cnotes Posts:33122 Followers:38
On 03/16/2012 11:09 AM in NBA

Cnotes Friday's Best Bets NBA - NHL !

San Antonio Spurs Visit Oklahoma City Thunder

College basketball’s March Madness is underway, but we’re tracking two big stories in the NBA and also looking ahead to an 11-game slate on Friday night.

There’s been a major ‘over’ trend the last eight days at 49-20 (71 percent), with offense way up to 100.7 PPG. That includes going 10-2 on Wednesday with all Thursday games pending. The ‘under’ is still at 51.8 percent for the year.

The NBA trade deadline was Thursday afternoon (3:00 p.m. (ET), and the latest news has Orlando’s Dwight Howard waiving his early termination clause and committing to the team for next season. The Magic have a home game with New Jersey on Friday night and should have a huge burst of energy with Howard still on the roster.

Here’s a look at some other important Friday games, highlighted by a Western Conference showdown between the Spurs and Thunder.

Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers
7:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN

The Heat (31-11 SU, 20-22 ATS) lost 106-102 at Chicago on Wednesday night even with Derrick Rose out injured. They’ve now failed to cover in 4-straight games and are also 0-4 SU and ATS in their last four away. Miami has little scoring depth outside of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and really struggle when one has an off-night.

Philadelphia (25-18 SU, 23-19-1 ATS) had a 3-game win and cover streak broken Wednesday at Indiana (111-94 loss). Evan Turner moved into the starting lineup recently and has been on fire the last four games (21.8 PPG). Team offense has similarly jumped over that span (101.8 PPG), with the ‘over’ 3-0 in the last three.

Miami has won and covered both meetings this year after dispatching the 76ers in the playoffs last season (five games). They last met in Philly on Feb. 3, 99-79 Miami win as 2-point favorites.

Indiana Pacers at New York Knicks
7:30 p.m. (ET) on Regional Broadcasts

The Pacers (25-16 SU, 20-21 ATS) have looked good in their last two games, home wins and covers over Portland (92-75) and Philadelphia (111-94). However, they’ve struggled on the road for over a month, going 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS, with really tough opponents in Chicago, Miami and Orlando the last three. This will be another tough one Friday night.

The Knicks (19-24 SU and ATS) looked great in their first game after the resignation of coach Mike D’Antoni, replaced by interim coach Mike Woodson. That was a 121-79 Wednesday laugher over struggling Portland, snapping a 6-game losing streak (1-5 ATS). It also increased the ‘over’ streak to five for New York.

This is the first meeting between the teams this year. The underdog is 10-1 ATS in the last 11 and the ‘under’ 4-1 in the last five. Indiana is also 8-1 ATS in the last nine in the Big Apple.

San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder
9:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN

These teams have the two best records in the West Conference. There have been two meetings this year with each home squad winning and covering fairly easily. The combined points scored were 204 and 203, both going ‘over’ the total.

San Antonio (28-13 SU, 24-16-1 ATS) hasn’t left Texas since the All-Star Game, going 4-3 SU and ATS during its 7-game homestand. The team has its key players back and the offense has really picked up the last four games at 115 PPG (the ‘over’ 4-0). The road mark this year is 11-9 SU and 10-9-1 ATS after finishing very strong before the break.

The Thunder (32-10 SU, 23-19 ATS) just finished their own homestand at an underwhelming 3-2 SU and 2-3 ATS. They have a tough game in the high altitude of Denver on Thursday (result pending) before returning home to face the Spurs. Oklahoma City is 7-3 ATS in back-to-back situations after starting the season 0-4 ATS.

Milwaukee Bucks at Golden State Warriors
10:30 p.m. (ET) on Regional Broadcasts

The Bucks (19-24 SU, 20-23 ATS) pulled off a big trade with Golden State, essentially swapping center Andrew Bogut for guard Monta Ellis. Ellis should make his debut against his old team on Friday, and the Bucks have already been playing very well lately, winning 4-straight and covering six in a row. The ‘over’ is also 5-0 in the last five, scoring 109.6 PPG.

Golden State (18-22 SU, 21-19 ATS) doesn’t get a lot of short-term results from this trade with Bogut (ankle) out indefinitely. However, the Warriors are 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS their last four games despite playing without Ellis and Stephen Curry (ankle) the last two. Curry should be out again and that means a backcourt of Nate Robinson and rookie Klay Thompson.

This is the first meeting between the teams this season. The road team is 4-0-1 ATS in the last five and the ‘under’ 4-0 in the last four at Oracle Arena.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33122 Followers:38
03/16/2012 11:13 AM

Hoop Trends - Friday

March 16, 2012


The Knicks are 0-12-1 ATS (-7.6 ppg) since February 22, 2009 with at most one day of rest after a home win in which they scored less than 15% of their points from the free throw line.


The Hawks are 0-15 OU (-14.9 ppg) since November 19, 2008 at home with at most one day of rest after a game on the road in which they allowed at least 50% from the field.


The Grizzlies are 0-10-1 OU (-14.5 ppg) since November 06, 2010 after a loss in which Mike Conley played more than 40 minutes.


The Raptors are 0-10 ATS (-9.1 ppg) since March 12, 2008 on the road when facing a non-conference team they lost to in their first match-up of the season.


The Warriors are 10-0 ATS (10.8 ppg) since January 16, 2009 at home with at most one day of rest after a game at home after a loss in which they made more baskets than their opponent.The Pistons are 10-0 ATS (14.4 ppg) since May 10, 2007 on the road with at least one day of rest after a win in which their DPS was at least plus 15 points.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33122 Followers:38
03/16/2012 11:15 AM

Preview: Nets (15-29) at Magic (28-16)

Date: March 16, 2012 7:00 PM EDT

The New Jersey Nets acquired a front-line player at Thursday's trade deadline, though not the one most thought it would be.

Now they'll get another up-close look at the one that got away.

After months of back-and-forth deliberation, Dwight Howard has decided to stay with the Orlando Magic - at least through next season - and his quest for a championship continues when Orlando seeks its 10th straight win over visiting New Jersey on Friday night.

While Magic executives were weighing the team's options after Howard scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a 122-111 loss at San Antonio on Wednesday, the face of the franchise decided he was best suited to remain with the team that drafted him No. 1 overall out of high school in 2004.

Howard signed a waiver in the early morning hours Thursday, taking away his right to opt out of his contract following this season.

It took longer than the Magic may have wanted, but Howard will be under contract through the 2012-13 season.

"I'm glad this is finally over," Howard said. "It's not as easy as some people think. It's been very hard. We're talking a career-changing event. Most people don't see that.

"I'm very loyal and I've always put loyalty above anything."

After watching Shaquille O'Neal sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1996 without any compensation, Orlando wasn't about to let another star player leave without getting something in return.

"It was real," general manager Otis Smith said of the possibility of trading Howard. "We weren't rolling the dice."

There won't be any more questions regarding Howard's status - much to the delight of coach Stan Van Gundy - and the perennial All-Star just wants to focus on the task at hand.

"Now we can get back to playing basketball and having some peace and trying to win a championship," Howard said. "I feel like we have a chance to win and I didn't feel like either one of us (he or the organization) should give that up."

The last time the Magic (28-16) faced the Nets, Howard had 20 points and 17 rebounds in a 108-91 victory Feb. 22, though the New Jersey fans continuously chanted his name due to Howard reportedly listing the Nets as one of his preferred destinations in his preseason trade demand.

Howard is likely to receive a loud ovation when he's announced in Orlando in this contest, and the Nets (15-29) now can only wonder what might have been.

With Howard off the table, New Jersey traded Mehmet Okur's expiring contract, Shawne Williams and a protected first-round draft pick to Portland for swingman Gerald Wallace on Thursday.

"We were involved in a lot of things, some things didn't work out, but the thing we did, did," general manager Billy King said. "I am always one who has the glass half full. We're moving on. We have a starting small forward who is a great fit for us, and that's all I can focus on."

The trade may not be enough to keep star point guard Deron Williams from opting out of his contract following the season, but Wallace provides another threat at both ends of the court as the Nets attempt to salvage what's left of their season.

Wallace is averaging 13.3 points and 6.6 rebounds and also is known as a stingy defender and hard worker. It's unclear if he'll be in uniform for this matchup.

Williams missed his third straight game with a strained left calf Wednesday, but Gerald Green - playing on his second 10-day contract - scored 26 points off the bench in a 98-84 victory over Toronto.

Kris Humphries had 16 points and a career-high 21 rebounds as New Jersey ended a two-game skid. Brook Lopez also missed his sixth straight game with a sprained right ankle.

"With Deron out and Brook out, there is a huge void in every category when those two guys miss," Humphries said. "It's not just me though. Gerald has come in on a 10-day and, look it up, I don't know if anybody has played that well ever. He is playing great. We are all picking up the slack."

New Jersey has lost seven straight meetings in Orlando, including 94-78 on Dec. 29 when Howard scored 16 points and grabbed 24 rebounds.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33122 Followers:38
03/16/2012 11:17 AM

Preview: Heat (31-11) at 76ers (25-18)

Date: March 16, 2012 7:00 PM EDT

Though things haven't gone well lately for the Miami Heat, especially on the road, visiting Philadelphia might be a welcome sight.

The Heat go for a 10th straight regular-season win over the 76ers - a team they have really dominated in 2012 - and enter Friday night trying to avoid their longest road losing streak in nearly four years.

This matchup caps a three-game trip for Miami (31-11), and the first two did not go well. One night after blowing a 14-point lead in an overtime loss to Orlando, the Heat couldn't take advantage of Derrick Rose's absence and fell 106-102 to Chicago on Wednesday after failing to make up a 17-point deficit.

Dwyane Wade had 36 points and is averaging 30.7 over the past three games. LeBron James scored 35, but for the second straight game just two of his points came after the third quarter.

A victory at Portland in its return from the All-Star break gave Miami 20 wins in 23 games, but the Heat have since gone 3-4 with each loss coming on the road.

"We had to break like everybody else and that's how fragile things are in this league," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "But the character and the makeup of our group, we'll work together to find a way to get back to where we were. We were playing excellent basketball three weeks ago, but that's in the past."

The Heat are at risk of their worst road losing streak since the season before Spoelstra took over. They haven't dropped five consecutive games away from home since losing their final nine of 2007-08.

One of the Heat's biggest problems on the road has been clearing the glass. They've been outrebounded by an average of 13.2 in the last four road games, giving up 61 offensive boards.

"We've been playing some big teams to start the second half of the season," said James, who was averaging 10.4 rebounds this month before having five Wednesday. "... We're undersized, but we just gotta figure it out. We gotta put more bodies on guys."

Miami has had no such trouble in two matchups with the 76ers (25-18) this year, outrebounding them 99-69 while winning each game by at least 20 points.

The Heat have won the last nine regular-season meetings, and their only loss in the past 14 overall against Philadelphia came during the first round of last year's playoffs.

The 76ers had won three in a row before losing 111-94 at Indiana on Wednesday. They forced eight turnovers, one off a season low, and let the Pacers shoot 56.6 percent - the best by a Philadelphia opponent in more than a year.

"I thought this was our poorest defensive game all season," said coach Doug Collins, whose team leads the NBA in points allowed (87.9 ppg) and field-goal percentage defense (41.8).

The Sixers haven't allowed 100 points in back-to-back games all season but now face a Miami team that leads the Eastern Conference in scoring at 102.5 per game.

However, the Heat would have failed to reach 100 for the fourth straight game Wednesday if not for two late 3-pointers by James Jones. Chris Bosh has averaged 14.3 points on 37.5 percent shooting in those contests, while Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers have combined to go 3 for 26 from 3-point range.

Evan Turner has averaged 21.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in the past four games for Philadelphia, which has won its last two home games after losing five of six.

The 76ers could have a new player in uniform, having acquired swingman Sam Young from Memphis shortly before Thursday's trade deadline.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33122 Followers:38
03/16/2012 11:18 AM

Preview: Pacers (25-16) at Knicks (19-24)

Date: March 16, 2012 7:30 PM EDT

With Linsanity fading and the New York Knicks reeling, coach Mike D'Antoni had finally seen enough - and his departure may have unintentionally sparked his former team.

Coming off their most lopsided win of the season, the Knicks seek consecutive victories for the first time in more than a month when they open a home-and-home series with the Indiana Pacers on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

D'Antoni abruptly resigned Wednesday - reports say it was a mutual decision with management - with New York mired in a six-game losing streak, and the seven-game winning streak sparked by Jeremy Lin's emergence becoming an increasingly distant memory.

Interim coach Mike Woodson had little time to prepare for his debut at the helm, but New York (19-24) responded Wednesday night with a 121-79 home drubbing of Portland to end the skid.

"When you look into their eyes after something like this has happened, you know, you wonder as a coach are they mentally there,' said Woodson, whose team hasn't won consecutive games since the Lin-fueled run Feb. 4-15. "I just told them to take a deep breath and relax and let's go out and have fun and play basketball the way I think we're capable of doing it, and I think they responded.'

J.R. Smith scored 23 points and Steve Novak added 20 as reserves, while Amare Stoudemire finished with 17 and Carmelo Anthony chipped in 16.

Lin, who flourished under D'Antoni's pick-and-roll, faced-paced offense, had six points, six assists and six turnovers.

"It's going to be a different style, a different rhythm, but we still need to figure it out because we don't all have it figured out just yet right now,' Lin said of playing under Woodson.

Stoudemire, meanwhile, believes he and Anthony will benefit from the change.

"I just think he's just going to utilize his leading scorers,' Stoudemire said. "With myself and Carmelo, he's going to utilize us to make sure that we take advantage of our every opportunity out there on the court. We've been profound scorers all our career, so we're going to make sure we take advantage of it.'

Anthony took advantage of the Pacers when these teams last met, scoring 34 points including a 19-foot jumper with four seconds remaining to lift New York to a 110-109 win at Indiana last April 10.

The Knicks had lost three of their previous four meetings with the Pacers (25-16), who set a season high Wednesday by shooting 56.6 percent in a 111-94 home win over Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia.

"It helps a lot,' Danny Granger, who scored a team-high 20 points, said of defeating a division leader. "This game had more meaning than probably most people realized.'

The Pacers made a meaningful trade Thursday, dealing a second-round pick to Toronto for veteran guard Leandro Barbosa. Barbosa averaged 12.2 points in 42 games this season with the Raptors, all coming in a reserve role

"He gives us added depth and scoring off the bench and will help us as we make our run to the playoffs,' Indiana team president Larry Bird said.

Tyler Hansbrough's 29 points trumped 28 from Stoudemire and 25 from Anthony as the Pacers beat the Knicks 106-93 without Granger on March 13, 2011, in their last visit to MSG.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33122 Followers:38
03/16/2012 11:20 AM

Preview: Wizards (10-32) at Hawks (24-19)

Date: March 16, 2012 7:30 PM EDT

A disappointing road trip didn't lessen the resolve of the Atlanta Hawks not to make any moves at the trade deadline.

The Hawks will try to avoid a third straight loss Friday night when they host the Washington Wizards.

Atlanta's hold on sixth place in the Eastern Conference became a little more tenuous after it completed a 2-4 road trip with a 96-82 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

As expected, Atlanta (24-19) stayed quiet at the deadline, choosing not to appease Josh Smith's request for a trade.

General manager Rick Sund had said what the team needs is for everyone to get healthy. Al Horford is out for the season with a torn left pectoral muscle while leading scorer Joe Johnson returned last week after missing six of the previous seven games with tendinitis in his left knee.

The Hawks haven't shown much offensive power without Horford and that was particularly evident on the trip. They were held to 86 or fewer points in three of the four losses on the trek.

Johnson had 19 points and Smith 18 against the Clippers. Atlanta shot 34.6 percent and allowed the Clippers to connect on 54.3 percent overall while hitting 10 of 20 from 3-point range.

Smith, who went 1 of 8 from the field for seven points in the second half, scored his fewest points in eight games after averaging 26.6 points during the previous seven.

Points weren't nearly as difficult to come by in the Hawks' lone meeting this season with Washington (10-32) - a 101-83 victory on Dec. 28. Johnson led six players in double figures with 18 points.

Atlanta has won seven in a row at home against Washington and 13 of 14 overall.

The Wizards continue a six-game trip after ending a three-game losing streak with a 99-89 victory over Western Conference-worst New Orleans on Thursday.

They had dropped the first two games of the trip versus San Antonio and Dallas, but shot 52.0 percent against the Hornets and outscored them 27-6 on the fast break.

John Wall scored 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting and handed out 12 assists. Washington led by as many as 16 points, but needed a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter to seal its first road win in seven games.

``Everybody stepped up and we got a good team win,' Wall said. ``Lately, we've been playing as a team and playing hard. When (we) do that, we give ourselves a chance.'

Washington traded guard Nick Young and centers JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf to Denver as part of a three-team deal on Thursday. The Wizards acquired talented, but oft-injured big man Nene from Denver as well as Brian Cook from the Clippers.

Nene was averaging 13.4 points and 7.4 rebounds in an injury-plagued season.

"Nene is a versatile player who will bring experience and a physical presence to our frontcourt,' Washington general manager Ernie Grunfeld said. "His veteran leadership and postseason experience will be a positive influence in our locker room."

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33122 Followers:38
03/16/2012 11:21 AM

Preview: Trail Blazers (20-23) at Bulls (36-9)

Date: March 16, 2012 8:00 PM EDT

The Chicago Bulls credit their ability to play through adversity for making them stronger.

For the Portland Trail Blazers, continued problems cost coach Nate McMillan his job as the franchise underwent some big changes.

The Bulls aren't certain if they'll have star guard Derrick Rose available Friday night when they host the reeling Trail Blazers, who play their first game under interim coach Kaleb Canales.

Portland (20-23) has dropped to last place in the Northwest Division with seven losses in nine games, with all six defeats in March by double digits.

The Trail Blazers put up little resistance and were embarrassed with a 121-79 loss at New York on Wednesday to a Knicks team that had lost six straight.

The 42-point defeat was the last straw for management, which fired McMillan on Thursday after six seasons, during which he guided the team to three playoff berths. Canales was promoted from assistant to interim coach.

"Clearly the season to this point has not gone the way we had hoped it would and after talking with Nate we decided it was best to part ways," Blazers President Larry Miller said in a statement issued by the team.

Thursday's moves also included trading veteran center Marcus Camby to Houston and forward Gerald Wallace to New Jersey. The Trail Blazers acquired guard Jonny Flynn and the expiring contracts of Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and Hasheem Thabeet as well as draft picks.

To make room for the new additions, Portland waived former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden, who was limited to 82 games by injuries since the Blazers took him over Kevin Durant with the first selection in the 2007 draft. Oden recently underwent his third microfracture knee surgery.

With Portland in flux and struggling, a visit to Chicago isn't likely to help. The Bulls (36-9) have the NBA's best record and have won three straight, including a 106-102 victory over Southeast Division-leading Miami on Wednesday without Rose.

The reigning MVP sat out with a strained groin - the 11th game he's missed this season. A day earlier, he was fined $25,000 by the league for criticizing officiating in a win over the Knicks and he was involved in a minor car accident, although he wasn't injured.

While Rose and Richard Hamilton (shoulder) were out, Luol Deng returned after missing two games because of pain in his injured left wrist and had 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

Despite Deng's poor shooting and a season-low two points from Carlos Boozer, the Bulls prevailed behind 24 points from John Lucas III - one of six players in double figures.

"We're like a brotherhood," said Lucas, who hit 9 of 12 shots and 3 of 5 3-pointers. "When one brother goes down, we have their back."

Chicago outrebounded the Heat 50-34 and has a 15.0 boards per game edge over its last three opponents. Taj Gibson has averaged 8.7 rebounds off the bench during that stretch, grabbing a season-high 13 against the Knicks.

"The guys we have on our team are the right guys," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "They have the right attitude, approach and there's the belief we can win."

It's not certain if Rose or Hamilton will play Friday. Rose has two 30-point games in his last three meetings with Portland.

Chicago has won two straight at home against the Blazers, but has lost six of the last eight meetings overall.

LaMarcus Aldridge has averaged 35.7 points in his last three games against the Bulls, scoring 42 in Portland's 109-103 victory on Feb. 7, 2011.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33122 Followers:38
03/16/2012 11:26 AM

Preview: Raptors (14-29) at Grizzlies (24-17)

Date: March 16, 2012 8:00 PM EDT

Despite missing two key players, the Memphis Grizzlies managed to remain competitive in losing to one of the perennial contenders in the Western Conference the last time they took the court.

The Grizzlies might have a chance to improve their record over the next few games beginning with a visit from the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

They might also get some help during that stretch with Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay possibly returning from their injuries.

Randolph hasn't been in the lineup for Memphis (24-17) since tearing his right MCL during a 104-64 loss in Chicago on Jan. 1. He said he hopes to return shortly and didn't rule out playing in the Grizzlies' two games this weekend.

Memphis was also missing Gay, its top scorer, during a visit from the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. Gay was dealing with a mild concussion that he suffered two days earlier during a 94-91 win in Denver.

Even with those two players out, the Grizzlies managed to take the Lakers into double overtime before falling 116-111.

Marreese Speights, who has started during Randolph's absence, had a season-high 25 points and seven rebounds. Marc Gasol had 20 points and was one of six players in double figures.

"I've got no problem with my team. Our guys played hard. They played with a lot of energy and a lot of heart. We lost to a team that played better," coach Lionel Hollins said. "We've got to give them their due, and we've just got to get ready to come back on Friday."

Hollins' team will begin a stretch of four consecutive games against sub-.500 teams. That could help the Grizzlies bounce back after losing two of three following an 11-2 stretch.

Memphis has won six straight over Toronto (14-29) and seven of eight home meetings, including three in a row. The Grizzlies, though, needed late baskets from Gay and Tony Allen to secure a 102-99 victory at the Air Canada Centre on March 2.

The Raptors scored one point over the final 1:06 of that defeat and struggled throughout much of the second half during a 98-84 loss at New Jersey on Wednesday. Toronto was outscored 57-38 over those final 24 minutes and made 12 of 35 shots (34.3 percent) to finish at 38.3 percent.

Dwane Casey's team was playing its fourth game in five days, but he refused to use that as an excuse.

"We're in the NBA and that is what we are paid to do, perform each and every night. I just didn't see that," Casey said. "In the first half we competed. We wanted to belong. In the second half we didn't meet their toughness."

Each team won't have one player on its roster following Thursday's trade deadline. The Raptors shipped guard Leandro Barbosa to Indiana for a second-round pick and cash, while the Grizzlies sent swingman Sam Young to Philadelphia for the draft rights to Ricky Sanchez.

While they won't have Young, they probably would like Randolph back for this game. He's averaged 25.5 points on 61.8 percent shooting in two home matchups with Toronto over his three seasons in Memphis.

Gay, who reportedly practiced Thursday, has averaged 22.8 points over his last four games against the Raptors.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33122 Followers:38
03/16/2012 11:27 AM

Preview: Pistons (16-27) at Suns (21-22)

Date: March 16, 2012 10:00 PM EDT

The Phoenix Suns are trying to get back to .500 for the first time in more than two months.

Returning home and having Steve Nash and Grant Hill back in uniform should improve those chances greatly.

After being rested for one game, Nash and Hill are scheduled to return to the lineup and try to keep the Suns surging as they attempt to sweep a back-to-back-to-back stretch of games Friday night when they host the Detroit Pistons.

Phoenix (21-22) hasn't held a .500 record since it was 4-4 on Jan. 8, but a 9-3 surge has it on the brink of returning to the break-even point.

The Suns posted a 91-87 road victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, one night after they shot 56.4 percent en route to a 120-111 home win over Utah.

Now, looking to win for a third straight night, barring any unforeseen circumstances coach Alvin Gentry will have Nash and Hill back.

Gentry opted to rest the veteran duo against the Clippers, and reserve Shannon Brown made the most of his opportunity with a season-high 21 points. Sebastian Telfair, filling in for Nash at the point, had seven points and eight assists.

"I think it was satisfying for the guys in the locker room, because I think they wanted to prove that we are a good team all around and that we can win games without Steve or Grant," Gentry said. "We didn't have the guy who is the engine to our whole team."

The Suns may also benefit from a return to US Airways Center, where they've won eight of their last 10 games while averaging 102.9 points.

Nash leads the NBA with 11.1 assists per game and is averaging 13.9 points, while Hill is averaging 13.6 points over his last eight at home.

Hill was held to eight points while shooting 4 of 14 in a 75-74 loss at Detroit (16-27) on Jan, 22, 2011, the last time these teams met. Phoenix, though, has won three in a row over the Pistons at home including a 92-75 victory Dec. 31, 2010.

The Pistons have put together a solid 4-1 stretch after dropping four of their previous five. They turned in their best offensive effort of the season Wednesday, shooting 58.1 percent from the field - 8 for 13 from 3-point range - to win 124-112 at Sacramento.

"We've been coming together as a team," coach Lawrence Frank said. "It's a collaboration in a lot of different areas at both ends of the floor. It's not one thing or one player, it's many different things."

One reason for the recent surge has been the play of Rodney Stuckey, who had 35 points, six assists and five rebounds against the Kings. Stuckey is averaging 25.8 points and shooting 60.8 percent over his last five games.

Stuckey has struggled in his career versus Phoenix, averaging 9.4 points in seven meetings.

Tayshaun Prince had 17 points and 13 rebounds in last season's victory over the Suns, and enters this contest on the heels of a 28-point performance in Sacramento.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:33122 Followers:38
03/16/2012 11:29 AM

Preview: Celtics (23-19) at Kings (14-29)

Date: March 16, 2012 10:00 PM EDT

Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics had been playing well even with the distraction of the trade deadline looming.

Now that it's come and gone with his team still intact, Garnett will try to lead the Celtics to another win over the struggling Sacramento Kings on Friday night.

After scoring 21 points in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, Garnett had a team-leading 24 in a 105-103 win over Golden State on Wednesday, including the tiebreaking jumper with 5.1 seconds left.

Brandon Bass added a season-high 22 points as the Celtics improved to 2-1 on their eight-game road trip, which ends March 23 in Philadelphia.

Garnett scored 12 in the fourth quarter while finishing one shy of his season high. He's averaged 17.6 points and 9.4 rebounds while shooting 56.4 percent in 11 games since taking over as the starting center for the injured Jermaine O'Neal.

"He's been unbelievable this run," coach Doc Rivers told the league's official website. "Since he's been at the 5, he's been absolutely sensational for us."

Rivers' team overcame 18 turnovers and a 52.6-percent shooting performance from the Warriors on Wednesday to win for the eighth time in 10 games.

"It's good for the team. It's good for our confidence," forward Paul Pierce said. "It shows we can win when we don't play well. We played defense when it mattered. That's what was most important."

Boston (23-19) will get to build on that effort with its top players still on the team after the team stayed quiet at Thursday's trade deadline. Point guard Rajon Rondo was one of those who was in trade rumors, most notably with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rondo has averaged 11.3 assists over his past 10 games and has totaled 41 in the last three meetings with Sacramento, loser of three in a row after a 2-0 start to its nine-game homestand.

Boston has prevailed in eight consecutive matchups with the Kings, winning by an average of 17.0 points, but the past two in Sacramento were decided by a combined eight.

The Kings (14-29), though, were beaten by a combined 38 points in their last two games. They gave up 40 in the third quarter during a 124-112 loss to Detroit on Wednesday, the most in any period this season.

"You're not going to win a game if you give up 40 points," rookie guard Isaiah Thomas said.

Three Sacramento players topped 20 points in that defeat, including Jason Thompson with a season-best 21 and 15 rebounds. Thomas also scored 21, three shy of his career high.

Tyreke Evans had a team-best 23 points but left in the fourth quarter after injuring his ankle on a hard fall. He's listed as day-to-day.

His potential absence could be a big problem for a Sacramento team which has averaged just 84.1 points in the last eight meetings with Boston.

The Kings have allowed an average of 115.0 points during their three-game skid after giving up 98 or fewer during wins over New Orleans and Dallas to start their homestand.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: