSN California (Sacramento)

    ABOUT THE MAGIC (27-36): Skiles played guard C.J. Watson for 25 minutes against the Lakers and the veteran produced 10 points, reaching double figures for the first time in 11 games since returning from a calf injury. Swingman Victor Oladipo, the team’s second-leading scorer overall (15 points), is 18-for-33 from the field the last two contests and was one rebound and two assists from a triple-double against Golden State on Monday. Guard Evan Fournier (14.4 points) has also stepped up, scoring 21.1 per game the last two.

    ABOUT THE KINGS (25-38): Sacramento is giving up an NBA-worst 109.6 points but has been difficult to stop at the other end – averaging 107, third best in the league. Rudy Gay scored 19 in the 120-111 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday to push his average to 17.6 and Rajon Rondo leads the league in assists (11.9) to give the Kings two more major offensive weapons. Forward Omri Casspi is 10-for-15 from the field the last two games while guards Seth Curry (foot), Ben McLemore (finger) and Marco Belinelli (back) are questionable.


    1. Sacramento G Darren Collison is averaging the third-most points (13.4) and fourth-most minutes (29.1) despite starting just six games.

    2. Orlando G Brandon Jennings scored 20 against Golden State, but managed two combined on 1-for-15 shooting in three games surrounding that one.

    3. The Magic won 105-96 at Sacramento last season and the Kings are 14-17 at home in 2015-16.

    PREDICTION: Magic 105, Kings 101


    Preview: Portland At Golden State

    When: 10:30 PM ET, Friday, March 11, 2016
    Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California

    The Golden State Warriors will try to avenge one of their six losses when the Portland Trail Blazers visit on Friday. The Warriors looked off in the first game after the All-Star break and were crushed 137-105 at Portland but have won nine of 10 since to stay ahead of the pace set by the record-setting 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.

    Golden State was answering some questions about itself after an embarrassing 112-95 loss at the Los Angeles Lakers over the weekend and a series of close wins, but again looked like a dominant team in a 115-94 thrashing of the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. Stephen Curry’s heroics had bailed the Warriors out several times since the All-Star break but he needed only 12 points on Wednesday as the rest of the team shot 61.1 percent from the field. The Trail Blazers were in the middle of a run of 14 wins in 16 games when they knocked off Golden State, but they dropped three in a row against teams fighting for playoff spots in the East before returning home and bouncing back on Tuesday. Damian Lillard, who put up 51 points in that win over the Warriors on Feb. 19, went for 41 points and 11 assists in the 116-109 overtime triumph over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.

    TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, CSN Northwest (Portland), CSN Bay Area (Golden State)

    ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (34-31): Lillard is putting himself in some historic company with his performances of late and joined Oscar Robertson and LeBron James as the only players to record at least 1,500 points and 400 assists in each of their first four seasons when he pushed past those numbers on Tuesday. “Not a lot of guys get that opportunity to shoot the ball as many times as I did from the jump, had the ball in their hand as many times,” Lillard told reporters. “I give a lot of credit to Coach (Terry) Stotts for that, for having that trust in me and allowing me to be able to accomplish something like this.” Lillard’s strong play has lifted Portland into sixth place in the West, one game ahead of the Dallas Mavericks.

    ABOUT THE WARRIORS (57-6): Golden State’s point differential in its first 10 games following the All-Star break was only plus-1.4, leading to some concern heading into Wednesday. The Warriors eased those concerns with the strong effort against the Jazz and now need to go 16-3 over their final 19 games to break Chicago’s record and hold off the San Antonio Spurs for the No. 1 seed in the West. “Coach (Steve Kerr) preached that the last 20 games are about getting ready for the playoffs, so guys got focused, guys went out there and played good basketball, and we ended up with a win,” Marreese Speights, who scored 16 points in 15 minutes off the bench against the Jazz, told reporters.


    1. The Warriors extended their NBA record to 46 straight home wins on Wednesday.

    2. Lillard averages 25 points in 12 career games against Golden State, including 45.5 in two meetings this season.

    3. Curry (304) and G Klay Thompson (196) have combined to make 500 3-pointers for the second consecutive season.

    PREDICTION: Warriors 120, Trail Blazers 102


    Preview: New York At L.A. Clippers

    When: 10:30 PM ET, Friday, March 11, 2016
    Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

    The New York Knicks found a positive amid a season of negatives on Wednesday and will try to keep that momentum going when the competition ramps up significantly on Friday at the Los Angeles Clippers. The Knicks set seasons highs for points scored and margin of victory in a 128-97 triumph at the lowly Phoenix Suns.

    Knicks star Carmelo Anthony has sounded distraught at times during another season destined to end in the lottery but had nothing but good things to say after New York shot 56.1 percent from the field against the Suns. “I thought we were locked in and focused from the jump,” Anthony told reporters. “We had a confidence and flow about ourselves today that we haven’t had in a while.” The Clippers are coming off a bad defensive performance in a 120-108 loss at Oklahoma City as they try to stay in the race for the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference. Wednesday’s setback dropped them 2 1/2 games behind the third-place Thunder, and Los Angeles needs to avoid looking past the Knicks with showdowns against Cleveland and San Antonio coming up in the two following games.

    TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NBATV, MSG (New York), Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)

    ABOUT THE KNICKS (27-39): The biggest surprise during Wednesday’s win was the play of seldom-used veteran Sasha Vujacic, who had drifted so far down the rotation that he had not even gotten off the bench in two of the previous three games. Interim coach Kurt Rambis made the decision to start Vujacic against Phoenix and was rewarded with 23 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range. “As frustrating as (not playing) was, I’m a big believer of hard work,” Vujacic told reporters. “I waited (and) waited and the opportunity came and my teammates believed in me.”

    ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (41-22): Los Angeles is returning home to host New York and Cleveland before a brutal five-game road trip that includes stops in San Antonio, Houston, Memphis and Golden State. The Clippers would like to get the defense back in order before beginning that stretch after allowing the Thunder to shoot 52.7 percent from the field. “When we would make a run, they’d always respond,” Los Angeles guard J.J. Redick told reporters. “They got off to a great start. You know, 39 points in the first quarter is unacceptable. We’ve been a good defensive team, and we were awful (Wednesday).”


    1. Knicks G Arron Afflalo (strained abdominal muscle) sat out Wednesday and is questionable for Friday.

    2. Clippers F Jeff Green broke out for 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting on Wednesday after going scoreless in two of the previous three contests.

    3. Los Angeles shot 56.6 percent in an easy 116-88 win at New York on Jan. 22.

    PREDICTION: Clippers 116, Knicks 103


    Hot teams
    — Charlotte won its last five games (4-1 last 5HF). Detroit won six of its last eight games (2-4 last 6AU).
    — Celtics won six of last seven games (9-4 last 13HF). Houston won three of its last four games (3-1 last 4AU).
    — Memphis won six of its last nine games (10-5-1 last 16HF).
    — Miami won five of its last six games (4-2 last 6AU).
    — Clippers won four of their last six games (4-6 last 10HF).
    — Golden State won nine of its last ten games (5-8 last 13HF).

    Cold teams
    — 76ers lost their last ten games (3-6 last 9HU). Nets lost four of their last five games (1-0AF).
    — Pelicans lost five of their last six games (6-4 last 10AU).
    — Thunder is 4-6 in its last ten games (1-4 last 5HF). Minnesota lost five of its last six games (4-7 last 11AU).
    — Chicago lost five of its last seven games (1-3 last 4HF).
    — Washington lost its last three games (7-5 last 12AU). Jazz lost seven of their last eight games (1-4 last 5HF).
    — Orlando lost four of its last five games (4-2 last 6AU). Kings lost seven of their last eight games (4-2 last 6HF).
    — Knicks lost six of their last nine games (6-3 last 9AU).
    — Portland lost three of its last four games (6-4 last 10AU).

    Series records
    — 76ers lost six of last eight games with Brooklyn.
    — Hornets won six of last eight games with Detroit.
    — Rockets won four of their last five games with Boston.
    — Grizzlies won six of last eight games with New Orleans.
    — Thunder won last 10 games with Minnesota (6-4 vs spread).
    — Heat won three of its last four games with Chicago.
    — Washington won its last four games with Utah.
    — Kings won five of their last seven games with Orlando.
    — Clippers won last seven games with New York (6-1 vs spread).
    — Blazers lost four of last five games with Golden State.

    — Five of last six Philly games went over the total.
    — Under is 3-1-1 in last five Charlotte-Detroit games.
    — Last seven Houston-Boston games stayed under total.
    — Five of last seven New Orleans games went over the total.
    — Six of last eight Minnesota games went over the total.
    — Six of last seven Miami-Chicago games stayed under.
    — Under is 5-2-1 in last eight Utah games.
    — Seven of last ten Orlando-Sacramento games went over.
    — Six of last seven Clipper-Knick games stayed under.
    — Six of last seven Blazer-Warrior games went over total.

    — Chicago is 2-8 vs spread last ten times they played night before.


    StatFox Super Situations™ – FoxSheets

    Play Under – All teams where the total is 200 to 209.5 off an upset win of 10 points or more as a road underdog
    67-31 over the last 5 seasons. ( 68.4% | 32.9 units )
    13-10 this year. ( 56.5% | 2.0 units )

    Play Against – Any team vs the money line (GOLDEN STATE) revenging a blowout loss vs opponent of 20 points or more, off a home blowout win by 20 points or more
    71-39 since 1997. ( 64.5% | 34.3 units )
    1-0 this year. ( 100.0% | 1.0 units )

    Play Under – Home teams where the first half total is 100.5 to 105.5 hot team – having won 12 or more of their last 15 games, with a winning record on the season playing another winning team
    46-18 over the last 5 seasons. ( 71.9% | 26.2 units )
    7-4 this year. ( 63.6% | 2.6 units )


    NBA Odds: Friday, March 11, 2016 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
    by Alan Matthews

    And now we start to see Operation Tank Mode across the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers almost surely were going to finish with the NBA’s worst record regardless, but they pretty much would assure that by shutting down top rookie Jahlil Okafor for the season. He has missed the past five games with soreness in his right knee, and the team may just end his year. At this point, might as well. With Philly’s luck, it probably would turn into something serious if he continued to play. Okafor was a preseason favorite for Rookie of the Year, but that will go to Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns. Okafor is averaging 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds, solid numbers to be sure. Maybe the next time we see him on the court, it’s actually next to Joel Embiid, who has missed the past two seasons with foot issues.

    Pistons at Hornets (-4, 203.5)

    Detroit won a second in a row Wednesday, 102-96 in Dallas. Andre Drummond had 25 points and 17 rebounds as the Pistons exceeded their win total of last season with victory No. 33. Rookie pistons forward Stanley Johnson missed a seventh straight game with a right shoulder injury but is getting close. Charlotte won a fifth straight Wednesday, 122-113 over New Orleans. Kemba Walker had 35 points, his fourth in a row with at least 30. Charlotte won in Detroit 104-84 on Dec. 7. The Hornets never trailed after the 6:09 mark of the first quarter. They have won two straight at home in the series.

    Key trends: The Pistons are 2-6 against the spread in the past eight meetings. The “over/under” has gone under in four of the past five in Charlotte.

    Early lean: Hornets and over.

    Nets at 76ers (+1, 211.5)

    Brooklyn lost a second in a row Tuesday, 104-99 in Toronto. Brook Lopez had 35 points, one shy of his season high. He was the only Nets player to attempt a free throw, which is rather hard to believe. Philadelphia lost its 13th straight game Wednesday, 118-104 to Houston. Nerlens Noel was back after missing two games and had 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists. These teams have split, each winning at home. The Nets are 10-4 in the series since moving to Brooklyn.

    Key trends: The favorite is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 7-0-1 in the past eight.

    Early lean: Nets and under.

    Rockets at Celtics (-6, 222)

    Houston won its second in a row Wednesday, 118-104 in Philly. James Harden had 29 points and Dwight Howard 21 and 18 rebounds. The Rockets are back at .500. The next time Howard plays in Boston, it could be as a member of the Celtics as they are likely to look at Howard in free agency this summer. Boston beat visiting Memphis 116-96 on Wednesday for its 14th straight home win. Isaiah Thomas had 22 points and one turnover — amazingly his first giveaway in four games. Boston won the first meeting with Houston 110-95. The Celtics hadn’t scored more than 103 points in the previous nine meetings. Houston had won the previous four.

    Key trends: The favorite is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 7-0 in the past seven.

    Early lean: Rockets and under.

    Heat at Bulls (TBA)

    Miami’s five-game winning streak ended in a 114-108 loss in Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Heat hadn’t lost since signing Joe Johnson as a free agent on Feb. 27. Hassan Whiteside had 23 points and 13 rebounds in the loss. It’s possible rookie Justise Winslow could be suspended here as he was called for a Flagrant Type 1 foul in the game. Chicago was in San Antonio on Thursday without Jimmy Butler, who was off to see Dr. James Andrews. So clearly you won’t see him here. Miami leads the season series 2-0 and has won two straight in the Windy City.

    Key trends: The road team is 4-1 ATS in the past five. The under is 6-1 in the previous seven.

    Early lean: Knowing Derrick Rose, he’ll get hurt Thursday too and miss this one. Heat will win.

    Pelicans at Grizzlies (TBA)

    New Orleans lost 122-113 in Charlotte on Wednesday despite 40 points from Anthony Davis and a season-high 38 from Jrue Holiday. The injury-ravaged Pelicans were without point guard Norris Cole, so they had to start someone named Orlando Johnson, who was just called up from the D-League. He had five points in 20 minutes. Memphis lost by 20 in Boston on Wednesday and was again without Mike Conley and Zach Randolph. To make matters worse, guard Mario Chalmers went down with what looked like a serious right leg injury. He’s not playing here and the other two are questionable. This is the final meeting of the season and New Orleans looks to avoid the 4-0 sweep.

    Key trends: The Grizzlies are 12-3-1 ATS in their past 16 after a loss. The under is 6-1 in the past seven meetings in Memphis.

    Early lean: Wait on Conley and Randolph.

    Timberwolves at Thunder (-14, 226)

    Minnesota lost a second straight Tuesday, 116-91 in San Antonio. Andrew Wiggins had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns had 19 points and nine boards. Nikola Pekovic remains out for the Wolves. OKC beat the Clippers 120-108 on Wednesday behind another triple-double from Russell Westbrook. He had 25 points, a career-high 20 assists and 11 rebounds. It was the first triple-double with at least 25 points, 20 assists and 10 rebounds since Magic Johnson did it for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1988 — the year Westbrook was born. Minnesota is 0-3 vs. the Thunder this season and has dropped 12 in a row in OKC.

    Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over has hit in seven of the past 11 in OKC.

    Early lean: I’ll take the points. Thunder might be a tad flat off a big win over the Clips.

    Wizards at Jazz (TBA)

    Washington lost a third in a row Tuesday, 116-109 in overtime at Portland. Marcin Gortat had a floating layup attempt with about three seconds left in regulation to win but it was blocked by Gerald Henderson. The Wizards led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter. Bradley Beal missed the game with a sprained pelvis. Utah lost 115-94 in Golden State on Wednesday. Jazz guard Rodney Hood missed the game with lower back soreness but he’s likely to be back here as Wednesday was the second of a back-to-back. Washington beat visiting Utah 103-89 on Feb. 18 in a game postponed from Jan. 23. John Wall had 17 points and 11 assists.

    Key trends: Utah is 1-9 ATS in its past 10 games. The under is 4-0 in the past four meetings.

    Early lean: TBA for Beal, who might return. Jazz win regardless.

    Magic at Kings (TBA)

    Orlando lost a third in a row Tuesday, 107-98 at the Lakers. Victor Oladipo scored 26 points and Evan Fournier had 23 for the Magic, who were clearly flat after playing well at Golden State the night before. Center Nik Vucevic missed a second straight game with a groin strain. Sacramento lost its third in a row Wednesday, 120-111 at home to Cleveland. DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and 11 rebounds. He was called for his 15th technical foul, meaning one more and he’s suspended. Ben McLemore and Marco Belinelli missed the Cavs game with injuries. Orlando has lost five of the past seven meetings, including 97-91 at home on Nov. 21. Cousins tallied 29 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, three blocked shots and three steals.

    Key trends: The Magic are 2-5 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 7-3 in the previous 10.

    Early lean: Magic are gassed on this trip. Kings win.

    Trail Blazers at Warriors (-13.5, 228.5)

    Portland returned home from a long road trip and ended a three-game skid with a 116-109 OT win over Washington on Tuesday. Damian Lillard had 14 points and 11 assists. He became just the third player in NBA history with at least 1,500 points and 400 assists in each of his first four seasons. The others: LeBron James and Oscar Robertson. Nice company. Golden State won its 46th straight at home Wednesday, 115-94 over Utah. Steph Curry had just 12 points but another long-distance ridiculous make at the halftime buzzer. It was his fourth make from at least 40 feet this season. Portland and Golden State have split the season series, with the Blazers winning the most recent matchup in a 137-105 stunner on Feb. 19. Lillard had a career-high 51 points in that one. It was Golden State’s worst loss since April 2012.

    Key trends: The Blazers are 8-20 ATS in the past 28 meetings. The over is 4-0 in the previous four.

    Early lean: Warriors want major payback. They cover and go over.

    Knicks at Clippers (-10, 205)

    New York won in Phoenix on Wednesday, 128-97. Sasha Vujacic made an incredibly rare start and had 23 points — normal starter Arron Afflalo missed the game — as did Carmelo Anthony. It was New York’s highest point total and biggest margin of victory this season. Forward Lance Thomas also sat for the Knicks. L.A. lost 120-108 in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Chris Paul shot just 5-of-15, scoring 12 points with 16 assists. That loss likely dooms the Clips to the No. 4 seed in the West and a conference semifinals matchup with Golden State (assuming both get there). The Clippers won in New York 116-88 on Jan. 22. Paul had 16 points, 13 assists and six rebounds. L.A. has won seven in a row overall in the series.

    Key trends: The Knicks are 0-5 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 6-1 in the previous seven.

    Early lean: Clippers and under.

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