NBA Games of the Week
Hornets at Lakers | Tuesday, Jan. 6, 10:30 p.m. ET
Can anyone put some heat on the Lakers in the Western Conference? Chris Paul and the Hornets entered the week among a group of eight teams trailing the Lakers by five to 8 1/2 games. The Lakers already have defeated the Hornets twice this season (both in New Orleans), even though Kobe Bryant averaged only 23.0 points on 36.4 percent shooting in those two games.
Rockets at Celtics | Wednesday, Jan. 7, 7 p.m.
As always, Houston's health will be a major factor in determining how compelling this matchup becomes. Tracy McGrady (knee), Ron Artest (ankle) and Shane Battier (foot) have all missed time on the Rockets' current four-game road trip. Because of injuries, coach Rick Adelman used 12 different starting lineups in Houston's first 35 games.
Magic at Hawks | Wednesday, Jan. 7, 7 p.m.
This is the first of two meetings this week for the top two teams in the Southeast Division. The Hawks are 15-2 at home while the Magic began the week with an NBA-high 12 road victories. Atlanta won at Orlando in the season opener, getting 25 points from Joe Johnson and limiting the Magic to 36.8 percent shooting overall and 16.0 percent (4-of-25) from three-point range.
Celtics at Cavaliers | Friday, Jan. 9, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Few regular-season matchups are more anticipated than this one, even more so on this night because Cleveland has yet to lose at home in 2008-09. The teams haven't met since the Celtics edged the Cavaliers 90-85 on opening night.
Pistons at Nuggets | Friday, Jan. 9, 9 p.m.
Allen Iverson returns to Denver for the first time since being traded for Chauncey Billups in November. While the trade paid immediate dividends for the Nuggets, the Pistons have been up and down during their adjustment to Iverson. Detroit, though, entered the week on a hot streak, having won seven consecutive games to climb to 21-11.
Mavericks at Suns | Friday, Jan. 9, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
The Western Conference rivals tend to play entertaining games, most recently on Dec. 4 when Dirk Nowitzki scored 37 points in the first three quarters of the Mavs' 112-97 victory (he finished with 39). The Mavs have rebounded after a terrible start, while the Suns entered the week with a 6-2 record since acquiring Jason Richardson from Charlotte.
Heat at Lakers | Sunday, Jan. 11, 9:30 p.m.
The teams played a dramatic game Dec. 19 in Miami when Kobe Bryant's potential game-tying jumper just before the buzzer rimmed in and out. Dwyane Wade scored 35 points and Kobe finished with 28, but the bigger story was the Heat's holding the Lakers to a season-low 87 points and forcing 21 turnovers.