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Saturday, November 16, 2019

HORNETS VS PISTONS

Venue: Spectrum Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT

Two teams with losing streaks meet Friday night at Charlotte. The Detroit Pistons have dropped three in a row and the Charlotte Hornets hold a four-game losing skid. Detroit’s Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose sat out Tuesday night’s game at Miami, largely because they had returned from injuries for a game the previous night. Griffin made his season debut Monday night against Minnesota and scored 19 points after dealing with hamstring and knee ailments. Rose also had a hamstring injury. Guard Luke Kennard has led Detroit in scoring in the past three games with 29, 25 and 22 points respectively. The game at Charlotte will be Detroit’s only outing across a seven-day period. The Pistons are 1-5 in road games, without a victory away from home since the season opener at Indianapolis. The Hornets couldn’t hold a fourth-quarter double-digit lead in Wednesday night’s two-point home loss to Memphis. Guard Terry Rozier posted 33 points, matching his career high. Rozier joined Charlotte in the offseason. He was accompanied in the starting backcourt by Davonte Graham, who tallied 19 points in his first start of the season. The Hornets will look for a bounce-back game from rookie forward P.J. Washington, who was held to five points Wednesday and will look to avoid going back-to-back games without double figures for the first time in his young career.

Win: Detroit Pistons
Line: Detroit Pistons -4.5
Total Points: Under 220.5

MAGIC VS SPURS

Venue: Amway Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT

The San Antonio Spurs arrive in Orlando to play the Magic on Friday night in the throes of a three-game losing streak and a lack of solid defense has been the biggest offender. The Spurs are coming off a 15-point loss in Minnesota, allowing the Timberwolves to score 129. It marked the third time this season that the Spurs have given up more than 120 points in a game. They enter Friday night’s game ranked 23rd in points allowed. The Magic, on the other hand, are feeling pretty good after defeating the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night 112-97. Nikola Vucevic led the charge, leading the Hornets with 25 points. He was one of seven Hornets in double figures. Aaron Gordon snagged a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Vucevic is averaging a double-double on the season, leading the Magic in scoring (17.9 per game) and rebounding (11.5). DeMar DeRozan leads the Spurs in scoring, coming in at a 20.1 clip. The game could mark an audition of sorts for DeRozan amid reports that the Magic are interested in trading for the All-Star. DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for 50 points against the Wolves on 22 of 34 shooting. The Spurs play five of their next six on the road.

Win: Orlando Magic
Line: San Antonio Spurs +2.5
Total Points: Under 210.5

GRIZZLIES VS JAZZ

Venue: FedExForum | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

If the Memphis Grizzlies are hot, then the Utah Jazz are red-hot as the pair are poised to tip off Friday night in Memphis. The Jazz are owners of a four-game winning streak, including victories over powerhouses Philadelphia and Milwaukee. Plus, the Jazz have scored 241 points the past two games, including 119 in their latest, a come-from-behind win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. But if there’s a place to beat the Jazz, it’s on the road; all three of their losses on the season are away from home. The Grizzlies have won consecutive games – both on the road – for the first time this season. The Grizzlies fought off the Charlotte Hornets, 119-117, on Wednesday and were led by rookie Ja Morant’s 23 points. Morant leads the team in scoring at 18.3 but Jaren Jackson Jr. (14.3) has been picking it up of late, too. The second-year forward is averaging 21 over his past three games. The knock on the Grizzlies is their fifth-worst scoring defense; they allow 118.8 points per game. That’s bad news with the likes of Donovan Mitchell (25.1 points per game) and Bojan Bogdanovic (19.8) rolling into town. Mitchell had his third 30-point game of the season against Brooklyn.

Win: Utah Jazz
Line: Utah Jazz -7.5
Total Points: Under 215.5

TIMBERWOLVES VS WIZARDS

Venue: Target Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

The NBA’s tandem on the rise will be back in action Friday when the Timberwolves welcome the Washington Wizards to Minnesota. Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns have shown the potential to be a dynamic duo in the past and appear to be reaching maximum potential with 25.9 and 25.8 points per game respectively. The Wolves have won two consecutive games after defeating the San Antonio Spurs 129-114 on Wednesday and have won three of four since losing consecutive games for the only time this season. Wiggins and Towns have each scored at least 25 points in three consecutive games. The Wizards make the second stop on a three-game road tour after a 140-133 loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, their third loss in a row. Washington has also lost six of their last seven after splitting its first two games of the season. Bradley Beal scored 44 against the Celtics, but the Wizards had little to no defense working for them as Boston had 137 points with more than 3:30 remaining in the clock. Wizards rookie Rui Hachimua continues to shine with 21 points Wednesday and 14.4 per game on the season with 5.9 rebounds. Center Thomas Bryant has scored 14.7 points with a team-leading 9.3 rebounds.

Win: Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: Minnesota Timberwolves -5.5
Total Points: Under 239.5

ROCKETS VS PACERS

Venue: Toyota Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

A pair of red-hot teams will tip off when the Indiana Pacers visit the Houston Rockets on Friday night. Indiana has won four straight games and seven of its past eight. Houston has won five straight games and eight of its past 10. Now comes the first meeting between the teams since Nov. 11, 2018, when Houston pulled away for a 115-103 win. The Rockets will be the favorites again this time thanks to a pair of superstar scoring threats in James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Harden is coming off a 47-point performance in a win over the Los Angeles Clippers during which he made 12 of 26 shots from the field and 7 of 13 shots from 3-point range. He is averaging 38.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game, while Westbrook is averaging 21.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists. Indiana is coming off a dominant 26-point win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night. T.J. Warren scored a team-high 23 points for the Pacers, and Malcolm Brogdon finished with 20. The Pacers also will look for a big performance from Domantas Sabonis, who is averaging a double-double this season with 19.8 points and 13.3 rebounds per game.

Win: Houston Rockets
Line: Indiana Pacers +6.5
Total Points: Under 227.5

THUNDER VS 76ERS

Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena | Start: 12:00pm AEDT

The Philadelphia 76ers will take the court at Oklahoma City on Friday, coming off a 112-97 road defeat against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, although there is not too much cause for concern since Joel Embiid missed that game as part of his load-management program. Embiid has missed four games this season and the Sixers have lost two of them. Wednesday’s game was the second game of a back-to-back on the schedule. The Sixers were done in by Orlando’s 32-15 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter as Josh Richardson led the team with 19 points. Embiid will bring his 23.0 points and 12.4 rebounds into a clash with a restructured Thunder team that still is trying to get in sync. Oklahoma City relies heavily on guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chris Paul and Dennis Schroder, but of that group, only Gilgeous-Alexander scored in double figures with 11 points in a 111-85 defeat to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. Gilgeous-Alexander (20.1 points per game) and Paul (15.3) are new to the roster, as is second-leading scorer Danilo Gallinari (18.2). Mainstay center Steven Adams is scoring 8.5 points per game with a team-leading 9.6 rebounds. While all four Thunder victories this season have come at home, all four Sixers defeats have come on the road.

Win: Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Philadelphia 76ers -3.5
Total Points: Over 215.5

LAKERS VS KINGS

Venue: Staples Center | Start: 2:30pm AEDT

Sacramento Kings coach Luke Walton returns to the Staples Center under less-than-ideal circumstances when he leads his improving club against his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, on Friday night. Walton was fired by the Lakers last April after three straight losing seasons, even though he appeared to have the club trending in a positive direction, going from 26 wins to 35 to 37 in his three seasons. Alas, someone had to pay for LeBron James’ amazing streak of eight straight trips to the NBA Finals coming to an end. James was able to play in just a career-low 55 games in his first and only season with Walton as his coach. It was James’ groin injury at the high point of Walton’s tenure with the Lakers — a 127-101 blowout win on the road against the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day 2018 — that proved to be the beginning of the end in LA for the young coach. Walton appears to have his new team moving forward, as the Kings have won four of five (including victories over Utah and Portland) after opening the season 0-5. Unfortunately for the guest of honor, those revolving doors at the Staples Center will see Lakers standout Anthony Davis returning from a shoulder injury, whereas Kings star De’Aaron Fox won’t perform due to a sprained left ankle. The Lakers have won nine of their last 10, including two straight.

Win: Los Angeles Lakers
Line: Los Angeles Lakers -10.5
Total Points: Under 214.5

WARRIORS VS CELTICS

Venue: Chase Center | Start: 2:30pm AEDT

The Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors can focus on basketball rather than worrying that their superstar players might be conspiring to join forces next season when they duel Friday night in San Francisco. The Warriors got an indication of the disaster that awaited them when they got crushed 128-95 at home by the Celtics last March. Both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant played like they might have been a bit distracted, with Irving held to 19 points while Durant struggled through a 5-for-16, 18-point night. They’ve since moved on to join forces in Brooklyn, leaving their former teams to fill huge voids. Each appears to have been at least somewhat successful in that endeavor, with the Celtics having imported Kemba Walker (25.0 points per game), while the Warriors were able to extract D’Angelo Russell (25.7) from the Nets. The rival point guards put on quite a one-on-one show all four times they met last season, with Russell being the most explosive (33- and 40-point games), whereas Walker was the most consistent (25 or more all four games). The Celtics have won nine in a row; the Warriors have dropped five straight.

Win: Boston Celtics
Line: Boston Celtics -7.5
Total Points: Under 222.5