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Ten Before Tip: NBA news from Tuesday night

POSTED: Jan 28, 2014 6:13 PM ET
UPDATED: Jan 28, 2014 10:01 PM ET


• The Rockets will have to generate offense without their leading scorer when they host the Spurs tonight, as guard James Harden will sit out with a bruised left thumb. Jeremy Lin is expected to start in place of Harden, who suffered the injury during Saturday's loss at Memphis. "He called this afternoon and said his thumb was bothering him, but I haven't seen him yet, so we'll see [what is the extent of the injury]," Houston coach Kevin McHale said. "Everybody's is just going to have to step up and play. That's just what it is."

• The Spurs will make their second attempt to give coach Gregg Popovich sole possession of 10th place on the NBA's all-time coaching wins list. Popovich, who has 938 career regular-season victories, is set to pass legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach.

• The Spurs are 1-10 this season against the teams that currently hold the seven best records in the league, including an 0-2 mark versus the Rockets.

• With a victory, Houston (29-17) will clinch its first season-series victory over San Antonio (33-11) in the Tim Duncan era. The Rockets have not won the season series with their in-state rivals since the 1996-97 campaign, Popovich's first year as Spurs coach.

• The Grizzlies take a 7-1 record in their last eight games into tonight's game at the Trail Blazers, 5-1 since the return of center Marc Gasol, who missed 23 games with a knee injury. "Gasol is a great passer and they play through him, but his biggest impact is at the defensive end," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. The Grizzlies "have been the best defensive team in the league the past two weeks."

• The Trail Blazers lead the league with a 109.0 scoring average. The Grizzlies are third in the NBA in scoring defense (96.0) and have let only one opponent score 100 points during its eight-game tear.

• It's a battle between two of the four top rebounding teams in the NBA — Memphis No. 2, Portland No. 4. "Defensive boards will be important for us, in particular," Joerger said. The Blazers "can score like crazy. You don't want to give them extra chances."

• Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks will start tonight when the Lakers host the Pacers at Staples Center, their first home game in nearly two weeks. Gasol and Meeks each missed Monday's practice after the team returned from their seven-game road trip. Meeks saw a specialist for his sore foot but the MRI came back negative for a fracture. Gasol has also been bothered by a foot problem for most of the season but he'll give it a go and his presence will be especially important against the NBA's best team.

• The Pacers enter the game injury-free as they try to wind up their five-game road trip with a winning record. Indiana has been surprisingly easy to score on during the road swing, giving up an average of 109.5 points, well above its league-leading 90.2 average. The Pacers are 21-0 when holding their opponent under 90 points this season and have held 10 opponents under 80.

• Coach Mark Jackson, whose Warriors host the Wizards tonight, said he continues to have faith in Harrison Barnes, despite the second-year forward's two-month-long shooting slump (36.6 percent from the floor since Dec. 1). While Jackson said it was "a good question" whether Barnes is better suited to be a fourth or fifth option — as he was last year when he started 81 regular-season games — don't expect any adjustments to the Warriors' lineup, barring injury. "What are you going to do?" Jackson said. "We can't start six guys."

• Washington point guard John Wall comes in with a point to prove after being left off the 28-man USA Basketball pool for the 2014 World Championships and 2016 Olympics. Wall's backcourt mate, Bradley Beal, and both Warriors guards, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, made the cut.

• The Wizards welcomed back Glen Rice Jr. from his three-game D-League stint to cap off his rehabilitation from a broken right wrist. Rice averaged 24.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.0 steals in those contests.

• The Celtics are 2-0 against the Knicks this season entering tonight's game at Madison Square Garden. In their last meeting at the Garden, the Celtics crushed the Knicks by 41, 114-73. "That game left a bitter taste in my mouth and everybody's mouth," Carmelo Anthony said Monday. "It was unacceptable, that game, and we remember that."

• For the Celtics, Jerry Bayless will come off the bench after missing four games with a sprained left big toe. Avery Bradley (sprained right ankle) is out. Rajon Rondo will see increased minutes.

• For the Knicks, Kenyon Martin will play tonight after missing five games with a sprained ankle. "He said he's feeling a lot better, so we'll probably play him a little bit," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. Andrea Bargnani (torn ligament, left elbow) and Amar'e Stoudemire (sprained left ankle and bone bruise) remain out. Metta World Peace will dress.

• The Celtics (15-31) have dropped 17 of their last 20 games.

• Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (left knee bruise, hyperextension) was fitted with a protective knee brace, but will not play tonight against the Pelicans. The mop-topped Brazilian was injured Sunday in Cleveland's 99-90 loss to Phoenix when Suns power forward Markieff Morris inadvertently rolled up on his lower leg while battling for a rebound.

• The Cavaliers are 1-3 on their season-long, five-game homestand, but remain just two games behind Charlotte for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

• The Pelicans are riding a two-game winning streak, but are only 3-9 since Jan. 4 and remain in last place in the NBA's Southwest Division.

• Magic forward Jason Maxiell has only appeared in one of the last seven games but he'll start tonight against his former team in Detroit. Maxiell's bulk is needed against Detroit's jumbo frontline. Rookie guard Victor Oladipo will come off the bench.

• Maxiell has started 12 games but fell completely out of the rotation this month "He gives us a veteran presence in our locker room and on the floor," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "He's a guy who has the ability to defend multiple positions, big guys, and that's one of the main reasons he'll be on the floor tonight for us."

• Orlando has lost 13 of its last 15, including nine of 11 without starting center Nikola Vucevic. He is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion.

• The Pistons have lost four straight but coach Mo Cheeks is sticking with his usual lineup.