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Ten Before Tip: NBA news from Saturday

NBA.com news services
Posted Dec 21, 2013 6:31 PM - Updated Dec 21, 2013 10:11 PM

• Lakers center Pau Gasol will miss tonight's game against the Warriors due to an upper respiratory infection, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. Chris Kaman will start at center for Los Angeles, which has been riven by injuries all season.

• The Warriors come in struggling, having lost five of eight, including a 104-102 defeat Thursday to a Spurs team missing Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

• The Clippers will have one of their most valuable reserves available tonight when they host the Nuggets at Staples Center. Matt Barnes returns after missing a little more than a month with an eye injury that required three procedures to fix. Barnes, who can provide backup minutes at both small forward and shooting guard, missed an additional three games earlier this season because of an thigh contusion, limiting him to eight appearances overall. He's averaging 5.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in 20 minutes.

• Anthony Davis will make his first start for the Pelicans tonight against the Trail Blazers after missing seven games with a broken bone in his left hand. Davis came off the bench in the Pelicans' 108-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night, collecting 24 points and 12 rebounds in 32 minutes.

• Center Jason Smith (knee), who has started all 24 games of the Pelicans, will not play. New Orleans coach Monty Williams wouldn't say, but it's likely Davis will slide into his spot in the starting lineup.

• Bucks forward Caron Butler (knee) and guard Gary Neal (foot) are available for tonight's game against the 76ers, but coach Larry Drew was worried before tipoff that second-year forward/center John Henson might not be available. Henson, one of the real bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season, went to the floor Friday night after a collision with the Cavaliers' Anderson Varejao.

• The Spurs will be without forward Kawhi Leonard as they play host to the Thunder. Leonard is out of action after a dental procedure earlier Saturday that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he didn't learn about till 20 minuters before meeting with reporters. "It's huge. He's like the only guy that could have a chance of at least staying in front of [Kevin Durant]," Pop said.

Popovich did not indicate who would replace Leonard in the starting lineup, saying only, "I don't want to think about it, it scares me."

• Spurs point guard Tony Parker, who missed San Antonio's last two games with a shin contusion suffered in a loss to the Clippers on Monday night, will be back in action against the Thunder. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, who sat out San Antonio's 104-102 win over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night for rest purposes, will also be back in the lineup against Oklahoma City.

• The Cavaliers will be without first-round draft pick Anthony Bennett, who stayed home in Cleveland as a result of a flu-like illness. Cleveland coach Mike Brown declared Dion Waiters a game-time decision because of his right wrist injury, which caused him to miss the game against Milwaukee Friday. Waiters is the team's No. 2 scorer with 14.9 points per game.

• Injuries are forcing the Bulls to sit their top two scorers in Luol Deng (Achilles) and Derrick Rose (knee), as well as their best defender in Jimmy Butler (sprained ankle) and their best assist regular in Kirk Hinrich (strained back).

• Houston's leading scorer SG James Harden is a late scratch due to an ankle sprain. Francisco Garcia is likely to start in his place. Rockets guard Jeremy Lin (back spasms) will also not play. Center Omer Asik (right thigh contusion) did not make the trip.

• Pistons sixth man Rodney Stuckey returns tonight after a two-game absence due to a sore right shoulder. The seventh-year guard's presence allows coach Mo Cheeks to rest Chauncey Billups, who has not been playing both ends of back-to-backs.

• Charlotte's situation on the wing just got a little tougher. The Bobcats announced this evening that Jeffery Taylor suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon in the team's victory over Detroit Friday night. Taylor became a starter earlier this month after Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffered a broken left hand. Taylor is averaging 8.3 points and 2.4 rebounds. MKG isn't expected back until next month and according to Coach Steve Clifford will keep his hand in a cast until after Christmas. With both players out expect Clifford to turn to Chris Douglas-Roberts or Anthony Tolliver. Taylor is expected to meet with foot specialist Dr. Bob Anderson in the coming days to determine the next steps.

• Bobcats center Al Jefferson will face his former team for the first time since signing with Charlotte over the summer. Jefferson is averaging 16.1 points and 9.6 rebounds on the season. Jefferson's replacement at center this year is Derrick Favors averages of 13.4 points and 9.1 rebounds. Jefferson, who missed 9 of the team's first 12 games due to an ankle injury, said that injured ankle feels the best it has been all year. It is the second straight night for Utah facing a former teammate. They saw Paul Millsap last night in Atlanta.

• Arron Afflalo, the Magic's leading scorer, will return to the lineup after missing Wednesday night's 86-82 loss to Utah. Afflalo was sick.

• Rookie Victor Oladipo will come off the bench after starting the last 16 games for Orlando.

• Guard E'Twaun Moore was "kneed in the thigh in practice," according to Magic coach Jacque Vaughn, and will not play tonight.

• Jameer Nelson is "not feeling 100 percent," Vaughn said, but has not missed any practice time.

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