NBA.com news services
POSTED: Apr 4, 2014 6:14 PM ET
UPDATED: Apr 4, 2014 6:29 PM ET
• Denver guard Ty Lawson missed the team's breakfast meeting this morning and will not start tonight, coach Brian Shaw said. Aaron Brooks will start in his place, with Lawson coming off the bench. "Things happen," Shaw said. "Guys are late from time-to-time and they miss things. It's not the first time it's happened with our team. It's the first time for him this season. ... I'm just trying to be consistent in the discipline when it comes to that. I want us to be professionals all the way through to the end. He made a mistake, so that's the price in not starting tonight. It's not a big deal."
• The Nuggets are coming off a 137-107 win against New Orleans Wednesday night. Shaw was hoping to get that type of high-scoring game last week when the Grizzlies visited Denver on the second night of a back-to-back after losing in Portland. Instead, the Grizzlies played at their preferred pace and squeaked out a 94-92 win. "It was a grind-out game," Shaw said. "It was the first time for us that we held a team under 100 points in, well, I don't even know if I'm buying the fact that we held them under 100 points, or their pace kept the game under 100 points."
• With Grizzlies in a playoff battle with Dallas and Phoenix for the final two spots in the Western Conference, March Madness for them has spilled over into April, where it is likely to remain until the final game which is against the Mavericks. They are coming off a disappointing 2-3 road trip, which ended with Wednesday's loss at Minnesota. The Grizzlies are currently in the eighth spot, just ahead of Phoenix. "We've playing with a playoff purpose since Christmas," coach Dave Joerger said. "We've been playing from behind. I think (Sunday) was just one of those situations where it just kind of caught up with us. Mentally and physically, we were exhausted. But we've been hanging on tight for a long time." The Grizzlies were off on Thursday and did not have a shootaround today.
• Shaw said Quincy Miller will start against at small forward. He then, recalled a funny moment from last week's game against Memphis when Miller was guard the Grizzlies' Tayshaun Prince. "The first time Tayshaun Prince got the ball, he caught it on the wing and drove it left to the middle and one of the fans in the stands yelled down, `C'mon Quincy. Everybody knows Tayshaun Prince is left-handed and likes to go left.' " Shaw said. "Our whole coaching staff on the bench clapped because the fan was able to figure that out. I thought that was a unique moment."
• The Toronto Raptors will be without Kyle Lowry (knee) and Amir Johnson (ankle) on Friday night against the Indiana Pacers.
• The Raptors are currently tied with the Chicago Bulls for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference. They also have a two and a half game lead over the Brooklyn Nets for the Atlantic Division lead. Each game at this point in the season is crucial for the Raptors. "It's important. I mean it's not worth jeopardizing someone's health," head coach Dwane Casey said about winning the Atlantic. "We've got guys that are nicked up, banged up and we've got to make sure they are healthy. We can't run them into the ground at the sake of trying to win now. With that said, next man up, guys step in. Guys want playing time, want to show what they can do and here's an opportunity to come out and produce, do your job and help us win."
• The Pacers are marred in a rough stretch, having lost three of four and a season-worst five straight on the road. They now find themselves percentage points behind the Miami heat for first place in the East.
• Andrew Bynum (knee) and C.J Watson (hamstring) are out for the Pacers.
• Winners of three in a row and 12 of 15, the Knicks (33-43) enter night in sole possession of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, leading the Atlanta Hawks by percentage points. The Knicks face a daunting final stretch with all seven games in April consisting of playoff-bound teams over .500. That string started on Wednesday with a 110-81 blowout of the Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden.
• The Knicks will start Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler. Tim Hardaway Jr. returned unexpectedly from a sprained right ankle to score 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting, but Andrea Bargnani (torn left elbow ligament) and Kenyon Martin (sore left ankle) remain out.
• Knicks head coach Mike Woodson went as far as to say neither Bargnani, nor Martin has been on the practice court yet and did not know if either would return at all this season.
• Behind the backcourt tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal, the Wizards (39-36) have clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2008. Their 39 wins are also the most since that 2007-08 season. The Wizards currently sit in sixth in the Eastern Conference, 1.5 games behind the Nets for fifth and two games ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats, who are in seventh. The Wizards have not won a playoff series since 2005.
• Wall and Beal will be joined in the starting lineup by Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker and Marcin Gortat. Nene will miss his 20th straight game with a sprained left MCL, which he suffered on Feb. 23 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
• Charlotte forward Josh McRoberts will be out both Friday against Orlando andn Saturday in Cleveland with a sprained left ankle. McRoberts was injured in Charlotte's win over Washington Monday night. McRoberts was replaced in the team's 123-93 win over Philadelphia Wednesday night by rookie Cody Zeller. Clifford expects that Zeller will again get starts both games this weekend. Zeller had nine points and eight rebounds against the Sixers in 27 minutes of action.
• This matchup features a team who is playing well at home as the Bobcats have won 11 of its 13 at Time Warner Cable Arena against a team that struggles mightily on the road. Orlando has just one win in 2014 away from home and is 4-34 on the season while not playing at the Amway Center.
• Nicola Vucevic will be a big area of focus for the Bobcats tonight. Vucevic had 24 points and 23 rebounds in the win over the Bobcats last Friday. Charlotte was outrebounded by Orlando 57-36 in that game and Clifford indicated pre-game that both of those were areas he wanted the team's focus to be on tonight.
• Orlando's Victor Oladipo and Zeller, former teammates at Indiana, will again do battle when these teams square off. Oladipo is averaging 16.0 points over his last five games while Zeller has begun to mature into a solid role player for the Bobcats.
• Orlando starters: Maurice Harkless, Kyle O'Quinn, Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson. Charlotte starters: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Al Jefferson, Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker.
• Oralando inactives: None. Charlotte inactives: Brendan Haywood (stress fractucre, left food) and Jeffery Taylor (ruptured right Achilles tendon).