***** NBA Previews from The Sports Network *****
Sunday, March 9th
(All times Eastern)
MIAMI HEAT (43-16) AT CHICAGO BULLS (34-28), 1 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami Heat hope to close out a three-game road trip
on a winning note when they visit the Chicago Bulls Sunday afternoon at the
The Heat lost the opener of the trip at Houston on Tuesday, then sustained a
111-87 loss to San Antonio two nights later. In a rematch of last season's NBA
Finals, the Spurs laid the wood to the two-time defending champion Heat and
took advantage of 21 Miami turnovers by posting 21 points.
San Antonio had a 37-22 advantage following 12 minutes of play and later
scored 29 of the 42 points in the fourth quarter to dispatch the Heat, who
were led by Chris Bosh's 24 points. The Heat trailed by as many as 14 early in
the third before fighting back and a pair of LeBron James free throws pulled
them within 79-74.
San Antonio led by as many as 24 down the stretch.
James had 19 points and has amassed 41 points in the last two games after a
career-high 61-point explosion on Monday versus Charlotte. James talked about
the longsleeved jerseys the Heat wore against the Spurs.
"I'm not making excuses, but I'm not a big fans of the jerseys. Every time I
shoot it feels like it's just pulling right up underneath my arm," James said.
"I already don't have much room for error on my jump shot. It's definitely not
a good thing."
James also took off the protective face mask he was wearing for a broken nose
suffered in Oklahoma City on Feb. 20.
"I don't like it," James said of the mask. "It's that simple, just got
frustrated with it early on so I took it off. It didn't help me, taking it
off. It's probably a game-to-game thing."
Dwyane Wade scored 16 points in the loss, Miami's second in a row on the road
after a four-game winning streak as the guest. The Heat, who are 1 1/2 games
behind Indiana for the East's top seed, had won eight in a row and 11 of 12
games before the recent slide and are 19-12 away from South Beach.
After visiting the Bulls, Miami will return to south Florida for the next four
games versus Washington, Brooklyn, Denver and Houston.
The Bulls are coming off Friday's tough loss versus Memphis in the opener of a
six-game homestand, but have been a bright spot since the calendar turned. In
the 85-77 setback to the Grizzlies, Chicago couldn't get much going
offensively and its traditional defense was suspect at times.
Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol each had a double-double for Memphis, which held
the Bulls to 41.3 percent shooting and 2-of-13 from 3-point range. The Bulls
were led by Taj Gibson's 18 points off the bench, while Joakim Noah and D.J.
Augustin scored 15 and 14 points, respectively. Noah was coming off his third
triple-double in a span of 22 days.
Chicago was outscored 50-38 over the last two quarters.
"We didn't play well in the second half," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "In
this league you usually get what you deserve. Missed shots are part of it. You
can deal with that, but your defense and your rebounding you have to be able
to count on."
The Bulls, owners of a 22-10 mark since Jan. 1 and fourth in the East
standings, had won five in a row at home until Friday's loss and fell to 18-11
in the Windy City. They will also welcome San Antonio, Houston, Sacramento and
Oklahoma City to the United Center on the current stay.
Chicago is still 10-3 in the last 13 games and will close out a four-game
series with the Heat in the regular season. Miami has won two of the first
three matchups, but is just 3-11 in the last 14 trips to Chicago.
Miami is averaging 104.4 ppg and the Bulls are allowing 92.2 ppg. Opposing
teams are shooting just 43.3 percent against the Bulls.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (46-16) AT LOS ANGELES LAKERS (21-42), 3:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder will try to be the next team
to run up the score on the floundering Los Angeles Lakers when the two Western
Conference inhabitants clash Sunday at Staples Center.
The Lakers have given up 408 total points in the last three games, allowing an
average of 136.0 ppg, and are 29th in opponents' scoring at 107.9 ppg.
Oklahoma City is averaging 105.7 ppg this season and has scored 100-plus
points in each of the last six games, including a 128-122 setback at Phoenix
on Thursday. The Thunder had a 16-point lead late in the third quarter until
the Suns stormed back with a 21-2 run.
One game after recording a triple-double in about 20 minutes versus
Philadelphia, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook scored a season-high 36 points
on 13-of-22 shooting and made 4-of-9 3-pointers. Westbrook also had nine
rebounds, nine assists and four steals.
NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant had 34 points and made 12-of-24 from the
field, while Serge Ibaka and newcomer Caron Butler scored 18 and 14 points,
respectively, for OKC, which had a three-game winning streak stopped and lost
for the fourth time in seven tries.
Durant leads the NBA with 31.8 ppg and has scored 25 or more points in the
last 27 games, averaging 35.3 points in that terrific run. He scored 25-plus
points in 29 straight games back in 2009-10.
The Thunder, who have a 20-10 road record, are even with San Antonio for the
top spot in the Western Conference and will start a three-game homestand next
week versus the Houston Rockets, Lakers and Dallas Mavericks.
Oklahoma City hopes to show some of its resiliency in L.A. and is 42-12 in
games after a loss since the start of the 2011-12 season.
The Lakers have lost three in a row and 10 of their last 13 games, and dropped
a 134-126 decision at Denver on Friday. Pau Gasol led the charge with 27
points, Ryan Kelly and Jordan Farmar scored 24 apiece and Jodie Meeks added 16
in a losing effort.
"We are trying everything we can do," Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I
don't know if the air has gone out or we are tired or what the problem is."
Los Angeles has been marred by injuries all season and hopes a return home
will bear fruitful results. It is 10-20 at Staples Center and has lost two
straight and 11 of 13 games as the host.
In injury news, Nick Young (knee) is questionable Sunday and has missed the
last seven games. Young once led the Lakers in scoring this season and is
averaging 16.8 ppg. Gasol leads L.A. with 17.7 points.
The Lakers will have a few days off before visiting the Thunder on Thursday
and are 0-2 against them this season. OKC has won three straight and eight of
the last 10 matchups between the teams.
The Thunder won their last visit to Staples Center on Feb. 13, but have a 4-10
record in the last 14 contests as the guest in this series. Durant scored 19
of his game-high 43 points in the fourth quarter in that recent win.
DENVER NUGGETS (27-34) AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (25-37), 6 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Denver Nuggets will begin a five-game road trip
Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Nuggets will also visit Charlotte, Orlando, Miami and Atlanta, and have an
11-18 record away from the Mile High City.
Denver has won two in a row since a six-game losing streak and is coming off
Friday's 134-126 home win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Denver went 2-1 on the
homestand and was led by Ty Lawson's 30 points and 17 assists. Kenneth Faried
had a game and season-high 32 points with 13 rebounds for the Nuggets.
"Great individual efforts (by) Ty and Kenneth. Great balance in our starting
lineup," Denver head coach Brian Shaw said.
Lawson became the first Denver player to post at least 30 points and 15
assists in a game since Allen Iverson had 44 points and 15 dimes on March 17,
2007. He will try for an encore performance against the Pelicans.
New Orleans has won back-to-back games following an eight-game slide and
opened a six-game homestand with Friday's 112-104 victory over Milwaukee.
Anthony Morrow scored 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, while Anthony
Davis registered 29 points and 14 rebounds. Tyreke Evans chipped in 25 points
and seven assists in the win.
"It's a big win for us. Any win is a big win for us," Pelicans head coach
Monty Williams said.
The Pelicans will also host Memphis, Portland, Boston and Toronto, and have a
14-14 record in the Big Easy.
New Orleans and Denver have split two meetings this season. The Nuggets have
dropped three in a row in the Crescent City.
DETROIT PISTONS (24-38) AT BOSTON CELTICS (21-41), 6 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Pistons will try to continue their recent
mastery of the Boston Celtics when the two teams clash Sunday at TD Garden.
The Pistons have won the first two meetings with the Celtics and will host
them on April 5 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Detroit has won three in a row
and six of the past seven encounters with Boston.
Detroit and Boston have split the last 14 games in Beantown.
The Pistons hope to get back on track and have lost two in a row and nine of
their last 11 games, including Friday's 114-101 setback at Minnesota. Greg
Monroe totaled 20 points and 15 rebounds for the fading Pistons, while Brandon
Jennings and Will Bynum added 17 points apiece.
"We spent the better part of two days showing them and talking to them about
(Minnesota's) transitions, their outlet passes, who leaks out. You can show
it, walk through it, demonstrate it, but sometimes until you're faced with it,
you're not prepared to stop it. And we weren't prepared," Detroit interim head
coach John Loyer said.
Detroit has lost eight in a row on the road and is 10-18 as the guest this
The Celtics will close out a five-game homestand and recorded a 91-84 victory
over the Brooklyn Nets Friday night. Rajon Rondo had 20 points, nine assists
and seven rebounds for Boston, which overcame 28 turnovers by outrebounding
the Nets, 51-28.
"Obviously the difference in the game for us," Celtics head coach Brad Stevens
said. "We shared the ball pretty well with our team, and theirs."
Jeff Green and Jerryd Bayless scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, for the
Celtics, who had lost two straight and seven of eight games.
Boston has a 13-19 home record this season and will visit Indiana Tuesday.
SACRAMENTO KINGS (22-40) AT BROOKLYN NETS (30-30), 6 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Sacramento Kings will resume a seven-game road trip
Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.
The Kings opened the trip with a win at Milwaukee, then dropped a 99-87
decision to Toronto Friday night. DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points, Rudy Gay
added 15 and both Ben McLemore and Isaiah Thomas scored 14.
It was Gay's return to Toronto after he was traded to the Kings in December
and he wasn't pleased with the outcome.
"Yea, I think we went out there and didn't play for each other it shows on the
stat sheet," Gay said.
Sacramento shot 41.7 percent for the game and made only 5-of-19 3-pointers.
The Kings are just 9-21 on the road and will also visit Detroit,
Philadelphia, Chicago and Minnesota on the trek.
Brooklyn will play its next two games at home against Sacramento and Toronto,
and has won six in a row at Barclays Center.
The Nets, who are 18-11 as the host, had a four-game winning streak stopped
with Friday's 91-84 loss at Boston. Former Celtics star Paul Pierce made
another return to Boston and scored 10 points. Joe Johnson and Deron Williams
scored 21 and 20 points, respectively, for Brooklyn.
"We need to keep working, keep grinding and understand we can't take anyone
lightly," Nets head coach Jason Kidd said.
Nets veteran center Kevin Garnett missed his fourth straight game due to back
spasms and is questionable Sunday.
Brooklyn suffered a 107-86 loss at Sacramento on Nov. 13 and had won the
previous three meetings between the teams. The Kings have lost four in a row
as the visitor in this series.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (42-20) AT HOUSTON ROCKETS (43-19), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of Western Conference powers collide Sunday, as
the Houston Rockets play host to the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Rockets are third in the West standings and the Blazers sit fifth, just
one game behind Houston.
Houston has won four in a row and 14 of its last 16 games, including an
impressive 112-86 victory over the Indiana Pacers. James Harden scored 28
points, Dwight Howard chipped in 15 to go with seven rebounds and both
Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin added 11 points.
"I really like what I see," Houston head coach Kevin McHale said. "I like it
defensively. Everyone is on the same page. They are talking it out, and the
guys are doing their job of just playing together."
The Rockets have won seven in a row at home and are 25-7 in Space City. They
will start a three-game road trip Tuesday against Oklahoma City, Chicago and
Portland will continue its five-game trip down south and started the trek with
Friday's 103-98 loss at Dallas.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 points on 13-of-28 shooting anf pulled down 17
rebounds in defeat, while Wesley Matthews netted 26 points for the Blazers,
who have dropped two of three games since a five-game win streak.
The Blazers committed 19 turnovers for 23 Dallas points and had scored 100 or
more points in the previous nine games.
Portland still has Memphis, San Antonio and New Orleans to visit on the trip
and owns an 18-12 mark outside the Rose City. Blazers forward Nicolas Batum is
probable for Sunday with a bruised nose and is averaging 12.9 points.
The Trail Blazers have lost two of three matchups with Houston this season and
eight of the past 11 games in the series. The Rockets are 15-3 in the last 18
encounters with the Blazers at the Toyota Center.
TORONTO RAPTORS (34-26) AT MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES (31-30), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors will start
a quick trip Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Raptors will also visit Brooklyn and are 16-14 on the road.
Toronto has won two straight and eight of its last 10 games, and is coming off
Friday's 99-87 triumph over Sacramento. Terrence Ross went 6-of-8 from beyond
the arc and scored 18 points, while DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Patterson had 15
Jonas Valanciunas scored 14 and Kyle Lowry had 12 points and seven assists.
The game marked the return of Rudy Gay, who was dealt to the Kings back in
December. The Raptors have played well since the trade and are third in the
Toronto, which is 29-7 when holding teams under 100 points, matched last
season's win total of 34. It is trying to go nine games over .500 for the
first time since the end of 2006-07.
Minnesota will resume a four-game homestand Sunday and is 1-1 so far. It lost
to New York in the opener of the stay, but bounced back with Friday's 114-101
win over Detroit.
Kevin Love posted 28 points and 14 rebounds, while Kevin Martin added 24
points and Nikola Pekovic had 17 along with nine rebounds for the
Timberwolves, winners in seven of nine games.
"We have to have more discipline in what we do. I don't care what the score
is. That is what we have to learn. It has hurt us in the past and it will hurt
us again if we aren't aware of the time and the score," Wolves head coach Rick
Ricky Rubio tallied 11 points, nine assists and eight boards in the win.
Minnesota is five games off a playoff spot and 17-12 in the Twin Cities. It
will close the homestand Tuesday versus Milwaukee.
The T'Wolves dropped a 94-89 decision at Toronto on Jan. 17 and have lost five
straight and 17 of the last 18 meetings between the teams. The Raptors are 7-1
in the previous eight visits to Target Center.
INDIANA PACERS (46-16) AT DALLAS MAVERICKS (37-26), 7:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers have already clinched a playoff
berth, but haven't been playing like a contender lately.
The Pacers will try to stop a season-high three-game losing streak Sunday
against the Dallas Mavericks in the finale of a three-game road trip.
Indiana dropped its third straight game with Friday's 112-86 setback at
Houston, as David West led the way with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Paul George
(13) and Luis Scola (10) were the other double-digit scorers for Indiana.
"Every team I've ever been a part of has had a stretch like we're in right
now," Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said. "It stinks right now. It's not fun
right now, but we've got a good team and we'll regroup."
Indiana trailed by as many as 16 in the first half, but whittled the gap to
50-43 going into the break. The Rockets later had a 23-3 run and led by a
commanding 73-50 score. The Rockets tallied 17 points off 19 Indiana turnovers
and shot 52.6 percent (40-of-76) from the floor.
The Pacers are 1 1/2 games ahead of Miami for the East's top spot and have a
17-12 record away from home. Their current slide comes on the heels of winning
five in a row.
Indiana will host Boston on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks are in the eighth spot in the West and were able to
stop a three-game slide with a 103-98 triumph over Portland on Friday.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points, Jose Calderon had 19 and Monta Ellis ended
with 17 points for the Mavs. Dallas was outscored 36-18 in the third quarter,
but got back into it during the final stanza.
"It was a horrible third quarter, and they got going. Give them credit. They
hung in, they kept fighting and making plays," Mavericks head coach Rick
The Mavs are 20-10 in Big D this season and will start a three-game western
trek Tuesday against Golden State, Utah and Oklahoma City.
Dallas defeated Indiana by an 81-73 score on Feb. 12 to stop a three-game
slide in this series. The Pacers have lost 11 of 14 trips to Dallas.
PHOENIX SUNS (36-25) AT GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (39-24), 9 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Golden State Warriors will close out their season
series with the Pacific Division-rival Phoenix Suns Sunday night.
The Warriors have lost two of the first three matchups with Phoenix, but is
7-2 in the last nine games in this series.
Phoenix has lost four straight and 10 of 15 trips to Golden State.
Golden State opened a three-game homestand with Friday's 111-97 victory over
the slumping Atlanta Hawks, as David Lee paced the victors with 18 points and
six rebounds. Jermaine O'Neal provided 17 points and eight rebounds, while
Stephen Curry added 13 points and seven assists for Golden State, which has
won three straight and eight of its last 10.
"We're chasing greatness," Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said. "It's a
great time. And if nobody else knows it, we know it."
The Warriors, seeded sixth in the West, are 19-10 at home and will close the
residency Tuesday versus Dallas. Warriors guard Klay Thompson is probable
Sunday with a back issue and is averaging 17.8 points.
Phoenix is seventh in the West and has won three of four games, including
Thursday's 128-122 victory over Oklahoma City.
Gerald Green set career highs with 41 points and eight 3-pointers. Markieff
Morris contributed 24 points, Goran Dragic tallied 22 and Marcus Morris added
15 points for the Suns, who erased a 16-point third quarter deficit with a
huge run that bled into the fourth quarter.
The Suns stopped an 11-game slide to the Thunder and held on despite giving up
70 points to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
"These guys have done that all year," Phoenix head coach Jeff Hornacek said of
his team's effort. "They get down and keep playing. And then you have a guy
like Gerald get hot. (The Thunder) are a great team. We have to play like that
to barely beat them."
Phoenix shot 52.5 percent and sank 15-of-27 3-pointers.
The Suns are 14-13 on the road and will visit the Los Angeles Clippers Monday.
03/09 11:12:10 ET