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NBA Game Previews for January 19, 2018
January 19, 2018 at 7:00 PM ET

Toronto Faces Off with San Antonio at ACC

By Martin Springall

The San Antonio Spurs (30-16) have spent the better part of the last month alternating wins and losses in a struggle for consistency, but came out on top on Wednesday night, besting the Brooklyn Nets on the road, 100-95. LaMarcus Aldridge delivered the leading offensive performance in the victory, posting 34 points, eight rebounds and three assists, shooting 13-of-24 from the field and making all eight of his attempts from the free throw line. Patty Mills was a boon for the club off the bench, putting up 25 points, making 7-of-10 from the paint and 7-of-8 from long range in the process. Pau Gasol recorded a double-double behind a 13-point, 12-rebound performance, while Danny Green finished with nine points and three steals to his credit. Friday rounds out a tough week for the Spurs, one that saw them faced with the news that Kawhi Leonard will sit out indefinitely as he addresses a lingering right quad injury. San Antonio sits in third place in the Western Conference, two games behind the second place Houston Rockets. The Toronto Raptors (30-13) have only lost three games at Air Canada Centre this season, and hope that trend continues on Friday evening. The team snapped a two-game skid on Thursday night, handling the visiting Detroit Pistons, 96-91. C.J. Miles posted a team-hight 21 points off the pine, nailing five three-pointers along the way. Kyle Lowry had four triples of his own to lead the starters in scoring with 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Eastern Conference All-Star starter DeMar DeRozan finished the evening with 17 points and five dimes to his credit. Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double, with 17 points and 16 rebounds, for a Toronto unit that ranks ninth in the league in team defense, holding opponents to an average of 104.3 points per game. The Raptors remain steady in second place out of the Eastern Conference, still three games short of the first place Boston Celtics.

Posted on January 18, 2018 at 9:14 PM ET

January 19, 2018 at 7:30 PM ET

Hot Heat Visit Struggling Nets

By Nick Brazzoni  

The Miami Heat will travel to Brooklyn on Friday to take on the Nets at Barclays Center. The Heat (26-18) are on a roll, as they have won eight of their last nine games. Their most recent victory came on the road to the Bucks on Wednesday, and Miami saw its record away from home increase to an impressive 14-9. The team has also won five of its last six games away from the American Airlines Center. In the team's game against Milwaukee, center Hassan Whiteside saw his offensive slump come to an end, recording a season-high 27 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field. It was the big man's first game with at least 20 points since mid-November, and he will have another juicy matchup Friday in Brooklyn, as the Nets (16-29) boast one of the worst interior defenses in the NBA. Those Nets are also going through a pretty big slump having lost three games in a row and six of their last seven. The team's lone win in that stretch came against the Hawks, who currently boast the NBA's worst record. Brooklyn, however, is getting some good news heading into Friday's contest, as point guard D'Angelo Russell, who has been sidelined since mid-November following knee surgery, has been upgraded to probable. Russell only appeared in 12 games before getting hurt, but he was the Nets' best player by far in those 12 outings. Russell had been averaging a 20.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game and should give the team a big boost when it needs it most.

Posted on January 18, 2018 at 11:40 PM ET      Updated on January 18, 2018 at 11:41 PM ET

January 19, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET

Pistons Welcome Wizards, Start Four-Game Homestand

By Juan Pablo Aravena  

The Detroit Pistons will host the Washington Wizards at Little Ceasars Arena on Friday evening. The Pistons (22-21) have been on the fence when it comes to their playoff position all season long, and they are currently battling with the Philadelphia 76ers for that eighth spot. Unfortunately, things haven't been easy for the Pistons of late. Four of their past five games were on the road, and they went 1-4 over that span. They are coming off a 91-96 loss against the Toronto Raptors, but the game against Washington represents the start of a four-game homestand, while five of their upcoming six will be at Little Ceasars Arena. They will sure be glad to come back home, as they are noticeably better at home (13-6) than on the road (9-15). One cause for optimism should be Andre Drummond's performance against the Raptors, as the big man finished with 25 points and 17 rebounds. He had just three points while going 1-for-7 during Monday' 107-118 loss against the Charlotte Hornets. The Wizards (25-20) are coming off one of their worst results of the season in a 133-109 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, a game where they allowed 77 points in the first half alone. Defense has been a cause for corcern for Washington of late, as the team has allowed points per game over its last six games, with the Wizards going 2-4 over that span. The game against the Hornets started a five-game road trip for Washington, although the schedule shouldn't get too complicated for them since the lone playoff-contending team they will face during the trip is the Oklahoma City Thunder. But regardless of that, the Wizards can't get complacent since they register a poor 10-11 mark away from home. They are only a handful of games behind the #3 seed in the East, so this road trip could be a perfect chance to start turning things around. But their defense will be key. This will be the third meeting between both franchises. The Wizards currently lead the season-series 2-0.

Posted on January 18, 2018 at 8:39 PM ET

January 19, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET

Struggling Kings Pays Visit to Equally Inept Grizzlies

By Juan Carlos Blanco

The Sacramento Kings take on the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum on Friday evening. The Kings (13-31) expected this season to be much more about player development than wins, but that likely doesn't make their unsightly record any easier to digest. Sacramento comes into Friday's contest in the midst of one of the poorer stretches of a frustrating campaign, as they've lost six consecutive games and nine of their last 10 contests overall. Their most recent stumble came against the Utah Jazz, which bested them by a 120-105 margin on Wednesday night. Willie Cauley-Stein, one of the team's few bright spots lately, led the way with 26 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block. Another emerging young player, Bogdan Bogdanovic, followed with 25 points, six rebounds, two assists and one steal. George Hill provided 20 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. Zach Randolph accounted for 12 points, four boards, two assists and two steals. Buddy Hield's nine points led the bench. The Kings will likely list Skal Labissiere as questionable at best for Friday's game with the shoulder injury that already cost him Wednesday's contest. Rookie Frank Mason III remains out for the next several weeks with a heel injury. The Grizzlies (15-28) have endured almost as many struggles as Sacramento, although they'd come into the season with markedly different expectations. However, a mid-November Achilles injury to star point guard Mike Conley effectively derailed Memphis, and even a recent surge where they've won three of their past four games hasn't done much to spruce up their overall prospects. The Grizzlies did topple the New York Knicks by a 105-99 score on Wednesday evening in their latest contest, which served as their third straight home triumph. Tyreke Evans led the way with a 23-point, 10-assist double-double that also included six rebounds and one steal. JaMychal Green provided an 18-point, 13-rebound double-double of his own and added three assists and one steal. Rookie Dillon Brooks provided 17 points, five rebounds, one assist and two steals. Jarell Martin matched Brooks' point total to lead the bench and added six boards, one assist, one steal and one block. Deyonta Davis drew the start for Marc Gasol (illness) and mustered eight points, four rebounds and one steal. Gasol and Brandan Wright are both considered questionable for Friday's game with their respective illnesses, while Conley, Chandler Parsons (knee) and James Ennis III (calf) are all out. Friday's game will mark the second of three meetings between the teams this season. The Grizzlies notched a 114-96 win in Sacramento on New Year's Eve.

Posted on January 18, 2018 at 9:38 PM ET

January 19, 2018 at 9:00 PM ET

Nuggets Play Host to Suns

By Joel Bartilotta

The Phoenix Suns travel to Colorado to play the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on Friday. The Suns (16-29) are really struggling right now, as they've lost three-straight and five of their last six in total. The losses are bad enough, but the nature of the defeats are even more concerning. In fact, those five losses came by a combined 84 points, as none of them were competitive games. The real issue with this team is their defense, as the Suns 112.4 points per game allowed is the worst mark in the NBA. There is some hope for the future though, as there are bright pieces across the board showing signs of brilliance. Players like Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and Alex Len have all shown signs of improvement this season, as they finally appear to be rebuilding after years of bad trades and poor decisions. This roster once had Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas running the show, as they need to somehow get back to building that sort of talent pool going forward. The Nuggets (23-22) are in a bit of a slide right now, as they've lost five of their last seven games. What's been a huge concern in that stretch is the offense, as the Nuggets have only scored more than 105 points once in their last seven games. That's simply not good enough for a team who regularly finishes top-five in scoring, as the loss of Paul Millsap is clearly playing a factor in the struggles. What's even more concerning is that Jamal Murray is dealing with a concussion of his own, which is a sad development for a player whose thrived in this starting point guard role. That means more touches for Nikola Jokic, as he'll try to boost his numbers for a potential all-star berth. Denver has dominated Phoenix over recent years, defeating them in seven-straight games.

Posted on January 18, 2018 at 7:50 PM ET      Updated on January 18, 2018 at 8:23 PM ET

January 19, 2018 at 10:30 PM ET

Jazz Host Struggling Knicks

By Joel Bartilotta

The New York Knicks travel to Salt Lake City to play the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Friday. The Knicks (20-25) have lost seven of their last nine games, as they are truly regressing. What's really fallen apart is their defense, as they are allowing nearly 114 points per game across their last seven defeats. The good news is that Tim Hardaway Jr. is back and fully healthy, as he gives this team a much-needed scoring presence. The next step is to find a third scorer, as Enes Kanter is doing his best to fill that role. Jarrett Jack has also been a pleasant veteran surprise, as he's leading this team with 6.1 assists per game. That's another strange aspect of this team, as it's a mixture of veterans and youngsters, as they look to build a core going forward. This is the sort of thing that happens when you trade a franchise player like Carmelo Anthony, as this team actually looks in better shape now than when they had Melo. The Jazz (18-26) have a 13-8 home record, as they have some of the most drastic home-road splits in the NBA. In fact, Utah is just 5-18 on the road this season, as their only success has come at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Much of that has to be attributed to the fact that Rudy Gobert continues to miss games, as he's had a nagging knee injury all season long. He's the heart and soul of this team, as he's a double-double machine who is arguably the best defender in the NBA. He's actually due to return within the next week, as Utah needs him back before their playoff hopes completely slip away. They also need more from Ricky Rubio, as the offseason acquisition has yet to find his role on this team, averaging just 11.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. The Rudy's are the key going forward, and they won't achieve a playoff berth until they're both playing at an elite level. Despite the fact that Utah swept the two-game season series over New York last season, the Knicks won their one meeting this season, 106-101, on November 15.

Posted on January 18, 2018 at 8:21 PM ET      Updated on January 18, 2018 at 8:28 PM ET

January 19, 2018 at 10:30 PM ET

Pacers Looking To Bounce Back In Midst Of Road Trip

By Dan Bruno  

The Los Angeles Lakers play host to the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center on Friday evening. This marks the second game of a back-to-back for the Pacers (24-21), who are coming off a loss in Portland on Thursday. This marks the fourth game of a five-game road trip for the Pacers, where they have gone 2-1 so far. The Pacers are 10-11 on the road this season and hang on to the sixth spot in the East. Victor Oladipo has been Indiana's best player this season, averaging 24.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Domantas Sabonis has been playing well lately, averaging 14.0 points and 9.0 rebounds over his last 10 games. Myles Turner (elbow) missed the last contest and will remain sidelined through Friday's action. Meanwhile, the Lakers (15-29) have dropped six of their last 10 games, including their last two in a row. This marks the first game of a three-game home stand for the Lakers. They have won their last three straight at home, where they are 9-14 this season. Lonzo Ball (knee) has missed the last two games and has been ruled out for Friday, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (achilles) has also been ruled out. Brandon Ingram (ankle) and Kyle Kuzma (finger) are questionable for action on Friday. Jordan Clarkson will need to step up in the case of all the injuries. Clarkson is averaging 13.5 points, 3.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game.

Posted on January 19, 2018 at 1:06 AM ET      Updated on January 19, 2018 at 1:07 AM ET