Posted Apr 13, 2014 9:01 PM
• The Grizzlies will try not to get caught looking ahead when they visit the Lakers tonight at Staples Center in the final home game for L.A. The Grizzlies have a huge matchup awaiting Monday night in Phoenix, where they'll take on a Suns team that sits a half-game back of Memphis, which owns the tiebreaker. If the Grizzlies win tonight, they would have to lose their final two games and the Suns win their final two to miss out on the playoffs.
• The Lakers have lost six in a row but the good news is they haven't lost a player to injury or illness the last two games. They'll still be down to the same nine healthy players, however, and will likely continue to use just eight, as MarShon Brooks has become the latest forgotten man in Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni's rotation. The list of L.A. players out and likely not coming back for the final three games are Pau Gasol (vertigo), Steve Nash (rest) Xavier Henry (knee), Chris Kaman (calf), Kobe Bryant (knee) and Kent Bazemore (foot). Jordan Hill woke up with a migraine this morning but has felt better as the day has gone on and will be in the starting lineup.
• The Timberwolves limp into Sacramento for tonight's matchup against the Kings. Kevin Love (right elbow) and Kevin Martin (sore right foot) are expected to play after missing Friday night's win over the Houston Rockets. But Nikola Pekovic (sore right ankle), Chase Budinger (right ankle) and Shabazz Muhammad (right knee) or out due to injury.
• According to coach Michael Malone, there is a chance that Isaiah Thomas will return for Sacramento after missing 10 consecutive games with a deep thigh bruise. If he can't go, rookie second round pick Ray McCallum will start in his place.
• Rudy Gay is officially out for the Kings. The veteran forward is struggling with a back issue and Derrick Williams is scheduled to start in his place.
• The Knicks, who host the Bulls tonight, were officially eliminated from the playoffs Saturday and won't appear in the postseason for the first time since 2010 "At the end of the day, I'm the coach and I didn't get it done," Mike Woodson said. "It's just that simple. There's a lot of factors that came behind it, but you can't sit here and complain about it now. I mean, we didn't get it done and being the coach, I just apologize to the fans because they paid their hard-earned money to come see us play and we didn't come into this season expecting this."
• The biggest question the Knicks going forward revolves around Carmelo Anthony, who has said he will opt out and become a free agent July 1. Woodson said he expects Anthony to play these final three games despite him battling a shoulder injury. "He hasn't indicated to me that he's going to sit down, he's going to play tonight," Woodson said. "That's Melo's. He's been there all year, he's had a helluva season for us."
• The Bulls entered the day one game ahead of Toronto for the No. 3 seed in the East.
• The Raptors have already clinched the Atlantic Division title because they have a superior division record than second-place Brooklyn but can win the title outright today. They are also battling for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with Chicago. Toronto guard Landry Fields is not with the team because of flu-like symptoms.
• The Pistons have lost 13 games after carrying a lead into the fourth quarter, including its 106-98 defeat at Chicago on Friday. Interim coach John Loyer blames it on halfcourt defensive breakdowns, poor perimeter shooting and subpar free throw shooting. "Those are three categories where we're in the bottom part of the league," he said. Pistons forward Josh Smith is out for the fourth straight game with left patella tendinitis. Rodney Stuckey will start at shooting guard with Kyle Singler moving to small forward.
• The Pacers and Thunder both will stick with normal rotations for today's national televised game. Concerned that his team was looking worn down, Indiana coach Frank Vogel gave all five starters the night off last Wednesday in Milwaukee but went back to the regular lineup Friday night in a loss to Miami. "I decided to do it all at once last week, gave those five guys basically four days off," he said. "We didn't feel the need to rest them in Miami, or today. After today plays out we'll see where we're at on Wednesday night."
• Though his team is locked into the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, Thunder coach Scott Brooks has no plans to rest his regulars. "Not at all," he said. "We've got an opportunity to play against a very good team on their home court and they obviously have something at stake with the No. 1 seed. I'm assuming with the fan base here it's going to be a great atmosphere and it's going to be a good opportunity to play against a very good basketball team."
• Though Miami's loss to Atlanta Saturday night pushed Indiana back into the top seed in the East, Vogel said the battle for his team is not against the Heat, but to improve. "Our whole focus the last few weeks has just been on playing well," he said. "We've taken our focus off of seeding and all that stuff. All that stuff will play itself out. We're trying to play our best basketball going into the playoffs."
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