NBA Games of the Week
Jazz at Rockets
Utah, clinging to the eighth spot in the Western Conference at the start of the week, begins a stretch in which it faces Houston, Cleveland, Denver and San Antonio. Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who got off to a slow start after a suffering a preseason ankle injury, is averaging 19.4 points and 10.3 assists in eight games this month.
Celtics at Magic
No team is playing better than Orlando, which just went 4-0 on a West Coast trip that included victories against the Spurs, Lakers and Nuggets. The Celtics drilled the Magic 107-88 earlier this season in Boston, but Orlando played without All-Star candidate Jameer Nelson, who has scored at least 22 points in each of his last four games.
Suns at Bobcats
The teams meet for the first time since Charlotte dealt Jason Richardson to Phoenix for Boris Diaw and Raja Bell, two players who weren't thrilled playing for first-year Suns coach Terry Porter. Diaw, in particular, has benefited from the trade, averaging 13.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists in his first 17 games with the Bobcats, who are 9-8 in those contests.
Magic at Heat
Stan Van Gundy has done just fine since leaving the Miami bench in the middle of the 2005-06 season (after which Pat Riley took over and led the Heat to the NBA title). Van Gundy won 52 games last season -- his first with Orlando -- and reached the second round of the playoffs. Now he's overseeing a team that is turning into a bona fide championship contender.
Spurs at Lakers
San Antonio won the first meeting of the season, 112-111 last week in San Antonio as Roger Mason had a go-ahead three-point play with 10 seconds left to punctuate his 18-point performance. The rematch starts a tough stretch for the Spurs, who then play at Utah and Phoenix, come home for New Orleans and then hit the road for five consecutive games before the All-Star break.
Clippers at Warriors
What kind of reception will Baron Davis get in his return to Golden State? Well, first he needs to suit up, as a bruised tailbone has kept him out for the last two weeks. Davis' first season with the Clippers has been a bust; he's shooting only 36 percent from the field and his team is challenging for the league's worst record.