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5 NBA things to know for March 10

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

Jeff Case, NBA.com

1. Rockets try to right their ship

Four straight losses have Houston reeling as it hosts Minnesota next (8 ET, League Pass) in what will be Rockets forward Robert Covington’s first game against his old team. While warm fuzzies are nice, a win would be better for the Rockets, who, despite their struggles are just 1 1/2 games behind the Jazz for the No. 4 seed. To get there, as our John Schuhmann notes, James Harden and Russell Westbrook have to get back on track. During the skid, Harden is 8-for-42 on 3-pointers while Westbrook is 20-for-38 on shots in the restricted area.

2. Pacers heating up in East

Indiana has won eight of its last 10 games, but a closer look reveals those two losses — to Eastern Conference leaders Milwaukee (on March 4) and Toronto (on Feb. 23) — were not pleasant. As solid as the Pacers have been at times this season, they are a combined 2-6 against the Bucks and Raptors in 2019-20. A date with Boston is next (7 ET, League Pass) and Indiana can wrap up a playoff berth with a win or a Wizards loss as a logjam is beginning to form in the No. 3-5 seeds in the East. Indiana is No. 5, but trails No. 4 Miami by two games and is three games behind No. 3 Boston.

3. Spurs’ playoff hopes on ropes?

Expecting a Gregg Popovich-led San Antonio team to roll over and give up is a fool’s errand, something Dallas is well aware of even as it seeks its first season-series sweep of the Spurs in franchise history (8 ET, TNT). The Spurs are on decidedly thin playoff ice, and not just because they are five games behind the No. 8-seeded Grizzlies with 20 games to play. San Antonio is 3-5 since the All-Star break and is coming off back-to-back disappointing losses to the Cavaliers and Nets. Defense remains the Spurs’ biggest issue, though. They’re 25th in Defensive Rating and haven’t exactly showed big signs of improvement since the All-Star break, ranking 21st in Defensive Rating since then.

4. Clippers’ new faces getting acclimated

No one can accuse the LA Clippers of being stagnant with their roster this season. Aside from adding Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson late last month, the Clippers made another move on Monday in adding former Kia Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah. He’ll join a frontcourt that is trying to figure out its rotation for the playoffs as the Clippers visit the Warriors next (10:30 ET, TNT). This game isn’t quite the showdown of West playoff teams it was last year, but with Stephen Curry healthy and Patrick Beverley always in the mix for LA, that makes for an exciting matchup to watch at Chase Center tonight.

5. On this date in 2004: McGrady scores 62 in win

The Orlando Magic of 2003-04 had a rough season, finishing 21-61 and missing the playoffs. But for one night at least, their then-superstar Tracy McGrady and his team looked like world-beaters. On March 10, 2004, McGrady became the first player in more than four years to eclipse 60 points, going for a staggering 62 as the Magic posted a 108-99 victory against the Washington Wizards. He made 20-of-37 shots, including 5-of-14 from 3-point range, and 17-of-26 free throws, missing a chance at becoming just the then-fifth player to score 70.

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