National Basketball Association
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                ***** NBA Previews from The Sports Network *****
                             Friday, November 28
                              (All times Eastern)
 ( - Derrick Rose has been beset by injuries all season and
 the Chicago Bulls are hoping he can start stringing some games together soon.
 Rose is dealing with a tight hamstring and said if he's ready to go Friday
 against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden he will play. Rose is paying attention
 to his body, which has failed him in recent seasons and this one.
 The former NBA MVP left Tuesday's 114-109 loss at Denver with tightness in the
 muscle and Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau kept Rose out as a precaution
 because of the pace of the game.
 "I wasn't moving the way I wanted to on the floor," Rose said. "I came in and
 talked to Thibs and we both agreed on me sitting out."
 The Bulls trailed 31-21 after the first quarter and 56-49 at halftime.
 Chicago, which shot 42.7 percent and made just 7-of-21 3-pointers, came alive
 in the fourth quarter to no avail. Jimmy Butler scored 32 points and grabbed
 nine rebounds, and Pau Gasol added 22 points and 11 boards for the Bulls, who
 did not have center Joakim Noah because of eye and knee issues.
 Noah and Rose were back at practice, and both players are probable. Noah is
 averaging 7.9 points and 9.2 rebounds. Forward Taj Gibson (ankle) has missed
 two straight games and could miss a third Friday, while guard Kirk Hinrich
 (chest bruise) is probable.
 The Bulls are 2-3 on their circus road trip, which comes to an end Sunday
 against the Brooklyn Nets.
 Boston will resume a three-game homestand and has lost four in a row at TD
 Garden. In Sunday's 94-88 loss to Portland, Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger did
 their best with 19 points apiece, but the Celtics couldn't avoid their fifth
 loss in the last six tries.
 Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo scored 13 points for Boston, which posted just
 16 points in the fourth quarter and is 2-5 as the host.
 San Antonio will visit Beantown on Sunday and perhaps Celtics rookie guard
 Marcus Smart could see action. Smart has been out since Nov. 7 with an ankle
 injury and was back at practice this week. The energetic and defensive-minded
 Smart could be available as soon as Friday or against the Spurs.
 "He's done his rehab diligently and he's done it well," Celtics coach Brad
 Stevens said. "He's stuck to the game plan as far as coming in here multiple
 times a day and going above and beyond. So he's doing what he's supposed to
 do, and this is the appropriate time frame (for his return)."
 The Celtics defeated the Bulls, 106-101, on Nov. 8 this season and Evan Turner
 led seven players in double figures with 19 points. Rose did not play in that
 game, but both Gasol and Noah did, combining for 32 points and 20 boards.
 Chicago lost nine of the past 13 games at Boston.
 ( - Stephen Curry is a native of Charlotte and is averaging
 25.7 points against his hometown team.
 Curry and the Golden State Warriors will try to extend their season-high
 winning streak to eight games when they visit the Hornets Friday at Time
 Warner Cable Arena.
 The Warriors are 3-0 thus far on a five-game road trip and recorded a 111-96
 victory in Orlando the last time out on Wednesday. Curry scored 25 of his
 game-high 28 points in the first half and buried 6-of-8 3-pointers. Harrison
 Barnes scored 16 points and Klay Thompson ended with 12, as Golden State used
 65 points in the first half to keep the Magic at bay.
 "You want to have a good start and not make it hard on yourself to make a huge
 comeback and have to exert, or have to play perfect basketball down the
 stretch to win a game," Curry said. "We needed to get a lot of stops in that
 second and third quarter to open the game for us, and that's what we did."
 Curry is fifth in the NBA with 24.2 points per game.
 Orlando did have a 31-19 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter, but by then
 it was too late. Shaun Livingston netted 15 points for the Warriors, whose
 12-2 start overall and 7-1 beginning on the road are both franchise bests.
 Golden State made 51.8 percent from the field and hit 12-of-26 3-pointers. It
 is first in the NBA with a 49.3 shooting percentage and third with 107.4
 points per game.
 The Warriors are 9-0 when holding teams under 100 points and will close the
 trek Sunday at Detroit. Warriors guard Leandro Barbosa (knee) is questionable
 for Friday's game.
 Charlotte is a disappointing 4-12 this season and is mired in a seven-game
 losing streak, which continued with Wednesday's 105-97 loss to the red-hot
 Portland Trail Blazers.
 Brian Roberts ended with a career-high 24 points off the bench, while Al
 Jefferson grinded his way to 21 points and 14 boards. Jefferson isn't worried
 about the slow start.
 "It's only 16 games," said Jefferson. "November is a tough month for us. We
 knew that going in. It's going to get better. We're fighting and competing
 every night, we just have to finish games."
 Jefferson has posted three straight double-doubles in the last four games, and
 has posted 20-plus points in four of the previous five.
 Lance Stephenson chipped in eight points, seven boards and five assists in a
 losing effort. Hornets guard P.J. Hairston returned to the lineup after
 missing four games with an ankle injury. He ended with three points.
 Charlotte is 3-5 at home this season.
 The Hornets are 1-8 against teams from the West and dropped a 112-87 decision
 at Golden State on Nov. 15, as Thompson and Curry scored 21 and 19 points,
 respectively. The Warriors shot 51.7 percent and have lost 11 of the past 15
 meetings with Charlotte on the road.
 ( - The Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors are back
 in the great white north for a brief moment and will host the Dallas Mavericks
 Friday night from Air Canada Centre.
 The Raptors are 13-2 and have won six in a row, including Wednesday's 126-115
 beatdown of the Hawks in Atlanta. DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points, Lou Williams
 added 22 and Greivis Vasquez scored 21 points for the Raptors, who shot 51.2
 percent and scored 30 or more points in three of four quarters.
 The Raptors made 14 of their 29 3-pointers and the 126 points scored were a
 season high.
 "We knew they (Hawks) played last night," said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey.
 "We knew we were going to come out and put the pedal to the metal. It paid
 dividends for us."
 Kyle Lowry had 14 points and dished out 13 assists, and is posting an average
 of 17.8 points, 8.2 assists and 5.6 rebounds over the last five games.
 Toronto's bench scored 52 points and has posted 50 or more in three of the
 last four games. It is 11-0 this season when leading after three quarters.
 The Raptors are a sizzling 9-1 at Air Canada Centre and have won four in a row
 there. The nine home wins are the most in the NBA. The Raptors are second in
 the NBA with 108.0 points per game and are posting 106.4 ppg at home.
 After hosting the Mavericks, Toronto will head west for three games against
 the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz.
 Toronto will wear its retro purple uniforms Friday for the second time as part
 of its 20th Anniversary Nights.
 The Mavericks will play their next four games on the road against Toronto,
 Philadelphia, Chicago and Milwaukee, and are 4-3 outside of Big D.
 Dallas lost two in a row following a six-game winning streak, but rebounded
 with Wednesday's 109-102 overtime victory over the New York Knicks. Knicks
 star Carmelo Anthony did not play and Dallas took advantage.
 Future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-best 30 points and former
 Knick Tyson Chandler was a monster with an NBA-high 25 rebounds (10 on
 offense) and 17 points.
 "He was ready for this game. He had a major impact on it," Mavericks coach
 Rick Carlisle said of Chandler.
 Dallas was 7-3 last season when Nowitzki scored at least 30 points and leads
 the NBA with 109.3 ppg. The Mavs are second in the league with a 48.3 field
 goal percentage.
 The Mavs, who shot 40 percent from the floor, had a 56-53 rebounding advantage
 and posted 29 points off 22 New York turnovers. Dallas, which scored 50 points
 in the paint to New York's 24 points inside, used a 9-0 run and forced six
 Knicks turnovers to pull away in the extra session (14-7).
 Carlisle needs one win for 300 (299-193) with the Mavericks. Don Nelson and
 Dick Motta are the other Dallas coaches with 300 or more wins.
 Dallas lost both meetings with Toronto last season and is 14-6 in the past 20
 games in this series. The Raptors are unbeaten in the last three encounters
 between the teams.
 The Mavs are winless in two straight and three of the past four trips to
 Canada. DeRozan averaged 27.5 points, 6.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds in two
 games against the Mavericks last season.
 ( - The Detroit Pistons will get a third crack at the
 Milwaukee Bucks when the two Central foes clash Friday at The Palace.
 The Pistons and Bucks have split two meetings so far. Milwaukee has lost three
 straight and 12 of the last 16 trips to Auburn Hills, Mich. Detroit and
 Milwaukee will meet one more time this season on Jan. 24.
 Pistons big man Andre Drummond is averaging 17.0 points and 10.0 rebounds
 against the Bucks this season.
 Detroit is mired in a six-game losing streak and dropped a 104-98 decision to
 the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, as D.J. Augustin posted 19 points to
 lead the hosts. The Pistons got 17 points from Josh Smith, Drummond and
 Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
 Drummond grabbed 13 rebounds and is averaging 17.0 points and 13.0 boards in
 his last three games for Detroit, which led 51-48 at halftime and had a 73-72
 edge heading into the final 12 minutes. Los Angeles led by 11 at one point in
 the fourth quarter and Smith's layup made it 93-91 with 2 1/2 minutes left.
 "It's just frustrating for me that I couldn't find a way, either in terms of
 defensive scheme or in terms of something to run offensively to help our guys
 a little bit more down the stretch," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said.
 It was Detroit's fourth straight loss at home, where it is 2-5 this season.
 The Pistons are in the midst of playing seven of eight games at The Palace.
 Pistons guard Brandon Jennings (thumb) is questionable Friday and has missed
 the previous two games. He is averaging 16.0 ppg this season.
 Milwaukee has won two in a row after losing back-to-back games and won for the
 seventh time in 10 tries with Wednesday's 103-86 victory at Minnesota. Brandon
 Knight and Larry Sanders scored 15 points apiece and Giannis Antetokounmpo
 ended with 13 for the Bucks, who shot 47.1 percent.
 The Bucks had seven players in double figures and won for the third time in
 the last four road games. Bucks rookie Jabari Parker scored 11 points.
 "Our second group (late in the third) got defensive-minded and rebounded the
 ball," said Bucks coach Jason Kidd. "In the beginning of the fourth quarter,
 (the starters) picked it right back up. We found a way to win on the road."
 The road ahead is a tough one for Kidd's group, which will face the likes of
 Houston, Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix,
 Portland and Sacramento.
 ( - Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans will pay a
 visit to the Atlanta Hawks Friday night at Philips Arena.
 Davis is second in the NBA in scoring with 25.4 points per game and is pulling
 down 11.2 rebounds, both team highs. He is listed as questionable Friday with
 an illness.
 The Pelicans have alternated results over the previous six games and dropped a
 99-89 decision to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. Davis had 14 points and
 nine rebounds, while Tyreke Evans and Ryan Anderson scored 22 and 20 points,
 respectively, for New Orleans.
 "We just didn't play any kind of team basketball tonight," Pelicans coach
 Monty Williams said. "They just outplayed us."
 Sacramento was led by 22 points from DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi, and
 shot 48.1 percent.
 The Hawks had a two-game winning streak stopped with Wednesday's 126-115
 setback to the Toronto Raptors in the opener of a four-game homestand. DeMar
 DeRozan scored 27 points and Kyle Lowry deposited 14 with 13 assists for the
 Eastern Conference-leading Raptors.
 Jeff Teague scored 24 points and handed out 12 assists, Al Horford chipped in
 23 points and nine rebounds, Kyle Korver sank four 3-pointers en route to 19
 "They just made plays," said Teague, who is averaging 25.8 points over the
 last four games. "Made some tough shots. Got some key offensive rebounds."
 The Hawks shot 51.2 percent and were outscored, 35-27, in the fourth quarter.
 They sit fifth in the NBA with a 46.6 field goal percentage and are 5-2 at
 Philips Arena.
 Atlanta will also host Charlotte and Boston on the homestand, and lost both
 matchups with New Orleans last season. The Pelicans are 10-5 in the last 15
 meetings against the Hawks, losers in three straight at home in this series.
 Hawks guard and defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha is questionable versus
 New Orleans with an illness. The first-year Hawk did not play against Toronto
 and is posting an average of 5.8 points and 5.0 rebounds.
 ( - The Los Angeles Clippers struggled with an inferior team
 the last time out and could be in for a long night Friday against the Houston
 Rockets at the Toyota Center.
 The Clippers squeezed past the Detroit Pistons, 104-98, on Wednesday at The
 Palace and Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 25 points. Chris Paul
 had 23 points and seven assists, while Blake Griffin added 15 points and
 DeAndre Jordan grabbed 11 rebounds.
 Los Angeles made 47.4 percent from the floor and have won two in a row to
 improve to 4-1 on a seven-game road trip. The Pistons led 51-48 at the half
 and took a 73-72 lead into the fourth, but the Clippers had a 32-25 scoring
 advantage over the last 12 minutes.
 "We started making some shots and started moving a little bit," said Paul, who
 is third in the NBA with 9.7 assists. "We got them to turn it over and miss a
 few shots, and that's when we're at our best."
 The Clippers have scored 100 or more points four times during the road trip
 and are 5-2 away from home. They are averaging 103.3 points this season and
 sit third in field goal percentage at 47.2. The Clippers are 8-1 when scoring
 100 or more points.
 LA will close the trip Saturday against the Utah Jazz. In injury news for the
 Clips, forward Matt Barnes is questionable Friday with a calf strain and has
 missed the last two games. Barnes is posting 7.8 points this season.
 Houston will close out a five-game homestand Friday and is 3-1 so far on the
 stay. In a 102-89 victory over Sacramento on Wednesday, Isaiah Canaan nailed
 six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 24 points.
 James Harden had 26 points and made only 10-of-31 shots from the field, and
 was impressed with Canaan.
 "Isaiah played extremely well at both ends of the floor," Harden said. "Our
 defense turned it up when we needed to."
 Donatas Motiejunas hit the 20-point mark with 21 and Trevor Ariza ended with
 13 points for the Rockets, who made 44.7 percent from the field and have won
 three in a row and six of eight games. The Rockets registered a 37-19
 difference in the first quarter and scored 32 points off Sacramento's 21
 The Rockets will visit Milwaukee Saturday night and are 6-2 at home. They are
 first in opponents' scoring at 91.5 percent.
 Rockets center Dwight Howard has missed four straight games and could be
 sidelined once again. Howard is dealing with a knee issue and is posting an
 average of 18.8 points and 11.3 rebounds.
 Patrick Beverley (hamstring) is doubtful and Terrence Jones (contusion) is
 listed as out for Friday's game versus the Clippers.
 The Clippers won all four meetings with the Rockets in 2013-14 and are 10-2 in
 the past 12 matchups between the Western powers. Los Angeles has prevailed in
 two straight and four of the past five visits to the Toyota Center.
 Howard averaged 19.0 points and 9.3 rebounds in three games against the
 Clippers last season and Harden amassed 19.3 points in four.
 Paul had 20.3 points and 12.8 assists, and Griffin averaged 17.5 ppg in four
 games against Houston last season.
 ( - One team may be getting a superstar back and another
 will still be without one Friday night when the New York Knicks visit
 Chesapeake Energy Arena to face the Oklahoma City Thunder.
 The Thunder may get at least one integral part back on Friday. All-Star guard
 Russell Westbrook may be available to play versus the Knicks. He practiced all
 week after a broken hand has sidelined him for close to a month.
 Reigning MVP Kevin Durant also participated in practice this week, although
 he's not expected back until next week.
 "This week, I don't know what day, they'll get evaluated and we'll go from
 there," head coach Scott Brooks told the Oklahoman. "They'll continue to go
 through this process and when they're ready -- 100 percent ready -- they'll
 The third superstar surrounding these two teams is most likely out on Friday.
 Carmelo Anthony injured his back Monday night and missed Wednesday's overtime
 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
 "I don't think it will be too long," Anthony told the New York Post. "I think
 the spasms will go away. But I'm not going to play with spasms."
 Against Dallas, New York's J.R. Smith hit a jumper with less than a second
 remaining in regulation to force overtime. The Mavs won the extra session,
 14-7, and earned a 109-102 victory.
 Dallas used a 9-0 run and forced six Knicks turnovers to pull away in the
 extra session.
 "We made some mistakes down the stretch you can't make on the road," Knicks
 coach Derek Fisher said.
 Jose Calderon tallied 21 points, 10 boards and four assists for New York,
 which has dropped four of its last five games. Samuel Dalembert registered a
 double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
 Smith finished with 15, Pablo Prigioni netted 12 and Amare Stoudemire chipped
 in 10.
 Fisher played 125 games with the Thunder, including all of last season.
 The Knicks return home Sunday to face the Miami Heat and will play three
 straight in Madison Square Garden.
 Reggie Jackson poured in 22 points and Jeremy Lamb scored 21 off the bench in
 Oklahoma City's 97-82 home rout of the Utah Jazz Wednesday night.
 Serge Ibaka registered 20 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for the
 Thunder, who snapped a six-game losing streak and gained just their fourth win
 in 16 tries this season.
 "It was a good team win," said Brooks. "We've been close so many times and I
 told the guys we have a lot of things to be thankful for this week."
 Anthony Morrow was the only other Thunder player in double figures with 12.
 The OKC bench outscored Utah's second unit, 44-3.
 The Thunder head out on a three-game road trip, starting Tuesday in New
 The Thunder swept both meetings last season and are 11-3 in their last 14
 against the Knicks. OKC has taken six of the last seven home matchups with New
 ( - The Orlando Magic, armed with a three-game losing
 streak, embark on a six-game road trip, starting Friday night at Bankers Life
 Fieldhouse against the Indiana Pacers.
 Orlando hasn't won since a week ago over the Charlotte Hornets. This odyssey
 may start in Indianapolis, but plenty of miles will be logged flying west. The
 Magic will face the Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers,
 Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings on this trip.
 On Wednesday, the Magic fell at home, 111-96, to the Warriors.
 Tobias Harris, who missed the previous two games due to a strained right calf,
 scored 16 and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Magic, who are 2-1 in their last
 three away home. Nikola Vucevic had 11 points and 13 boards, while Elfrid
 Payton and Ben Gordon both scored 13 in defeat. Victor Oladipo had 12 points
 for the Magic.
 "Offensively, we just couldn't get it together," Payton said.
 The Magic trailed by 13 at the half and never closed the gap.
 The Pacers fell to the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday, 106-100. The Spurs were
 without head coach Gregg Popovich, who missed the game after a minor medical
 All of the other usual suspects were in the Spurs lineup, however.
 "There is a reason they have won five championships," Indiana guard Rodney
 Stuckey said. "Ginobili is Ginobili. Parker does what he does. Tim Duncan does
 what he does. That is their trio right there and they do it well."
 Stuckey netted 22 points to pace the undermanned Pacers, who were without
 center Roy Hibbert for the second straight game. Hibbert left Saturday's loss
 to Phoenix with a sprained left ankle.
 Luis Scola added 13, followed by 12 from Chris Copeland, 11 out of AJ Price
 and 10 from Solomon Hill. The Pacers shot a blistering 47.6 percent from long
 range, but allowed the Spurs to shoot 55.4 percent.
 The Pacers are the fifth-ranked team in the NBA in opponents' scoring, but
 have surrendered 100 points or more in their last three.
 The good news for Indiana is that David West is expected to make his season
 debut on Friday. The All-Star forward missed the season to date with an ankle
 The Pacers took three of four from the Magic last season and five of the last
 six meetings. Orlando has dropped three in a row at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
 after winning the previous five trips there.
 ( - The San Antonio Spurs might be without their fearless
 leader once again when they welcome the Sacramento Kings to the AT&T Center
 Gregg Popovich missed the team's win Wednesday night over the Indiana Pacers
 with what the team called a "minor medical procedure." Ettore Messina, a two-
 time Euroleague coach of the year, guided the team to a 106-100 victory at
 "It is not easy to replace coach Popovich, even if it is just for one game,"
 Manu Ginobili said. "He needed this win and I am happy that we gave it to
 It is unknown how long Popovich will be sidelined.
 Ginobili scored 28 points off the bench to lead the Spurs. Tony Parker and
 Kawhi Leonard both deposited 21 points for the Spurs, winners of five
 straight. Leonard also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, and Tim Duncan
 went for 17 points with six boards.
 Following Friday's tilt, the Spurs hit the road, starting Sunday in Boston.
 They will visit Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Memphis during this sojourn.
 The Kings complete a four-game road trip in San Antonio. Sacramento will be
 back home for five straight versus Memphis, Toronto, Indiana, Orlando and the
 Utah Jazz.
 After a 2-0 start to the trip, the Kings were handed a dose of reality on
 Wednesday. They fell, 102-89, to the Houston Rockets and were done in by a
 terrible fourth quarter. The Kings managed just 16 points, lost the period by
 nine and had a three-game winning streak halted.
 "Fourth quarter was disappointing, we didn't execute," Kings coach Michael
 Malone said.
 DeMarcus Cousins continued his MVP push on Wednesday with 29 points, 17
 rebounds and six assists. Houston's Dwight Howard didn't play, but Cousins was
 still dominating.
 Ben McLemore and Omri Casspi each scored 14 in the loss. Casspi started in
 place of Rudy Gay, who missed his second straight game with right Achilles
 tendinitis. Starting point guard Darren Collison also missed his second in a
 row with a left quadriceps contusion/strain.
 Both are listed as questionable for Friday.
 The Spurs' last loss came at the hands of the Kings on Nov. 15 in Sacramento.
 Cousins, Collison and Gay were too much for San Antonio to overcome.
 The Spurs have owned this series, especially at home. San Antonio is 21-2 in
 its last 23 versus Sacramento and 19-4 in its last 23 as the host in this
 series, including four in a row.
 ( - The Phoenix Suns will go for the home-and-home sweep of
 the Denver Nuggets Friday night as the two sides clash again, this time at the
 Pepsi Center.
 The Suns knocked off the Nuggets, 120-112, Wednesday at US Airways Center. It
 was the fifth win in the last six games for the Suns and halted a five-game
 winning streak for the Nuggets.
 Gerald Green scored 24 points off the bench to lead the Suns.
 Eric Bledsoe deposited 21 points with 10 assists, Goran Dragic scored 20 and
 Markieff Morris totaled 15 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists for the
 Marcus Morris had 14 points while Alex Len and PJ Tucker chipped in 10 points
 apiece off the bench for the Suns.
 Wilson Chandler led the Nuggets with 19 points, while Timofey Mozgov and Arron
 Afflalo each contributed 18 points, with Mozgov pulling down 13 rebounds in
 the setback.
 Ty Lawson scored 17 points and handed out 12 assists, while Alonzo Gee netted
 11 off the bench.
 "The pace was fine for us, scoring over 100 points," said Afflalo. "But you
 can't turn around and give the same amount up."
 With the game knotted up at 64-64 at halftime, Phoenix opened the third on a
 14-4 run. Dragic scored the first five points of the run, then capped it with
 a layup with 7:06 left in the quarter.
 "There was a stretch there in the third quarter where we played pretty good
 defense, then we made some shots," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said.
 The Suns shot lights out against the Nuggets, going for 51.1 percent from the
 field, 52 percent from 3-point range and 81 percent from the free-throw line.
 Denver didn't come close to those numbers.
 Nuggets' forward Danilo Gallinari left the game with left knee soreness and
 didn't return after a little over eight minutes of action. It's the same knee
 that has a surgically-repaired ACL, which cost him almost two years of action.
 The Suns return home for two, then hit the road for three.
 Denver plays four of its next five away from home.
 The Suns have now five in a row against the Nuggets, dating back to last
 season. Phoenix may have won two straight in the Mile High City, but it is
 3-10 in its last 13 there.
 ( - The Portland Trail Blazers return home with a nine-game
 winning streak, but they'll face a stiff test Friday night when the Memphis
 Grizzlies come to the Moda Center.
 The Grizzlies are one of two NBA teams with 13 wins thus far. (The Toronto
 Raptors are the other.) Portland can join that group with a victory over
 The Blazers are the hottest team in the NBA thanks to that nine-game streak.
 They extended their run thanks to a 3-0 trip versus the Boston Celtics,
 Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Hornets.
 The Blazers, who have won seven straight at home, extended the streak to nine
 with a 105-97 victory over the Hornets Wednesday night.
 Wesley Matthews had 28 points and the Trail Blazers used a strong second half
 to beat the Hornets. Damian Lillard added 22 points and seven assists for the
 Blazers, while Robin Lopez tallied 15 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
 "It's not getting any easier," said Matthews. "The rest of the (Western
 Conference) isn't doing us any favors. They don't care that we're on this
 little streak right now. They're continuing to play good basketball and we
 just have to continue to get better."
 Gerald Henderson opened the second half with a jumper to give Charlotte a
 58-45 lead. However, the Blazers responded with a 16-5 run to get within 63-61
 with 6:39 left in the third quarter.
 Trailing 69-66 moments later, Portland used a 12-2 surge to take the lead for
 good. LaMarcus Aldridge, who shot 3-for-18 en route to nine points, capped the
 burst with a short jumper to make it 78-71, and the Blazers eventually took a
 three-point lead into the fourth.
 Holding an 81-79 lead, Portland went on a 15-3 run to put the game away.
 Lillard and Matthews tallied seven and six points, respectively, during the
 spurt that Chris Kaman capped with a jumper for a 96-82 edge.
 The Blazers outscored the Hornets by a 60-41 margin in the second half.
 Portland will play three of its next four at home, then head east again for
 five games.
 The Grizzlies have won three in a row and started their western road trip with
 a 99-93 triumph Wednesday night over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.
 Marc Gasol had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Grizz. Mike Conley posted
 19 points and seven assists for Memphis, which has won seven of the last eight
 "In the second half we got more physical and we got more stops. We got into
 the paint more," Gasol said.
 Zach Randolph finished with 16 and Courtney Lee added 10 for a Memphis team
 which shot 45 percent from the field, but just 22.7 percent from behind the 3-
 point line.
 The Grizzlies, who are the NBA's only undefeated team at home, are just 5-2 on
 the road. Things won't get easier for Memphis with stops in Sacramento and
 Houston to follow.
 The Grizzlies took two of three last season from the Blazers, including one at
 the Moda Center. Memphis is 6-2 in its last eight versus Portland, but has
 dropped four of the last seven as the visitor in this series.
 ( - The teams with the worst records in the Western
 Conference square off Friday night when the Los Angeles Lakers welcome the
 Minnesota Timberwolves to Staples Center.
 Both teams are mired in three-game losing streaks. The Lakers haven't won at
 home since Nov. 9 versus the Charlotte Hornets and the Timberwolves haven't
 won on the road since Nov. 5 against the Brooklyn Nets.
 The Lakers fell to the ultra-tough Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night,
 99-93, in Hollywood.
 Kobe Bryant netted 22 points for Los Angeles, which has dropped seven of its
 last nine games. Jeremy Lin added 14 points, while Nick Young scored 13 for
 the second unit.
 Jordan Hill and Ronnie Hill both had 11 in the losing effort.
 "They're one of the best defensive clubs in the league," Lakers coach Byron
 Scott said. "We have to get better on the defensive end."
 Memphis is third in opponents' scoring, while the Lakers are dead last at
 110.8 ppg allowed. Just ahead of them is Minnesota, which allows opponents an
 average of 109.7.
 The T-Wolves fell by 17 at home on Wednesday to the Milwaukee Bucks in the
 battle of the first two picks in this past summer's draft.
 Milwaukee's Jabari Parker, the No. 2 selection out of Duke, had 11 points with
 seven rebounds, while the top pick, Andrew Wiggins, went for 14 points and
 eight boards.
 Corey Brewer paced the Timberwolves with 19 points in their 103-86 drubbing.
 It was the first time in NBA history that four teenagers played in the same
 game, with Minnesota's Wiggins and Zach LaVine both starting against
 Milwaukee's Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
 The T-Wolves didn't score a point over the final 2:40.
 "We got a lot of guys playing roles that they aren't accustomed to playing,"
 Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders said. "They put some pressure on, but as we
 fell behind, we lost any kind of motion. They locked in defensively."
 Thaddeus Young, who missed the past five games due to the death of his mother,
 scored three points on 1-of-10 shooting
 Minnesota is 0-10 when allowing 100 or more points.
 The Timberwolves won three of four last season against the Lakers and their
 victory on Nov. 10, 2013 halted a 22-game losing streak. Minny is 1-14 in its
 last 15 as the visitor in this series.
 11/28 10:46:58 ET

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