National Basketball Association
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                ***** NBA Previews from The Sports Network *****
                                Friday, March 6
                              (All times Eastern)
 
 
 CHICAGO BULLS (39-23) AT INDIANA PACERS (26-34), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Bulls will play five of the next six games
 on the road and will visit the Indiana Pacers Friday at Bankers Life
 Fieldhouse.
 
 The Bulls went 5-2 on a recent homestand and recorded a 108-105 victory versus
 the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday at the United Center.
 
 E'Twaun Moore scored 13 of his career-high 19 points in the fourth quarter,
 including the deciding 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining, to lift the
 Bulls, who have won nine of their last 12 games.
 
 "The way E'Twaun competed on every play, that goes a long way," Bulls coach
 Tom Thibodeau said. "I thought we had a number of guys step up."
 
 Nikola Mirotic scored 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, while Paul
 Gasol and Mike Dunleavy each chipped in 21 points.
 
 Chicago leads the Cleveland Cavaliers by a half-game for the Central
 Division's top spot and is second in the Eastern Conference standings.
 
 The Pacers look to close out a perfect four-game homestand Friday and are
 coming off a 105-83 beating of the New York Knicks Wednesday night.
 
 George Hill scored 21 points, Rodney Stuckey added 17 and C.J. Miles finished
 with 16 points for Indiana, which scored 23 points off 20 New York turnovers
 and won for the ninth time in 11 tries.
 
 "I'm excited about how we're playing," said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel.
 "Coming into tonight's game we were 10th in the East. So we can't be
 complacent. We have to keep winning, that's the bottom line."
 
 The Pacers rolled even with starting center Roy Hibbert and backup point guard
 C.J. Watson held out of the game for rest purposes. Both players are expected
 to return Friday evening.
 
 Indiana is a half-game off the eighth and final playoff spot in the East and
 will visit the Knicks Saturday night.
 
 The Pacers and Bulls have split two games this season and will meet again
 March 18 in the Windy City.
 
 
 SACRAMENTO KINGS (21-38) AT ORLANDO MAGIC (19-43), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Sacramento Kings will resume an eight-game road trip
 Friday night against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center.
 
 The Kings opened the lengthy sojourn with a win at New York on Tuesday, but
 suffered a 112-85 setback in San Antonio the following night.
 
 DeMarcus Cousins scored 14 points with only three rebounds in 22 minutes
 because of foul trouble, while Ray McCallum had 12 points and Rudy Gay managed
 10 for the Kings, who made only 37.2 percent for the game and gave up 24
 points on 18 turnovers.
 
 "When he got in foul trouble in the first half, I think that gave San Antonio
 that inner confidence," Kings coach George Karl said of Cousins.
 
 Sacramento, losers in nine of the 13 games, is 8-19 away from home and still
 has stops in Miami, Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia and Washington remaining
 on the trek.
 
 The Magic are 0-2 on a four-game homestand and dropped a 105-100 decision to
 the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.
 
 Victor Oladipo's career-high 38 points on 15-of-25 shooting wasn't enough for
 Orlando, which received 18 points from Nikola Vucevic in its fourth straight
 loss.
 
 "We've got to find out a way to come out better in the second half," Oladipo
 said. "We've got to put a whole game together if we want to win games."
 
 Orlando is only 4-16 in the past 20 games and will close the homestand Sunday
 versus Boston. The Magic are 9-21 at Amway Center.
 
 Magic guard Evan Fournier (hip) is questionable versus the Kings.
 
 The Magic defeated Sacramento, 105-96, on Dec. 6 out west and were led by
 Tobias Harris, who scored 27 points. Cousins and Vucevic did not play in that
 one. The Kings had won four straight against the Magic.
 
 
 UTAH JAZZ (24-36) AT PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (13-48), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Utah Jazz will resume a four-game road trip Friday
 against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center.
 
 The Jazz opened the trip on a high note with a victory over a tough Memphis
 team, but fell back into the loss column with an 85-84 setback in Boston
 Wednesday night.
 
 Tyler Zeller hit the game-winning shot at the buzzer and his shot came after
 Gordon Hayward gave the Jazz a lead at the other end with 1.7 seconds
 remaining. Trey Burke and Derrick Favors scored 16 points apiece to lead the
 Jazz, who had a three-game winning streak stopped.
 
 "That's what Coach (Brad) Stevens does. He's excellent in those situations,"
 Hayward said of his former coach drawing up plays late.
 
 Utah outrebounded Boston, 51-39, and will close the trip Sunday in Brooklyn.
 
 The Jazz, who are still a solid 7-3 in the past 10 games, have an 11-20 record
 outside Salt Lake City.
 
 Philadelphia will play the next five games at home versus Utah, Atlanta,
 Chicago, Sacramento and Brooklyn. It is 8-21 in south Philly.
 
 The 76ers suffered their third straight loss and eighth in nine tries with
 Wednesday's tough 123-118 overtime loss in Oklahoma City. Thunder masked star
 Russell Westbrook scored a career-high 49 points and became the first player
 since Michael Jordan with four consecutive triple-doubles.
 
 Westbrook had surgery this past weekend to repair a facial fracture and became
 the first player in at least the last 30 years with 49 points, 16 rebounds and
 10 assists in a game. He is the first with four consecutive triple-doubles
 since Jordan had seven in a row from March 25-April 6, 1989.
 
 Isaiah Canaan made his first five 3-pointers and hit eight of Philly's 15 3s
 in the game, scoring a career-high 31 points. Jason Richardson had 29 points,
 Luc Mbah a Moute added 18 points and 14 rebounds and Jerami Grant scored 14
 off the bench for the Sixers.
 
 "We weren't able to close out the game," said Sixers coach Brett Brown, "but
 there were a lot of lessons to learn. ... There were a lot of good things to
 come out of tonight's game.
 
 The Sixers have reached 100-plus points in back-to-back games and received 13
 rebounds, five blocked shots and eight points from Nerlens Noel.
 
 Philadelphia was handed an 88-71 loss in Utah on Dec. 27, as Favors posted 17
 points and 15 rebounds. The Jazz are unbeaten in four straight against the
 76ers.
 
 
 MIAMI HEAT (27-33) AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS (34-27), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Wizards have been struggling of late and
 will renew their Southeast Division rivalry with the Miami Heat Friday from
 the Verizon Center.
 
 The Wizards have lost 12 of their last 15 games and dropped a 97-92 decision
 at Chicago on Tuesday. John Wall tallied 21 points and 11 assists to lead
 free-falling Washington and Paul Pierce added 16 points.
 
 Washington made 41.7 percent from the field and Marcin Gortat collected 12
 points and 12 rebounds.
 
 "We take too many periods of the game where we coast," Wizards coach Randy
 Wittman said.
 
 Washington is 21-10 at home and will visit Milwaukee and Charlotte next.
 
 Wizards forward Kris Humphries (hamstring) is expected to miss Friday's game.
 
 Miami went 2-1 on its recent homestand and recorded a 100-94 triumph over the
 Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday thanks to Dwyane Wade's 25 points. The Heat
 had a three-point lead cut down to one twice during the game's waning stages,
 but Wade found Hassan Whiteside for pick-and-roll baskets on both ensuing
 possessions to help Miami pull out an important victory.
 
 "It's good to see us show some grit in the fourth quarter," Heat coach Erik
 Spoelstra said.
 
 Whiteside grabbed a career-best 25 rebounds and added 18 points with four
 blocks for the Heat, who sit seventh in the East. Goran Dragic netted 21
 points for a second straight game to go along with six assists.
 
 The Heat are 15-16 on the road and will start another three-game homestand
 Saturday versus Sacramento, Boston and Brooklyn. They are 1-2 against
 Washington this season and have lost four of the previous six encounters with
 their division foes.
 
 Miami is winless in its last three visits to the nation's capital.
 
 
 TORONTO RAPTORS (38-23) AT CHARLOTTE HORNETS (26-33), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Raptors will play the next three games on
 the road, starting with Friday's matchup with the Charlotte Hornets.
 
 The Atlantic Division-leading Raptors will also visit Oklahoma City and San
 Antonio, and are 17-12 outside Air Canada Centre this season.
 
 Toronto hasn't played sharp basketball of late with six losses in the last
 seven tries and is coming off Wednesday's 120-112 setback to LeBron James and
 the Cleveland Cavaliers. James posted 29 points and 14 assists.
 
 "Toronto is a very good basketball team," said Cavs coach David Blatt. "They
 didn't quit, nor did we expect them to."
 
 Jonas Valanciunas shot 12-for-17 from the floor for 26 points, DeMar DeRozan
 scored 25 and Lou Williams outscored Cleveland's bench by himself, 26-18.
 
 "I'm not very emotional when I play. That's just how I'm wired up," said
 Williams.
 
 Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (rest) sat out his third straight game and is listed
 as questionable Friday.
 
 Toronto is third in the conference standings, while Charlotte is clinging to
 the eighth and final postseason berth.
 
 The Hornets will shoot for a fourth straight win Friday and handed the
 Brooklyn Nets a 115-91 loss Wednesday at Barclays Center. Al Jefferson and
 Gerald Henderson scored 19 points apiece and Marvin Williams had 18.
 
 Charlotte led 35-15 after one after shooting 65.2 percent and limiting the
 Nets to 30 percent.
 
 "We knew starting the first quarter was going to be a big key for us, and we
 started off hitting a lot of open shots," Jefferson said.
 
 Mo Williams contributed 14 points and 14 assists and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
 also posted a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
 
 Charlotte will visit Detroit next on Sunday and defeated Toronto, 103-95, on
 Jan. 8 north of the border. The two teams will meet again April 8 and 15.
 
 The Raptors are winless in the last five games in this series.
 
 
 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (39-24) AT ATLANTA HAWKS (48-12), 7:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - In what could be a preview of the Eastern Conference
 Finals, LeBron James will lead the Cleveland Cavaliers into Philips Arena
 Friday night to face the Atlanta Hawks.
 
 The Hawks clinched a playoff berth already and lead the Eastern Conference by
 10 games over the Chicago Bulls. Cleveland is fourth in the east, just a half-
 game behind the Bulls for the second seed.
 
 The Hawks are surging once again with five consecutive victories. Atlanta has
 won three straight as the host, including Tuesday's 104-96 triumph over the
 Houston Rockets.
 
 Atlanta rallied from 15 points down over the final 10 minutes and beat the
 Rockets to clinch the NBA's first playoff berth. Houston was without the NBA's
 leading scorer, James Harden, who sat because of a one-game suspension after
 he kicked James in the groin on Sunday.
 
 Jeff Teague scored 25 points, Paul Millsap finished with 16 points and 14
 rebounds, and Al Horford added 18 points, including the go-ahead jumper down
 the stretch for the victors.
 
 "It could've easily gone the other way fast," said Horford. "We stayed with it
 and kept fighting. It's a credit to our team."
 
 The Rockets led 87-72 after Josh Smith and Pablo Prigioni opened the fourth
 quarter with 3-pointers, but they made just one field goal over the next seven
 minutes. Atlanta's subsequent 21-3 run, fueled by seven points from Mike
 Scott, gave Atlanta its first lead since it was 17-15 midway through the first
 quarter.
 
 It was even at 96-96 before Horford hit an 18-footer from the baseline with
 under two minutes to go. Horford blocked Jones at the other end, and Jones
 missed two critical free throws on Houston's next possession.
 
 Millsap, Teague and Dennis Schroder each went 2-for-2 from the foul line in
 the final minute to seal the comeback win.
 
 The Cavs have won two straight after back-to-back losses. They started this
 run with a 31-point trouncing of the Boston Celtics at home on Tuesday, then
 traveled to Toronto and left with a 120-112 win over the Raptors.
 
 James, who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for February,
 posted 29 points and 14 assists to help guide the Cavaliers.
 
 All five starters and James Jones scored in double figures for Cleveland, with
 the latter hitting 4-of-7 from 3-point range en route to a season-high 14
 points. Kyrie Irving had 26 and eight assists, and Kevin Love tallied 22 with
 10 rebounds.
 
 "Toronto is a very good basketball team," said Cavs coach David Blatt. "They
 didn't quit, nor did we expect them to."
 
 Toronto trailed by 10 after three quarters, but Lou Williams scored 11 points
 and assisted on an Amir Johnson hook shot in the first three minutes of the
 fourth. He brought Toronto back to within four by himself, and Terrence Ross's
 corner 3 cut the lead 91-90 with 8:50 left.
 
 Out of a timeout, Williams hit again from deep and the Raptors had their first
 lead since early in the first quarter.
 
 But it was James who owned the final stages of this one. His two-handed slam
 with 5:51 remaining restored Cleveland's lead. After Greivis Vasquez tied it
 at 97-97 with a free throw split seconds later, James found Jones for a 3, hit
 two free throws and potted triples on consecutive possessions to give
 Cleveland a 108-101 advantage.
 
 The Cavs return home Saturday to host the Phoenix Suns, then play four
 straight on the road.
 
 The Hawks have taken two of three meetings with Cleveland this season and six
 of the last seven. Atlanta has won four in a row as the host in this series.
 
 
 BOSTON CELTICS (24-35) AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (33-28), 8 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The New Orleans Pelicans continue their pursuit for a
 playoff berth Friday night when they host the Boston Celtics at Smoothie King
 Center.
 
 The Pelicans have won six of their last seven and sit a half-game behind the
 Oklahoma City Thunder for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western
 Conference.
 
 New Orleans had a five-game winning streak halted on Monday, but rebounded
 with an 88-85 home win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, in their first
 of a three-game homestand, which ends Saturday versus the Memphis Grizzlies.
 
 Anthony Davis made his return to the Pelicans lineup a memorable one.
 
 Davis, who missed the previous five games with a sprained shoulder, posted a
 massive line of 39 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks to lead New Orleans
 past Detroit.
 
 "I just couldn't wait to get on the floor. I was just out there having fun and
 it showed," Davis said.
 
 Tyreke Evans added 21 points and nine assists and Alexis Ajinca, who benefited
 most from Davis' absence these last few weeks, posted a 10-point, 11-rebound
 double-double off the bench.
 
 The score was tied with 1:24 to play and Davis restored New Orleans' lead with
 a jumper out of a timeout, then rebounded Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's miss at
 the other end.
 
 Davis hit another jumper from the same spot with 17.9 seconds left to extend
 the lead to four. It was three in the closing seconds when Reggie Jackson's
 rainbow 3 was off the mark. Norris Cole secured the rebound, and the game, for
 New Orleans.
 
 The Celtics halted a two-game slide just before leaving Boston on Wednesday,
 thanks to a buzzer-beater, 85-84 victory over the Utah Jazz.
 
 Marcus Smart's inbounds pass over the top found Tyler Zeller under the basket,
 where the 7-footer pump-faked Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood and got a shot
 off the backboard before Rudy Gobert had a chance to block it.
 
 "I saw Gordon flying in so I shot faked and just got the ball up," Zeller
 said.
 
 Zeller's game-winner came after Hayward gave the Jazz a lead at the other end
 with 1.7 seconds remaining.
 
 "That's what Coach Stevens does. He's excellent in those situations," Hayward
 said of his former coach drawing up plays late.
 
 Isaiah Thomas scored 21 points to lead the Celtics, who committed just three
 turnovers in the game. Jae Crowder added 18 points, Avery Bradley scored 13
 and Zeller had eight points and 11 rebounds.
 
 Bradley won't be with the team on Friday as he's out with a left elbow strain.
 
 The Celtics beat the Pelicans by eight in Boston on Jan. 12 to snap a five-
 game series losing streak. New Orleans has beaten the C's the last three
 encounters in the Big Easy.
 
 
 DETROIT PISTONS (23-37) AT HOUSTON ROCKETS (41-20), 8 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets have dropped two in a row, but will
 try to get back on track Friday night when the Detroit Pistons stop by the
 Toyota Center.
 
 Houston fell in Atlanta on Tuesday, despite having the lead most of the game
 until the fourth quarter. On Wednesday, the Rockets returned home and lost to
 the Memphis Grizzlies, 102-100.
 
 Marc Gasol made a jumper with 0.1 seconds remaining to lift the Grizzlies.
 
 Trailing 98-91 with 3:01 left, the Rockets scored seven straight points to tie
 things up. Terrence Jones and James Harden made jumpers around a Corey Brewer
 3-pointer to make it 98-98 with 1:27 to go.
 
 Memphis guard Courtney Lee stopped the bleeding with two free throws. Jones
 responded with a hook shot, and Gasol missed on the other end.
 
 The Grizzlies got the ball back after Zach Randolph blocked Harden's layup,
 although replays clearly showed Randolph fouled the NBA's leading scorer.
 Gasol followed with his game-winning shot to give Memphis a 2 1/2-game lead
 over the Rockets in the Southwest Division.
 
 Jones had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Rockets, who had a five-game
 home winning streak snapped. Harden tallied 18 points and 13 assists in his
 return after a one-game suspension for kicking LeBron James on Sunday.
 
 "We had turnovers early, we missed shots early. We missed the easy plays,"
 Rockets coach Kevin McHale said.
 
 Josh Smith will face his former team for the first time in Houston. He was
 released by the Pistons just before Christmas.
 
 Houston hits the road for four straight out west, starting Saturday in Denver.
 
 The Pistons have lost four in a row and are falling dangerously in the race
 for the eighth Eastern Conference playoff berth. Detroit is 3 1/2 games behind
 the Charlotte Hornets, who currently reside in the eighth spot.
 
 On Wednesday, the Pistons couldn't contain Anthony Davis in his return to the
 lineup. Detroit fell in the Big Easy, 88-85, to the New Orleans Pelicans.
 
 Davis finished with 39 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks. He also made two
 jumpers with under 90 seconds left to push the Pelicans into the win column.
 
 Andre Drummond stuffed the stat sheet as well for Detroit, finishing with 13
 points, 18 rebounds and six blocks. Greg Monroe gave 13 points, 15 boards and
 five assists and Reggie Jackson had his first double-double since joining his
 new club, going for 14 with 11 helpers in the setback.
 
 "Offensively right now, it's just a real struggle," Detroit coach Stan Van
 Gundy said.
 
 Friday will be the end of a three-game road trip as the Pistons return to
 Detroit on Sunday to face Charlotte. After that, they head west for four
 games.
 
 The Pistons prevailed in Motown on Jan. 31 to halt a seven-game series losing
 streak. Houston has won eight in a row as the host versus Detroit.
 
 
 LOS ANGELES LAKERS (16-44) AT MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (43-17), 8 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - Two Western Conference teams at different ends of the
 standings meet Friday night when the Memphis Grizzlies host the Los Angeles
 Lakers at FedExForum.
 
 The Grizzlies are second in the Western Conference, 4 1/2 games behind the
 Golden State Warriors. The Lakers own the second-worst mark in the conference,
 three games better than the Minnesota Timberwolves.
 
 The Grizzlies had lost three of four until a last-second, 102-100 road victory
 over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
 
 All-Star Marc Gasol hit a jumper with 0.1 seconds left on the clock to get the
 Grizz the vital road win.
 
 Trailing 98-91 with 3:01 left, the Rockets scored seven straight points to tie
 things up. Terrence Jones and James Harden made jumpers around a Corey Brewer
 3-pointer to make it 98-98 with 1:27 to go.
 
 Memphis guard Courtney Lee stopped the bleeding with two free throws. Jones
 responded with a hook shot, and Gasol missed on the other end.
 
 The Grizzlies got the ball back after Zach Randolph blocked Harden's layup,
 although replays clearly showed Randolph fouled Harden. Gasol followed with
 his game-winning shot to give Memphis a 2 1/2-game lead over the Rockets in
 the Southwest Division.
 
 "The play was designed for the other side, the strong side of the court, but
 the pass lead me to the right side. I caught it and tried to drive and created
 a little space with my body and was fortunate to make the shot," Gasol said.
 
 Gasol ended with 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Grizzlies,
 who had lost three of four coming into the game. Mike Conley had 17 points and
 six assists and Randolph contributed 15 points and eight boards.
 
 Memphis begins a four-game road trip on Saturday in New Orleans.
 
 The Lakers are mired in a three-game slide and Friday marks the end of a
 three-game southern road trip.
 
 On Wednesday, the Lakers fell in South Beach to the Miami Heat, 100-94.
 
 The Lakers lost for the 13th time in their last 14 road outings despite seven
 players scoring in double figures. Ed Davis finished with 14 points and 12
 rebounds, Wayne Ellington also had 14 points, Jordan Hill posted 13 with 10
 boards and Carlos Boozer ended with 13 points.
 
 "We just had a couple defensive lapses ... That's been killing us all season
 long," Lakers coach Byron Scott said.
 
 The Heat had a three-point lead cut down to one twice during the game's waning
 stages, but Wade found Hassan Whiteside for pick-and-roll baskets on both
 ensuing possessions to help Miami pull out an important victory.
 
 Los Angeles is now an NBA-worst 1-10 in the second game of a back-to-back set
 this season.
 
 The Grizzlies will go for their first season sweep of the Lakers since the
 2004-05 campaign. Memphis has won five straight overall and two in a row as
 the host in this series.
 
 
 PHOENIX SUNS (32-30) AT BROOKLYN NETS (25-34), 8 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - Two teams fighting for their playoff lives, albeit in
 different conferences, do battle on Friday when the Brooklyn Nets host the
 Phoenix Suns at the Barclays Center.
 
 The Nets are one game behind the Charlotte Hornets for the eighth seed in the
 Eastern Conference. The Suns are two back of the Oklahoma City in the ultra-
 tough Western Conference.
 
 Brooklyn had a two-game winning streak snapped emphatically on Wednesday with
 a 115-91 home loss to the Hornets. After a win over the Golden State Warriors
 on Monday, the Nets laid an egg in game two of a five-game homestand.
 
 "We just came out flat," said Nets coach Lionel Hollins. "They beat us in
 every facet of the game."
 
 Brooklyn was led by Deron Williams, who finished with 12 points and six
 assists. Mason Plumlee and Bojan Bogdanovic each scored 11.
 
 The Hornets led 35-15 after one after shooting 65.2 percent and limiting the
 Nets to 30 percent. The Nets closed the half on a 7-2 run and Charlotte led
 56-44 at the break.
 
 Brooklyn could not carry that momentum out of the locker room, though, and a
 12-1 Hornets run with six points from Jefferson soon put Charlotte up 70-47.
 
 The Nets host the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans on this stay.
 
 The Suns are 1-1 on their four-game road trip, which ends Saturday night
 against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
 On Wednesday, Phoenix rallied for a 105-100 victory over the Orlando Magic.
 
 Brandon Knight had 28 points, seven assists and three steals to lead the Suns.
 
 Markieff Morris added 23 points and six rebounds for the Suns, who snapped a
 two-game losing streak. P.J. Tucker tallied 19 points and five boards, while
 Eric Bledsoe managed 13 points and nine assists.
 
 "It was a good win and we needed it, but it shouldn't have been like it was,"
 Tucker said. "We should come out full of energy in a game like this when we've
 lost close games."
 
 Phoenix outscored Orlando by a 34-17 margin in the third quarter to take a
 77-69 lead. Marcus Morris then opened the fourth with a 3-pointer to make it
 an 11-point contest.
 
 The Suns went 6-of-6 from the line in the final 13.2 seconds to secure the
 victory.
 
 The Suns beat the Nets by eight in Phoenix on Nov. 12 to snap a four-game
 series losing streak. Brooklyn has won both meetings against the Suns at the
 Barclays Center.
 
 
 DENVER NUGGETS (22-39) AT SAN ANTONIO SPURS (37-23), 8:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Denver Nuggets are 2-0 since firing Brian Shaw, but
 things will get real tough on Friday when they visit the AT&T Center to take
 on the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.
 
 Kenneth Faried finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds to power the Denver
 Nuggets past the Minnesota Timberwolves for a 100-85 victory on Wednesday.
 
 Will Barton netted 17 points, Danilo Gallinari scored 16 and Jameer Nelson
 tallied 12 points and nine assists off the bench for the Nuggets, who improved
 to 2-0 under interim head coach Melvin Hunt and won consecutive games for the
 first time since mid-January.
 
 "We are having fun and enjoying the game," said Faried. "It seems like
 everyone is just clicking."
 
 The Nuggets led, 60-43, at the half, but Minnesota came out of the break and
 scored the first eight points of the second half as a pair of Kevin Garnett
 jumpers made it a 61-51 game. Gary Neal provided the Timberwolves' final eight
 points of the third and cut the deficit to 77-65 heading into the final frame.
 
 The Nuggets led by at least nine points over the final 12 minutes.
 
 Denver concludes a brief road trip Friday, then is home for four straight
 against the Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State
 Warriors.
 
 The Spurs have won three in a row, including the final two stops on their
 annual rodeo trip. San Antonio only went 4-5 on that sojourn, but returned
 home Wednesday with a 112-85 demolition of the Sacramento Kings.
 
 Kawhi Leonard had 21 points and Tony Parker added 19 to lead the defending
 champions.
 
 "He looked like he was more aggressive. That's what we have to have from him,"
 Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Parker.
 
 Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Marco Belinelli netted 13 points apiece for the
 Spurs, who have won three in a row on the heels of a four-game losing streak.
 
 The Spurs led 54-38 at the break on Wednesday.
 
 Ginobili's driving layup in the waning seconds of the third staked San Antonio
 to an 85-61 spread heading into the fourth, where it built its advantage to as
 many as 40 en route to the easy win.
 
 The Spurs will host the Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers
 and Minnesota Timberwolves on this homestand.
 
 San Antonio has won five in a row over the Nuggets, including three straight
 in the Alamo City. The Spurs have taken six of the last seven meetings over
 Denver in San Antonio.
 
 
 DALLAS MAVERICKS (40-23) AT GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (47-12), 10:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Golden State Warriors returned to the Bay Area with
 a win and will try to keep the momentum going Friday when the Dallas Mavericks
 invade Oracle Arena.
 
 After a 3-3 eastern road trip, the Warriors came back home Wednesday and
 earned a 102-93 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
 
 Steph Curry posted his 16th double-double of the season and Draymond Green
 scored a game-high 23 points with a full line to lead the Western Conference-
 leading Warriors to the triumph.
 
 Curry struggled to find the range over three quarters, but hit four triples in
 the fourth to help Golden State pull away for its third win in four games.
 
 "Steph had arguably one of his worst games of the year going," Golden State
 coach Steve Kerr said. "I used to watch it with Michael Jordan. On nights
 where he missed 10 shots in a row, when everyone else would just clam up, he
 just all of a sudden would find that incredible confidence. It's unbreakable.
 Steph has that."
 
 Green added 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks in a
 tremendous all-around effort. Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston gave 17 and
 16 points, respectively, in the victory.
 
 Golden State recovered from poor shooting and led 72-71 after three. Then,
 Curry took over.
 
 Three-pointers on three straight possessions from Curry during a 17-4 Warriors
 run broke the game open. He later canned the dagger in transition on a feed
 from Green with just under two minutes remaining.
 
 The Warriors host the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday and are a league-best
 25-2 at home.
 
 The Mavs opened their three-game western trek with a 94-75 loss to the
 Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday.
 
 Monta Ellis and Amar'e Stoudemire each had 12 points, while Dirk Nowitzki and
 Rajon Rondo each added 10 in the loss.
 
 Dallas welcomed Tyson Chandler back to the fold and he pulled down a game-high
 14 rebounds in his return. Chandler Parsons missed his sixth straight game
 with a left ankle sprain.
 
 "It's very disappointing, especially because we were catching them on a back-
 to-back and the way we came out in the first half," Chandler said after the
 loss. "I thought our defense was very solid, and I thought if our offense
 could ever get going that we could make things difficult for them. But our
 offense never got going."
 
 The Mavericks, who rank fourth in the NBA in scoring and fifth in field-goal
 percentage, had their lowest scoring output of the season on Thursday. They
 shot 37.5 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from long range.
 
 Dallas visits the Staples Center to meet the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
 
 The Warriors won both meetings this season and the two will square off in
 Dallas on April 5. Golden State has beaten the Mavs five straight times and
 four in a row at Oracle Arena.
 
 
 
 
 
 03/06 10:45:57 ET