- Tonight’s TNT doubleaheader includes the league’s two best teams and a strong contingent of All-Star Weekend participants. In the first game (7 p.m. ET), the Miami Heat (26-7, .788) hosts the New York Knicks (17-17, .500), while the Los Angeles Lakers (20-13, .606) travel to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder (26-7, .788). Miami and Oklahoma City are tied for the league’s top record.
- This marks the second of three meetings between New York and Miami. Despite hitting a season high 18 three-pointers and outscoring Miami’s bench 33-25, New York, without All-Star Carmelo Anthony and a DNP by Jeremy Lin, fell to the Heat 99-89 at AmericanAirlines Arena, Jan. 27. Miami was paced by All-Stars LeBron James (31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists) andDwyane Wade (28 points and five steals).
- The Lakers are hot, but the Thunder is sizzling. After last night’s 119-104 victory over the Boston Celtics, the Thunder is riding an 11-game home winning streak. The franchise last won at least 11 consecutive home games during the 1997-98 season (12 straight). Through the first 33 games of the season, Oklahoma City is off to its second best start in franchise history. Only the 1993-94 team (28-5) posted a better record through the first 33 games of the season. The Lakers have won five of six, and three of five on the road, but visit an Oklahoma City team that’s 14-1 at home. The Lakers, however, have won their last two visits to Oklahoma City, including playoffs, but had their four-game overall winning streak against the Thunder snapped with a 120-106 home loss April 10. All-StarsKevin Durant (31 points) and Russell Westbrook (26) paced the Thunder in that game. All-StarKobe Bryant (31 points) led the Lakers while fellow All-Star Andrew Bynum posted a double-double (12 points, 13 rebounds) Despite the loss, the Lakers still took the season series from the Thunder 2-1.
- Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo has been named by NBA Commissioner David Stern to replace injured East All-Star guard Joe Johnson (injured left knee) of the Atlanta Hawks in the 2012 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando. This is Rondo’s third All-Star Game selection. Replacing Johnson in the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest is Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, a 2012 NBA All-Star.
- Utah Jazz forward Jeremy Evans will replace injured New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert (Left patella tendinitis) in the 2012 Sprite® Slam Dunk, part of the NBA’s All-Star Saturday Night at Amway Center in Orlando.
- Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors will replace injured San Antonio Spurs forward-center Tiago Splitter (right calf strain) on TEAM CHUCK in the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. More
Stats & Stuff
- Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki recorded his 1,000th career block against Boston earlier this week. Nowitzki is one of only three players in NBA history with at least 1,000 three-pointers and 1,000 blocks, joining Clifford Robinson (1,253 threes and 1,390 blocks) and Rasheed Wallace (1,064 threes and 1,445 blocks).
- Houston’s Samuel Dalembert, who stands eighth in the NBA in blocks per game (1.91), has finished seven of the last nine seasons ranked in the NBA’s top 10 in blocked shots.
- Orlando is averaging 20.3 assists. When the Magic has as many or more assists than its opponents, it is 17-2. Orlando has dished out 20 or more assists in a game 20 times (17-3 record), including a season-high 32 assists on Feb. 22 at New Jersey.
- Over 10 games In February, San Antonio’s Tony Parker is averaging 25.5 points and 8.2 assists, while shooting .485 (90-187) from the field. Parker has upped his average to 19.5 points and ranks 11th in the league in scoring.
- MIKE D’ANTONI, on whether all the attention on Jeremy Lin could become a negative:
“It might, who knows. You never know, but we’re not afraid of it. He’s a great kid and he deserves it. It’s an unbelievable story, it’s fun, people are excited and we’ll see where it goes. Will it be a storybook ending? Everybody hopes so and that’s what we’re going to work for. But I do know he’s a heck of a basketball player, so we’ll just ride it and see where it goes.”
New York Times Feb. 23, 2012