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Ten Before Tip: NBA news from Tuesday

POSTED: Mar 4, 2014 6:35 PM ET
UPDATED: Mar 4, 2014 9:56 PM ET news services


• The Lakers can match their longest winning streak of the season at three games when they host the struggling Pelicans tonight at Staples Center. L.A. won three straight from Nov. 17-24 but hasn't won more than two in a row since. The Pelicans haven't been putting up much of a fight lately, losing their last eight games, most recently to a Sacramento team that came in tied for the worst record in the Western Conference.

• The Lakers' improvement has coincided with the arrival of guards Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks in a trade-deadline deal with the Warriors last month and the return of injured players Pau Gasol, Jordan Farmar, Xavier Henry and Nick Young, who has since been shut down due to continued soreness in his knee.

• Pelicans leading scorer Anthony Davis is still trying to work himself back into All-Star form as he battles a sore left shoulder. He's a combined 5-for-20 from the floor in the last two games, though he did show signs of returning to form with a 32-point effort Friday at Phoenix, which matched the season high he scored in a win against the Lakers on Nov. 8.

• Danny Granger is expected to make his Clippers' debut tonight against the Suns in Phoenix. Granger may not know the plays, but "if you throw an offensive guy the ball, he should know how to score," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

• The Clippers continue to play without the injured Jamal Crawford and J.J. Reddick, who combine to average 34.7 points. Crawford could return in a game or two, but Rivers said he's unsure about when Reddick, who has back issues, will be available.

• Rookie Alex Len, the No. 5 pick in last year's draft, will make his first start for the Suns at center. Miles Plumlee has faded in recent weeks.

• This is the second meeting of the season between the Clippers and Suns. The Suns routed the Clippers on Dec. 30 in Los Angeles, by 19 (107-88). That was the Suns' most lopsided win over a team 10-plus games over .500 since a win over Utah in 2007.

• The Clippers won three of four against the Suns last season, but Phoenix has won 16 of 21 and leads the all-time series by a whopping 128-69.

• Dwyane Wade will be back in the Heat lineup tonight at the Rockets after sitting out of Monday's win over the Bobcats as part of the club's maintenance program for his knees. Wade enters the game in impressive form, averaging 21.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.8 assists while knocking down 62 percent of his shots over his last five games. Reserve big man Greg Oden, however, will take the night off to rest.

• Neither Rockets center Dwight Howard nor reserve guard Jeremy Lin took part in Monday's practice due to respective sore lower backs, but both will play against the Heat. Forward Chandler Parsons will return to the starting five after missing Saturday's win over Detroit with a sinus infection and migraines.

• Houston is beginning a daunting seven-game stretch that includes five meetings with clubs that have at least 41 victories, as well as a visit to Chicago to face the surging Bulls.

• The Rockets (40-19) have won a league-high 18 consecutive games when they score at least 100 points, while the Heat (43-14) are 32-2 this season when they limit their opponent to less than 100. The Rockets will need to protect the ball better than they have recently if they want to extend that streak to 19, as they have averaged 19.5 turnovers over their last four contests.

• Newly acquired veteran swingman Caron Butler is available tonight for the Thunder's game against the visiting 76ers and will see his first action. Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said just before the game he anticipates playing Butler "15 to 24 minutes, somewhere in there."

• Brooks will go with Perry Jones III again at the shooting guard position. It's a spot he plans to tinker with over the next several games while starter Thabo Sefolosha heals from a strained left calf muscle. Jones started Sunday night against Charlotte and played 27 minutes scoring four points and pulling down one rebound.

• The 76ers are in freefall coming in, having lost 14 straight and 24 of their last 27. A loss tonight will tie the franchise's second-longest losing streak ever (15 games from February 9th to March 11th of 1994).

• For just the second time in the last 36 games, the Spurs' entire roster is healthy for tonight's game at the Cavaliers. San Antonio's lineup of center Tiago Splitter, power forward Tim Duncan, small forward Kawhi Leonard, shooting guard Danny Green, and point guard Tony Parker will make its 18th collective start of the season — and has a 13-4 record — while swingmen Manu Ginobili and Marco Belinelli return to their typical reserve roles.

• Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters (left knee hyperextension) will come off the bench in his return from a seven-game absence. The second-year pro was hurt on Feb. 18 at Philadelphia when he landed awkwardly after throwing down a dunk. Waiters is averaging 14.3 points and 2.7 assists in 49 games.

• Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (back soreness) and shooting guard C.J. Miles (left ankle sprain) remain out. Varejao has returned to practice on a limited basis, but is sidelined for the 11th straight game. Miles worked out on the main court with several teammates, but will miss his seventh consecutive contest. Brown said both players are getting closer to returning, but would not project a comeback date.

• Inactive for San Antonio is power forward Austin Daye, while Cleveland will not dress rookie shooting guard Carrick Felix (left patellar stress fracture), Varejao and Miles. The Spurs have won eight straight over the Cavaliers, including three in a row at Quicken Loans Arena.

• The Pacers will be back at full strength tonight against the visiting Warriors with George Hill returning to the starting lineup after missing the past two games with a bruised left shoulder. Paul George (lower back) and Ian Mahinmi (left hip) both had hard falls against the Jazz on Sunday night but will play. Coach Frank Vogel said he expects no limitations from any of the banged-up players, "other than they're sore and just play through it."

• Andrew Bynum will make the three-game trip to Charlotte, Houston and Dallas, although primarily to take advantage of the opportunity for practice and workouts as he rebuilds his conditioning. Vogel said it was not likely Bynum would play but did not rule out the possibility.

• The Warriors will regain the services of Jermaine O'Neal, who missed Sunday's loss in Toronto due to a passport snafu. O'Neal has indicated he plans to retire at the end of his 18th season, which would make this his last game ever in Indianapolis, the city where his career took flight.