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Ten Before Tip: NBA news from Sunday

POSTED: Apr 6, 2014 12:20 PM ET
UPDATED: Apr 6, 2014 8:22 PM ET news services


• New Orleans had won five in a row before losing four straight going into tonight's game. The Pelicans are going without their 2-3-4 scorers in Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Jrue Holiday, plus reserve center Jason Smith, all missing due to injury. "It's comparable to if we took Damian (Lillard), Wes (Matthews), Nic (Batum) and Joel Freeland from our team," Stotts said. "It puts a lot of pressure on everybody. Monty's a terrific coach. He has handled the situation very well. I've been in situations like that, and it's difficult. This league is hard enough when you have your guys. I can empathize with what they're going through."

• Portland can clinch a playoff berth with a victory and a loss tonight from one of the following teams: Dallas, Memphis or Phoenix.

• New Orleans' Anthony Davis, who has been dealing with back spasms recently, is expected to start to tonight. "Spasms and soreness, but he's a lot better than he was," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "He's structurally fine. We're OK playing him if he wants to play. We think he's going to play tonight."

• Golden State center Andrew Bogut will return after a four-game absence due to a contusion in the pelvic region. Power forward David Lee remains out with a strained right hamstring, and that diagnosis might change for the worse; Warriors coach Mark Jackson told reporters that an MRI exam administered on Thursday showed "nerve inflammation," and there's no guarantee the two-time All-Star will be back in time for the playoffs. "He's frustrated right now, and rightfully so," Jackson said. "We don't know how long (he'll be out), but he's doing everything that he possibly can to get back on the floor for this basketball team. . . . It seemed like he'd be ready (by now), but he's not."

• Draymond Green will open at the 4 for Golden State, his fourth straight start. He's averaging 9.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists in his last three games.

• Jackson held court for 15 minutes, which might a season high, as media members grilled him on the departure of assistant coach Darren Erman. Erman, previously Golden State's No. 2 assistant, was abruptly fired Saturday for what the Warriors termed a "violation of company policy." Erman's departure follows the demotion last week of fellow assistant Brian Scalabrine to D-League work after a falling out with Jackson. "I hurt for Darren Erman not being here, and my guys hurt," Jackson said. "But the mission remains the mission, and the assignment remains the assignment. In spite of all the talk, and all the chatter, we're going to go out and handle our business. We're not going to get caught up in that."

• After spraining his left ankle Friday in a win against Denver, Tayshaun Prince will miss tonight's game for the Grizzlies (45-31). Memphis coach David Joerger said he's not sure how the starting lineup will shake out. "We've got a couple of opti0ns," he said, without divulging what they are. "It'll be a game-time decision. We've got a couple of health issues we've got to figure out." Joerger hasn't had to think about it much because Prince has started 73 of the Grizzlies' 76 games this season.

• Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Matt Bonner will be available for the first time (59-17) after missing the last eight games with a right calf strain.

• Popovich said he'd like to see Kawhi Leonard get more minutes in the last few games prior to the playoffs. "He's somebody we want to play as many minutes as possible against the other team's best player, if he's got the most potential to guard that person," Popovich said. "We want him to get as much experience with those guys. It just makes him starter. We want to up his minutes. He's going to play more minutes than Tim Duncan probably. He's going to play more minutes than Manu Ginobili probably. He's never been been able to do this. It's either been a lockout season or he's been injured and we had to limit his minutes."

• Nuggets guard Ty Lawson will miss Sunday's game against the Rockets with a sprained left ankle, which the fifth-year veteran suffered during Friday's loss at Memphis. Former Rocket Aaron Brooks, who started in Lawson's place Friday as a form of discipline for Lawson's absence at the team's breakfast meeting that morning, will make his second start in a row for Denver. "Hopefully [Brooks] will have a good outing against his ex-team," coach Brian Shaw said. "We joked at our breakfast meeting this morning that we pray for a good outing by one of ours guys against their ex-team. ... [Our guys have] all struggled against their ex-teams, and so we were looking forward to somebody having a good game against one of their ex-teams."

• Sacramento Kings (27-49) starting point guard Isaiah Thomas will miss his seventh straight game with a deep thigh bruise today and may not play again this season. "He's definitely out today," coach Michael Malone said. "There is a potential that we could shut him down for the season. That decision has not been made at this point, so we're still holding out some hope that maybe he can come back, but we're not going to risk anything."

• With Thomas out, rookie second round pick Ray McCallum will make his seventh consecutive start. "He's only going to get better from a skills standpoint," Malone said of his rookie. "But the mental toughness and composure that he has at such an early age, I think is a great characteristic to have."

• The Pacers were unable to practice Saturday thanks to another travel problem. After they lost 102-94 in Toronto Friday night, the traveling party was stranded at the airport for several hours after a baggage cart blew into the side of their charter jet, damaging the fuselage. After attempts to secure another plane failed, the Pacers found a nearby hotel and spent the night, returning to Indianapolis Saturday afternoon. A major snowstorm in Indianapolis stranded the team in Cleveland in early January, and bad weather in San Antonio forced them to land in Houston and take buses the rest of the way for a December game.

• Rookie forward Solomon Hill will miss his second straight game with a sore back but is expected to be in uniform tonight. Backup point guard C.J. Watson (hamstring, elbow) will miss tonight's game but could return Wednesday in Milwaukee. Backup center Andrew Bynum (knee) is out indefinitely.

•The Hawks will be without sixth man Lou Williams, a late scratch with a sore left hamstring. Williams is the team's leading bench scorer (10.3) and had averaged 14.4 points in the last. There was some concern about the availability of center Pero Antic due to a sore ankle, but he was listed in the starting lineup.

• Atlanta's magic number for clinching a playoff berth was reduced to four with New York's 102-91 loss in Miami earlier Sunday. Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said he did not watch the game but "I do know who won." He said he is more focused on his team than what the competition is doing. "I think if we continue to play well and do the things we're talking about I think everything will work out the way we want it," he said. "Obviously, New York having more losses is good but I'm more worried about us having less and us playing better and ultimately that's where my focus is."

• The Lakers will try to end a two-game skid against the Clippers in which they've lost by an average of 42 points, playing the visitor at Staples Center when the teams collide today in their final regular-season meeting. Both teams will continue to be shorthanded as the Lakers will be without leading scorer and rebounder Pau Gasol (vertigo), veteran point guard Steve Nash (rest) and top reserves Xavier Henry (knee), Chris Kaman (calf) and Jordan Farmar (groin), leaving them with nine available players. The Clippers won't have third-leading scorer Jamal Crawford (Achilles) and fellow reserve Danny Granger (hamstring)

• The good news for the Clippers is J.J. Redick had no ill effects in his first game back Thursday against the Mavericks after missing two months with a bulging disc in his lower back and will make the start after coming off the bench in the loss to Dallas. Blake Griffin will also continue to start despite dealing with back spasms that caused him to miss a game in Minnesota earlier this week and a tender ankle that he rolled in the final seconds of Thursday's loss to the Mavericks.

• The Clippers enter the day with a fairly firm grip on third place in the Western Conference standings—two games behind the second-place Thunder and three ahead of the fourth-place Rockets. Things could get interesting if the Clippers beat the Lakers and the Thunder lose at Phoenix tonight, as L.A. hosts Oklahoma City on Wednesday, with the Thunder playing another road game against the Kings the night before. The Clippers and Thunder split their two previous meetings, so Wednesday's winner would own the tiebreaker.

• Heat guard Dwyane Wade will miss his sixth straight game with a strained hamstring. Toney Douglas is expected to replace him in the starting lineup.

• Knicks coach Mike Woodson said forward Carmelo Anthony will play despite a sore shoulder. He bruised it in Friday's loss to the Washington Wizards.