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Posted Dec 14, 2013 6:04 PM - Updated Dec 14, 2013 8:28 PM
• Heat guard Dwyane Wade has missed three of the last five games, but will play tonight. Wade is listed as day-to-day for every game because of knee soreness.
• The ever-changing Bulls lineup changes again Saturday with the return of Luol Deng and the (hopefully) momentary departure of Kirk Hinrich. Deng returns after missing four games with a left calf injury. The Bulls were 1-3 in his absence, and coach Tom Thibodeau used two different starters in his place, Taj Gibson and Mike Dunleavy. For Saturday's game, Thibodeau announced that Hinrich was out with a stiff back. "Hopefully, it won't be anything that lasts long,'' Thibodeau said. This will be the first game of the season Hinrich has missed. Jimmy Butler returned from his toe injury Friday against Milwaukee after missing 11 games.
• The San Antonio Spurs will again be without starting big man Tiago Splitter against the Utah Jazz tonight. Splitter is out for the fourth straight game due to tightness in his left calf.
• Dallas (13-10) will be more than a little shorthanded as it welcomes Milwaukee (5-18) to the American Airlines Center as both second-leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki and head coach Rick Carlisle will both be unavailable due to illness. Assistant coach Monte Mathis will fill in for Carlisle and has been in constant contact with Carlisle, saying, "We've talked about minutes for different guys, how we want to do substitutions, different things like that. But he's pretty much said you have to go by feel throughout the game and go with your gut."
• Sixers rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams will miss his sixth consecutive game because of a skin infection on his right knee. The Sixers are 1-8 in games without him this season. "There is no exact timeline yet," coach Brett Brown said about Carter-Williams' eventual return.
• "We lost a little bit of our swagger," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said pregame about his team's performance since Kobe Bryant rejoined the lineup. Bryant has averaged 11.0 points, 6.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 6.0 turnovers while playing 26.7 minutes per contest. He has struggled shooting, making 38.5 percent of his shots and missing on all five shots from the 3-point line.
• This week, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul called Saturday's game at the Washington Wizards a must win. For context, the contest marks game 25 of an 82-game season for the Clippers (15-9). So, coach Doc Rivers, is this truly a must win? "That's fine. I hope he says that every night the rest of the year," the Clippers coach cracked. "You know how I feel about that. Hell, what happens if you don't win. Can we not play anymore? It is an important game, you do want to do well on the trip. I understand what he was saying."
• New York's Amar'e Stoudemire is available off the bench and there is no cap on his minutes, coach Mike Woodson said. Kenyon Martin (abdominal strain) and Raymond Felton (strained left hamstring) are out. Woodson said Martin "is going to be out a little bit." There is no time frame on how long.
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