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Ten Before Tip: NBA news from Tuesday night

NBA.com news services
Posted Feb 11, 2014 6:18 PM - Updated Feb 11, 2014 9:55 PM

• After leaving Sunday's game against the visiting Bulls with yet another injury, Lakers point guard Steve Nash will be back in the starting lineup tonight when L.A. hosts the Jazz at Staples Center. Nash was kneed in the left leg by Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich in the third quarter of the 92-86 win by the Bulls and departed not long after because of nerve irritation in the leg and tightness in his back. Nash was appearing in just his third game after missing nearly three months with the same type of nerve root irritation that affected both his back and hamstrings. The Lakers have the 40-year-old Nash under contract for one more season.

• The Jazz will be trying to build off their most impressive win of the season, knocking off the two-time defending champion Heat on Saturday in Utah. Marvin Williams is currently playing his best basketball of the season, scoring at least 21 points in the last three games. What's given Williams the edge has been his perimeter shooting. He has shot 11-for-19 from beyond the arc during his hot streak, including 5-for-8 in each of the last two games. One of the reasons Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni is sliding the 6-9 Shawne Williams into the starting lineup is he's a better perimeter defender than Kelly against a veteran stretch 4 like Marvin Williams. Shawne Williams was signed out of the D-League just five days ago because of injuries.

• Kevin Durant has been good against everybody this season, and he's been magnificent in the three games Oklahoma City has played against Portland. Durant, averaging an NBA-high 31.2 points, has averaged 38.7 points against the Blazers, going for 33, 37 and 46.

• Portland will use Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews to defend the leader in the race for the NBA's Most Valuable Player trophy. "It's difficult to take the ball out of his hands, but we want to be aggressive," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "The main thing is to make him work for his points. Nic and Wes primarily are going to have to do a great individual job and we have to do a great job as a team."

• Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge has been outstanding against OKC, too, averaging 30.7 points and 14.3 rebounds in the three contests. "We've done a good job against him, too," Thunder coach Scotty Brooks said. "He seems to love making tough shots against us. Most of his attempts aren't easy, but he makes them look that way.

• Portland guard Mo Williams (family issues) will miss his third straight game tonight. Stotts said he is expected to arrive back in Portland Tuesday night and accompany the team on its trip to Los Angeles to face the Clippers Wednesday night.

• Dwayne Wade will miss tonight's game with a migraine headache, Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said. "It started to set in this afternoon." This is the Heat's 50th game -- they are 35-14 -- and it will be Wade's 14th miss.

• Suns guard Goran Dragic has scored 20-plus the past seven games. During this stretch, he's averaged 26.9 points on 63 percent shooting both overall and on 3-pointers. He is coming off an amazing game Saturday vs. Golden State, where he scored 34 while taking just 13 shots. According to Elias Sports Bureau, this performance was just the second in Suns' history where a player scored 34 or more points on 13 or fewer shots. He joins Gail Goodrich who scored 36 on 13 attempts (10-for-13 field goals, 16-for-18 on free throws vs. the San Francisco Warriors on March 17, 1970.

• The Heat downed the Suns, 107-92, in Miami on Nov. 25. The Heat have won seven straight vs. the Suns, though the Suns lead the all-time series, 31-19, including 16-8 in Arizona.

• The winter storm that was affecting the city of Atlanta Tuesday and promised an ice storm Wednesday is coincidentally named Pax, which happens to be the nickname of Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson. Chicago has not reached a temperature above freezing in February yet and had a high of 14 Tuesday. Former Bull Kyle Korver joked about Atlanta's problems while confirming that Chicago's weather is not a selling point. "I forgot what real cold is,'' he said. "We have been flirting with these 20-degree temperatures in Atlanta, and flurries that are shutting down our city, then you come here and remember what real cold is. I don't miss this weather; no I don't."• Bulls forward Carlos Boozer will miss his third game due to a calf strain, it was announced before the game. He spent shoot-around Tuesday in rehab and did not practice with the team. Boozer has now missed three games with the injury, and Taj Gibson has scored 44 points in the two games as his replacement in the starting lineup.

• The Atlanta Hawks have lost six straight games at the United Center and averaged just 75 points in those games. The lost at Chicago Jan. 4, 91-84, and that was the most points they have scored at the UC in those six losses.

• Dallas comes into tonight's game riding a five-game winning streak on the season and have won 17 of 18 match-ups between these two teams. The Mavericks are also 14-6 against the Eastern Conference. Dallas picked up a 102-91 win at Boston and were led by all-star Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavericks held Boston to 35.9 percent shooting and now sit at 21-4 when holding teams to under 46.0 percent shooting from the floor.

• The Bobcats are focused on playing better and eliminating mistakes as they start a tough stretch of games over the next month. "I want us to make less mistakes than we did the other night," Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. "We did a lot of good things, but we shot ourselves in the foot with a few detail things that we should be better at. Dallas is as skilled a team as there is in the league. They can score and they're extremely well coached. If we're not on top of it, they can come in here and put up 115."

• Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (back) and shooting guard C.J. Miles (right foot soreness) are out. Varejao underwent an MRI on his back that did not reveal any structural damage, while Miles had X-rays on his foot that also were negative. Both players were injured Sunday in Cleveland's 91-83 overtime win over Memphis. "With Andy, it's his back and really his whole body that is sore, so it will be good to get him some rest," coach Mike Brown said. "But, obviously, you hope that it's not a long-term thing." Varejao and Miles are both listed as day-to-day for the Cavaliers' game Wednesday at Detroit.

• Cleveland center Tyler Zeller will make his fourth start of the season in place of Varejao. The second-year pro is averaging 4.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 40 games, but also has been a "Did Not Play -- Coach's Decision" on nine occasions. "The thing Tyler always has to remember is to be ready defensively," Brown said. "When he's in his stance, he's pretty good. But when he relaxes, his posture is too straight. When that happens, he has to react, not be proactive, which you can't do as an NBA player."

• Kings coach Michael Malone spent five seasons as an assistant under Brown with the Cavaliers from 2005-201o. The rookie head coach admitted having mixed emotions when Sacramento hammered Cleveland 124-80 on Jan. 12, which was the sixth-worst loss in Cavaliers history. "I would never want to do anything to embarrass or humiliate Mike Brown in any way," Malone said. "I know he isn't going to allow his team to lay an egg tonight like they did in that game."

• The Kings' lineup is point guard Isaiah Thomas, shooting guard Marcus Thornton, small forward Rudy Gay, power forward Jason Thompson, and center DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins was held to a 3-for-16 shooting performance Sunday in Sacramento's 93-84 loss in Washington. "That was the first time I've really seen DeMarcus struggle like that," Malone said. "That's why we're going to play through him and establish his post presence early tonight."

• The Grizzlies will again be without point guard Mike Conley (sprained right ankle) and guard Tony Allen (sprained left wrist).

• Grizzlies center Marc Gasol has scored just eight points in each of the last two games. In those games, he has made just 7 of 15 shots (.280). Coach Dave Joerger said his center still isn't fully recovered from his MCL strain he suffered earlier in the season that forced him to miss 23 games. Fortunately, the NBA All-Star break will give him a few days of rest. "I don't know that it's going to heal over five or six days," Joerger said. "I don't think he's ever worn a knee brace. It's very restricting. I think it's been difficult for him to find the mobility that he's looking for."

• The Wizards come to FedExForum having won three of their last five games. Two of those wins were against Oklahoma City and Portland. The Grizzlies will have their hands full defensively as all five starters for Washington are averaging in double figures, led by first-time NBA All Star John Wall (20.1 ppg, 8.5 apg). While Washington coach Randy Wittman wants to make sure his team gets out and plays uptempo, he also is concerned about his team stopping the Grizzlies' front line of Gasol and Zach Randolph. "We're going to have to defend the post," Wittman said. 'That's going to be very important, establishing ourselves and trying to get them off their spots. You don't let them catch the ball in their comfort zones."

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