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Ten Before Tip: Monday news in the NBA

POSTED: Mar 10, 2014 8:09 PM ET
UPDATED: Mar 11, 2014 2:10 AM ET news services


• Eric Bledsoe is close to returning for the Suns -- but not tonight against the Clippers in Los Angeles. Bledsoe hasn't played since a Dec. 30 game against the Clippers at Staples Center, when he began feeling discomfort in his right knee and underwent surgery to repair damaged cartilage about a week later. Bledsoe was drafted by the Clippers 18th overall in 2010 and played his first three NBA seasons in L.A. before he was traded to Phoenix in a three-way deal that brought J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley to the Clippers. Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said he expects Bledsoe to make his return Wednesday against visiting Cleveland.

• Dudley and Redick won't play tonight either, and the Clippers will also be without second-leading scorer Jamal Crawford, who attempted to come back from a left calf strain Saturday night against the visiting Hawks but felt discomfort in the muscle and is now day-to-day. Even without those three, the Clippers have continued to win. They come in riding a season-long seven-game winning streak, having reached triple digits in points in all seven.

• Suns center Miles Plumlee, who missed last week's loss to the Clippers and a victory two nights later against the visiting Thunder (right knee sprain), is set to return to the starting lineup tonight after coming off the bench in Sunday's loss at Golden State.

• The Jazz are returning home tonight to play the Hawks after going 1-5 on their six-game road trip the past week and a half — with their only victory coming against the 76ers on Saturday. Utah will now be home for its next three games.

• Tonight's game represents a homecoming for current Hawks and former Jazz players Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll. Millsap was drafted by the Jazz and played in Utah for seven seasons before signing with Atlanta during this past offseason. When asked if his team misses Millsap, Utah coach Tyrone Corbin responded immediately. "Absolutely," he said. "The professionalism he shows and the intangibles he brings to a team are irreplaceable. ... He was a huge part of any type of success we had while he was here."

• Point guard Jeff Teague missed Atlanta's morning shootaround due to ear wax buildup, but will be fine to start against the Jazz tonight.

• Rookie Victor Oladipo will return to action for the Magic tonight against the host Bucks after missing the previous two games with a left ankle injury. Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said Oladipo will come off the bench. "I don't know how many minutes he's going to play," Vaughn said. "I'll see how he feels, see him in live action cutting. He's been out probably for a week, so I'll take a scope and see how he feels."

• O.J. Mayo returns for the Bucks after serving a one-game suspension for throwing a forearm/elbow at the Pelicans' Greg Stiemsma Friday night in the first quarter of a 112-104 Milwaukee loss. Bucks coach Larry Drew said the absence of Mayo may have played a role in the Bucks' awful first half against Washington Saturday night. "He's part of the rotation and we had to change some things up as far as the rotation was concerned," Drew said.

• Heat guard Dwyane Wade will play tonight against the visiting Wizards . This is his first time playing the second night of a back-t0-back since Jan. 4 and 5 versus the Magic and Raptors.

• Miami center Greg Oden will not be available. Coach Erik Spoelstra said this is a rest game for Oden after he played a few minutes against the Bulls on Sunday.

• The Wizards have won five straight on the road after the All-Star Break for the first time in franchise history.

• The Knicks' Tyson Chandler will miss tonight's game against the visiting 76ers for personal reasons and it's unclear when he will return. "He's fine, it's personal matters and we've gotta deal with that," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. Asked how long he might be out, Woodson said, "I have no idea."

• Woodson addressed the Phil Jackson-to-the-Knicks rumors. "I just gotta stay the course and stay focused," he said. "It's out there, it's what it is, but my focus is really on our team and getting ready for this Sixer team tonight."

• The Sixers (15-47) will try to snap a 16-game losing streak, yet still have only the second-worst record in the NBA behind the Milwaukee Bucks. The Sixers haven't dropped 16 in a row since a 20-game skid during the dubious 9-73 season in 1972-73.

• The Knicks have won three in a row after a seven-game losing streak and enter tonight 3½ games back of Atlanta for the No. 8 seed in the East. Atlanta has played three fewer games than the Knicks. If the Knicks win tonight and Atlanta loses, New York will be only 2½ games back.

• The Nets' Kevin Garnett will return tonight against the visiting Raptors after a five-game absence due to back spasms while Paul Pierce will return to the Nets' lineup after missing most of Sunday's game with a sore shoulder. Andrei Kirilenko (sprained right ankle) will not play. Other than a loss in January to the Raptors, the Nets with Kirilenko are 14-0 when playing at Barclays Center.

• Raptors coach Dwane Casey said that Tyler Hansbrough, Steve Novak and Chuck Hayes would fill in by committee with Patrick Patterson (right ulnar collateral strain) out. Casey noted that who played would be dictated by matchups.

• The Nets will play the Raptors for the third time on the second night of a back-to-back. The Nets, often without Kevin Garnett, have struggled on the second night of back-to-backs this season. Another win will put the Raptors five games ahead of the Nets in the Atlantic Division and give them the season series tiebreaker, pushing Toronto that much closer to their first division title since 2007.

• The Bobcats' Gerald Henderson is out again tonight against the visiting Nuggets -- the fifth straight game that he's missed due to a right calf strain -- but coach Steve Clifford said Henderson may resume practicing Tuesday, and could be in the lineup for the Bobcats' road game against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

• The Bobcats -- now 29-34 -- have exceeded their win total from the past two seasons combined, and appear to be on their way to their first NBA Playoffs berth since 2010. The Bobcats currently hold the Eastern Conference's No. 7 seed by two games over the Hawks with 19 games remaining, and have won six consecutive home games.

• On the other hand, the Nuggets are close to being out of playoff contention. At 27-35 with 20 games remaining, they're nine games behind the Grizzlies and Suns, who are battling for the Western Conference's No. 8 seed. The Nuggets haven't helped themselves with their play over the last month -- since Feb. 5, when they were 24-23, Denver has gone 3-12 overall and 1-7 in road games.