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Ten Before Tip: NBA news from Friday

POSTED: Feb 28, 2014 7:06 PM ET
UPDATED: Feb 28, 2014 9:57 PM ET

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• The Suns are suddenly struggling, taking a three-game losing streak into tonight's game against the visiting Pelicans and leading the Grizzlies by just one-half game for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference. A number of players, notably starting forwards Channing Frye and P.J. Tucker, have had subpar recent games, raising questions on whether they are tired. "That's kind of an easy excuse when you aren't playing well," said coach Jeff Hornacek, asked if some of his players had hit a wall. Pointing to the All-Star break, he said, "They had five days off. They really shouldn't be tired."

• Goran Dragic, who has a sore ankle and missed the Suns' game Wednesday at Utah, will start, the Suns said.

The Pelicans' star big man Anthony Davis, who has had sore shoulder, will play tonight. "I'm going to watch him for sure, but he's good to go for tonight," said Pelicans coach Monty Williams.

• The Pelicans' Tyreke Evans was stuck in an elevator, presumably at the team hotel, about an hour before tipoff, Williams revealed. "And they can't get him out," said Williams, who didn't want to discuss details of the matter. Evans had been slated to start. "That's life. ... I just want to make sure he's warmed up and ready to go. You don't want a guy just walk into the gym and have to start." Evans must have arrived shortly afterward, because he's listed as a starter.

• The Kings take on the Lakers tonight at Staples Center without starting center DeMarcus Cousins, who was suspended for one game after punching Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley in the stomach during a game Tuesday in Sacramento. Cousins leads the Kings in scoring (22.3), rebounding (11.5), steals (1.6) and blocks (1.4).

• Cousins missed both games against the Lakers at Staples Center last season as well. He was suspended for the first meeting after confronting Spurs TV analyst Sean Elliott in a threatening manner following a game two nights earlier in San Antonio, then sat out last March's game with a bruised left quadriceps. Carl Landry would have been a likely replacement for Cousins in the starting lineup, but it was announced about 90 minutes before the game that he's out with a knee injury.

• Nick Young will miss his third straight game and ninth in the last 10 with soreness in his left knee, so the Lakers will stick with the small starting lineup they've used the previous three games. Pau Gasol will open up at center with the 6-7, 215-pound Wes Johnson at power forward. Backcourt players Jodie Meeks, Kendall Marshall and Kent Bazemore will round out the starting five. The Lakers are close to getting Xavier Henry back from a knee injury that's kept him out since Dec. 29.

• Tonight's Bulls-Mavericks matchup in Dallas features two of the hottest teams in the league. Dallas (36-23) has won 10 of its last 12 games, Chicago (31-26) eight of its last 10. But their styles have been dramatically different. The Bulls have been lights out on the defensive end of the court, holding opponents under 90 points 14 times since Jan. 1, while the Mavericks boast one of the league's best offenses, scoring more than 100 points in 20 of their last 23 games.

• Chicago's recent surge can be attributed to All-Star center Joakim Noah and midseason pickup D.J. Augustin. Averaging 4.6 assists per game, Noah ranks 27th in the league in that department and is one of just three non-guards to place in the top 30 (LeBron James and Tyreke Evans). Since signing Augustin on Dec. 13, the Bulls have rattled off a 23-14 record with the veteran point man having his best season since 2010-11.

• Dallas' postseason hopes could hinge on its next eight games with six teams over .500 and road contests against San Antonio, Golden State, Oklahoma City and Denver on the docket before starting an eight-game home stand.

• Dallas took the first meeting between the two clubs, cruising to a 105-83 victory at the United Center on Dec. 28 behind 22 points from Monta Ellis and 18 a piece from Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter. If Chicago is to split the season series it will have to do it on unfriendly ground, as the Mavericks have won 13 of the last 15 meetings between the two clubs at the American Airlines Center

• The Spurs' starting lineup is almost at full strength entering tonight's game against the visiting Bobcats -- but only almost. Tony Parker will miss his sixth straight game as he continues to rest from a few nagging injuries. The Mavericks play in San Antonio on Sunday.

• The Bobcats will play Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour for the first time after the trade-deadline deal with Milwaukee that sent Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien to the Bucks. Neal played last season with the Spurs before signing a free-agent deal in Milwaukee.

• Backup center Steven Adams has mild flu-like symptoms but is expected to start in place of injured center Kendrick Perkins for the Thunder tonight against the visiting Grizzlies. Adams was in uniform in the OKC locker room before the game and studying the scouting report.

• Forward Caron Butler has reportedly agreed to sign with the Thunder when he clears waivers Saturday afternoon. Butler has career averages of 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. This season with Milwaukee he's averaged 11 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists. Butler is a career 34.1 percent 3-point shooter.

• Memphis has lost just once this season when holding an opponent under 90 points and it was the last time the Grizzlies were in Oklahoma City (86-77 on Feb. 3). The Thunder will be trying to avoid their first four-game home losing streak since April 2009, the first season the franchise was in OKC.

• The Warriors have won four of five entering their game tonight against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

• When Steph Curry last played at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 27, 2013, he went off for 54 points, making 11 of 13 3-pointers. Carmelo Anthony scored 35 points in a 109-105 Knicks win and J.R. Smith added 26."We played well, too, but he just had an individual game that was phenomenal here in the Garden," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. Raymond Felton will start on Curry.

• Anthony is averaging 38.8 points in his last five games and has scored 40+ in three of his last four.

• The Knicks have lost four straight and 10 of 12. They are 2-10 in February after going 10-6 in January. "Mathematically we're still in the hunt in terms of trying to get that eighth spot," Woodson said

• The Cavaliers have only 10 players in uniform for their game tonight against the visiting Jazz as center Anderson Varejao (back soreness), shooting guard Dion Waiters (left knee hyperextension), and shooting guard C.J. Miles (left ankle sprain) remain out. Top rebounder Varejao is sitting out his ninth straight game, sixth man Waiters will miss his sixth in a row, and Miles is unavailable for the fifth consecutive contest.

• Cavaliers rookie power forward Anthony Bennett (right knee soreness) was a late scratch after attempting to warm up on the court. The No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft will travel to Memphis and is listed as a game-time decision to play against the Grizzlies.

• The Cavaliers trail Atlanta by four games in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. Cleveland is 7-3 since Feb. 7, but has lost its last two contests at Quicken Loans Arena. Irving is averaging team highs of 22.0 points, 7.8 assists, and 41.0 minutes over the last five games, while Jack is averaging 11.6 points and 4.4 assists during the same period.

• The Jazz have won two games in a row, but begin a grueling six-game, nine-day trip in Cleveland. "Teams around the league are driving themselves to finish the year strong, so this will be a test for us," said Corbin, whose squad will travel 4,895 miles during its Eastern Conference journey.

• Columbus native Burke will be playing his first NBA game in his home state. The University of Michigan product leads all rookies in free-throw percentage (.910) and ranks second in assists (5.5).Burke expects to have 30 friends and family members in attendance.

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