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Ten Before Tip: NBA news from Christmas Day

POSTED: Dec 25, 2013 7:00 PM ET news services


• James Harden is expected to return to the lineup tonight for Houston (18-11) after missing Monday's home loss to Dallas with a left ankle sprain. It was his second-straight game to miss, and it sounds like he's nowhere near 100 percent. "Unless he falls between now and tipoff he should be out there," coach Kevin McHale said. "He feels good enough to play. Hopefully it will get better as he plays."

• Carmelo Anthony (ankle) won't dress, the Knicks announced after it was first reported by the Daily News. Anthony sprained his left ankle while going for a rebound in the third quarter of Monday's win in Orlando. He's averaging 26.3 points and 8.6 rebounds.

• Lakers forward Wes Johnson will get first crack at guarding LeBron James of the Heat when the team's meet today at Staples Center. James is coming off a 38-point performance Monday in a 121-119 victory against the Hawks, which culminated a 5-0 homestand for Miami. Johnson doesn't have a lot of experience guarding James but did participate in the LeBron James Skills Academy prior to his junior season at Syracuse in 2009-10, one of 20 college players invited to the camp that season.

• Lakers rookie Ryan Kelly is coming off back-to-back appearances for the first time this season and coach Mike D'Antoni said before the game he'll likely use the 6-11 center from Duke against the Heat.

• Woodson said the Knicks could start J.R. Smith or Kenyon Martin if Anthony can't go. Beno Udrih, Iman Shumpert, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler are also expected to start.

• The Thunder will start Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.

• OKC has won 17 of 19, but has lost 10 straight Christmas road games.

• Anthony leads the NBA with 141 isolation points, while Durant ranks fifth at 104.

• The Knicks (9-18) are 4-10 at home. A year ago, they finished 31-10 at home.

• The Knicks have won their last two at home on Christmas, and are looking to win consecutive games for the second time this season. This is the Knicks' 49th Christmas game, an NBA record.

• The teams split two games last season with the road team winning each.

• Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler will return for the Bulls. Hinrich will start. Luol Deng remains out with a left Achilles injury.

• With Deng missing the previous two games and Butler sidelined on Saturday, rookie Tony Snell logged over 40 minutes in the Bulls' last two games.

• Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) will remain out for the Nets, according to head coach Jason Kidd.

• Derrick Rose and Brook Lopez, cornerstone 2008 draft picks of the Bulls and Nets respectively, appear lost for the season. The Bulls are 5-11 without Rose and the Nets are 2-8 without Lopez.

• For the Knicks, Raymond Felton (groin), Pablo Prigioini (toe) and Metta World Peace (sore left knee) are all out. Carmelo Anthony (ankle) is a game-time decision. "It's not going to be my decision, it's going to be up to medical," coach Mike Woodson said of Anthony.