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4 NBA things to know for Jan. 7

Some key storylines and NBA tidbits to know for the day ahead

1. Thunder, Nets set to square off

Even after losing on the road to the Sixers last night, the Oklahoma City Thunder remain one of the hottest teams in the NBA. The same cannot be said for the Brooklyn Nets, who fell on the road in Orlando on Monday and now host the Thunder (7:30 ET, NBA TV). The Nets’ starters have been slumping lately to say the least. Since Brooklyn’s six-game losing streak began on Dec. 26, its starters are averaging 62.3 points per game (which ranks 26th in the NBA).

2. What happens next in Detroit?

The Pistons have found themselves in the headlines lately, and not for winning games. There have been persistent trade rumors about Andre Drummond, as well as star forward Blake Griffin now out indefinitely and Detroit being blocked (literally) 20 times by the Lakers on Sunday night. The Pistons visit the Cavs (7 ET, League Pass) and have to try to keep all these storylines out of mind. Despite all this off-court drama, the Pistons are just 4 1/2 games back of the Orlando Magic for No. 8 in the East.

3. Knicks showing signs of life

Under new coach Mike Miller, New York is 6-8 since the firing of David Fizdale in early December. While few are expecting the Knicks to make a serious run at the playoffs, they are improved of late. A game in L.A. against the West-leading Lakers (10:30 ET, NBA TV) is one of many tests New York faces in the coming days (in Utah on Jan. 8, vs. Miami on Jan. 12). Keep an eye on Julius Randle for the Knicks, who has been pivotal in the team’s success under Miller. Per our John Schuhmann, the Knicks are 7-4 (5-1 under Mike Miller) when Randle has scored more than 20 points.

4. Lakers’ historic run in 1972

On Nov. 5, 1971, the Lakers beat the Baltimore Bullets 110-106. By Jan. 7, 1972, those winning ways continued to an NBA-record 33 straight games with a 134-90 drubbing of the Atlanta Hawks. The Lakers would lose their next game (a 120-104 decision to the Milwaukee Bucks), but were unstoppable once the playoffs got rolling. They reached The Finals and beat the New York Knicks in five games to secure the franchise’s first title in Los Angeles.