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NBA • Saturday Service Plays • 12/12/15

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    Preview: L.A. Clippers At Brooklyn

    When: 5:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 12, 2015

    Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York

    Andrea Bargnani was having a hard time establishing himself as a key member of the Brooklyn Nets rotation in his first season with the club before breaking out on Thursday. Bargnani will try to put together two solid performances in a row when the Nets host the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.

    The former No. 1 overall draft pick missed four straight games with a hamstring injury but returned at just the right time Thursday, when starting center Brook Lopez was battling foul trouble. Bargnani came off the bench and delivered 13 of his season-high 23 points in the fourth quarter as Brooklyn secured a 100-91 victory over visiting Philadelphia – its sixth win in the last seven home games. The Clippers won the first two stops of a five-game road trip but stumbled at Chicago on Thursday while matching a season low in scoring in an 83-80 setback. That marked the second loss in eight games for Los Angeles, which averaged 104.7 points in the previous seven contests.

    TV: 5 p.m. ET, Prime Ticket (Los Angeles), YES (Brooklyn)

    ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (13-10): Los Angeles shot 34.1 percent from the field at Chicago as the backcourt quartet of Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford combined to go 9-of-38. Redick was appearing in his third game since returning from an ankle sprain and is still looking for some consistency with his shot. The veteran sharpshooter poured in 31 points on 11-of-18 shooting in a 109-95 win at Milwaukee on Wednesday but combined to go 3-of-20 against Minnesota and Chicago.

    ABOUT THE NETS (7-15): Brooklyn trailed by two points heading into the fourth quarter on Thursday but outscored the 76ers 30-17 in the final period as point guard Shane Larkin and Bargnani led the way off the bench. Larkin played all 12 minutes of the period and contributed eight of his 14 points in the decisive stanza. The former first-round pick has lifted his play of late and is averaging 9.2 points on 50 percent shooting, 5.2 assists and 2.4 steals in five games this month.


    1. Clippers F and former Net Paul Pierce totaled one point in 26 minutes over the last four games.

    2. Brooklyn F Thaddeus Young is averaging 20.3 points and 12 rebounds in four straight double-doubles.

    3. The home team has taken nine straight in the series.

    PREDICTION: Clippers 103, Nets 92


    Preview: Boston At Charlotte

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 12, 2015

    Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina

    The Boston Celtics will try to summon some energy when they return to the road to take on the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday. The Celtics took the unbeaten Golden State Warriors to double overtime on Friday night before finally succumbing 124-119, which marked the third straight time their winning streak had been halted at two games.

    Kelly Olynyk shined off the bench in the emotional loss with 28 points and three steals as Boston fell for just the third time in its last nine games. While the Celtics were fighting tooth and nail deep into the night, the Hornets were able to rest their regulars down the stretch in an impressive 123-99 win at Memphis on Friday. Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum each made 5-of-8 from 3-point range and combined for 53 points as Charlotte matched a season high with its fourth consecutive win. The Hornets’ 18 3-pointers were a season high and allowed the squad to easily erase an early 11-0 deficit.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, CSN New England (Boston), FSN Southeast (Charlotte)

    ABOUT THE CELTICS (13-10): Olynyk’s big night is part of a nice surge for the third-year pro, whose season got off to a rough start and who only recently has seen an uptick in minutes. After averaging 6.6 points on 37.3 percent shooting in November, he has scored at least 21 points in three of his five games this month while hitting on 57.1 percent of his shots. Fellow big man Jared Sullinger has ripped down 49 rebounds in a three-game stretch.

    ABOUT THE HORNETS (14-8): Walker had four points in a rough outing against Golden State to begin the month but has rebounded nicely. In four games since, he is averaging 20.5 points and his hot-shooting night Friday followed up a solid showing against Miami in which he had five steals and no turnovers in 31 minutes. Walker had 28 points and 12 assists the last time these two teams met.


    1. Celtics F Jae Crowder is 14-of-29 from 3-point range in his last six games.

    2. The Celtics have won the second half of their last three back-to-backs.

    3. Opponents are averaging 90 points during Charlotte’s four-game winning streak.

    PREDICTION: Hornets 99, Celtics 95


    Preview: Indiana At Detroit

    When: 7:30 PM ET, Saturday, December 12, 2015

    Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Michigan

    The Indiana Pacers said they would get back their intensity on the defensive end following a three-game slide and completely delivered. The Pacers will try to turn in back-to-back strong performances when they visit the Detroit Pistons on Saturday.

    Indiana surrendered an average of 125.3 points during a three-game slide but recovered by forcing 19 turnovers in a 96-83 home win over the Miami Heat on Friday. The Pacers went bigger in the starting lineup with Lavoy Allen replacing C.J. Miles at forward and were more active in the backcourt as Monta Ellis emerged from a slump. The Pistons will be playing a back-to-back as well after skipping past the Philadelphia 76ers 107-95 on Friday to snap a two-game slide. The win marked a return to form for the Detroit offense, which had been limited to an average of 88 points in its previous two contests.

    TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Indiana, FSN Detroit

    ABOUT THE PACERS (13-8): Ellis was a non-factor during the three-game slide, averaging 5.7 points on 7-of-23 shooting while committing nine turnovers. The veteran guard redeemed himself at both ends of the court against the Heat while pouring in 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting and adding six assists, six steals and only two turnovers. Ellis, who scored 14 points in a 94-82 win at Detroit on Nov. 3, buried a season-high four 3-pointers on Friday and the rest of the team went 2-of-21 from beyond the arc.

    ABOUT THE PISTONS (13-11): Andre Drummond nearly single-handedly kept Detroit in the game in the Nov. 3 meeting with the Pacers and posted some of the best numbers of a remarkable campaign with 25 points and 29 rebounds in the loss. The 22-year-old center has recorded a double-double in all but two games and led the way with 18 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks on Friday. The lone downside to Drummond’s game is at the free-throw line, from where he shoots 37.1 percent.


    1. Pistons F Marcus Morris is 6-of-9 from 3-point range in the last three games.

    2. Indiana C Ian Mahinmi is shooting 71 percent from the floor in the last five games.

    3. Miles went 1-of-10 from 3-point range in 34 minutes off the bench on Friday.

    PREDICTION: Pacers 102, Pistons 99


    Preview: San Antonio At Atlanta

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 12, 2015

    Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

    The Atlanta Hawks just don’t experience much success against San Antonio and aim to snap a 10-game losing streak in the series with they host the Spurs on Saturday. The teams met in San Antonio on Nov. 28 and the Spurs continued their dominance by rolling to an easy 108-88 win over the Hawks.

    San Antonio rested point guard Tony Parker on the front end of a back-to-back and encountered few issues while posting a 109-87 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Veteran center Tim Duncan should also be fresh after playing only 20 minutes and he grabbed a season-best 18 rebounds in last month’s victory over the Hawks. Atlanta is just 7-9 after opening the season with seven wins in eight games and is coming off a 107-94 road loss against Oklahoma City on Thursday. The Hawks will need better efforts from frontcourt standouts Al Horford and Paul Millsap against the Spurs after the duo combined for just 16 points against the Thunder.

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBATV, FSN Southwest (San Antonio), FSN Southeast (Atlanta)

    ABOUT THE SPURS (19-5): Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and 11 rebounds in the victory over the Lakers and appears to be finding his rhythm after a slow start. Aldridge scored a season-high 26 points against Philadelphia earlier in the week and has made at least 50 percent of his shots in five of the past seven games. “When you are playing with a whole group of new players, it takes time to understand where your place is,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after Friday’s game. “Sometimes I think he has deferred too much because he is trying to fit in. Usually, that’s the right thing to do when you enter an organization. Any of us who has a new job defers in the beginning and tries to fit. I think he’s slowly getting over that and becoming more demonstrative.”

    ABOUT THE HAWKS (14-10): Backup small forward Kent Bazemore is averaging 16.3 points over the past three games and poured in 22 points and tied his career best of four 3-pointers in the loss to the Thunder. The output was Bazemore’s second highest of the season and fourth best of his career, and it really impressed Horford. “He kept us in the game with his aggressiveness,” Horford told reporters. “He just came out and he really kept us in the game, because it could have gotten ugly there early. He stepped up, he was solid for us, and that allowed us to come out in the second half and be more competitive.”


    1. Atlanta’s last win over the Spurs was a 119-114 overtime victory March 21, 2010.

    2. Horford had just nine points on 3-of-14 shooting against the Thunder, marking the first time he failed to score in double digits this season.

    3. San Antonio backup PG Patty Mills scored a season-best 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting against the Lakers after being 9-of-22 shooting during the previous four games.

    PREDICTION: Spurs 105, Hawks 98


    Preview: New Orleans At Chicago

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 12, 2015

    Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois

    The Chicago Bulls look to get their offense in gear after a season-low scoring effort when they host the improving New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night. The Bulls held on Thursday to knock off the Los Angeles Clippers 83-80 for their eighth win in 11 home games after losing the previous three contests – one of them on the road.

    Center Pau Gasol has led the way for Chicago of late, averaging 20.2 points and 12.2 rebounds in his last five games while recording double-doubles in seven of nine. The Bulls look to take advantage of the Pelicans (6-16) and Philadelphia (1-23) on Monday as their five-game homestand continues. New Orleans has played .500 basketball the last 10 games after rallying to edge Washington 107-105 on Friday night for its second win in three contests. The Bulls will have to contend with All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who has registered double-doubles in eight of his last 10 contests.

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN New Orleans, WGN (Chicago)

    ABOUT THE PELICANS (6-16): Guard Tyreke Evans was shut out in the loss against Boston on Monday and rebounded to score a game-high 27 in Friday’s victory while draining 5-of-6 from 3-point range. Backcourt partner Eric Gordon also scored 15 after coming up empty Monday, but the Pelicans gave up 100 points for the ninth consecutive game. Forward Ryan Anderson missed the last game due to illness and center Kendrick Perkins was available after sitting out 17 games with a right pectoral injury, but did not play.

    ABOUT THE BULLS (12-8): Chicago battled through a rough shooting night (35.6 percent) and scored just 19 points in the fourth quarter before edging the Clippers. Leading scorer Jimmy Butler (20.9 points) has missed all seven of his 3-point attempts the last two contests while Nikola Mirotic has made 5-of-24 from beyond the arc his past four outings. Derrick Rose is still searching for his shooting touch consistently (36.3 percent from the field), but scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter Thursday.


    1. After missing seven of the previous eight due to a hamstring injury, Chicago G Aaron Brooks had 10 points in a season-high 21 minutes Thursday.

    2. New Orleans G Jrue Holiday, who scored 19 off the bench Friday, has made 7-of-11 from 3-point range the past three contests.

    3. The Bulls won each of two meetings last season, scoring 107 points in both.

    PREDICTION: Bulls 102, Pelicans 89


    Preview: L.A. Lakers At Houston

    When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 12, 2015

    Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

    The Houston Rockets are improving and attempt to record their seventh victory in nine games when they host the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday. Houston started poorly, prompting the organization to fire coach Kevin McHale, and a victory over the Lakers would get the Rockets to the .500 mark.

    Houston is getting its act together under interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff and topped 100 points for the eighth straight game when it notched a 109-103 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. “We’re getting better. Our defense has to pick up a lot more,” center Dwight Howard told reporters. “We’ve got to do a better job of trusting each other on defense. Once we do that, we’ll start getting big wins instead of having to fight back to win games and wait until late in the game to try and come back.” Los Angeles lost 108-87 to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday to drop to 1-6 on an eight-game road trip. The Lakers have allowed 100 or more points in 13 consecutive games and have just one win during that stretch.

    TV: 8 p.m. ET, TWC SportsNet (Los Angeles), ROOT (Houston)

    ABOUT THE LAKERS (3-20): Rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell scored a season-high 24 points against the Spurs and also had six rebounds and six assists in his second straight strong performance. Russell tallied 23 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday and has made eight 3-pointers in the two games while displaying the skills that led Los Angeles to make him the second overall pick in the 2015 draft. “He’s more comfortable,” Lakers coach Bryon Scott said of Russell after Friday’s game. “He has a lot of confidence right now.”

    ABOUT THE ROCKETS (11-12): Guard James Harden recorded his sixth game of 40 or more points this season when he had 42 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the win over Washington. The outburst followed Harden’s worst performance of the season — when he scored 10 points on 2-of-9 shooting in Tuesday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets. “Great players rise to the occasion,” veteran guard Jason Terry told reporters. “(Tuesday) was probably one of his worst games he’s ever played to date and so for him it was all about coming out, being aggressive and getting off to a great start.”


    1. The Rockets have won five of the past six meetings.

    2. Los Angeles G Jordan Clarkson (ankle) sat out against the Spurs and is unlikely to play Saturday.

    3. Houston F Trevor Ariza (back) is questionable and could miss his second straight game.

    PREDICTION: Rockets 127, Lakers 96


    Preview: Washington At Dallas

    When: 8:30 PM ET, Saturday, December 12, 2015

    Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

    The Dallas Mavericks look to continue their dominance in the series when they host the struggling Washington Wizards on Saturday. The Mavericks earned a 116-104 road victory Sunday to extend their winning streak to 11 games against the Wizards and have won five straight at home versus Washington, including a 27-point rout last December.

    Dallas has not been as commanding at home as it would like, managing only a 5-4 record after a 98-95 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday while going 8-6 on the road. “Too many times teams are coming to our home court thinking they can win the game,” Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews told reporters. “And that defeats the purpose of home-court advantage. We do it on the road. We got to bring that here.” The Wizards need a win any way they can get it after dropping a 107-105 decision at New Orleans on Friday night. Washington has lost eight of its last 11 contests and shooting guard Bradley Beal sat out Friday’s game with a sore right leg.

    TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, CSN Mid-Atlantic Plus (Washington), FSN Southwest (Dallas)

    Beal, who is averaging 19.8 points, is expected to have his leg examined Saturday after coach Randy Wittman told the Washington Post he was held out for precautionary reasons. The Wizards were also missing forwards Kris Humphries (ankle) and Nene (calf) on Friday while Garrett Temple replaced Beal in the starting lineup. Point guard John Wall has not shown any effects from a sore knee while averaging 26.5 points and 10.3 assists over the last four games.

    ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (13-10): Leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki (17.6) had a rough shooting night Wednesday, managing 13 points and missing seven of his eight 3-point attempts. Matthews is averaging 21 points in his last three games while fellow perimeter threat Deron Williams scored 20.2 per contest over the last five. The Mavericks are still waiting for more production from forward Chandler Parsons, who is averaging 7.9 points while being brought along slow following offseason knee surgery.


    1. Dallas C Zaza Pachulia is averaging 12.8 rebounds in five December games, including 17 against Atlanta on Wednesday.

    2. Washington G Gary Neal is averaging 14.6 points and shooting 51.9 percent from the field – including 11-of-24 from 3-point range — the last five games.

    3. Mavericks G J.J. Barea returned Wednesday after missing six games with an ankle injury, but missed all six shots he attempted in 10 minutes.

    PREDICTION: Mavericks 102, Wizards 90


    Preview: Golden State At Milwaukee

    When: 8:30 PM ET, Saturday, December 12, 2015

    Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    The Golden State Warriors have made it through all but one of seven straight road games with their unbeaten streak intact, but just barely. Following a double-overtime victory in Boston that kept alive their remarkable run, the Warriors finish the long voyage against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.

    Playing without sharpshooter Klay Thompson, who was sidelined with an ankle injury, Golden State survived a season-low 39.3 percent mark from the floor in the 124-119 win at Boston to improve to 24-0. The victory – the third on the trip decided by five points or fewer – gave the Warriors 28 consecutive triumphs dating to last season, the second-longest run in NBA history and five shy of matching the record of 33 set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. They could tie that mark on Christmas against Cleveland in a rematch of the NBA Finals. The Bucks return home after losing their ninth straight road game Friday at Toronto.

    TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, CSN Bay Area (Golden State), FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee)

    ABOUT THE WARRIORS (24-0): Thompson will likely be a game-time decision once again and his presence on the court would be a big boost, if only to provide some much-needed manpower following Friday’s marathon. Draymond Green (24 points, 11 rebounds) played a career-high 50 minutes, Stephen Curry (38 points, 11 rebounds) was in for 47 and Andre Iguodala appeared in 44. Curry shot 9-of-27 on Friday but still boosted his road scoring average to 34.4 points.

    ABOUT THE BUCKS (9-15): Milwaukee has found many ways to lose during a 5-12 swoon, and on Friday it was a lack of support from the bench, which provided 10 total points on 4-of-19 shooting. Michael Carter-Williams, who had played his way back into coach Jason Kidd’s graces with a pair of 20-point performances on a recent three-game homestand, was 1-of-7 from the floor with three turnovers in 27 minutes. Despite the squad’s lack of depth, it has performed very well in the second half of back-to-backs (4-1).


    1. Golden State is 14-0 on the road.

    2. The Warriors are looking to win their fifth straight game against the Bucks for the first time since they took seven meetings in a row from March 11, 1975, to March 20, 1976.

    3. The teams cap the two-game season series next Friday at Golden State.

    PREDICTION: Warriors 108, Bucks 101


    Preview: New York At Portland

    When: 10:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 12, 2015

    Where: Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, Portland, Oregon

    The New York Knicks have dropped four straight and eight of their last 10 as the offense struggles to find a rhythm. The Knicks will try to snap the slide and salvage the finale of the three-game road trip when they visit the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday.

    New York is averaging 91 points in its last eight losses and shot under 40 percent from the floor in losses to Utah and Sacramento to begin the trip. The featured frontcourt tandem of star Carmelo Anthony and rookie Kristaps Porzingis are at the front of the shooting struggles and are a combined 17-of-51 from the floor in the first two games of the trip. The Trail Blazers are returning home after a 106-96 win in Phoenix on Friday secured a 2-2 road trip. C.J. McCollum helped cover for an off-shooting night by star Damian Lillard with 26 points in the win, and averaged 21 on the trip.

    TV: 10 p.m. ET, MSG (New York), CSN Northwest (Portland)

    ABOUT THE KNICKS (10-14): The trip to Portland marks the return of center Robin Lopez, who signed with New York as a free agent over the summer after spending the previous two seasons as a member of the Trail Blazers. The veteran big man is averaging 6.9 points on a career-low 45.1 percent shooting 24 games into his tenure with New York and has seen his playing time decrease with Porzingis getting longer looks in small-ball sets. Lopez logged more than 23 minutes once in the last nine games and has not scored in double figures in that span.

    ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (10-14): Portland is slowly making itself relevant while working in its new pieces and is battling down the stretch. Friday’s triumph improved the club to 3-3 in December, and the three losses came by a total of 10 points against the likes of Dallas, Cleveland and Milwaukee. That stretch coincides directly with a boosted role for Allen Crabbe, who is making himself a valuable contributor off the bench and is averaging 15.2 points in December after putting up 8.7 in November.


    1. Knicks G Arron Afflalo is 0-of-13 from 3-point range over the last four games.

    2. Trail Blazers F Al-Farouq Aminu recorded 13 points and 13 rebounds on Friday for his fifth double-double of the season.

    3. Portland has taken six straight in the series and beat New York 101-79 at home last season.

    PREDICTION: Trail Blazers 101, Knicks 95



    Hot teams
    — Clippers won three of last four games (3-4-1AF). Brooklyn won four of its last six games (5-2HU).
    — Hornets won seven of last nine games (4-3HF). Boston won six of last nine games, lost to Warriors in double OT Friday (4-1AU).
    — Detroit won five of its last seven games (5-1 last six HF).
    — Rockets won six of last eight games (2-8HF0.
    — Spurs won nine of their last 11 games (7-4AF). Hawks won three of last four home games (1-0HU).
    — 24-0 Warriors are 10-3-1 as road favorites- they won tough game in double OT last night, without Thompson/Barnes.
    — Wizards won three of last five games (3-0 last three AU).
    — Portland won three of its last five games (2-3HF).

    Cold teams
    — Pacers lost three of last four games (2-3AF).
    — Lakers lost their last five games (3-8 last 11 AU).
    — New Orleans lost six of its last seven games (3-8AU). Chicago lost three of its last four games (1-9HF).
    — Bucks lost seven of last ten games (5-2HU).
    — Dallas lost last two home games, by 4-3 points (4-3HF).
    — New York lost eight of its last ten games (7-4AU).

    Series records
    — Home side won last nine Clipper-Brooklyn games.
    — Celtics won four of last six games with Charlotte.
    — Pacers won five of last seven games with Detroit.
    — Lakers lost five of last six games with Houston.
    — Spurs won last 10 games with Atlanta (7-3 vs spread).
    — Bulls won seven of last ten games with New Orleans.
    — Warriors won their last four games with Milwaukee.
    — Mavericks won last 10 games with Wizards, covering last six.
    — Knicks lost their last six games with Portland.

    — Over is 3-1 in last four games for both Clippers/Nets.
    — Five of last seven Charlotte games stayed under total.
    — Seven of last nine Indiana-Detroit games went over.
    — Three of last four Laker games went over the total.
    — Four of Spurs’ last five games went over the total.
    — Five of last seven Pelican games stayed under total.
    — Last eight Golden State games went over the total.
    — Under is 6-3-1 in last ten Washington games.
    — Four of last five New York road games stayed under.


    StatFox Super Situations™ – FoxSheets

    Play Under – Home teams where the total is greater than or equal to 200 after going under the total by 30 or more points total in their last three games, with a winning record on the season playing a losing team
    41-15 over the last 5 seasons. ( 73.2% | 24.5 units )
    3-1 this year. ( 75.0% | 1.9 units )

    Play Against – Home teams with a money line of +135 to -155 (DETROIT) revenging a loss vs opponent, off a road win
    85-47 over the last 5 seasons. ( 64.4% | 37.9 units )

    Play Under – Road teams where the first half total is 100.5 to 105 after going over the total by 30 or more points total in their last five games, vs. division opponents
    41-15 over the last 5 seasons. ( 73.2% | 24.5 units )
    2-1 this year. ( 66.7% | 0.9 units )


    Hoop Trends – Saturday
    By Vince Akins


    — The Spurs are 13-0-1 ATS (7.96 ppg) since Nov 23, 2013 with no rest off a win in which they had less than 15% of their points from free throws.


    — The Wizards are 0-11-2 OU (-7.69 ppg) since May 07, 2014 off a road game in which they had 6+ double digit scorers.


    — The Clippers are 13-0-2 OU (13.30 ppg) since Jan 04, 2014 on the road after Blake Griffin was the Clippers’ high scorer on the road.


    — The Clippers are 10-0 OU (13.05 ppg) since Dec 25, 2013 on the road after Chris Paul shot worse than 33% from the field.


    — The Wizards are 0-9-1 ATS (-10.45 ppg) since Jan 25, 2015 after John Wall was the Wizards’ high scorer on the road.


    NBA Odds: Saturday, December 12 2015 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
    by Alan Matthews

    San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich is an ornery cuss, and it’s embarrassing how badly he treats reporters during those nationally televised games where Pop is mandated by the league to at least say one word to those reporters considering how much the TV networks pay the NBA. And usually all Pop does say is one word. Anyways, the guy is a Hall of Fame coach, without question. And I see his point in a way when talking about the 3-point shot: “I don’t think it’s basketball. I think it’s kind of like a circus sort of thing. Why don’t we have a 5-point shot? A 7-point shot? You know, where does it stop, that sort of thing.” Michael Jordan’s Bulls didn’t shoot a lot of 3-pointers and didn’t shoot them very well when they did. I do think perhaps it’s time to move the arc back a bit because so many teams, the Warriors primarily, are relying so much on that shot. But that’s not likely to happen soon. The NBA of today is a drive-and-dish to an open 3-point shooter league.

    Clippers at Nets (+5.5, 205.5)

    Los Angeles had its three-game winning streak end with an 83-80 loss in Chicago on Thursday. Blake Griffin was ejected in the third quarter for a Flagrant 2 foul, but he shouldn’t be looking at a suspension. He was on the way to a potentially monster game. The Clippers shot a season-low 34.1 percent from the field. Brooklyn won a second in a row Thursday, 100-91 over the 76ers. There was an Andrea Bargnani sighting in that one as he scored a season-high 23 for Brooklyn. The Nets won for the sixth time in their last seven home games.

    Key trends: The Clippers are 1-6 against the spread in the past seven meetings. The “over/under” has gone under in eight of the Nets’ past 11 vs. the West.

    Early lean: Nets and under.

    Celtics at Hornets (-1, 200)

    This looks like a huge letdown game for Boston no matter what happens for the Celtics at home on Friday night against Golden State. Charlotte was in Memphis on Friday night looking to extend a three-game winning streak. These teams split four games last year, each going 1-1 at home. Boston won the final two games.

    Key trends: The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings. Charlotte is 1-4 ATS in its past five in the second of a back-to-back.

    Early lean: Hornets and under.

    Pacers at Pistons (-1, 200)

    Indiana hosted Miami on Friday looking to end a three-game slide. Detroit was in Philadelphia aiming to end a two-game skid. These teams met in Detroit on Nov. 3, and the Pacers won 94-82. Indiana had an absurd 43-2 advantage in bench points led by Rodney Stuckey’s 23 points. Indiana was down eight in the first quarter and scored 22 straight to take control. Andre Drummond had 25 points and a career-high 29 rebounds for the Pistons.

    Key trends: The underdog is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 7-2 in the previous nine.

    Early lean: Pistons and over.

    Spurs at Hawks (+3.5, 194.5)

    This is your only national TV game, on NBA TV. San Antonio hosted the Lakers on Friday. Normally Popovich doesn’t rest his guys at home, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and/or Kawhi Leonard get the night off here. Atlanta lost in Oklahoma City 107-94 on Thursday. The Hawks were clobbered on the boards and shot only 37 percent in the second half. Atlanta lost 108-88 in San Antonio on Nov. 28. Leonard had 22 for the Spurs. It was San Antonio’s 18th consecutive home win against Atlanta and 10th straight overall against the Hawks.

    Key trends: The Spurs have covered nine straight in the second of a back-to-back. The road team is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 5-0 in Atlanta’s past five.

    Early lean: Hawks and under.

    Pelicans at Bulls (-7.5, 205)

    New Orleans hosted Washington on Friday. Thus you are on back-to-back alert here for Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans. Chicago ended a three-game losing streak with an 83-80 win over the Clippers on Thursday. Pau Gasol had 24 points, including a career-high three 3-pointers. Derrick Rose shed his protective facemask in the second half; he had been playing with it all season. The Bulls set season lows for points allowed, points given up in the paint (18) and fouls (12). Expect a big game here for the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis in a return to his hometown.

    Key trends: New Orleans has covered five straight in Chicago. The under is 8-1 in Chicago’s past nine vs. the West.

    Early lean: Pelicans and over as Bulls usually play down to competition.

    Lakers at Rockets (-11.5, 209.5)

    Los Angeles almost surely was going to lose a fifth straight game on Friday night in San Antonio. There’s a pretty decent chance that Kobe Bryant thus sits this game out. Houston won 109-103 in Washington on Wednesday. James Harden had 42 points, nine rebounds and seven assists a night after scoring only 10. Starting small forward Trevor Ariza sat out with a bruised lower back but could be good to go Saturday. If not, Corey Brewer starts again. Houston has won five of its past six against the Lakers but lost the most recent home game last season.

    Key trends: The Lakers are 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 4-0 in Houston’s past four Saturday games.

    Early lean: Rockets and over.

    Wizards at Mavericks (-6.5, 210)

    Washington was in New Orleans on Friday to start a four-game road trip. Dallas lost at home to Atlanta 98-95 on Wednesday to end a two-game winning streak. The Mavericks shot a season-worst 36 percent from the field. There were 20 lead changes in the game. J.J. Barea played 10 minutes after missing Dallas’ previous six games with a sprained ankle. The Mavs won in Washington 116-104 last Sunday. Wesley Matthews scored a season-high 36 points with 10 3-pointers. Dallas was without Chandler Parsons. John Wall led the Wizards with 28 points.

    Key trends: Dallas has covered six straight in the series. The under is 5-0 in the Mavs’ past five at home.

    Early lean: Mavericks and over.

    Warriors at Bucks (TBA)

    Can Golden State complete the longest unbeaten road trip in NBA history? The Warriors were in Boston on Friday, and this concludes the seven-game trip. I am pretty confident in saying that if the Celtics end the Warriors’ 27-game winning streak then Golden State interim coach Luke Walton is going to rest a few guys here. Klay Thompson was a game-time call for Friday and if he plays and the Warriors lose, I know he’s sitting here at a minimum. Milwaukee was in Toronto on Friday. The Warriors have won the past four against the Bucks.

    Key trends: The Bucks are 6-0 ATS in their past six in the second of a back-to-back. The under is 4-1 in the past five meetings.

    Early lean: Bet big on the Bucks if Warriors lose Friday.

    Knicks at Trail Blazers (-4, 199)

    New York lost a fourth straight on Thursday at Sacramento, 99-97. The Knicks haven’t hit triple digits in the skid, and Carmelo Anthony is complaining about the offense already. Go away, Melo! He had a good game vs. the Kings with 23 points and 14 rebounds but missed the potential winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. Portland was in Phoenix on Friday. Portland swept the Knicks last year for the third consecutive season. The Knicks have been held under 100 points in the past five in the series.

    Key trends: The Knicks are 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 7-3 in their past 10 vs. the West.

    Early lean: Knicks and under.


    TR System Picks

    8:30pm 515 Washington +6.5 at Dallas

    NBA ATS season:
    3* 0-0-0 0% (Dec. 0-0-0 0%)
    2* 26-13-0 66.7% (Dec. 9-3-0 75.0%)



    100* Mavericks -6

    100* Clippers -5.5

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