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NBA Game Previews for December 12, 2017
December 12, 2017 at 7:00 PM ET

Surprising Knicks Host Lakers

By Joel Bartilotta

The New York Knicks play host to the Los Angeles Lakers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. The Lakers (10-15) have won their last two games, but that followed up a five-game losing streak. What makes this stretch bizarre is the fact that both of those wins came on the road, as five of their last seven games have come on the road in total. The good news is that this road trip is close to ending, but the bad news is that the next few games get unbelievably tough. In fact, Los Angeles have to face Cleveland, Golden State and Houston across their next four games, as this losing streak could get lengthy if they don't get a win here. The issue with this team remains the same, as the defense continues to falter. The Lakers currently rank 24th in points allowed, as they've ranked bottom-10 in defense in five-straight seasons. As long as that continues, this young group will have a tough time competing. The Knicks (13-13) have been a pleasant surprise this season, but they come into this matchup losing six of their last nine games. It's the injury to Tim Hardaway Jr. that's really killing this club, as that's 20 points per game that they can't make up. That number shows in the offensive statistics too, as they've only reached 110 points once in their last 13 games. Kristaps Porzingis does continue to thrive though, as he leads this team with 25.5 points per game. That quick development from their superstar is all fans could ask for and it's put this Knicks team in a much better position than most anticipated. Despite the fact that these teams split their season series last year, New York have won five of six over Los Angeles dating back to 2015.

Posted on December 11, 2017 at 6:53 PM ET      Updated on December 11, 2017 at 7:00 PM ET

December 12, 2017 at 7:00 PM ET

Nuggets and Pistons Face Off on Tuesday night

By Martin Springall

Losers of three of their last four contests, all occurring on the road, the Denver Nuggets (14-12) spent Sunday getting dropped in overtime by the Indiana Pacers, 126-116. With 25 points, Trey Lyles emerged off the bench to lead Denver in scoring, finishing with five rebounds and five three-pointers to his credit. Gary Harris and Will Barton contributed 21 points each, with Harris shooting 3-of-10 from deep, and Barton dishing out nine assists to come just short of a double-double. Barton tops the team offensively this season, averaging 16.1 points and 3.2 assists per game. Wilson Chandler had 18 points, eight boards and three triples of his own for a Nuggets squad that has won only four games away from home this season. Denver currently sits in second place in the Northwest Division, one-and-a-half games behind the Minnesota Timberwolves. After a promising start to their 2017-18 campaign, the Detroit Pistons (14-12) find themselves in the midst of a December tailspin, having lost six straight games, the latest a 91-81 defeat at the hands of the visiting Boston Celtics on Sunday. The unit shot a pedestrian 33.3 percent from field goal range and 30.3 percent from beyond the arc, led by Tobias Harris' 19-points effort. Harris went 5-of-15 from the paint and 3-of-9 from downtown, making all six of his shot attempts from the foul line. Andre Drummond, who leads the NBA in rebounds with 15.3 per game, had another productive night off the boards with 15 rebounds to add to his six-point scoring line. Avery Bradley posted 12 points and a pair of three-pointers as the Pistons sink to seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

Posted on December 11, 2017 at 11:02 PM ET

December 12, 2017 at 7:00 PM ET

Cavaliers Host Hawks At Quicken Loans Arena

By Nick Brazzoni  

The Cleveland Cavaliers will host the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavaliers (19-8) finally saw their 13-game winning streak come to an end on the road against the Pacers, but Cleveland was then able to bounce back with a seven-point victory over the 76ers on Saturday. In that contest, LeBron James managed to record his 58th career triple-double and third of the season, posting 30 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists across 39 minutes. James has been off to a very strong start to the month of December, averaging 29.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.6 assists while playing nearly 39 minutes per game and shooting 55 percent from the field. As for the Hawks (6-20), they've now lost three of their last four contests and are coming off a close, four-point loss to the Knicks on Sunday. In that game, veteran power forward Ersan Ilyasova put on a shooting clinic for the second straight night. Ilyasova shot 7-of-11 from the field and 5-of-6 from downtown en route to scoring 20 points, and this performance came just one night after he shot 5-of-5 from three and 9-of-9 from the field overall en route to scoring 26 points in a win over the Magic. It was just the third time this season that Ilyasova has scored at least 20 points, as he has missed majority of it due to a knee injury, but Atlanta will look to him to continue providing a scoring boost to its below-average scoring offense.

Posted on December 12, 2017 at 12:19 AM ET

December 12, 2017 at 7:30 PM ET

Wizards Tangle With Nets in Big Apple

By Juan Carlos Blanco

The Washington Wizards pay a Tuesday night visit to the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. The Wizards (14-12) came within a point of a three-game winning streak when they suffered a heartbreaking 113-112 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday afternoon. After opening the game on a 13-0 run, the Wizards were outscored by a 60-34 margin over the final 19:30 of the first half. After battling back in the second half, they ultimately saw Lou Williams sink a 29-foot three-pointer in the closing seconds to seal a win for Los Angeles. Otto Porter, Jr. paced the Wizards with 27 points, a total he supplemented with 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals. Bradley Beal poured in 25 points and added three assists, two rebounds and one steal. Mike Scott was excellent off the bench with 22 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Ian Mahinmi provided 14 points, three assists and two rebounds on the second unit. Tomas Satoransky pitched in 11 points, six rebounds and six assists in 27 minutes. Marcin Gortat filled out the stat sheet with nine points, eight rebounds, four assists and one block, but he missed a would-be game-winning 21-foot jumper at the buzzer. The Wizards have an opportunity to get John Wall back Tuesday from the knee issues that have plagued him since late Nov. 25. Wall went through a full practice Monday, but his Tuesday status remains unclear. Meanwhile, big men Jason Smith and Ian Mahinmi both shape up as game-time decisions due to knee injuries. The Nets came into a Saturday date with the Miami Heat in Mexico City as winners of three of their previous four games, but they ended up on the wrong end of a 101-89 score. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led the way for Brooklyn with 18 points, a total he supplemented with eight boards and two blocks. Spencer Dinwiddie posted 15 points, nine assists, three rebounds and one steal. Isaiah Whitehead led the bench with 13 points, a total he supplemented with five boards and one assist. Allen Crabbe tallied 12 points and added three rebounds and one assist. Caris LeVert matched Crabbe's scoring total and complemented it with five assists and two steals. Tyler Zeller enjoyed one of his more productive outings with 12 points and seven boards. The Nets expect to see both Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas, acquired from the Sixers via trade last week, make their team debuts Tuesday. Tuesday's game marks the first of three meetings between the teams this season. The following contest will unfold on Dec. 22 in Brooklyn as well.

Posted on December 11, 2017 at 10:11 PM ET      Updated on December 11, 2017 at 10:12 PM ET

December 12, 2017 at 8:30 PM ET

Mavericks Look To Get Back On Track At Home

By Dan Bruno  

The Dallas Mavericks play host to the San Antonio Spurs, at American Airlines Center on Tuesday evening. This marks the first game back home after a three-game road trip for the Mavericks (7-20). They went 0-3 on the road trip and have lost six of their last 10 games. However, prior to the road trip they won two in a row at home, and are 5-10 at home this season. Dennis Smith Jr. (hip) has missed the last two games for Dallas and remains questionable for action on Tuesday. Harrison Barnes leads the Mavericks with an average of 18.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, while Dirk Nowitzki chips in an average of 11.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. The Mavericks average 100.1 points per game, which is one of the lowest totals in the league. Meanwhile, the Spurs (19-8) are still rolling, winners of four straight and eight of their last 10 games. This marks the second game of a three-game road trip for the Spurs. They have won three of their last four on the road, and are 6-6 on the road this season. LaMarcus Aldridge leads the way for San Antonio with 22.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, while Rudy Gay averages 12.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Manu Ginobili has remained a factor this season, averaging 8.5 points per game. The Spurs hold opponents to an average of 97.6 points per game, which is second lowest in the league.

Posted on December 12, 2017 at 1:34 AM ET      Updated on December 12, 2017 at 2:13 AM ET

December 12, 2017 at 9:30 PM ET

Timberwolves Looking To Extend Winning Streak, Host 76ers

By Juan Pablo Aravena  

The Minnesota Timberwolves will host the Philadelphia 76ers at Target Center on Monday night. The Timberwolves (16-11) have been on quite a roll right now. Minnesota kicked off a five-game homestand with a 97-92 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, and right now they are riding a two-game winning streak while coming out on top in four of their past six games. One of the main reasons why Minnesota sits five games above .500 has been the play of Karl-Anthony Towns, who currently averages 20.1 points with 11.6 rebounds per game, but overall the whole offense has been playing at a high level. The Timberwolves rank in the top 10 in the entire league in points per possession (5th), points per game (10th), and field-goal percentage (7th). As if that wasn't enough, they have been playing quite well at home since they register a 9-4 mark playing at Target Center. The 76ers (13-13) are one of the most exciting young teams in the league, but young teams are expected to go through growing pains, and that's exactly what is happening to them. The Sixers are currently riding a four-game losing streak, and have dropped five of their last six. They are coming off 131-124 loss against the New Orleans Pelicans, and they have also dropped their past three games on the road. For what is worth, Philadelphia has a 6-7 record on the road, and their current skid has dropped them out of the playoff picture for the first time in the current season. One encouraging sign for Philadelphia despite the losing streak has been the play of Ben Simmons, as the rookie currently averages 18.3 points, 10.5 assists, and 8-0 rebounds during the team's four-game winless run. The Timberwolves only have Nemanja Bjelica listed as injury due to a foot issue, and he's expected to be out until December 16. Meanwhile, the Sixers have Robert Covington, Joel Embiid (both back) and T.J. McConnell (shoulder) all listed as questionable for this game, while Justin Anderson (lower leg) and Markelle Fultz (shoulder) are out. This will be the first meeting between both clubs this season. They split the season series during the 2016-17 campaign.

Posted on December 11, 2017 at 9:19 PM ET

December 12, 2017 at 10:00 PM ET

Suns, Kings Square Off in Sacramento

By Oscar Heanue

The Phoenix Suns will visit the Sacramento Kings at Golden One Center on Tuesday. Sacramento (8-18) will hope to defend its home court after a bumpy stretch of games. The team most recently fell, 102-87, against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. The team fell behind early in the game, but fought valiantly to stay in the game. In the loss, veteran big man Zach Randolph excelled, scoring a team-high 19 points to go with 11 rebounds. Randolph has been on a miniature tear of late, averaging 23.8 points and 10.1 rebounds on 60.1 percent shooting over his last five games. Off the bench, meanwhile, sophomore guard Buddy Hield delivered an impressive 17 points. Hield accounted for three of the team's 10 made three-pointers on the night. One of Sacramento's main weaknesses in the game was ball management, as the team committed 21 turnovers on the night. Phoenix (9-19) is still without star shooting guard Devin Booker (groin). On Saturday, in his absence, the team still put up a strong showing against the powerhouse San Antonio Spurs. However, they lost, 104-101. Undrafted rookie point guard Mike James ramped up his production in Booker's absence, scoring 25 points. However, James missed a crunch-time three-pointer that could have put the Suns ahead in the game's final seconds. Still, it was a promising showing for Phoenix, who will be lacking offense without their leading scorer. Forward T.J. Warren added 24 points shooting 7-of-16 on the night and going a perfect 8-of-8 at the free-throw line. The Suns will look to see the offensive output continue in Sacramento on Tuesday.

Posted on December 11, 2017 at 8:34 PM ET      Updated on December 11, 2017 at 8:35 PM ET