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NBA • Saturday Service Plays • 3/12/16

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    Preview: Indiana At Dallas

    When: 2:00 PM ET, Saturday, March 12, 2016
    Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

    The Indiana Pacers are coming off their most impressive win of the season and will try to carry that momentum forward as they attempt to climb the standings in the Eastern Conference. The Dallas Mavericks, who host the Pacers on Saturday, are trending in the opposite direction with four straight losses and the schedule is not getting any easier.

    Three of Dallas’ last four losses have come at home, and two came against sub-.500 teams from the Western Conference, to drop the team into seventh place in the West heading into the weekend. “We need to look at ourselves in the mirror, see what’s missing, what we can do better for each other and stay together,” center Zaza Pachulia told reporters. “It’s not the right time to fragment and go the other way. We are professionals. We have to take it serious.” The Mavericks don’t get much of a break with the arrival of the Pacers, who knocked off the San Antonio Spurs 99-91 at home on Monday and sit in seventh place in the East with the arrow pointed up. “It kind of like strengthens our belief in each other and our confidence level,” Indiana center Ian Mahinmi told reporters. “We’ve had a good team all year, and we can beat anybody when we execute and when we play hard like we did (on Monday).”

    TV: 2 p.m. ET, FSN Indiana, FSN Southwest (Dallas)

    ABOUT THE PACERS (34-30): Indiana is in a tight huddle of teams between No. 5 and No. 9 in the East and is trying to move up through its efforts on the defensive end. The Pacers held the Spurs to 35.4 percent from the field, including 4-of-28 from 3-point range, in Monday’s win and held opponents under the century mark in each of their last three victories. “You have to feel good about beating the Spurs,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel told reporters. “That’s a heck of a team. But all you have to do is look at the standings to know one loss can knock you down to nine.”

    ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (33-32): Dallas is looking in its rearview mirror at the ninth-place Utah Jazz and has little room for error during a stretch of schedule that will see them face winning teams in each of the next seven games, including a trip to East-leading Cleveland and a pair of games (home and away) against the NBA-best Golden State Warriors. “Good,” slumping shooting guard Wesley Matthews told about the difficult schedule. “Maybe it’ll make us pick our level of play up to where it should be. We’ve got to get off this skid. We’ve got to stop the bleeding.”


    1. Pacers SF C.J. Miles (calf) has missed the last nine games but is participating in practice this week and could return on Saturday.

    2. Matthews is 6-of-27 from 3-point range in the last five games.

    3. Indiana has taken three straight in the series, including a 107-81 home victory on Dec. 16.

    PREDICTION: Pacers 109, Mavericks 107


    Preview: Houston At Charlotte

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, March 12, 2016
    Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina

    The Houston Rockets did the Charlotte Hornets a favor on Friday, but neither team figures to be in a giving mood on Saturday. The Hornets will try to earn their seventh straight win and continue to climb the standings in the Eastern Conference when they host the Rockets.

    Houston knocked off the Boston Celtics 102-98 on Friday while Charlotte was cruising past the Detroit Pistons. That combination of events pulled the fifth-place Hornets within two games of the third-place Celtics in the East. Charlotte has been leaning heavily on Kemba Walker to do its scoring during the winning streak but got more balance in Friday’s win as seven players scored in double figures and Marvin Williams buried five 3-pointers en route to a team-high 22 points. The Rockets were the beneficiaries of a surprise performance from recently-signed veteran Michael Beasley, who came off the bench in Boston and scored 18 points on 19 shots in 15 minutes.

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

    ABOUT THE ROCKETS (33-32): Houston’s victory on Friday did more than help the Hornets, it also pulled the Rockets into a tie for seventh place in the West with the Dallas Mavericks. Houston has won three straight, including victories over the teams in second (Toronto) and third (Boston) in the East to pull within shouting distance of the sixth-place Portland Trail Blazers in the West. Beasley’s emergence takes some pressure off star guard James Harden and gives the Rockets the points in the frontcourt they have been missing with Josh Smith’s continued slump.

    ABOUT THE HORNETS (36-28): Charlotte has taken the first four of a seven-game homestand and is looking to overtake the fourth-place Miami Heat and Boston in the East. The Hornets are winners of 12 of their last 14 games, with each of those 12 victories coming against teams currently below them in the standings, and will face only two teams with better records over the next 11 contests. The offense has been outstanding during the six-game winning streak while putting up an average of 116.8 points and Walker is leading that charge at an average of 29 points in March.


    1. Houston C Dwight Howard recorded his third straight double-double with 12 points and 12 boards on Friday.

    2. Hornets G Nicolas Batum is 4-of-17 from 3-point range over the last three games.

    3. Harden scored 36 points in a 102-95 home win over Charlotte on Dec. 21.

    PREDICTION: Hornets 119, Rockets 109


    Preview: Detroit At Philadelphia

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, March 12, 2016
    Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    The Detroit Pistons squandered a chance to move up in the Eastern Conference at the expense of one of the teams in front of them on Friday and are teetering on the edge of the top eight. The Pistons will try to bounce back on Saturday when they continue their road trip by visiting the NBA-worst Philadelphia 76ers.

    Detroit pulled out a pair of impressive wins over Portland and Dallas to move into eighth place in the East before dropping a 118-103 decision at Charlotte on Friday. The Pistons have two stops left on the four-game road trip – at Philadelphia and Washington – before a nine-game homestand and can’t afford to fall to teams behind them in the standings while they tussle with the Chicago Bulls for the eighth spot. The 76ers are without one of their building blocks with Jahlil Okafor (knee) scheduled for surgery but managed to snap a 13-game slide with a 95-89 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. Philadelphia is dealing with a series of injuries and endured a scary situation when forward Robert Covington was taken off the court on a stretcher on Friday.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, TCN (Philadelphia)

    ABOUT THE PISTONS (33-32): All-Star center Andre Drummond has taken some heat from coach Stan Van Gundy for inconsistent effort at times this season and was noticeably off his game on Friday. The big man came in averaging 16.8 points and 15.1 rebounds but attempted only one field goal and finished with five points and nine rebounds in the loss to the Hornets. Detroit could have used more of Drummond’s presence on the defensive end while allowing the Hornets to shoot 50.6 percent from the field.

    ABOUT THE 76ERS (9-56): Philadelphia announced prior to Friday’s game that Okafor would undergo a minor procedure on his knee that is expected to keep him out six weeks. That injury seemed insignificant later in the day when forward Jerami Grant inadvertently kicked Covington in the head, leading to Covington being taken out on a stretcher and sent to a local hospital and Grant leaving the game to be evaluated for a concussion. The depleted 76ers leaned on veteran Carl Landry off the bench in their absence, and he responded with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting.


    1. 76ers F/C Nerlens Noel is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds in two games since returning from a knee injury.

    2. Pistons F Tobias Harris is averaging 17.4 points in 11 games since joining the team.

    3. Detroit took the first three meetings this season by an average of 15 points.

    PREDICTION: Pistons 109, 76ers 99


    Preview: Miami At Toronto

    When: 7:00 PM ET, Saturday, March 12, 2016
    Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario

    The Toronto Raptors look to stay hot on their home court when the surging Miami Heat pay a visit on Saturday in a battle of two teams headed toward postseason play. The Raptors have won 14 of their last 15 at the Air Canada Centre, including a 104-96 victory over Atlanta on Thursday that improved their record to 4-1 on a seven-game homestand.

    Toronto guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are averaging a combined 52 points in five games this month while center Jonas Valanciunas is providing solid support inside. Miami rebounded from a loss to Milwaukee to rout Chicago 118-96 on Friday for its sixth victory in seven games, getting another big effort from Goran Dragic. “We got a lot more energy and effort out there,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters. “It’s like people were in two places at one time.” Dragic scored 26 points – his third game of 23 or more in the last five outings – with All-Star backcourt mate Dwyane Wade (nine points, 3-of-15 shooting) hampered by a bruised thigh.

    TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), Sportsnet One (Toronto)

    ABOUT THE HEAT (38-27): While Dragic, Luol Deng (19 points) and veteran Joe Johnson (15) continued their strong play, rookie Josh Richardson stepped up with a career-high 22 points Friday. Center Hassan Whiteside has been a major force since All-Star Chris Bosh was shut down because of blood clots, registering four straight double-doubles and 10 in the last 11 contests. Johnson is averaging 13.7 points and shooting 58.2 percent from the field, including 11-of-17 from 3-point range, in seven games since being signed as a free agent.

    ABOUT THE RAPTORS (43-20): DeRozan is averaging 28.6 points this month and Valanciunas has posted three double-doubles in the last four games while extending his career-high streak of double-figure games to 16. Lowry runs the show, registering 25 assists in the last three contests, but will need to rebound from a 1-for-8 shooting performance from 3-point range last time out. Luis Scola notched his first double-double since Dec. 26 on Thursday and Terrence Ross has drained 5-of-10 from behind the arc in the last two games.


    1. The Raptors are 13-3 when the 7-0 Valanciunas records a double-double this season.

    2. Wade (19,957) and Johnson (19,093) are the only active pair of teammates with at least 19,000 points.

    3. Toronto has won four of the last five meetings with Miami, including the last two by a total of 34 points.

    PREDICTION: Raptors 110, Heat 95


    Preview: Memphis At Atlanta

    When: 7:30 PM ET, Saturday, March 12, 2016
    Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

    The Atlanta Hawks are stuck in the middle of a scrum in the Eastern Conference and are coming off an impressive road trip. The Hawks will try to take advantage of the shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies and keep their eye on the No. 4 and 5 spots in the East when they return home on Saturday.

    Atlanta went 3-2 on the trip, with the two losses coming at Golden State and Toronto, and will play 10 of its final 17 games at home as it attempts to overtake the Charlotte Hornets and the Miami Heat directly above it in the standings. The Hawks looked sluggish in the road trip finale at the Raptors on Thursday and fell apart at the end with seven straight empty possessions in the fourth quarter of a 104-96 loss after holding the previous six opponents to an average of 88.5 points. The Grizzlies are dealing with a slew of injuries that have robbed them of four starters but are not showing any signs of slowing down. Memphis won two of its last three games with the depleted lineup and pulled out an overtime victory against New Orleans behind Lance Stephenson’s career-high 33 points on Friday.

    TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Memphis, Atlanta)

    ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (39-26): Playing the second night of a back-to-back with a roster that includes eight healthy bodies is not ideal, and Memphis hopes to get either Zach Randolph (knee) or Chris Andersen (shoulder) back to help out in the frontcourt on Saturday. Other players are getting a chance to shine with the likes of Randolph, Marc Gasol (foot) and Mike Conley (foot) out, and Matt Barnes recorded a triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists on Friday while Briante Weber made his NBA debut in place of Conley and delivered 10 points, seven assists and five boards in 40 minutes. Weber only started eight of the 21 D-League games he played this season before getting signed by the Grizzlies but fit right in while letting Stephenson, Barnes and JaMychal Green handle the bulk of the scoring.

    ABOUT THE HAWKS (36-29): Atlanta made its run to the top of the Eastern Conference last season through balance and strong outside shooting on the offensive end and has put on similar displays over the last seven games, winning five. The most consistent of the bunch on offense has been power forward Paul Millsap, who is averaging 15 points in the last seven games and went for 23 points and 14 rebounds in a 116-101 victory in Memphis on Nov. 27. Millsap struggled to 2-of-8 from the field on Thursday but knocked down 8-of-12 from the line to score in double figures for the 15th straight game.


    1. Hawks PF Mike Scott (personal) missed Thursday’s game and is questionable for Saturday.

    2. Green scored a career-high 21 points on Friday in his third straight double-double.

    3. Memphis G Vince Carter left Friday’s game with a leg injury and did not return.

    PREDICTION: Hawks 108, Grizzlies 92


    Preview: New Orleans At Milwaukee

    When: 7:30 PM ET, Saturday, March 12, 2016
    Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

    Two teams that are dealing with severe injury issues square off when the New Orleans Pelicans visit the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. New Orleans has been dealing with costly injuries since the beginning of the campaign while Milwaukee has experienced a rash of them in recent weeks.

    The Pelicans’ backcourt of Tyreke Evans (knee) and Eric Gordon (finger) are done for the season and New Orleans is spiraling downward with six defeats in seven games after dropping a 121-114 overtime decision to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. “Close is great, but it doesn’t help you out at all,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters after his team fell to 7-25 on the road. “You just have to complete the possession and come up with the plays and we didn’t do that.” Milwaukee has been battling attrition, which provided opportunities for players such as reserve center Miles Plumlee (season-high 18 points) and second-year point guard Tyler Ennis (eight points in 26 minutes) to play key roles during Wednesday’s 114-108 victory over the Miami Heat. “We’re going to play with the group we have,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd told reporters. “We have plenty of guys still; we’re not down to eight.”

    TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN New Orleans, FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee)

    ABOUT THE PELICANS (24-40): Point guard Jrue Holiday was on a minutes’ restriction early in the season because of the serious leg injury that ended his 2014-15 campaign and he just completed the top two-game run of his career. Holiday scored a career-best 38 points against Charlotte on Wednesday and followed it up with 34 points against Memphis, and has scored 20 or more points in 12 of the past 14 contests. Holiday is mixing well with All-Star power forward Anthony Davis, who had 25 points and 13 rebounds against the Grizzlies for his fifth consecutive double-double.

    ABOUT THE BUCKS (27-38): Milwaukee is down to 10 players after veteran guard O.J. Mayo fractured his right ankle Thursday by tripping and falling down the stairs in his home. The Bucks recently lost point guard Michael Carter-Williams (hip) and forward Steve Novak (knee) for the season while center John Henson hopes to return soon after missing the past 18 games due to a lower-back injury. “I’m getting back to where I need to be,” Henson told reporters after returning to practice on Friday. “I’ve got to get in shape a little bit, but it’s part of it. Hopefully I’ll be ready to play next week. I have to see how my body reacts.”


    1. The Pelicans have won the past six meetings, including a 116-99 home victory Jan. 23.

    2. New Orleans backup SF Ryan Anderson had 24 points and 12 rebounds against Memphis after missing all eight of his field-goal attempts two nights earlier.

    3. Milwaukee PF Jabari Parker is averaging 22.8 points – with a high of 36 – over the past six games.

    PREDICTION: Bucks 98, Pelicans 96


    Preview: Oklahoma City At San Antonio

    When: 8:30 PM ET, Saturday, March 12, 2016
    Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

    The San Antonio Spurs opened the season with a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but it has been a dominant run ever since. The Spurs will look to exact a measure of revenge and extend their lengthy home winning streak when they host the Thunder on Saturday in the first meeting since the season-opening encounter in Oklahoma.

    San Antonio opened its five-game homestand with a 109-101 victory over Chicago on Thursday to improve to 31-0 at AT&T Center this season and extend its home winning streak to 40 games dating to last season. One more victory at home will give the Spurs sole possession of the third-longest run in NBA history as they enter this one tied with the Orlando Magic of the mid-1990s and four behind the Chicago Bulls of the same era. A meeting on the back end of the homestand with the Golden State Warriors – who pulled into Friday with an NBA-record 46 straight home wins and a three-game lead on San Antonio in the Western Conference – is looming, but the Spurs must first contend with what could be an angry Thunder squad. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 54 points but their teammates provided little support in a home loss to Minnesota on Friday, Oklahoma City’s seventh defeat in 11 games.

    TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC

    ABOUT THE THUNDER (44-21): Starting guard Andre Roberson lasted 14 minutes before a left ankle injury knocked him out of Friday’s loss. Anthony Morrow, who could pick up some of the minutes if Roberson is absent, was 1-of-8 from the floor against Minnesota and missed all six of his 3-point tries, falling to 1-of-11 from long distance over the last two games. Westbrook had 33 points and 10 assists against the Spurs in the season opener.

    ABOUT THE SPURS (55-10): Only three players reached double figures in the win over the Bulls but all three – Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker – hit the 20-point mark. Parker, who also had a season-high 12 assists, was 10-of-16 from the floor after going 4-of-17 over his previous three games combined as he made a solid return from a toe injury. Thursday’s high-scoring trio will hope for more support from the rest of the Spurs, who combined to shoot 14-for-43.


    1. San Antonio’s 31-0 start at home is two shy of Orlando’s run of 33 home wins in a row to begin the 1995-96 campaign.

    2. Aldridge is averaging 25.5 points while hitting 33-of-34 free throws during a six-game hot stretch.

    3. The teams also meet March 26 in Oklahoma City and April 12 in San Antonio.

    PREDICTION: Spurs 113, Thunder 102


    Preview: Washington At Denver

    When: 9:30 PM ET, Saturday, March 12, 2016
    Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

    The Washington Wizards are running out of time in their quest for a playoff berth as they visit the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, when they could regain the services of second-leading scorer Bradley Beal. Washington remained 2 1/2 games behind Detroit for eighth place in the Eastern Conference after losing its fourth straight game – a 114-93 decision in Utah on Friday.

    “We didn’t come out with any sense of urgency (Friday),” Wizards coach Randy Wittman told reporters. “I don’t know how we can do that with 18 games left. …” Denver is 4-2 on its seven-game homestand after a 116-98 victory over Phoenix on Thursday gave it a season high-tying three straight wins. The Nuggets, though, remain a long shot to climb into playoff position in the Western Conference as they are six games behind Houston and Dallas, who are tied for the final two spots. “Our players are doing a much better job of protecting their home court,” coach Michael Malone told reporters Thursday after Denver won for the fourth time in five games at the Pepsi Center. “That’s what happens when you defend, value the ball, share the ball.”

    TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, CSN Mid-Atlantic (Washington), Altitude (Denver)

    ABOUT THE WIZARDS (30-34): Beal (17.8 points per game) missed the last two contests because of a sprained pelvis and rejoined the team in Utah. “He couldn’t have played (Friday) probably, but it just depends on what kind of step he takes (Saturday),” Wittman told reporters. “Every day he’s gotten better so we brought him out to see if the opportunity presents itself, so we just have to see.” Leading scorer John Wall recorded 24 points and nine assists Friday – narrowly missing his third consecutive double-double – and averaged 22.6 points and 8.3 assists over his last eight games.

    ABOUT THE NUGGETS (27-38): Rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay (12.1 points, 5.8 assists per game) scored a career-high 30 points Thursday and is averaging 21.5 points over his last five contests. “I just tried to stay aggressive,” the 20-year-old Congo native told reporters. “… Coach had confidence in me. He’s been telling me to stay aggressive, so that’s what I did.” Gary Harris averaged 16.3 points over his last seven games to raise his average to 11.1.


    1. Denver has averaged 112.5 points in its last six games since leading scorer Danilo Gallinari went down with an ankle injury – nearly 11 above its season average.

    2. Washington G Otto Porter Jr. (11.3 points) hasn’t scored in double figures in five straight games.

    3. The Nuggets prevailed 117-113 on Jan. 28 with the help of Mudiay’s 20 points and the defense of Harris, who helped hold Wall to 17 points and 5-for-17 shooting.

    PREDICTION: Nuggets 102, Wizards 101


    Preview: Phoenix At Golden State

    When: 10:30 PM ET, Saturday, March 12, 2016
    Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California

    The Splash Brothers were hotter than lava in their last contest and the Golden State Warriors seek their 48th consecutive home victory when they entertain the lowly Phoenix Suns on Saturday. Shooting guard Klay Thomason scored 37 points and was 8-of-11 from 3-point range while point guard Stephen Curry scored 34 points and made seven 3-pointers as Golden State rolled to a 128-112 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.

    The Warriors, who own the best record in NBA history through 64 games, had 81 first-half points against Portland — the most by any team in the league this season — while winning for the 10th time in 11 games. Golden State could be without the services of small forward Andre Iguodala, who sprained his left ankle and underwent X-rays — which came back negative — after Friday’s victory. Phoenix is experiencing a lost season but has found a keeper in rookie sharpshooter Devin Booker, who scored a season-high 35 points in Thursday’s 116-98 road loss to the Denver Nuggets. Booker has topped 30 points in three of the past five games and is averaging 28.4 points and five assists during the stretch.

    TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona (Phoenix), CSN Bay Area (Golden State)

    ABOUT THE SUNS (17-48): Point guard Brandon Knight returned in the loss to Denver and contributed 10 points on 2-of-9 shooting in 25 minutes off the bench. Knight missed 21 games because of a sports hernia injury and coach Earl Watson plans to proceed cautiously with the fifth-year pro. “He had a sports hernia, a slight tear, so you know that’s serious,” Watson told reporters. “That injury kind of ended my career, so I understand the seriousness of that injury.”

    ABOUT THE WARRIORS (58-6): The long-range shooting has been exceptional all season as Thompson (204) joined Curry (NBA-record 311) as the only players in NBA history to make more than 200 3-pointers in four consecutive seasons. Curry has repeatedly taken 3-point shots from 30 or more feet away and said he feels the freedom to shoot from anywhere on the court. “The confidence is a little better,” Curry said after the victory. “If you have an opportunity and it is in the flow of the offense, I have that confidence to take it.”


    1. The Warriors have won this season’s three meetings by an average of 17.3 points and have won the past six matchups.

    2. Golden State PF Draymond Green is averaging 11.3 points in 12 games since the All-Star break after averaging 14.2 points prior to the layoff.

    3. Phoenix F P.J. Tucker missed all nine of his field-goal attempts against Denver and is shooting a career-worst 39.6 percent from the field.

    PREDICTION: Warriors 133, Suns 90


    Preview: Orlando At Portland

    When: 10:30 PM ET, Saturday, March 12, 2016
    Where: Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, Portland, Oregon

    The Orlando Magic are in must-win mode and know they have little margin for error as they complete a four-game road trip with a contest against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday. Orlando has remained within sight of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot despite a recent slump and resides 4 1/2 games behind the eighth-place Detroit Pistons.

    The Magic halted a three-game slide with a 107-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Friday and emerging power forward Aaron Gordon insists his club can claim that final postseason berth. “We want it, everybody in this locker room wants it,” Gordon said after the victory. “A couple of games here and there and we can be right back in it. We just have to keep focused. We need to make sure we’re doing the right things to make that push.” Portland is in sixth place in the Western Conference but has suddenly lost four of its last five games after being trounced 128-112 by the Golden State Warriors on Friday. “We’ll check out what we can do better on the film and what we did well and just bounce back against Orlando,” forward Meyers Leonard said afterward. “That’s the main thing right now, Orlando. This game is over with; Orlando is huge for us (Saturday) night.”

    TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, FSN Florida (Orlando), KGW (Portland)

    ABOUT THE MAGIC (28-36): Gordon had 20 points and 11 rebounds in the victory over the Kings and has produced three double-doubles over the past five games. Center Nikola Vucevic — the team’s leading scorer (17.8) and rebounder (9.0) — has missed the last three games with a groin injury and Gordon has stepped up with two 20-point outings during the stretch. Another strong contributor during Vucevic’s absence has been veteran power forward Jason Smith, who matched a season best with 16 points against the Kings and is averaging 13 points during the past three games.

    ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (34-32): Portland handed Golden State a season-worst 32-point loss last month and Friday’s game was a complete turnaround as the Warriors scored an NBA-high 81 first-half points while exposing the Trail Blazers’ defense. “There’s probably (a team) that had 81 in a whole game,” point guard Damian Lillard said after the drubbing. “Especially against a team like them, you let them score 81 points in one half and they get to feeling good about themselves, it’s going to be that much harder to stop them in the second.” Portland, which has won five of its last six home matchups with Orlando, has allowed an average of 118.6 points during its five-game slump.


    1. The Magic recorded 11 steals while notching a 102-94 home win over the Trail Blazers on Dec. 18.

    2. Lillard had just 17 points of 5-of-19 shooting against Golden State after averaging 32.1 points during the previous 15 games.

    3. Orlando PG Elfrid Payton (elbow) missed the Sacramento game and he and Vucevic are both questionable for Saturday’s game.

    PREDICTION: Trail Blazers 113, Magic 107


    Hot teams
    — Indiana won three of its last four games (4-1 last 5AU).
    — Houston won four of its last five games (4-1 last 5AU). Hornets won their last six games (4-1-1 last 6HF).
    — Miami won six of its last seven games (4-2 last 6AU). Toronto won eight of its last ten games (2-5 last 7HF).
    — Pelicans lost five of their last six games (6-3-1 last 10AU).
    — Hawks won five of last seven games (1-4 last 5HF). Memphis also won five of its last seven games (2-5 last 7AU).
    — Spurs won 10 of thrir last 11 games (4-6 last 10HF).
    — Denver won four of its last five games (4-1 last 5HF).
    — Golden State won 20 of its last 22 games (2-4 last 6HF).

    Cold teams
    — Dallas lost its last four games (2-4 last 6HF).
    — Detroit lost three of last four road games (2-9AF). 76ers ended a 13-game losing streak last night (7-6 last 13HU).
    — Milwaukee lost five of its last eight games (5-1 last 6HF).
    — Thunder is 4-7 since All-Star break (2-4AU).
    — Washington lost its last four games (2-5 last 7AU).
    — Orlando lost three of its last four games (5-2 last 7AU). Blazers lost four of last five games (10-2 last 12HF).
    — Suns lost 17 of their last 20 games (2-12 last 14AU).

    Series records
    — Pacers won their last three games with Dallas.
    — 76ers are 4-6 in their last ten games with Detroit (0-3 last 3).
    — Rockets won their last ten games with Charlotte.
    — Raptors won four of last five games with Miami.
    — Pelicans won nine of last ten games with Milwaukee.
    — Hawks are 6-4 in their last ten games with Memphis.
    — Thunder lost four of last five games in San Antonio.
    — Nuggets are 6-4 in their last ten games with Washington.
    — Magic won three of its last four games with Portland.
    — Warriors won last six games with Phoenix (4-2 vs spread).

    — Over is 8-4 in last twelve Indiana games.
    — Five of last six Detroit road games stayed under the total.
    — 14 of last 16 Houston road games went over the total.
    — Seven of last nine Toronto games went over the total.
    — Four of last five Milwaukee home games went over.
    — 10 of last 12 Memphis road games went over the total.
    — Under is 7-1-1 in last nine San Antonio games.
    — Over is 11-2-1 in last fourteen Denver home games.
    — Eight of last eleven Orlando road games went over.
    — Eight of last ten Golden State home games went over.

    — Detroit covered its last five games if it played night before. 76ers are 3-7 vs spread last ten times they played night before.
    — Rockets are 2-6 vs spread last eight times they played night before. Chicago is 2-8 vs spread last 10 times it played night before.
    — Miami covered the last five times they played the night before.
    — New Orleans is 5-2 vs spread last seven times they played nite before.
    — Memphis is 9-4 vs spread if it layed the night before.
    — Oklahoma City is 4-7 vs spread if it played night before.
    — Washington is 2-6 vs spread last eight times it played night before.
    — Orlando is 3-5 vs spread last eight times they played the night before. Portland covered one of last five if it played the night before.
    — Golden State is 11-5 vs spread if it played the night before.


    StatFox Super Situations™ – FoxSheets

    Play On – Road teams (NEW ORLEANS) off a upset loss as a favorite against opponent off an upset win as a home underdog
    41-15 over the last 5 seasons. ( 73.2% | 24.5 units )
    7-5 this year. ( 58.3% | 1.5 units )

    Play On – Home favorites vs. the money line (DALLAS) after 1 or more consecutive losses, in March games
    209-63 over the last 5 seasons. ( 76.8% | 75.8 units )
    13-4 this year. ( 76.5% | 8.0 units )

    Play Under – Home teams where the first half total is greater than 100 revenging a loss where opponent scored 100 or more points against opponent off an upset loss as a home favorite of 10 points or more
    27-7 since 1997. ( 79.4% | 19.3 units )
    2-2 this year. ( 50.0% | -0.2 units )


    NBA Odds: Saturday, March 12 2016 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
    by Alan Matthews

    You might want to put down a few dollars on the Miami Heat to win the Eastern Conference, which is currently priced at solid +1200 value at BetOnline. Do I think the Heat as currently constructed can beat the Cleveland Cavaliers? I don’t. But if Chris Bosh can return from his blood clot problem, then I could see that because the Cavs look vulnerable. Bosh said Thursday his problem is clearing up and that he’s hopeful to return this season, although doctors have yet to clear him. Joe Johnson has made a tremendous impact on the team, and Bosh hasn’t even played with him yet. You throw out a starting five of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Johnson, Bosh and Hassan Whiteside (with Luol Deng off the bench) and that matches up pretty well with Cleveland’s starting five. In fact, I’d give the Cavs the edge only at point guard (Kyrie Irving) and small forward (LeBron James). A key for Miami is to get the No. 3 seed, currently held by Boston, and avoid the Cavs until the conference finals.

    Pacers at Mavericks (-2, 205)

    Rare matinee in Dallas with a 2 p.m. ET start. Indiana won a second straight Monday with a 99-91 home upset of San Antonio. Monta Ellis had 26 points and Paul George 23. Ty Lawson made his Indiana debut but only played five minutes before spraining his foot. It was the Pacers’ second win in 17 meetings with the Spurs since 2008. Pretty rare for a team to get four days off in the middle of the season like Indiana will have here. Dallas could fall to .500 with a loss as it has dropped a season-high four straight games, three at home. On Wednesday it was 102-96 against Detroit. The Mavericks are in a stretch with nine out of 10 games at home, but they have gone 4-5 in that time. Indiana won the first meeting 107-81 on Dec. 16, the Pacers’ largest margin of victory ever in the series. They have won three straight against the Mavs overall.

    Key trends: The Pacers are 9-2 against the spread in the past 11 meetings. The “over/under” is 10-3 in the past 13 overall.

    Early lean: These odd start times hugely favor the home team. Dallas and over.

    Rockets at Hornets (-4.5, 216.5)

    Houston was in Boston on Friday and Charlotte hosted Detroit. The Rockets beat the Hornets 102-95 on Dec. 21. The teams combined for 60 fouls and 72 free throw attempts. James Harden had 36 points. Al Jefferson was out then for the Hornets. Houston has won 10 straight in the series and four in a row in Charlotte.

    Key trends: The home team is 6-1-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 5-0 in the past five in Charlotte.

    Early lean: Hornets didn’t have to travel, which is an advantage. Take them.

    Pistons at 76ers (+9, 209)

    Detroit was in Charlotte on Friday and Philly hosted Brooklyn with Jahlil Okafor out again. The Pistons are 3-0 against the 76ers this season. Reggie Jackson is averaging 21.7 points against Philly in those wins. Detroit is just 3-6 in its past nine trips to the City of Brotherly Love, however.

    Key trends: The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 9-4 in the previous 13.

    Early lean: 76ers and under.

    Heat at Raptors (-6, 199)

    Miami was in Chicago on Friday. Toronto won a second straight Thursday, 104-96 over Atlanta. DeMar DeRozan had 30 points and five rebounds. Jonas Valanciunas had 10 points and 10 rebounds, his career-high 16th straight game scoring in double figures and team-best 16th double-double of the season. This is the final meeting between these two, although I could see them potentially facing off in the Eastern Conference semifinals if the Heat can get to the No. 3 seed. Toronto leads 2-1 — all three have been blowouts — but still is only 4-17 in the past 21 meetings.

    Key trends: The favorite is 9-3 ATS in the past 12 meetings. The over is 4-0 in Toronto’s past four on Saturday.

    Early lean: Raptors and under.

    Grizzlies at Hawks (TBA)

    Memphis hosted New Orleans on Friday with both Mike Conley and Zach Randolph questionable again and with guard Mario Chalmers now out for the season — and then waived. It sound like Conley is going to miss quite a while longer. Atlanta had a three-game winning streak end in a 104-96 defeat in Toronto on Thursday. After forcing 11 Toronto turnovers in the first half, Atlanta only forced four more. The Hawks beat the Grizzlies 116-101 on Nov. 27. Paul Millsap had 23 points and 14 rebounds. Conley led Memphis with 16 points but was 4-for-13 from the field. The Grizz still had Marc Gasol then. He’s out for the season.

    Key trends: The underdog is 7-3 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The under is 6-2 in Atlanta’s past eight.

    Early lean: Grizz are banged-up and in second of a back-to-back. Should be an easy Hawks win.

    Pelicans at Bucks (-3.5, 211)

    New Orleans was in Memphis on Friday. Milwaukee ended a two-game slide with a 114-108 home win over Miami on Wednesday. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 24 points and Jabari Parker added 23. Greg Monroe, who came off the bench for 12 straight games, was back in the starting lineup. Guard O.J. Mayo missed the game with a stomach bug and then fell down the stairs Thursday morning and broke his ankle. He’s done for the year. The Pelicans beat the Bucks 116-99 on Jan. 23. Anthony Davis had 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists. That was the Bucks’ final game under interim coach Joe Prunty before Jason Kidd returned from hip surgery. Milwaukee has lost six in a row in the series.

    Key trends: The Pelicans are 8-2 ATS in the past 10 meetings. The over is 4-1 in the past five.

    Early lean: Bucks and over.

    Thunder at Spurs (-7.5, 213.5)

    This is your ABC Saturday Primetime Game and will have live betting at sportsbooks. I wish both teams were on equal rest to give the Thunder a realistic chance of handing the Spurs their first home loss, but OKC hosted Minnesota on Friday. San Antonio beat Chicago 109-101 on Thursday to improve to 31-0 at home. Kawhi Leonard had 29 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 10 rebounds. The Spurs have won 40 straight at home dating to last regular season. Kevin Martin, recently signed off waivers from Minnesota, made his Spurs debut and played eight minutes. These teams have met just once, and that was in their opener. The Thunder won 112-106 at home. Russell Westbrook gave Billy Donovan a win in his NBA debut with 33 points and seven assists. Kevin Durant had 22. Leonard led the Spurs, who were up by seven at one point in the fourth quarter, with 32 points.

    Key trends: The Thunder are 1-4 ATS in the past five in San Antonio. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings overall.

    Early lean: Spurs and over.

    Wizards at Nuggets (TBA)

    Washington was in Utah on Friday with Bradley Beal questionable. So the Wizards go from the city at the second-highest altitude in the NBA to the one with the most just 24 hours later. Guess which way I’ll lean here? Denver won a third straight on Thursday, 116-98 over Phoenix. Rookie Emmanuel Mudiay had a career-high 30 points. He’s averaging 21.6 points over the past five and starting to show why he was the preseason Rookie of the Year favorite at some books. Denver won in Washington 117-113 on Jan. 28. Danilo Gallinari had 26 points but is now out for the season. John Wall had 17 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

    Key trends: The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over has hit in five of the previous eight meetings.

    Early lean: Uh, Nuggets.

    Suns at Warriors (-21, 226.5)

    Golden State hosted Portland on Friday. I will be shocked — shocked! — if Steve Kerr doesn’t rest a guy or two here against the sorry Suns. It may not be Steph Curry, because that’s what all the fans come to see, but someone’s going to sit. Andrew Bogut? Draymond Green? Both? Phoenix was routed in Denver on Thursday for its second straight loss. One bright spot this season has been the play of rookie Devin Booker, and he had 35 points. Suns point guard Brandon Knight played for the first time since Jan. 19 and had 10 points in 25 minutes. The Warriors have won three high-scoring games vs. the Suns this season and taken six straight overall vs. Phoenix.

    Key trends: The Suns are 2-6 ATS in the past eight in Oakland. The over is 13-5 in the past 18 there.

    Early lean: Biggest spread of the year. Take all those points. And go under that crazy total.

    Magic at Trail Blazers (TBA)

    Orlando was in Sacramento, catching a break with DeMarcus Cousins suspended, and Portland at Golden State on Friday. The Magic beat the Blazers 102-94 on Dec. 18. Tobias Harris (25 points, 12 rebounds) and Nikola Vucevic (25/11) each had double-doubles for the Magic. Vucevic was questionable for Friday after missing the previous two games so he may not go here. Harris is now in Detroit. Damian Lillard was held to 19 in that first meeting for the Blazers. Portland has won five of its past six games against the Magic at the Moda Center.

    Key trends: The Magic are 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 3-1-1 in the past five.


    Inside the Paint – Saturday
    By Chris David

    Saturday’s spotlight game takes place from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas as the Spurs and Thunder meet in a Western Conference battle.

    Oddsmakers opened the Spurs as eight-point home favorites and this is the largest number that the Thunder have been given all season.

    The number seems fair considering San Antonio has won 40 straight games at this venue and that includes a 31-0 straight up record this season. Against the spread, the Spurs have gone 19-11-1 (63%) and only the Detroit Pistons (19-10-1 ATS) have produced better numbers at home versus the number.

    San Antonio leads the league with 41 victories by 10-plus points and a lot of that success comes from its defense. The Spurs quietly lead the league in defensive scoring, allowing 92.4 points per game and that number drops to 90.6 PPG at home.

    As an underdog, Oklahoma City has lived up to the expectations of the oddsmakers and failed to win in these spots. The Thunder have been catching points seven times this season and they’ve gone 1-6 SU and 1-5-1 ATS, the lone win coming at Utah in late November when the status of Kevin Durant was up in the air.

    Even though the above betting situations could have you leaning San Antonio, the Thunder did notch a 112-106 victory over the Spurs on opening night as four-point home favorites. A lot has certainly changed since Oct. 28 and it’s apparent that San Antonio remains the top contender to knock Golden State off its championship throne.

    Oklahoma City will be facing a back-to-back spot tonight after losing 99-96 at home on Friday to Minnesota as a 12-point favorite. The Thunder have gone 5-5 SU and 4-6 ATS on zero days rest this season and that includes a 2-5 SU and 2-6 ATS mark on the road.

    Including the loss to the Timberwolves last night, the Thunder have gone 4-7 SU and 4-6-1 ATS since the All-Star break. Losing to non-playoff teams is rare for OKC, who has gone 28-5 against teams with losing records. To be fair, the Spurs haven’t been great at the betting counter lately either. San Antonio is 10-2 SU and 5-7 ATS since the break.

    San Antonio (35-29-1) and Oklahoma City (35-29) have both leaned to the ‘under’ but four of the last five encounters between the pair have cashed to the high side.

    Since ABC started producing its nationally televised game on Saturday, we’ve haven’t had many great games outside of the classic a couple weeks ago between the Warriors and Thunder.

    Jan. 23 – Chicago (+10 ½) 96 at Cleveland 83 Under 202
    Jan. 30 – Cleveland (+1 ½) 117 vs. San Antonio 103 – Over 202 ½
    Feb. 6 – Golden State (-8) 116 vs. Oklahoma City 108 – Under 233 ½
    Feb. 20 – Golden State (-4) 115 at L.A. Clippers 112 – Under 228 ½
    Feb. 27 – Golden State (-3 ½) 121 at Oklahoma City 118 – Over 233 ½ – OT
    Mar. 6 – Chicago (-1 ½) 108 vs. Houston 100 – Under 216

    Based on the above results, favorites have gone 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS while total bettors have seen the ‘under’ go 4-2 and it could be 5-1 if the Warriors-Thunder matchup doesn’t go into overtime. The Spurs (0-1) and Thunder (0-2) are a combined 0-3 in the featured games.

    We have three other late-night games slated for Saturday and below is my quick handicap.

    Washington at Denver

    This game looks like a trap to me and I believe a lot of bettors will be riding Denver, who has won and covered four of its last five game at home. The offense has been on fire during this span, averaging 115.8 PPG. After this game, the Nuggets head to the East Coast for the final time this season when they play five straight on the road. For whatever reason, some clubs don’t perform well in the last game of a long homestand and some pundits believe they’re already thinking ahead with their bags packed at the arena.

    Making a case against Washington is easy since they’ve dropped four straight games, both SU and ATS. Last night, the Wizards were run 114-93 by the Jazz in wire-to-wire fashion. The club has gone 5-11 SU and 6-9-1 ATS on zero days rest this season.

    In late January, Denver earned a 117-113 win at Washington as a 7 ½-point road underdog. The ‘over’ (212) easily connected. Despite that loss, the Wizards should be confident for this game knowing they’ve gone 2-1 in their last three trips to the Pepsi Center and the one loss came by three points.

    Orlando at Portland

    This matchup could be viewed as Trap Game – Part II. The Trail Blazers are the much better team and the Magic’s depth is depleted in the frontcourt without forward Nikola Vucevic. However, it should be noted that Orlando has won five of the last eight meetings against Portland and it’s covered seven of those games as well. The Magic earned a 102-94 decision over the Blazers on Dec. 18 as four-point home favorites.

    Both clubs played last night as Orlando dropped Sacramento 107-100 on the road while Portland was blasted at Golden State, 128-112. The Magic have struggled in back-to-back spots (4-9 SU, 7-6 ATS) and the Trail Blazers (3-11 SU, 5-9 ATS) haven’t been much better.

    What’s a little surprising is that Portland is 1-4 at home on zero days rest and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Magic catch them in a letdown spot after playing the Warriors last night.

    Phoenix at Golden State

    I thought the Warriors would be laying an easy 20-plus points in this game and I’m surprised the number is only Golden State -18. If the Warriors hit their shots and wanted to win this game, they could be covering this number midway through the second quarter.

    Golden State has gone 15-1 SU and 10-6 ATS on zero days rest this season and they’ve been handed their fair share of backdoor covers as well. The Warriors have gone 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS versus the Suns this season, winning by 19 and 25 points in the first two meetings and recently by eight points (112-104) on Feb. 10 in the desert.

    The Suns have a few nice parts but if they don’t hit a high percentage of outside shots, they have absolutely no chance to stay within 18. After showing some promise in back-to-back wins over the Magic and Grizzlies, the club allowed 128 and 116 in losses to the Knicks and Nuggets respectively and those teams aren’t great offensively.

    Golden State might be on its way to break regular season win records but its recent ATS run (5-7) since the All-Star break certainly won’t create many fans in the sportsbooks.

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