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Ten Before Tip: NBA news from Wednesday

POSTED: Feb 26, 2014 10:34 PM ET news services


• Rockets center Dwight Howard briefly left Tuesday's game against the Kings after a knee-to-knee collision, but he's set to play tonight when the Clippers host Houston at Staples Center in a potential first-round playoff preview. Howard could find himself matched against Clippers backup power forward Glen Davis, who was signed by L.A. earlier this week after he was bought out by the Magic. Davis and Howard were teammates during Howard's last season in Orlando in 2011-12, and they've played on opposite sides during two postseason matchups while Davis was with the Celtics from 2007-2011, spending all four seasons under the guidance of Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

• Portland will be both short-handed and short tonight against Brooklyn. Four of the team's five centers and power forwards will be missing due to injury -- starting power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (groin) and backup Thomas Robinson (knee) and reserve centers Joel Freeland (knee) and Meyers Leonard (ankle). The only man left standing is starting center Robin Lopez. Reserve small forward Dorell Wright -- 6-9 and 205 pounds -- will start at the four-spot for the fifth straight game. "Our backup center is (small forward) Victor Claver," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "He's a 'stretch five.' "

• Goran Dragic will miss tonight's game against the Jazz after twisting his ankle late in Pheonix's loss to Minnesota last night. Ish Smith is expected start in his place, while Archie Goodwin and Dionte Christmas will serve as alternate options at the point. "You know Goran, he wants to try, but it makes sense to keep him out -- it's pretty sore and swollen," Hornacek said. "So he'll stay out tonight and maybe we can get him back for Friday."

• Utah's starting five will be: Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams and Favors.

• Phoenix's lineup will be: Smith, Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker, Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee.

• Kawhi Leonard will return to the lineup for San Antonio (40-16) after missing 14 games with a right hand fracture (it's his shooting hand). Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said there are no minutes limitations planned for Leonard's return. "We've had him in a good number of sessions where he's been hit (on the hand)," Popovich said. "He's over that. (The amount of minutes played will be determined by) his conditioning more than anything else." The Spurs went 8-6 without Leonard, and the team had planned for some time to make this night a Kawhi Leonard bobblehead giveaway.

• Tony Parker will miss his fifth consecutive game due to a number of minor injuries, but Popovich said Parker should be back at least in time for Sunday's game against Dallas, if not on Friday against Charlotte. Cory Joseph gets the start at point guard, his 16th this season.

• After the Lakers' 20-point loss at Indiana Tuesday night, Pau Gasol voiced his displeasure in seeing his team lose for the seventh time in eight games. Gasol said his teammates need to be more unselfish by making the sure the ball is passed to the open player. "Otherwise it's really deflating and takes a lot of energy away from individuals," Gasol said. During today's pre-game, coach Mike D'Antoni said he understood Gasol's frustration. He just wished Gasol would have chosen a different way to get his point across. "I think it's a product of him being frustrated and losing." D'Antoni said. "One reason we got beat last night is we stopped moving the ball. And that'll happen from time to time. The thing I just don't appreciate is just keep it in house. We'll try to work something out, we'll figure something out. But to go to you guys and to do it in the media, I just don't think that's the way to do."

• The Grizzlies reportedly claimed point guard Beno Udrih off waivers. Udrih cleared waivers today after being waived by the New York Knicks. Grizzlies' coach Dave Joerger said he would not talk about Udrih until Thursday. The acquisition of Udrih would likely make him the backup to Mike Conley, pushing rookie Nick Calathes into the third point guard spot.

• The Bulls and Warriors each get a key contributor back for Wednesday's game. Bulls' swingman Jimmy Butler returns after missing two games due to a bruised rib, and Warriors forward David Lee returns after a bout of the flu. Butler brings his 12.4 points and five rebounds per game to the contest and will start. Warriors coach Mark Jackson said he was not sure what he was going to do against the Bulls with his starting lineup, but looked forward to having Lee's 19.1 points and 9.9 rebounds back into the game.

• Thunder rookie center Steven Adams will make his second straight start and fourth of the season in place of injured starter Kendrick Perkins. Perkins will be out six weeks with a left groin injury. "We're happy with the progress Steven has made this season," said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks. "Tonight we just need him to follow the game plan, run the floor at both ends, defend the rim and guard the pick and roll." OKC is 0-3 this season without Perkins in the lineup.

• The Cavs are in even worse shape injury-wise. Third leading scorer Dion Waiters (14.5 ppg) is out with a hyperextended left knee, forward/center Anderson Varejao is out with a sore back, guard/forward C.J. Miles is out with a sprained left ankle. None of the three even made the trip to Oklahoma City.

• The Sixers bought out the contract of veteran forward Danny Granger, acquired last week in a trade from Indiana. "Given Danny's future goals and his desire to pursue them, we worked to fulfill his requests and have come to a resolution that we feel is mutually beneficial to both Danny and our organization," general manager Sam Hinkie said in a statement. Added coach Brett Brown, "We wish him well. We worked with him. We talked a lot about treating people the way people should be treated -- respecting his situation, listening to him and still running a business. Sam was able to do both of those things." According to Yahoo Sports, the Clippers are the frontrunners to sign Granger when he clears waivers in 48 hours, though the Spurs, Heat, Rockets, Mavericks and Bulls also have interest.

• Orlando guard Arron Afflalo, the Magic's leading scorer at 19.7 points a night, will miss his third straight game with a sprained right ankle. Afflalo notched a career-high 43 in a 126-125 double-overtime loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 3.

• Brad Stevens made his first public comments about the Boston Herald report that Rajon Rondo missed the team's game in Sacramento last Saturday night without permission from the team. "I talked to [Rondo]. We're handling it internally. We did that [talk on] Monday. In my mind, we're moving forward and when Danny Ainge gets back in town, the two of them will meet and go from there," Stevens said. It remains unclear whether Rondo will face discipline from the team for his absence.

• Kelly Olynyk will be sidelined tonight due to a sprained toe he suffered Saturday night in Sacramento. Stevens said he will be in a walking boot for the next couple days and is questionable for Saturday's game against Indiana. Jared Sullinger (concussion) is also out for the third straight game. He is hoping to be cleared to play on Saturday. Avery Bradley (ankle) remains out indefinitely.

• The Mavericks will be going for the season sweep of the Pelicans Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center. Dirk Nowitzki scored 40 points in the last meeting between the two clubs, but a controversial no-call on an Austin Rivers 3-point attempt at the end of regulation was the story of the game. "We felt like he got fouled. Just didn't bounce our way," Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. Turnovers have been the difference between the teams in the last two meetings, as the Pelicans gave the ball away an average of 17.5 times per game. "Any time you turn the ball over you can come up with anything you want to, but it's usually sloppiness," Williams said. "[The Mavericks] don't force you into tough situations with all their veteran guys. They usually wait on you ... A lot of it is just us."