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Posted Dec 23, 2013 6:27 PM - Updated Dec 23, 2013 9:27 PM
• Pau Gasol is expected to return to action for the Lakers (13-14) after missing Saturday's game at Golden State with an upper respiratory infection. Without Gasol, the Lakers scored only 83 points at the Warriors.
• The Nuggets will be without forward Kenneth Faried due to a left ankle sprain. Faried was injured in Saturday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, but coach Brian Shaw said he doesn't think it will be a long-term injury. "After tonight's game we don't play again until the 27th, so he'll have a few days to rest that ankle," Shaw said. "From what they tell me there wasn't a lot of swelling. Shaw said he will start Timofey Mozgov at center and move J.J. Hickson to the Faried's power forward spot.
• Kawhi Leonard is expected back in the lineup for San Antonio (21-6). He missed Saturday's home loss to Oklahoma City after he had a dental procedure prior to the game. It shouldn't affect his minutes or spot in the rotation. "I don't think so, unless it becomes apparent in the game," coach Gregg Popovich said. "But I don 't expect that."
• Tyreke Evans makes his return to Sacramento tonight. The 2009 NBA Rookie of the Year left the Kings via trade this summer after four seasons with the team that drafted him out of the University of Memphis. "He went through a lot of ups and downs here," coach Monty Williams said. "He won the Rookie of the Year here, but never really won anything to compliment that. And that's what he's dying for, is to be a part of a winner and that's what we want."
• Grizzlies' forward Tayshaun Prince will miss his second straight game due to soreness in his left knee. He is listed as day-to-day. That means James Johnson, who was signed last week from the NBA Development League's Rio Grande Valley, will make his second consecutive start. The 6-9 forward played 30 minutes in Saturday's win at New York, scoring five points to go with eight rebounds and three assists and two steals. Johnson had a career-high 11 points at Dallas last Wednesday. "We put him in there to defend Carmelo (Anthony) and just try to stay in front of him as much as possible," Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said. "I think he made difficult, for the most part, for him. He rebounded well, and ran, and just kind of blended in on offense."
• The Rockets will be without their typical starting backcourt when they host the Mavericks on Monday, as leading scorer James Harden (sprained right ankle) will sit out for the second game in a row and starting point guard Patrick Beverley is expected to miss four to six weeks after fracturing his right hand in Saturday's win at Detroit. Jeremy Lin, who will be back in the lineup after missing the last four games with back spasms, and Francisco Garcia will attempt to fill the void in Houston's starting five alongside Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones and Dwight Howard.
• The Rockets (18-10) are also thin in the frontcourt due to the absence of reserves Greg Smith (right knee sprain) and Omer Asik (right thigh contusion). Houston will attempt to make do with Donatas Motiejunas and Jones splitting minutes at the center position when Howard rests on the sideline. "Whoever is on the floor has just got to go play," coach Kevin McHale said. "I've said it all along. Everybody who's not playing is always complaining about not playing, but then they get a chance to go play and they either prove the coach wrong or prove the coach right. We've got a chance for some guys to go prove [themselves] and see where it's at."
• Heat guard Dwyane Wade will not play because of knee soreness. It is the seventh game Wade has missed for "maintenance" reasons.
• Guard Ray Allen will start in place of Wade.
• Jason Terry will return to the lineup for the Nets after missing 15 games with a bruised left knee. Kidd said the Nets would play Terry a "manageable" amount of minutes.
• Pacers guard Lance Stephenson returns to his native Brooklyn a rising star. Stephenson's three triple doubles are an NBA-high, while teammates and coaches are touting him as a possible candidate for the All-Star team. "I'm not really worried about that," Stephenson said. "My goal is winning games and helping my teammates do that."
• In Brook Lopez's absence, the Nets will start Kevin Garnett at center and Mirza Teletovic at power forward. Nets coach Jason Kidd say he would evaluate Teletovic's role as a starter on a game by game basis.
• Pacers center Roy Hibbert seemed unnerved by the fact that the Pacers aren't playing on Christmas. "No comment," he said. Asked if he would want to play on Christmas, Hibbert said, "I'm going to leave that one alone."
• Danny Granger will play his third game after returning from injury. On Monday, Granger sank 4-for-5 from beyond the arc in the Pacers' victory over the Celtics.
• Miroslav Raduljica will be starting tonight at center for Milwaukee. Raduljica has scored in double digits in three of the last six games, including a career-high 14 points in Saturday night's win over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bucks front court has been decimated by injury this year. Milwaukee will definitely be without Zaza Pachulia (rightfoot fracture), Ersan Ilyasova (sprained ankle) and Larry Sanders (post-surgery, right thumb). John Henson (knee) was questionable, but will play after testing out his injured knee in pre-game warm-ups.
• Charlotte Bobcats forward Jeffery Taylor underwent successful surgery today to repair the rupture in his right Achilles tendon that he suffered in Friday's game at Detroit. The surgery was performed by foot specialist Dr. Bob Anderson. Following four weeks of non-weight bearing, Taylor will begin the rehabilitation process. The standard timeline for recovery is 6-9 months. Taylor suffered the injury Friday night at Detroit. Anthony Tolliver will get the start in his place.
• Cavaliers rookie power forward Anthony Bennett -- the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft -- returns after missing two games with flu-like symptoms. The Nevada-Las Vegas product has played in 20 games off the bench, averaging 2.2 points in 10.0 minutes while shooting .277 from the field. "I don't know how many minutes he'll get, but we'll slide Anthony back into his role in the rotation," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "He's feeling better, though, so it's good for us to have him available."
• Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters (right wrist tendinitis) continues to wear a protective brace and is out for the third straight contest. Waiters said he "hopes to be back soon," but there is no timetable for his return. The second-year pro is Cleveland's sixth man -- and its second-leading scorer at 14.9 points per game. Undrafted rookie shooting guard Matthew Dellavedova will continue to add minutes in Waiters' absence. "We're going to continue to use Delly more," Brown said.
• Raymond Felton will start at point guard for the Knicks after missing six games with a strained left hamstring. New York went 3-3 without him.
• Metta World Peace remains out with a sore left knee.
• With Tobias Harris back in the Magic lineup, leading scorer Arron Afflalo moves from small forward back to shooting guard, which is his natural position for defensive reasons, according to Vaughn. "It's a load off him because we're asking him to do so much offensively for us, too," Vaughn said.
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