POSTED: Apr 8, 2014 8:15 PM ET
UPDATED: Apr 8, 2014 10:56 PM ET
• The Rockets will be without Dwight Howard for a sixth straight game and ninth in the last 11 when Houston pays a visit to the injury-riddled Lakers at Staples Center tonight. Howard first missed time March 17 against the Jazz, a day after a one-point loss to the Heat in which he had 21 points and 14 rebounds. He missed three games before playing in two straight against the Bobcats and 76ers, but was then shut down against when the ankle continued to bother him. Howard is reportedly close to returning to action, as the Rockets have five remaining games after tonight, four against non-playoff teams, and began the day in fourth place in the Western Conference three games behind the Clippers and two games ahead of the Trail Blazers.
• The Lakers lost another player for the season due to injury in Sunday's loss to the Clippers. Kent Bazemore, who was acquired from the Warriors just before February's trade deadline, suffered a torn tendon in his right foot and will undergo surgery. Bazemore joined Kobe Bryant (knee), Pau Gasol(vertigo) and Xavier Henry (wrist, knee) on the list of players who won't return for the final five games this season, while Chris Kaman (calf) remain day-to-day. Nick Young limped off the floor in the third quarter of Sunday's loss to the Clippers, but returned in the fourth, giving the Lakers eight healthy bodies. They should be up to 10 tonight with Steve Nash (back) and Jordan Farmar (groin) also returning.
• With the Thunder playing the first night of a back-to-back, All-Star guard Russell Westbrook will sit out tonight's contest to rest up for tomorrow's matchup with the Clippers. According to coach Scott Brooks, Reggie Williams will get the start in his absence.
• The Kings are playing for nothing but pride and will be without Isaiah Thomas, Reggie Evans and possibly Rudy Gay, who is doubtful with a back injury. Rookie Ray McCallum will continue to start in Thomas' place. Jason Thompson will start at the power forward position and coach Michael Malone had not decided between Derrick Williams or Travis Outlaw, if Gay can't go.• Nets center Kevin Garnett will not play tonight as part of his late-season maintenance program. He is expected to play tomorrow night.
• Heat guard Dwyane Wade will miss his seventh straight game because of a strained hamstring. Wade is also doubtful for Wednesday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
• Miami center Greg Oden will also sit a seventh straight game due to back spasms. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Oden is "improving" on a daily basis.
• San Antonio will be without the services of Tony Parker, who is dealing with back spasms. An MRI on Monday showed an sprained facet joint on his left side. He will be considered day-to-day when San Antonio returns home on Friday after this two game road trip.
• Minnesota is severely short-handed for tonight's game. Missing will be Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, and Shabazz Muhammad. Pekovic is dealing with a sore right ankle, an ailment that has sidelined him for 22 of the last 32 games; Martin has a sore right foot, Budinger has a sprained ankle, an injury sustained in the opening minute of Saturday's game at Orlando; and Muhammad has a sprained MCL in his right knee, an injury sustained in the second quarter of Friday's victory in Miami. The team has announced that Budinger and Muhammad are done for the season.
• The Atlanta Hawks (34-42 22-15 at home, 14-8 vs. the East) will try to improve their hold on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference when they host the Detroit Pistons (28-49, 11-26 on the road — but 9-14 vs. the Eastern Conference) tonight at Philips Arena. Tonight will be the fourth and final meeting between the teams and is a make-up date for the Jan. 29 game that was postponed due to inclement weather. The Hawks, who begin tonight two games up on idle New York with six games to play (the Knicks have four games remaining), have won two of the three games against the Pistons this season and have won three of four overall. The Pistons looks to make it back-to-back wins for the first time since early February and try to reverse a trend that has seen them lose 10 of their last 13 and 15 of their last 16 on the road.
• Former Hawk Josh Smith also will not start for Detroit, due to left patella tendinitis. He will be replaced by Kyle Singler. Pistons guard Will Bynum will miss his third straight game with a left-foot injury. Atlanta guard Lou Williams will miss his second straight game as he nurses a sore left hamstring.
• Utah Jazz forward Marvin Williams was listed as a game-time decision because of left knee inflammation against the Dallas Mavericks tonight, but he will play and be in the starting lineup. Williams will be making his 50th start of the season.
• Having Williams is more impactful than some people may realize. He is probably best equipped on the Jazz roster to guard Dirk Nowitzki. Williams will do most of the work against Nowitzki, and he'll also get some help from Derrick Favors and Jeremy Evans. "(Williams) is a guy with a little bit more mobility, but Derrick is capable of playing him," said Utah coach Tyrone Corbin. "Derrick's size and the way he can move ... he's going to have to play him some regardless. We worry a little bit about foul trouble with him trying to protect the paint. We'll look and see how it is."
• It could be a big night for Nowitzki. He needs 18 points to pass Oscar Robertson for 10th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. And considering how well Nowitzki usually plays in Utah, he probably has a good shot at moving up the list. Not that it's currently on the minds of the playoff-pushing Mavericks at the moment. "We'll talk about that when it happens," said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle. "It's going to be a great accomplishment, but we got other things to do first.