National Basketball Association
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                ***** NBA Previews from The Sports Network *****
                              Monday, December 29
                              (All times Eastern)
 ( - The Chicago Bulls are the hottest team in the Eastern
 Conference at the moment with a season-high six straight wins and will pay a
 visit to the Indiana Pacers Monday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
 The Bulls have won nine of their last 10 games and posted a 107-100 victory
 over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, as Jimmy Butler scored 33 points
 and Derrick Rose added 19. Aaron Brooks and Taj Gibson scored 13 and 12
 points, respectively, with Gibson adding 10 rebounds.
 "We got a lot of easy baskets. As a team, we rebounded the ball well and we
 got into the open court," Butler said. "We got a lot of layups. When we're
 playing like that we're really hard to beat."
 Butler is averaging 26.3 ppg in his last six games.
 Chicago shot 46.1 percent and scored 23 points off 15 New Orleans turnovers.
 During the winning streak, the Bulls have won by an average score of 109.0 to
 99.7. They are seventh in the NBA with 103.5 ppg and have lived up to the
 defensive reputation with an opponents' scoring average of 98.7 ppg.
 The Bulls, who have scored 100 or more points 13 times in the last 16 games,
 have been dominant on the road with a 13-4 record and the 13 away wins are
 tied with Golden State for the most in the NBA.
 Chicago is 14-4 against teams from the East and 16-5 when reaching the 100-
 point mark. It will begin a five-game homestand Tuesday versus Brooklyn.
 The Pacers have won three of their last four games, and will play two straight
 at home versus Chicago and Miami. They are 6-8 in Indy.
 Indiana is coming off Saturday's 110-85 victory over the Nets and was led by
 Rodney Stuckey's 20 points and season-high eight assists. David West and C.J.
 Watson scored 17 points apiece for the Pacers, who made 51.2 percent from the
 field and 9-of-18 3-pointers.
 "We're making shots and we're playing for each other," Pacers head coach Frank
 Vogel said. "We're playing unselfish and hopefully that continues."
 Vogel's team scored 60 points in the second half and had 33 assists.
 West has been playing well lately with an average of 13.6 ppg in his last nine
 games. It has helped the Pacers shoot 50 percent or better in each of the
 previous four games after failing to hit the mark over the first 27.
 Indiana, which is 6-9 versus the East, is scoring 94.7 ppg, which is 26th in
 the NBA. However, it is third in opponents' scoring at 96.5 ppg.
 The Pacers defeated the Bulls, 99-90, on Nov. 15 at the United Center thanks
 to 21 points from Luis Scola, Solomon Hill and A.J. Price. Butler scored 32
 points in that one for Chicago, which is winless in the last four trips to
 Chicago leads the overall series 89-80 with the Pacers, but Indiana holds a
 56-29 advantage at home. The Bulls are 6-22 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
 ( - The Milwaukee Bucks can exceed last season's win total
 with a road victory tonight against the Charlotte Hornets.
 The Bucks went 15-67 in 2013-14 and have a 15-16 record right now. They were
 going for back-to-back wins Saturday versus the Atlanta Hawks in the back end
 of a home-and-home set, but dropped a 90-85 decision.
 Khris Middleton scored 21 points off the bench, Zaza Pachulia added 11 and a
 season-best 15 rebounds, and O.J. Mayo scored 12 points in a reserve role. The
 Bucks, who pulverized the Hawks, 107-77, on Friday, made only 38.8 percent for
 the game.
 Atlanta, which had a 21-10 lead after 12 minutes, scored 32 points off 19
 Milwaukee turnovers and recorded a 51-47 advantage on the glass. The Hawks had
 17 offensive boards.
 "I think the game was all about offensive rebounds, we gave up too many second
 chance points, and turnovers," said Pachulia.
 Milwaukee is 8-10 on the road this season and has averaged 102.9 ppg since
 Nov. 18 versus New York. It is shooting 49.1 percent from the floor this
 The Bucks, losers in three of four games, will visit LeBron James and the
 Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday.
 Charlotte has lost two in a row since a season-high four-game win streak and
 looks to rebound from Saturday's 102-94 loss to the Orlando Magic.
 Kemba Walker's career-high 42 points on 15-of-31 shooting were not enough,
 while Al Jefferson finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
 Walker scored 35 points in the second half and has posted 20 or more points
 seven times in the previous 10 games (23.3 ppg in that span).
 "I had a great game, but it wasn't enough," Walker said. "It's disappointing
 we lost."
 The Hornets have scored 100-plus points in five of the past seven contests and
 are 7-10 at Time Warner Cable Arena this season. They will visit the Houston
 Rockets next on Wednesday.
 Charlotte has beaten Milwaukee twice this season and will go for a season
 sweep Monday night. The Hornets have won the last seven games in this series
 and five straight as the host.
 ( - The Sacramento Kings will hit the road for the next four
 games, starting with Monday's showdown against the Brooklyn Nets.
 The Kings will also visit Boston, Minnesota and Detroit on the trip, and have
 lost four straight as the visitor. They are 5-7 away from home.
 Sacramento made sure it departed California's capital on a high note and
 registered a 135-129 overtime victory Saturday versus New York. DeMarcus
 Cousins scored nine of his season-high 39 points in overtime and grabbed 11
 rebounds. He missed Friday's loss to Phoenix due to an illness.
 Cousins has 15 double-doubles this season and recently recorded his 11th in
 the past 12 games. Rudy Gay scored 29 points and Darren Collison added 27 and
 10 assists for the Kings, who made 55.1 percent from the field and buried 8-
 of-16 3-pointers.
 "We were really concentrating on how we needed to play to win this game,"
 Kings coach Tyrone Corbin said.
 The 135 points were a season high for Sacramento, which won for just the
 second time in the last nine tries.
 Brooklyn had a three-game win streak stopped with Saturday's 110-85 loss to
 the Indiana Pacers. Jarrett Jack and Joe Johnson scored 22 and 18 points,
 respectively, and Sergey Karasev added 14 in defeat.
 The Nets shot just 36.4 percent and made only 7-of-25 3-pointers.
 "The group battled, we just couldn't stop them," Nets head coach Lionel
 Hollins said.
 Brooklyn is 7-8 at home and will start a three-game road trip Tuesday against
 Chicago, Orlando and Miami.
 The Nets and Kings will play the first of two meetings this season and are
 scheduled to tangle again on Jan. 21 out west. The two teams split a pair of
 games last season and Brooklyn has won four of the past five in the series.
 Johnson averaged 14.0 ppg against the Kings last season. The Nets are unbeaten
 in the last five at home versus Sacramento.
 ORLANDO MAGIC (12-21) AT MIAMI HEAT (14-17), 7:30 P.M.
 ( - The Miami Heat will put the finishing touches on a
 seven-game homestand Monday versus the rival Orlando Magic.
 The Heat are 2-4 on the residency and were unsuccessful the last time out in
 Saturday's 103-95 setback to the Memphis Grizzlies.
 Dwyane Wade, coming off a 31-point outing on Christmas Day in a win against
 LeBron James and the Cavs, scored 25 points with seven assists. Danny Granger
 posted 18 points off the bench and Luol Deng added 16 for the Heat, who shot
 51.4 percent and connected on just 6-of-20 3-pointers.
 "Just couldn't get over the hump and couldn't stop fouling in the fourth. But
 it was extremely competitive in the second half," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra
 Miami hopes to get center Chris Bosh back and he has missed the last eight
 games (3-5) with a calf injury. Bosh hasn't played since Dec. 12 at Utah and
 is averaging 21.6 points and 8.2 rebounds.
 The Heat are 6-11 at home and will play seven of the next eight games on the
 road. They have a 9-3 record when scoring 100 or more points and are 13-2 when
 leading after three quarters.
 Orlando opened a quick road trip with Saturday's 102-94 triumph in Charlotte
 and was led by Nikola Vucevic's 22 points and 11 rebounds. Tobias Harris
 scored 21 points and Victor Oladipo added 13 in the win, Orlando's second in
 three games following a four-game slide.
 The Magic, who led by as many as 15 in the second half, overcame a 42-point
 performance from Hornets guard Kemba Walker. They held Charlotte to 41.9
 percent shooting from the floor and committed only six turnovers.
 "We played a full game," Harris said. "Everyone out there just played their
 Orlando is 8-12 away from home and will play the next three games as the host
 against Detroit, Brooklyn and Charlotte. The Magic went 4-37 away from home
 last season.
 Miami defeated Orlando, 99-92, on Nov. 22 and Bosh finished with 32 points and
 10 rebounds.  Vucevic tallied 33 points and 17 boards in that one for the
 Magic, who have lost the last 10 meetings with the Heat.
 The Heat are unbeaten in the past six meetings in South Beach.
 ( - The road ahead for the Washington Wizards could be a
 rocky one, as they open a five-game western jaunt Monday against the Houston
 Rockets at the Toyota Center.
 The Wizards and Rockets have identical 21-8 records.
 The Wizards will also make stops in Dallas, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and New
 Orleans, and are 7-4 as the guest. They have won three in a row on the road.
 Washington is coming off a 101-88 decision over the Boston Celtics on Saturday
 and was paced by Kris Humphries off the bench. Humphries scored 18 points and
 Paul Pierce added 17 for the Wizards, who shot 50 percent for the game and
 received 12 points apiece from John Wall and Otto Porter.
 "Feeling good, it's around the New Year's, this is when I start to turn up my
 game," Pierce said.
 Humphries has picked up his game the last two times out and is averaging 16.0
 points and 7.5 rebounds in that span. Wall is averaging 17.4 points this month
 for Washington, which is 6-2 against Western foes and has won 12 of 15 games.
 The Wizards are averaging 103.6 ppg in December (14 games).
 Houston will make a quick turnaround Monday and came up short in a 110-106
 loss at San Antonio on Sunday. James Harden (28), Corey Brewer (25) and Dwight
 Howard (24) all scored 20 or more points in a losing cause.
 Howard grabbed 17 rebounds and Josh Smith finished with five points in his
 second game with the Rockets, who have lost three of five games after winning
 10 of the previous 12 contests.
 The Rockets made 49.4 percent of their shots, but turned the ball over 25
 times, leading to 27 San Antonio points. The game featured 13 ties and 20 lead
 "Too many turnovers," said Harden, who was responsible for nine. "That loss
 was on us. And myself."
 Howard and Smith each had four turnovers.
 Houston will also host Charlotte on this quick stay in Space City and has a
 10-5 record at home this season.
 The Rockets and Wizards will play the first of two matchups this season and
 are slated to meet again March 29 in DC. Houston took both meetings with
 Washington last season and are 22-6 in the last 28 games in this series.
 The Wizards have lost five in a row, 11 of 12 and 21 of their last 24 trips to
 Space City.
 UTAH JAZZ (10-20) AT LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (20-11), 10:30 P.M.
 ( - The Los Angeles Clippers have plenty of time to get back
 on track during a lengthy nine-game homestand, which resumes Monday versus the
 Utah Jazz at Staples Center.
 The Clippers opened the residency with a win over Golden State on Christmas,
 then suffered a 110-98 loss to Toronto Saturday afternoon. The Raptors scored
 61 points in the second half to pull away and were led by Kyle Lowry's 25
 J.J. Redick paced the Clippers with 23 points, Blake Griffin delivered 22 and
 six rebounds, and Jamal Crawford posted 20 points. Chris Paul had only 10
 points to go along with eight assists for Los Angeles, which had an eight-game
 home winning streak stopped and fell to 12-4 as the host.
 DeAndre Jordan grabbed 20 rebounds in a losing cause and the Clippers got no
 closer than 12 points late in the fourth quarter. The Raptors scored 20 points
 off 15 LA turnovers.
 "They made us defend for a full 24 seconds and they kept moving the ball. They
 are a hard team to guard," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of Toronto.
 Los Angeles has lost four of its last six games and will also host New York,
 Philadelphia, Atlanta, the Lakers, Dallas and Miami.
 The Clippers are fourth in the NBA in scoring at 106.3 ppg and third in field
 goal percentage (47.2).
 Utah is allowing slightly more than 100 points (100.2) this season and has won
 two straight and four of the last five games.
 The Jazz had an easy time with Philadelphia in Saturday's 88-71 decision and
 Derrick Favors pumped in 17 points and grabbed a game-best 15 rebounds. Trey
 Burke also scored 17 points, Gordon Hayward added 15 and Trevor Booker netted
 14 points for Utah, which prevailed despite shooting 35.7 percent.
 "Even though they played last night, they showed a lot of fight," Booker said
 of the Sixers, who made only 32.4 percent from the floor and committed 18
 turnovers for 19 Utah points.
 The Jazz outrebounded the Sixers, 55-44, and held a 52-30 edge in points in
 the paint. Gordon has scored at least 14 points in 10 straight games, posting
 an average of 18.9 ppg in that stretch.
 Utah is 5-11 on the road, but has won three of four away from Salt Lake City.
 After the Jazz visit the Clippers, they will host Minnesota and Atlanta. Los
 Angeles has defeated Utah twice this season and is unbeaten in the last 11
 games in this series, matching the longest consecutive winning streak against
 an opponent in Clippers franchise history.
 The Clippers won 11 in a row against Dallas from 1992-1994. The Jazz have lost
 six straight as the visitor in this series.
 LA and Utah will meet again Jan. 28 in Salt Lake City.
 12/29 10:50:15 ET