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Tuesday, December 23 (All times Eastern)


( - Jameer Nelson spent the first 10 seasons of his career with the Orlando Magic and will face his former team Tuesday, as the Boston Celtics pay a visit to the Amway Center.

Nelson played 23 games with the Dallas Mavericks this season and was a part of Rajon Rondo deal last week. He made his Boston debut in Sunday's 100-84 loss to the Miami Heat and scored three points in 20 minutes.

"I'm just taking it one day at a time. My job is to play," Nelson said. "I'll give everything I have for my guys in this locker room. I'll try to help the coaches out once I get comfortable."

Tyler Zeller scored 22 points and both Jeff Green and Kelly Olynyk scored 13 points apiece for the Celtics, who had a three-game winning streak stopped and turned the ball over 15 times. The 84 points were a season low.

"I didn't feel like we kept up with their speed all day," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "I thought that we looked a step behind all day."

Celtics rookie Marcus Smart made his first start and recorded three points, four rebounds, four assists and a steal. Guard Avery Bradley is probable Tuesday with a head issue suffered in Monday's practice.

Bradley is averaging 12.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 24 games.

Boston has a 3-7 road mark this season.

The Magic are 0-2 on a four-game homestand and have lost four straight and six of the last seven games, including Sunday's 96-88 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Magic second-year guard Victor Oladipo led all scorers with 23 points and Nikola Vucevic contributed 19 points and 17 rebounds. Tobias Harris, who is questionable Tuesday night with a finger bruise, posted 17 points and leads the Magic with 18.6 ppg.

"I think the biggest thing for us, right now, what I think is of great importance, is we stay together," Oladipo said of the losing streak. "If we don't stay positive, this thing can go negative really fast."

Orlando will close the homestand Friday versus Cleveland and is 3-8 as the host this season. The Magic dropped a 109-92 decision in Boston last Wednesday, as Vucevic finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Brandon Bass scored 18 points off the Boston bench in that one for the Celtics, who went 3-1 in this series a season ago.


( - In what could be an early playoff preview, the Chicago Bulls will visit the Washington Wizards Tuesday at the Verizon Center.

The Wizards eliminated the Bulls in five games during the first round of the playoffs last season and will play the first of four meetings Tuesday evening.

Washington went 2-1 against Chicago in the regular season in 2013-14.

The Bulls have played very well on the road as evidenced by their 12-4 record outside the Windy City and are shooting for a fourth straight win. The Bulls are coming off Monday's 129-120 victory over the talented Toronto Raptors.

Derrick Rose scored 29 points on 12-of-19 shooting and Jimmy Butler followed with 27 points and 11 rebounds for Chicago, which shot 54.1 percent and received 14 points apiece from Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. Noah was pleased with Rose's consistency from the floor.

"Didn't miss too many shots and when he gets in a zone like that, it's tough to stop us," Noah said of Rose.

Chicago has won nine of its last 12 games.

The Wizards look to get back on track after having a six-game winning streak stopped with Sunday's 104-92 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Rasual Butler scored 17 points and Kevin Seraphin added 16 for Washington, which is still 10-2 in the last 12 games. John Wall and Bradley Beal scored 14 points apiece in defeat.

"They outworked us, they outphysicaled us all game long," Washington coach Randy Wittman said.

Washington dropped to 13-3 in DC and is averaging 105.2 points per game this month. The Wizards are 9-2 (7-1 at home) in December and averaging 103.4 ppg at the Verizon Center this season.

Wall leads the Wizards at home with 18.4 points per game and is posting an average of 17.2 ppg in December (11 games). Wall averaged 20.7 points and 8.0 assists in three games against the Bulls last season.


( - Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans will pay a visit to the Indiana Pacers Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Davis has scored 30 or more points four times in the last six games, averaging 24.2 points in that time, and pumped in 38 points with 12 rebounds in Sunday's 101-99 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The talented young big man is third in the NBA with 24.7 ppg and rebounded from a seven-point performance in a loss to Portland on Saturday. Davis scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the fourth quarter against OKC.

Ryan Anderson and Tyreke Evans scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, for the Pelicans, who shot 47.8 percent from the floor and have won three of four and six of their last nine games.

"It was a great character win for us, a lot of mental toughness was displayed," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said.

New Orleans, which is 14-0 when outshooting the opposition and 13-5 when scoring 100-plus points, is unbeaten in back-to-back road games and has a 6-9 record outside the Crescent City this season.

The Pacers ended a two-game losing streak with a 100-96 victory Sunday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, as C.J. Miles scored a game-best 28 points and Roy Hibbert ended with 15 and eight rebounds.

David West finished with 14 points and is averaging that many in his last six games for Indiana, which blew a 19-point lead in the second half. Miles scored nine points in the decisive fourth quarter and the Pacers shot a season-high 50 percent from the floor.

"Our guys have been deep in the playoffs, they showed great composure and we were able to pull out the win," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.

Indiana has two wins in its last 12 games and went 1-2 on its road trip. It is 5-8 at home.

The Pacers and Pelicans will play the first of two matchups this season and will meet again Feb. 11 in the Big Easy. Indiana took both meetings with New Orleans a season ago and has won the last six games in this series, including four straight in the Hoosier State.


( - LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will close out a five-game homestand Tuesday and will try to add to the misery of the Minnesota Timberwolves from Quicken Loans Arena.

The Cavaliers are 3-1 on the stay and posted back-to-back victories with Sunday's 105-91 decision over the talented Memphis Grizzlies.

James scored 25 points and handed out 11 assists, Dion Waiters scored 21 points off the bench and Kyrie Irving ended with 17 to go along with 12 assists. Anderson Varejao scored 18 points for the Cavs, who shot a sizzling 60.5 percent and made 7-of-14 3-pointers.

"I was there to knock shots down," said Waiters, who scored 20-plus points for the second time in three games. "We moved the ball tremendously tonight. We have to play like that all the time."

Cleveland has won 11 of its last 14 games overall and is 10-5 at home. James is averaging 28.5 points per game in his last six for the Cavaliers, who are 8-1 in their last nine games at the Q. The Cavs are posting an average of 104.3 ppg in those nine home games.

The Cavaliers have lost six of nine games against Western foes.

This will mark the first time Cleveland's Kevin Love will face his former team. The Timberwolves traded Love in the offseason for Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, the last two No. 1 overall picks in the draft.

Love expressed a desire not to re-sign with Minnesota this summer when he becomes a free agent. Love played six seasons with the T-wolves and made three All-Star teams.

After hosting the Timberwolves, James and the Cavs will begin a tour of Florida with consecutive games against Miami and Orlando. James, of course, won two NBA titles with the Heat before heading back home this offseason.

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves will play four straight on the road against Cleveland, Denver, Golden State and Utah, and are 2-10 as the visitor.

Minnesota has lost five in a row and 11 of its last 12 games, including Sunday's 100-96 defeat at the hands of the Indiana Pacers. Mo Williams had 24 points and 10 assists off the bench and Shabazz Muhammad added 21.

Chase Budinger provided 13 points off the bench for the Wolves, who shot a decent 46.8 percent and committed 16 turnovers. Minnesota gave up 52 points in the first half, but later took a 92-91 lead on a Williams basket.

"We didn't play as hard as we needed to play in the first half," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "(The young guys) need to play with a sense of urgency. Or they are going to sit."

The T-wolves are 1-20 when allowing 100 or more points and 29th in opponents' scoring at 108.4 ppg.

Minnesota and Cleveland will play twice this season and are scheduled to meet again Jan. 31 at the Target Center. The Wolves and Cavs split a pair of matchups last season, while the Timberwolves have won five of the last seven contests in this series.

DENVER NUGGETS (12-16) AT BROOKLYN NETS (11-15), 7:30 P.M.

( - The Brooklyn Nets look to make it two straight wins when they host the Denver Nuggets Tuesday at Barclays Center.

The Nets ended a three-game slide with Sunday's 110-105 victory over the Detroit Pistons, as Mason Plumlee led the charge with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Joe Johnson scored 16 points and Jarrett Jack added 15 to go along with 10 assists.

"It was a big win for us, we made plays down the stretch and it feels really good," Plumlee said.

Jack ran the point as Deron Williams sat with a calf injury. Williams played only 10 minutes in last Friday's loss at Cleveland and is doubtful versus the Nuggets. Williams is averaging 15.6 points and 6.8 assists.

"He played a great game tonight. Brooklyn is utilizing him the right way. He's going to thrive here," Detroit center Andre Drummond said of Jack.

Brooklyn has won three times in the last nine games.

The Nuggets will wrap up their eastern jaunt Tuesday and dropped a 110-82 decision to the Hornets in Charlotte Monday night.

Ty Lawson (18 points) and Alonzo Gee (15 points) were the only Denver players in double figures. Arron Afflalo, who is averaging 14.8 ppg, was held to nine points for the Nuggets, who had a two-game winning streak halted and lost for the eighth time in the last 11 tries.

"It started with the first play of the game," said Nuggets coach Brian Shaw. "We get a stop, they get an offensive rebound, they kick it out, and they get a three. It just kept going from there."

Denver, which was without Danilo Gallinari for the first game since he tore his right meniscus, will start a three-game homestand Friday versus Minnesota, Toronto and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Nuggets and Nets will play the first of two meetings Tuesday and are scheduled to play again Feb. 23 in the Rockies. The two teams split a pair of games last season. Johnson averaged 16.0 ppg in those two contests.


( - The Atlanta Hawks will carry a four-game winning streak into a tough matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night at Philips Arena.

The Hawks have been sensational over the last month. Since Nov. 28, Atlanta is 13-1 and vaulted to second in the Eastern Conference, just a game behind the Toronto Raptors.

The Hawks have won seven straight as the host and their only loss since Thanksgiving came on Dec. 13 when Orlando's Tobias Harris made a difficult buzzer-beater.

Recently, the Hawks completed a three-game road sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks. The Dallas victory was their most recent, a 105-102 triumph Monday night.

Atlanta is proving that it can do just fine without its starting point guard. Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 22 points starting in place of Jeff Teague to lead the Hawks. Teague missed his third straight game with a strained left hamstring and is expected to be out on Tuesday.

Kyle Korver supplied 18 points, Al Horford had 17 and Paul Millsap deposited 13 points with 12 rebounds in the win. DeMarre Carroll added 15 for the Hawks, who won despite 17 turnovers.

"We did a great job," Horford said. "It was hard at the end, but I'll take it. It's a win on the road against a good team."

The Clippers have lost two of their last three and four straight on the road. They'll close a very quick sojourn on Tuesday before hosting their blood rivals, the Golden State Warriors, on Christmas night.

On Monday, the Clippers fell to the defending champion San Antonio Spurs, 125-118, in the Alamo City.

Chris Paul scored 25 points and Blake Griffin had 22. J.J. Redick scored 21 points and Jamal Crawford had 18 for the Clippers, who allowed 72 points in the first half.

The Clippers were up by eight early on following DeAndre Jordan's layup, but lost their lead late in the first quarter and never led again.

"I just thought their energy stayed pretty consistent. Our energy went up and down in the game," said Clippers coach Doc Rivers.

They did, however, make things interesting. Despite trailing by as many as 17 points, the Clips pulled even at 102 on Crawford's jumper with 8:17 left in the fourth. They then had two possessions to try to go in front, but Glen Davis missed a jumper and DeAndre Jordan was whistled for a charge.

The two teams have split their last six meetings, but the Hawks have won five straight as the host in this series.

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (3-23) AT MIAMI HEAT (13-15), 7:30 P.M.

( - The Miami Heat will try to even their record on this current homestand Tuesday night when they welcome the Philadelphia 76ers to AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat started this seven-game stay with back-to-back losses against the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards, but got back on track a bit with a win last time out.

Miami drubbed the Boston Celtics, 100-84, on Sunday.

Luol Deng scored 23 points to lead the Heat. Rookie James Ennis posted his best scoring game as a pro, going for 16 points to help Miami snap its five- game home losing streak.

Norris Cole had 15 points and Mario Chalmers supplied 11 points and 10 assists in the win. Shawne Williams also finished with 11 and Udonis Haslem added 10 off the bench.

"Six guys in double figures, but finding out Dwyane and Hassan were out, the guys had a really tough-minded effort," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

Heat forward Chris Bosh (calf) missed his fifth straight game, while Dwyane Wade (right knee contusion), Hassan Whiteside (left toe) and Josh McRoberts (knee) were also inactive.

The Heat have a huge Christmas matchup ahead when LeBron James returns for the first time since signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Memphis and Orlando also visit South Beach during Miami's homestand.

The 76ers began a seven-game road odyssey Sunday night with a 96-88 win over the Orlando Magic.

Reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams finished with 21 points and six assists to lead the Sixers.

Five players reached double figures for Philadelphia as it ended a five-game losing streak. Nerlens Noel posted 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Henry Sims and Robert Covington joined Noel by posting double-doubles as well. Sims had 12 points and 12 boards, with Covington recording 11 points and 10 rebounds.

"We needed to reclaim our spirit and we didn't have that the last two games," 76ers coach Brett Brown said.

Philly is 3-9 on the road, which is certainly not great, but better than its 0-14 record at home.

The 76ers have committed 17 or more turnovers in nine straight games.

The Heat beat the Sixers by 18 in Philadelphia on Nov. 1 and are 10-2 in their last 12 versus Philly. The 76ers actually beat the Heat in Miami late in the 2013-14 campaign to halt a 13-game road losing streak in this series, including the playoffs.


( - The Portland Trail Blazers had a five-game winning streak snapped last time out, but will try to end their road trip on a positive note Tuesday when they visit Chesapeake Energy Arena to face the Oklahoma City Thunder.

LaMarcus Aldridge sat out Monday's 110-95 loss to the Houston Rockets due to an illness. The Blazers couldn't handle James Harden, who scored 44.

Damian Lillard needed 16 shots to score 18 points for the Blazers. C.J. McCollum scored a season-high 17 off the bench, followed by 14 from Wesley Matthews and 13 out of Meyers Leonard.

The Rockets led by four after the first quarter, but exploded in the second quarter. Houston outpaced Portland, 36-20, during that frame to bust the game open.

"We didn't give them much resistance in the first half...and we weren't able to mount a legitimate comeback," Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said.

The Blazers return home following Tuesday's tilt for a seven-game homestand. Portland will host the Philadelphia 76ers, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors, Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic.

Portland owns an 8 1/2 game lead over the Thunder in the Northwest Division.

The Thunder dropped two of their last three, including a tough road loss to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

Kevin Durant sprained his ankle in that one and hasn't played since. He missed a win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday and a home loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday. Durant is listed as day-to-day.

The Thunder couldn't stop Anthony Davis and there's no shame in that. Davis guided the Pelicans to a 101-99 victory over OKC.

The Thunder regained possession with 10 seconds left following a Pelicans shot clock violation. Russell Westbrook got the ball at the top of the arc and dribbled to the left elbow before Jrue Holiday poked it away.

Westbrook got it back at the 3-point line and rose for the triple from straightaway and the ball clanked off the front of the rim. Tyreke Evans came down with the rebound after Serge Ibaka's tip attempt was off the mark to seal the outcome.

Westbrook tallied 29 points and eight assists.

"My job's to stay in attack mode and try to score," Westbrook said. "If I miss then I miss."

Reggie Jackson netted 19 points off the bench for Oklahoma City. Perry Jones, who started in place of Durant, finished with 12, as did Steven Adams, who also pulled down 10 boards.

The Thunder head to San Antonio on Christmas Day for a critical matchup with the defending champs.

The Blazers beat the Thunder in Portland on Oct. 29, but OKC has dominated this series in recent history. Oklahoma City has won two of three and nine of the last 12 versus Portland and four of five as the host.


( - The Milwaukee Bucks return home after a decent road trip Tuesday night to take on the Charlotte Hornets at the Bradley Center.

Milwaukee went 2-2 in a western swing with wins against the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings. The Bucks fell to the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers.

On the trip, the Bucks lost prize rookie Jabari Parker for the season after he tore his ACL versus the Suns.

On Saturday, the Bucks fell to the Clippers, 106-102.

Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied 18 points, nine boards and six helpers for Milwaukee. Jared Dudley and Jerryd Bayless each had 16, followed by 12 from Khris Middleton and 10 apiece from Larry Sanders and Kendall Marshall.

Brandon Knight tied the game for Milwaukee at 102-102 with 1:29 remaining before two Chris Paul foul shots put the Clippers back in front with 1:12 to play.

Knight was off the mark on a 3-point attempt and then on a two-point jumper following a Dudley offensive rebound. Paul took the clock down at the other end, but misfired on a right elbow jumper. Blake Griffin, though, was there to tip it in with five seconds left to seal the outcome.

"At the end we couldn't convert," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. "On the defensive end we gave up offensive rebounds."

The Hornets are riding a three-game winning streak into Tuesday's contest. They won at Philadelphia, then completed a two-game home sweep of the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets.

On Tuesday, Charlotte ambushed the Nuggets, 110-82.

Al Jefferson scored 22 points to lead the Hornets. Jefferson was joined by four other Hornets in double figures, including Kemba Walker with 18 and nine assists. P.J. Hairston added 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Gary Neal added 13 off the bench and Cody Zeller chipped in 10 points.

The Hornets never trailed in their third straight win. Charlotte led by 10 after the first quarter, 18 at the half and 27 after three quarters.

The Hornets shot 53.8 percent from the floor and 42.1 percent from long range. Denver only shot 37.8 percent from the field and 2-for-18 from behind the 3- point line.

"It started on the defensive end," said Jefferson. "That's a great offensive rebounding team, and I thought we controlled the boards."

The Hornets out-rebounded the Nuggets, 44-37.

Charlotte's Lance Stephenson missed his third game with a pelvic sprain.

The Hornets beat the Bucks in Charlotte in overtime back on Oct. 29. Charlotte has won six straight in this series and two in a row as the visitor.


( - The Dallas Mavericks dropped their first game with Rajon Rondo at the helm, but will try to get their momentum back Tuesday night when they visit the Phoenix Suns.

The Mavericks had their three-game winning streak snapped on Monday night thanks to a 105-102 home loss to the scorching-hot Atlanta Hawks.

Monta Ellis led the Mavs with 18 points on 8-of-22 shooting and Dirk Nowitzki added 16. Charlie Villanueva managed 14 off the bench, followed by 11 from Devin Harris and 10 out of Richard Jefferson.

Tyson Chandler only scored eight points, but pulled down 19 rebounds.

Rondo, making his second start as a member of the Mavs, contributed the first double-double for his new club with 13 points and 11 assists.

The Hawks led by 19 after three quarters, but the Mavericks fought hard. With two minutes left, Atlanta led by double digits.

Dallas had one last gasp, however. Charlie Villanueva hit two 3s in a span of 13 seconds late in the fourth to cut the deficit to 102-97 before Pero Antic committed a turnover at midcourt. Ellis couldn't convert another trey though, and the Hawks made just enough free throws in the closing seconds to hold off the pesky Mavs.

"We defended better in the second half, we contained penetration much better, our intensity was much better," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "When you have to dig out of a big hole, especially against a good team like Atlanta, it's going to be difficult."

The Mavericks will play three straight at home following Christmas.

The Suns swept a three-game road trip with victories over the Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks and Washington Wizards. Those wins halted a six-game losing streak.

Against the Wizards on Sunday, Eric Bledsoe had 17 points and nine rebounds as the Suns defeated the Wizards, 104-92, at the Verizon Center.

Goran Dragic posted 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Markieff Morris tallied 17 points for Phoenix. Gerald Green finished with 13, while Marcus Morris chipped in 11 and Isaiah Thomas managed 10.

"The whole second half I thought we just stepped it up a little bit," Bledsoe said.

The game was tied 50-50 at the break, but the Suns used a 12-3 run to establish a double-digit lead. Markieff Morris put in the first four points of the surge, which was capped on Dragic's runner for a 67-57 cushion midway through the frame.

The Wiz got within six with 2:40 left, but the Suns ripped off the next eight points to put the game away. Bledsoe concluded the burst with a three-point play for a 103-89 margin with 1:01 to go.

The Suns head out on another long road trip following Christmas with matchups against the Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Suns beat the Mavs in Dallas on Dec. 5, but they are 4-13 in this series since early 2010. The Mavericks are 7-3 in their last 10 in Phoenix.


( - The Golden State Warriors have started another winning streak and they'll try to pad it Tuesday night when they head to Staples Center to face the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Warriors are already 15 1/2 games ahead of the Lakers in the Pacific Division. After their 16-game winning streak was halted by Memphis Grizzlies one week ago, the Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder and Sacramento Kings at home.

On Monday, Golden State squashed the Kings, 128-108, at Oracle Arena.

Klay Thompson led the way with 25 points, but the Warriors' second-leading scorer on Monday was a bit of a shocker.

Justin Holiday, a seldom-used guard, had a career-high 18 points.

"He had a great preseason," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Holiday. "We really think he can play, we just haven't been able to get him in."

Festus Ezeli posted a career-high 15 points with eight rebounds and Stephen Curry checked in with 12 points and 11 assists for Golden State. Andre Iguodala and Marreese Speights both had 12 in the win.

Golden State forward David Lee, who reinjured his left hamstring on Nov. 5 in the only game he has played this season, returned to score six points with seven rebounds

The Warriors' bench scored a season-high 62 points and all 13 Warriors who played scored at least two points. Golden State, which is a league-best 13-2 on the road, shot 63.8 percent from the floor.

The Lakers have lost three straight and their most recent setback, a 108-101 road loss to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, brought about questions about Kobe Bryant.

The future Hall of Famer scored 25 points versus Sacramento, but went 8-for-30 from the floor. Lakers coach Byron Scott indicated after the game he might have to sit his 36-year-old superstar.

Nick Young led the Lakers with 26 points. Ed Davis was the only other Lakers player in double figures with 10.

"I think when we don't get stops that's tough," Lakers guard Jeremy Lin said. "We just need to make sure we are focused in the defensive end."

Carlos Boozer's floater cut the deficit to 83-82 early in the fourth and ended a span of 8:36 without a Los Angeles field goal. Young drained consecutive treys and hit a free throw to give the Lakers an 89-83 lead with 8:03 remaining.

The Kings had an answer, however, scoring 16 of the next 18 points.

The Lakers visit the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day.

The Warriors have won both meetings this season against the Lakers and four straight in the series. Golden State has taken two straight as the visitor in this series, but LA is 20-3 in its last 23 at home.

12/23 10:32:54 ET