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Ten Before Tip: NBA news from Saturday

POSTED: Mar 8, 2014 11:11 PM ET news services


• Jamal Crawford, the second-leading scorer for the Clippers, is set to return tonight when L.A. hosts the Hawks at Staples Center. Crawford missed the last three games with a strained left calf, though the Clippers didn't skip a beat in winning all three to stretch their win streak to a season-high six games. In fact, L.A. posted its largest win in franchise history in a 142-94 win Thursday night over the Lakers. Crawford, who's averaging 19 points, second on the team to Blake Griffin at 24.1, spent two seasons in Atlanta, earning NBA Sixth Man of the Year with the Hawks in 2009-10.

• Three games into his return from a 16-game absence due to an ankle injury, Pero Antic will start at center for the Hawks. Antic has come a long way since these teams last met Dec. 4 in Atlanta, when Antic wasn't even used in the game. Before he went down with the injury, the 6-11 rookie from Macedonia had moved into a starting role and scored in double figures in a season-high three straight games. He scored 10 points off the bench in each of the first two games since his return.

• Elton Brand, who played seven seasons with the Clippers from 2001-08, will return to the bench for Atlanta but should see significant minutes after shooting 57.6 percent from the floor over the last five games. Brand remains unpopular among Clippers fans because he opted out of the final year of his contract and signed a five-year deal with the 76ers.

• Paul Millsap returned from a five-game absence due to a right knee contusion in Friday's loss at Golden State and the eight-year veteran apparently won't have any issues playing in back-to-back games, coach Mike Budenholzer said. Millsap had 16 points and seven rebounds against Golden State and is the only player in the NBA averaging at least 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. Millsap had 25 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three blocks when Atlanta beat the Clippers by 10 points back in December.

• Jameer Nelson returns tonight for the Magic (19-44) against the host Spurs (45-16) after missing the last two games, one because of right calf soreness and the most recent because of illness.

• Nelson is back, but Victor Oladipo will miss his second straight game with left ankle soreness.

The Magic will start Kyle O'Quinn, his first start of the season and the sixth of his two-year career, giving Orlando a bigger first group with Tobias Harris coming out. O'Quinn has nine blocks in his last four games (2.25 per game) while averaging less than 18 minutes.

• After starting Boris Diaw in San Antonio's 111-87 victory over Miami on Thursday, the Spurs (45-16) will return to Tiago Splitter in the first group. Diaw has shot 12-for-12 from the floor (including four from the 3-point line) in the last two games.

• Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked before the game if he ever considered being a TV analyst once his coaching career is done. "Just watch one of my end-of-quarter interviews," Popovich said. "That will answer your question concisely and accurately." It would be a short stint.

• The Bobcats' Al Jefferson comes into tonight's game against the host Grizzlies on a roll offensively. He had 28 points on 12-for-18 shooting in Charlotte's 101-92 win over Cleveland on Friday, marking his fourth straight game scoring 25 or more points and shooting better than 60 percent from the floor. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no other player in Charlotte's NBA history — the Bobcats or Hornets — has produced even three straight games of that nature.

• The Grizzlies' Tony Allen is averaging 10.6 points (on 62.1 percent shooting) and 4.6 rebounds in 22.6 minutes off the bench in the eight games he's played since returning from a 21-game absence due to a sprained left wrist.

• Bobcats guard Chris Douglas-Roberts is returning Saturday to FedExForum, the building where he starred as a college player for the University of Memphis. Douglas-Roberts has been a force for Charlotte of late, having scored in double figures in three consecutive games. He had 14 points and grabbed a season-high nine rebounds in the Bobcats' win over Cleveland on Friday.

• Former Buck Drew Gooden returns to the Bradley Center tonight as he signed a second 10-day contract with the visiting Wizards. "He brings us experience and he is a guy that has been through this," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "He has been on playoff teams coming down the stretch and he just gives us the experience factor. You can't have too much of that." Gooden was released by the Bucks, who used their amnesty clause last summer. He played three seasons in Milwaukee but wasn't signed by anyone until the Wizards brought him in on the first 10-day contract Feb. 25.

• Winners of seven of their last eight, the Wizards have moved into fifth place in the East and are just 1½ games behind the Bulls for fourth and a home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

• The Bucks will be without guard O.J. Mayo, who was suspended by the league for one game for an elbow he threw at New Orleans' Greg Stiemsma Friday night. It's the second straight game a Bucks player has been suspended. Forward Ersan Ilyasova was suspended for Friday's game for punches he threw to the stomach of Sacramento's Reggie Evans.

• Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (back soreness) returns to action tonight against the Knicks after a 12-game absence, but shooting guard C.J. Miles (left ankle sprain) is out for the ninth straight contest. Varejao, who will come off the bench, is averaging 8.8 points and a team-high 10.3 rebounds in 48 games.

• Longtime Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas will have his No. 11 retired by the franchise during a halftime ceremony. Heat small forward LeBron James, former Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund, and Raptors executive Wayne Embry are among the invited guests for his special night at Quicken Loans Arena. Ilgauskas specifically chose an off-date on Miami's schedule so close friend James would be able to attend.

• Woodson declined to comment on reports that NBA legend Phil Jackson is interested in joining New York's front office. "At this point, I'm not even going to entertain that," the coach said. "My job is trying to get us into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. That's all I'm focusing on. Phil Jackson, I'm going to stay away from that."

• Inactive for the Knicks are center Andrea Bargnani (left elbow ligament tear) and power forward Kenyon Martin (left ankle soreness), while not in uniform for the Cavaliers are Miles and rookie shooting guard Carrick Felix (left patellar stress fracture).

• The Sixers will try to snap a 15-game losing streak when they host the Utah Jazz tonight at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers haven't dropped 16 in a row since a 20-game skid during the dubious 9-73 season in 1972-73.

• The Sixers have also suffered 12 straight home losses, their most since the 1996-97 season. A 13th consecutive home loss would be a franchise record.