National Basketball Association
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                ***** NBA Previews from The Sports Network *****
                             Saturday, December 27
                              (All times Eastern)
 ( - The Los Angeles Clippers will try for a second
 consecutive win to open a nine-game homestand on Saturday afternoon, but
 they'll face a stiff challenge from the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto
 Los Angeles still has the Utah Jazz, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers,
 Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat on this
 The Clips began this stay with a 100-86 Christmas night win over their bitter
 rivals, the NBA's best team, the Golden State Warriors.
 Jamal Crawford scored half of his 24 points in the final quarter, and the
 Clippers overcame a sluggish start. The Clippers went 4-of-24 from the field
 in the opening quarter and shot 27.7 percent over the first 24 minutes, but
 went ahead for good with nearly 4 1/2 minutes left in the third and dominated
 the fourth.
 Chris Paul provided 22 points and Blake Griffin chipped in 18 with 15
 rebounds and six assists for the Clippers, who began a franchise-record
 homestand by snapping a two-game skid. They've won eight in a row at home.
 "Jamal came in and picked up our slack," Griffin said. "After shooting 27
 percent in the first half we were down by only one. We kept the faith. It was
 a great win."
 DeAndre Jordan scored 14 points to go with 12 rebounds in the win, as the
 Clippers got revenge for a 121-104 loss in Oakland on Nov. 5.
 "It's nice to beat them because they're good," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
 "We're better mentally than when we played them last time."
 The Raptors started a six-game sojourn with a loss in Chicago.
 They'll visit the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, Warriors and Phoenix
 Suns on this odyssey.
 On Monday, the Toronto defense didn't show up in a 129-120 loss at the United
 Kyle Lowry tallied 34 points and six boards, while Jonas Valanciunas added 20
 points and nine rebounds for Toronto, which had its six-game winning streak
 Terrence Ross finished with 17 points, followed by 16 from James Johnson and
 12 apiece from Lou Williams and Patrick Patterson.
 "I thought our defensive attention to detail wasn't there," Raptors coach
 Dwane Casey said.
 The Bulls, who trailed by as many as 12 in the second half, pulled away in the
 fourth by outscoring the Raptors 49-37. The game was tied 95-95 just prior to
 the midway point of the frame before Chicago went on an 18-8 run over the next
 The Raptors committed only eight turnovers, but allowed the Bulls to shoot
 54.1 percent from the field and 50 percent from long range. Chicago shot a
 whopping 43-for-47 from the free-throw line.
 The Clippers have won two in a row and five out of six against the Raptors. LA
 has taken four straight as the host in this series.
 ( - The Washington Wizards got back into the win column on
 Christmas, now they'll try and make it two in a row Saturday night when the
 Boston Celtics visit the Verizon Center.
 The Wizards snapped a two-game slide on Christmas afternoon with a 102-91 win
 at Madison Square Garden over the New York Knicks.
 John Wall supplied 24 points and 11 assists in leading the Wizards to victory.
 Wall made a dazzling move late in the third quarter, hitting a reverse
 spinning layup, and then was involved in fourth-quarter scuffle. He took
 exception to a hard foul from Quincy Acy, retaliating with a shove. The New
 York forward swung his right arm as if to throw a punch before holding up.
 Acy received a Flagrant-2 foul and was ejected with 5:31 remaining. Wall
 received a technical foul. Acy was suspended for a game and Wall was fined
 $15,000 for the decidedly non-merry actions of Christmas.
 Bradley Beal had 17 points and Kris Humphries scored 14 off the bench on 7-
 of-9 shooting for the Wizards, who earned their first Christmas victory since
 "We go as John goes and Bradley goes," said Wizards forward Paul Pierce. "We
 follow their lead on the court."
 Marcin Gortat finished with 10 points and nine rebounds for the Wizards.
 Washington heads out on a five-game road trip, starting Monday with visits to
 Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and New Orleans.
 The Celtics have lost three in a row following a three-game win streak and
 dropped a 109-107 decision versus the Brooklyn Nets Friday night.
 Nets guard Jarrett Jack buried a late jumper to sink the Celtics in Beantown
 and finished with 27 points. Jeff Green had 22 points and five assists, Jared
 Sullinger contributed 19 points and eight boards and Avery Bradley netted 17
 points for the Celtics, who fell to 3-6 in the last nine games.
 "They made some critical shots," Boston head coach Brad Stevens said. "It
 changed very quickly."
 Boston is 3-8 on the road and has dropped back-to-back away games.
 The Celtics and Wizards have split two meetings this season with the home team
 holding serve. The Celtics are 4-2 in their last six in our nation's capital.
 ( - Bottom feeders in the Southeast Division square off
 Saturday night, as the Orlando Magic pay a visit to the Charlotte Hornets.
 The Magic will also visit the Miami Heat on this quick road trip and are
 coming off Friday's 98-89 loss to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
 Tobias Harris and Evan Fournier scored 16 and 15 points, respectively, and
 Victor Oladipo added 13 for the Magic, who made almost 50 percent (49.3) from
 the field and gave up 29 points to James.
 Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said they let James beat them in the fourth quarter.
 "I don't think we got tired down the stretch," Vaughn said. "He made the plays
 for himself and his teammates."
 Orlando has lost seven of its last nine games and is winless in the last three
 road assignments.
 Charlotte will play two in a row at The Hive versus Orlando and Milwaukee, and
 suffered a 98-75 loss at Oklahoma City last night. The Thunder again played
 without reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant (ankle) and were led by Russell
 Westbrook's 29 points.
 Brian Roberts paced the Hornets with 17 points off the bench and Marvin
 Williams scored 11 points in a reserve role. Starters Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
 and Cody Zeller each had nine points, while Al Jefferson (4) and Kemba Walker
 (6) combined for only 10 points.
 The Hornets shot just 28.7 percent from the floor and had a season-high four-
 game winning streak come to an end.
 "They're so good defensively, we just had trouble in the first quarter making
 shots," Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. "We played a very good team and
 they played well."
 Charlotte dropped a 105-100 decision versus Orlando on Nov. 21, as Fournier
 led the way with 21 points and Nikola Vucevic added 14 and 10 rebounds.
 Jefferson posted 24 points and 11 rebounds in that one for the Hornets.
 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (21-8) AT MIAMI HEAT (14-16), 7:30 P.M.
 ( - The Miami Heat are coming off an emotional Christmas Day
 victory, but they'll have to put it behind them Saturday night when the
 Memphis Grizzlies visit AmericanAirlines Arena.
 Miami knocked off LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in James' return to
 South Beach on Thursday evening.
 Dwyane Wade netted 24 of his 31 points in the first half and the Heat spoiled
 James' return with a 101-91 win over the Cavaliers.
 James, who helped the Heat to a quartet of NBA Finals appearances and a pair
 of titles during his four-year stay with Miami, was the first Cleveland player
 introduced out of its starting five.
 "I think these fans are great," James said. "They always showed their
 Wade was a blistering 10-of-16 in the first half, helping the Heat build a
 margin as high as 17 in the opening 24 minutes before they took a 13-point
 advantage into the locker room.
 "Whenever you play on Christmas that means your team is good enough, and to
 win those games is phenomenal," Wade said.
 The start of the second half was delayed due to a power outage which caused
 the lights to go out. James and Wade were seen conversing, joking and laughing
 on the scorer's table while both teams were waiting for the second half to
 Luol Deng chipped in 25 points, followed by 12 from Chris Andersen. No other
 Miami player scored in double figures.
 Chris Bosh missed his seventh straight game for Miami due to a left calf
 The Heat end a seven-game homestand against the Orlando Magic on Monday. They
 are 2-3 on the stay with wins over the Cavs and Boston Celtics, but
 disappointing losses against the Washington Wizards, Utah Jazz and
 Philadelphia 76ers.
 Memphis hopes to put an end to its season-long four-game losing streak and
 suffered a 117-111 overtime loss to the Houston Rockets Friday night. James
 Harden had 32 points, including a tying layup late in regulation for Houston.
 Marc Gasol scored 29 points to lead Memphis and Beno Udrih had 17 off the
 bench. Zach Randolph (knee) remained out for the Grizzlies, while Tony Allen
 (eye) returned to score 10 points in 26 minutes.
 "Good game, exciting game," said Grizzlies coach David Joerger. "(We) didn't
 execute defensively well enough."
 The Grizzlies were outscored, 13-7, in overtime and their losing streak comes
 on the heels of six straight wins.
 Memphis, which is 9-4 on the road, beat the Heat by 16 at home on Dec. 7 and
 has won four of the last six meetings. Miami has won two straight as the host
 in this series.
 ( - The Brooklyn Nets will try to move closer to the .500
 mark when they host the Indiana Pacers Friday at Barclays Center.
 The Nets are 13-15 on the season and recorded their third straight win with
 Friday's 109-107 victory in Boston. Jarrett Jack's late jumper put the
 visitors ahead to stay and he scored 27 points to go along with seven rebounds
 and five assists.
 "I didn't want to rush it. I wanted to take the best shot available," Jack
 said of his shot with 27.5 seconds to go.
 Alan Anderson scored 15 points off the bench and Mason Plumlee had 14 points
 and 12 boards for the Nets, who made 49.4 percent of their shots. Deron
 Williams had eight points off the bench after missing two games with a
 strained right calf.
 Brooklyn has won two in a row at home and is 7-7 as the host. The Nets will
 welcome Sacramento to Barclays Center on Monday.
 Meanwhile, the Pacers were aiming for a third straight win Friday against the
 Detroit Pistons, but lost a 119-109 decision.
 Roy Hibbert had 19 points to lead six players in double figures, while Solomon
 Hill, C.J. Watson and Luis Scola scored 14 points apiece for the Pacers, who
 shot 50.6 percent for the game and committed 18 turnovers for 22 Detroit
 "That's (Pistons coach) Stan Van Gundy's approach, play the spacing game,"
 Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "You got an elite roller in Andre Drummond...
 You got to give them credit, they played a great basketball game."
 The Pistons shot 54.7 percent and received 20 points from Drummond.
 Indiana will host Chicago and Miami next after visiting Brooklyn. Pacers guard
 Rodney Stuckey left Friday's game with a facial contusion and is questionable.
 The Pacers and Nets will play the first of three meetings this season and are
 slated to square off twice in March. Indiana won all four meetings with
 Brooklyn last season.
 Nets guard Joe Johnson averaged 14.8 ppg against Indiana in 2013-14. He passed
 Jerry West for 52nd place on the NBA's all-time minutes played list against
 the Celtics.
 ( - The Chicago Bulls have the longest winning streak in the
 Eastern Conference at five games and will try to stay on track Saturday versus
 the New Orleans Pelicans at the United Center.
 The Bulls made it five wins in a row with a 113-93 victory over the Los
 Angeles Lakers on Christmas and were led by former Laker Pau Gasol, who had 23
 points and 13 rebounds.
 "It was weird, difficult at first to get going," Gasol said of playing against
 the Lakers. "Once you start playing, you're just playing the best game you
 Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose scored 21 and 20 points, respectively, for the
 Bulls, who shot 48.8 percent and had a 57-39 rebounding advantage. Joakim Noah
 ended with four points and 12 rebounds for the Bulls, winners in eight of the
 last nine games.
 The Central-leading Bulls are unbeaten in the past five home games and have a
 7-5 record at the United Center.
 New Orleans enters the Windy City having won four of its last six games, and
 recorded a 97-90 victory versus the San Antonio Spurs Friday night.
 Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson scored 22 points apiece, with Davis pulling
 down 12 rebounds and blocking five shots. Jrue Holiday scored 15 points for
 the Pelicans, who made just 41.7 percent and made up for it by scoring 20
 points off 17 San Antonio turnovers.
 "We have a lot of respect for that entire organization in San Antonio,"
 Pelicans head coach Monty Williams said. "We've got to value this and try to
 build on it (at Chicago) tomorrow."
 The Pelicans are 6-10 on the road and will host Chicago Feb. 7. They defeated
 the Bulls twice last season, including a triple-overtime thriller on Dec. 2 at
 the United Center.
 ( - The Atlanta Hawks will try to bounce back when they
 close a home-and-home set with the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night at the
 Bradley Center.
 The Hawks had won five straight and 14 of their previous 15 games until
 Friday's 107-77 beatdown at the hands of the Bucks. Paul Millsap scored 22
 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, while Al Horford and Jeff Teague scored 13
 and 12 points, respectively.
 Atlanta shot 40.8 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 23 times,
 leading to 30 Milwaukee points.
 "I think you gotta give Milwaukee a lot of credit," Hawks coach Mike
 Budenholzer said. "We have to do things better defensively, to make it harder
 for them on offense. Overall, (there are) a lot of areas for improvement."
 The Hawks will play four of their next five games on the road and have an 8-5
 record outside Philips Arena this season.
 Milwaukee ended a two-game slide with last night's lopsided victory and won
 for the fourth time in seven tries.
 Jared Dudley came off the bench to score 24 points, Brandon Knight had 16 and
 Zaza Pachulia added 14 points to go with eight rebounds. Jerryd Bayless and
 Johnny O'Bryant scored 12 points apiece for the Bucks, who shot 50.6 percent
 and sank 19 of their 23 free throws.
 Bucks head coach Jason Kidd was pleased with the performance, especially
 Dudley's 10-of-10 clip from the floor.
 "I can't say it was a perfect game, because as a coach you always want more,
 but it was as close to a no-hitter as you can get," Kidd said of Dudley.
 The Bucks are 7-5 at home and ended a seven-game slide against the Hawks.
 Atlanta is still 10-2 in the last 12 games in this series and unbeaten in the
 last four trips to Milwaukee.
 PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (4-24) AT UTAH JAZZ (9-20), 9 P.M.
 ( - The Utah Jazz shoot for their 10th win of the season
 when they return to Salt Lake City to host the Philadelphia 76ers.
 The rested Jazz went 3-3 on their recent trip east and handed the tough
 Memphis Grizzlies a 97-91 setback on Monday.
 Alec Burks scored 13 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and Gordon Hayward
 added 21 points. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter scored 15 and 13 points,
 respectively, for the Jazz, who made 45.3 percent from the floor.
 "This is huge for us," Jazz forward Rodney Hood said. "For us to come out like
 this and beat a great Memphis team means a lot. It's been a long road trip,
 and this can be a confidence booster for us."
 Utah had lost five straight at Memphis since a 98-88 decision on Feb. 12,
 2012. It outrebounded Memphis 49-34, including a 10-5 advantage on the
 offensive glass, and Rudy Gobert came off the bench with 16 rebounds.
 Hayward has scored 14 or more points in nine straight games with four 20-point
 efforts in that span.
 The Jazz are 4-9 at home.
 Philadelphia had a modest season-high two-game winning streak stopped with
 Friday's 114-93 setback against the Portland Trail Blazers.
 Tony Wroten scored 22 points, Michael Carter-Williams added 17 and K.J.
 McDaniels finished with 12 for the Sixers, who made 44.4 percent of their
 shots and turned the ball over 18 times.
 The 76ers, who are last in scoring with 91.5 ppg, lead the NBA with 18.0
 turnovers and watched the Trail Blazers bury 18-of-43 3-pointers last night.
 Philly made just 18-of-33 free throws.
 "When you give up what we did from (3-point range) coupled with what we shot
 from the line... that team can score. That team can score," said Sixers coach
 Brett Brown.
 Robert Covington and Nerlens Noel scored eight points apiece in defeat.
 Philadelphia is 2-1 on a seven-game road trip and 4-10 outside the City of
 Brotherly Love. All four wins have come on the road.
 The Sixers will also visit Golden State, Phoenix and Los Angeles (Clippers),
 and will host Utah on March 6. The Jazz took both meetings with the 76ers last
 season and are riding a three-game winning streak in this series.
 Utah has won nine in a row at home versus the Sixers. Hayward posted an
 average of 19.5 points per game against Philly last season.
 ( - The New York Knicks have a tough road ahead when they
 begin a three-game western trek Saturday against the Sacramento Kings.
 The Knicks will also visit the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles
 Clippers, and are just 2-13 away from Madison Square Garden.
 New York has lost six in a row and fell to 5-26 on the season with Thursday's
 102-91 loss to the Washington Wizards on Christmas. Carmelo Anthony delivered
 34 points on 13-of-28 shooting and Jose Calderon added 16 for the Knicks, who
 shot 45 percent from the floor and failed to reach 100 points for the fifth
 time in the last six games.
 "We have to start trying to put a whole game together," said Anthony, who is
 averaging 26.8 ppg in his last nine games. "We have spurts throughout the
 course of the game where we are showing something."
 Knicks guard J.R. Smith is questionable Saturday with a nagging foot problem
 and hasn't played since Dec. 9. He is averaging 10.3 ppg.
 The Knicks are 28th in scoring with 94.0 ppg
 Sacramento has lost two in a row and seven of its last eight games, including
 Friday's 115-106 decision versus the Phoenix Suns. Playing without star center
 DeMarcus Cousins due to a stomach virus, the Kings were led by Darren
 Collison's 19 points.
 Rudy Gay and Derrick Williams scored 16 points apiece, Ben McLemore added 13
 and Carl Landry finished with 12 for Sacramento, which shot 44.1 percent and
 scored 24 points off 14 Phoenix turnovers. The Kings were held to 16 points in
 the fourth quarter after scoring 30-plus in the previous two.
 "Well you give up 25 fastbreak points, 19 second-chance points," Kings interim
 head coach Tyrone Corbin attributed to the loss. "The second-chance points
 really hurt us."
 It hurts not to have Cousins and the team is 2-9 without him this season. The
 big man is questionable and is averaging 26.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in the
 three games he has appeared in after missing 10 straight (2-8).
 The Kings are 7-10 at home and will start a four-game eastern jaunt Monday at
 Brooklyn. Boston, Minnesota and Detroit are the other destinations.
 Sacramento and New York will play the first of two meetings this season and
 are scheduled to tangle Jan. 26 at MSG. The Kings and Knicks split a pair of
 games last season.
 New York hasn't lost a season series versus Sacramento since the 2009-10
 campaign (0-2) and is 3-1 in the past four trips to California's capital.
 ( - The Golden State Warriors came up empty in their tour
 through Los Angeles and are back home for the next six games, starting with
 Saturday's matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
 The Warriors will also host Philadelphia, Toronto, Oklahoma City, Indiana and
 Cleveland, and have won eight straight at Oracle Arena. They are 10-1 as the
 host and have lost two straight overall and three of five games since winning
 a franchise-record 16 in a row.
 Golden State dropped a 115-105 decision to the Lakers on Tuesday, then
 suffered a 100-86 setback against the Clippers on Christmas. Stephen Curry
 posted 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Klay Thompson led the
 visitors with 15 points. Harrison Barnes added 12 and 13 rebounds in the loss.
 "Very poor execution," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. "We had a chance to
 be up 15 at halftime. Offensively, we're not in the same groove. We're not
 moving the ball."
 Kerr's squad scored a season-low 42 points in the first half, but is still
 third in the NBA with 107.4 ppg and first in field goal percentage (48.0).
 The Warriors, who are 15-0 when holding the opposition under 100 points, won
 10 in a row at home back in 1994.
 Minnesota is mired in a seven-game slide and is 0-2 on a four-game road trip.
 It fell to 5-23 on the season with Friday's 106-102 loss at Denver, as
 Thaddeus Young scored 23 points and Andrew Wiggins added 22.
 Shabazz Muhammad scored 14 points and Gorgui Dieng added 14 and 13 rebounds
 for the Timberwolves, who shot 39.8 percent and were outrebounded 62-44.
 Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried killed the Wolves with 25 boards and 26 points.
 "We're a young team and sometimes it happens like that at the end of the
 game," Young said. "You just can't find a shot or you can't make a free
 Minnesota is on its longest losing streak since a seven-game slide from March
 30-April 17, 2012.
 The Wolves have lost seven in a row on the road and are 2-12 as the guest.
 They will close the sojourn Tuesday in Utah. The T-wolves are second-to-last
 in opponents' scoring at 108.9 ppg. That could be trouble against the
 Warriors, who recorded a 102-86 win in the Twin Cities on Dec. 8.
 Curry and Thompson each scored 21 points in that one for Golden State, while
 Wiggins posted 21 points as well. The Warriors have won 15 of the last 18
 encounters in this series.
 12/27 11:03:33 ET