NBA Previews from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 6th
(All times Eastern)
MIAMI HEAT (43-15) AT SAN ANTONIO SPURS (44-16), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - One of the league's marquee matchups every season takes
center stage Thursday, a rematch of the NBA Finals, when the Miami Heat visit
the San Antonio Spurs.
The Heat prevailed in seven games in June for their second consecutive title.
The series was intense, immensely entertaining and heart-breaking for a Spurs
team that appeared to have wrapped up yet another championship until Ray Allen
chucked in a miracle 3-pointer to win Game 6.
The teams seem ready for another run to a ring. Miami owns the third-best
record in the league and the Spurs are fourth, although the sides are
separated by mere fractional points in terms of winning percentage. Both trail
the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder, the respective conference
leaders, by just 1 1/2 games.
"It's always fun going against a very, very-well coached, very-well machined
organization and team with so many great players," James said. "It should be
The Spurs head into Thursday's tilt on a four-game winning streak. Three of
those victories came at the AT&T Center, where San Antonio has actually won
The most recent win on this run came Tuesday night as the Spurs dispatched the
Cleveland Cavaliers, 122-101 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
Danny Green led six San Antonio players in double figures with 24 points,
while Kawhi Leonard added 18 points, Patty Mills and Boris Diaw both scored 16
and Manu Ginobili and Marco Belinelli finished with 11 apiece for the Spurs.
Noticeably absent in that scoring rampage were both Tim Duncan and Tony
Parker. They both had seven points apiece, but the Spurs were brilliant
offensively, shooting 42.4 percent from long range and handing out 39 assists
on 43 made field goals.
"That was pretty impressive. That doesn't happen often," Spurs coach Gregg
Popovich said of those assist totals. "We've been doing that all year long,
but that's a ridiculous ratio right there. I was really proud of them. They
did a great job."
The Spurs will host the Orlando Magic Saturday night on this mini homestand,
then visit Chicago on Tuesday.
The Heat had an eight-game winning streak snapped Tuesday night with a 106-103
road loss to the Houston Rockets. It was the start of a very tough three-game
trip that will see the two-time defending champs visit Chicago on Sunday
One night after scoring a career-high and franchise-record 61 points, LeBron
James was held to 22 against the Rockets. On Wednesday, he was named Eastern
Conference Player of the Month for February
Dwyane Wade and Michael Beasley each deposited 24 points to lead the Heat, who
had a chance to tie things late after an unforced Houston turnover, but James'
deep 3-pointer was off the mark as the buzzer sounded.
The Rockets never trailed in this one, but the Heat tied it with 7:39
"It didn't go our way," said Wade. "In the third quarter, they got off to a
bigger lead than we needed them to get to. They have a team that can score the
ball and we gave them too much of a cushion. We used up so much energy to get
back in trying to come back. It was a very good game."
The Heat prevailed in the Finals and have dominated this series in the regular
season, as well.
Miami has won five in a row over the Spurs, including a 12-point victory in
South Beach on Jan. 26. The Spurs have taken 12 of the last 14 regular-season
meetings in San Antonio.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (46-15) AT PHOENIX SUNS (35-25), 9 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder will carry a three-game
winning streak into US Airways Center Thursday night when they face the
The Thunder finished a six-game homestand in style with the three straight
wins, although the residency began poorly. OKC dropped three in a row at home
for the first time in almost five years. The Thunder have their next two on
the road, where they've won two straight.
On Tuesday, the Thunder made quick work of the Philadelphia 76ers, winning
125-92 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Though neither one played the fourth quarter, Kevin Durant had 42 points and
Russell Westbrook recorded a triple-double for the Thunder.
Durant, who also grabbed nine rebounds, was 14-of-20 from the field and 12-
of-18 from the foul line while Westbrook tallied 13 points, 14 assists and 10
rebounds in the first three quarters.
Technically, Westbrook's triple-double came in 20:17, which is the second-
quickest time to register a triple-double in NBA history.
"It's crazy," acknowledged Westbrook. "I'm just trying to get my groove back.
I'm blessed to be able to do that in such a short amount of time. It was fun."
Reggie Jackson and Serge Ibaka added 14 points apiece for the Thunder. Ibaka
also sat the entire fourth quarter with the win well in hand.
Caron Butler made his Thunder debut after leaving the Milwaukee Bucks and
signing with the championship contenders. Butler scored two points in 25:42
and received a long standing ovation when he checked in during the first
"That was unbelievable," Butler said. "I didn't expect that. I didn't know how
to feel, I was just excited to be back out there playing."
The Thunder will visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
The Suns will complete a four-game homestand. Phoenix is 2-1 on this stay,
although the loss came in the last outing, a 104-96 setback to the LA
Gerald Green supplied 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while P.J.
Tucker gave 18 points and 10 boards for Phoenix, which has dropped four of its
Goran Dragic was held to 14 points and Marcus Morris added 12 points off the
The Suns held an 11-point lead at the half, but a 37-18 third quarter for the
Clippers helped put the game away.
"I thought we played pretty good defense for three of the quarters, just one
quarter killed us. At least it is better than the last five games because I am
not sure we had many quarters that were good defensively. We battled," said
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek.
Leandro Barbosa broke his hand in the LA loss and could miss the remainder of
the regular season.
The Suns head out for two straight on the road following Thursday night.
This could be a first-round playoff preview. The Thunder lead the Western
Conference by 1 1/2 games over the San Antonio Spurs and the Suns are tied for
the eighth spot with the Dallas Mavericks.
Oklahoma City has owned this matchup recently, winning 11 straight and six in
a row in Phoenix.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (42-20) AT LOS ANGELES LAKERS (21-40), 10:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Clippers didn't need much help from
their bench to keep a winning streak intact and look to make it six in a row
Thursday against the local Lakers.
The Clippers handed the Phoenix Suns a 104-96 loss on Tuesday, as all five
starters scored in double digits. Matt Barnes led the bunch with 28 points,
Blake Griffin followed with 22 and Darren Collison ended with 18 points.
"Matt Barnes kept us in the game the way he was shooting the ball and we got
stops and that's when we really got back in the game. It was intense." said
DeAndre Jordan had 10 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, while Chris Paul had 14
points and nine assists for the Clippers, who have won five in a row and eight
of their last 10 contests. The Clippers have won five straight on three
separate occasions this season.
The Clippers' bench had just 12 points and was without top reserve Jamal
Crawford (calf), who has missed back-to-back games and is questionable against
the Lakers. Crawford is averaging 19.0 points this season
Clippers forward Jared Dudley is questionable Thursday because of back spasms.
Meanwhile, Griffin needs 30 rebounds for 3,000 in his career and has scored 20
or more points in his last 20 games. He passed Dominique Wilkins for the most
consecutive games with 20-plus points since the Clippers moved to Los Angeles
in 1984-85. Bob McAdoo holds the franchise record with 57 such games.
Griffin is averaging 27.8 points during his 20-game streak for the Clippers,
who have won three in a row on the road and are 17-15 as the guest. They are
25-11 against Western Conference opponents and have scored 107.2 ppg this
Griffin was named Western Conference Player of the Month for February.
Los Angeles will start a three-game homestand Saturday versus Atlanta, Phoenix
and Golden State.
The Lakers had a two-game win streak stopped their last time out with a
132-125 decision versus the New Orleans Pelicans.
Pau Gasol had 29 points and 12 rebounds, Kent Bazemore scored 23 and Jordan
Farmar added 20 points and eight assists for the Lakers, losers in four of six
and eight of their last 11 games.
The Lakers trailed 35-23 after the first quarter and 67-51 at halftime. A
second-half surge (74-65) wasn't enough and the Lakers shot 54.1 percent.
"We kind of had an emotional hangover to start. Took us at least two quarters
to get into anybody. You've got to every night bring it," said Lakers coach
Mike D'Antoni. "It's our fault. We can defend a whole heck of a lot better
D'Antoni's squad is 10-19 at home and will visit Denver on Friday.
The Lakers have allowed 100 or more points in four straight and eight of nine
games, while the Clippers have posted that many in five in a row and 12 of 13.
The Clippers and Lakers have split two meetings this season and will meet
again April 6. The Clippers have lost 10 of their last 12 at the Lakers.
03/06 09:27:39 ET