Friday NBA Picks
Our team of writers and handicappers hand out their NBA picks and predictions for Thursday, January 23.
Dallas Mavericks at Detroit Pistons, 7:05PM ET
In Rick Carlisle's final season coaching Detroit, the Pistons led the NBA in fewest points allowed per game.
In his first season at the helm in Dallas, the Mavericks likely won't match that effort with the way they've been defending.
After watching the Mavericks allow their most points in a game in seven seasons, Carlisle leads Dallas into the Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday night, where he guided the Pistons from 2001-03.
Dallas (24-18) looks to improve to 2-1 on its four-game road trip following a 133-99 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday. It was the Mavericks' most lopsided defeat since falling 124-87 to Houston on Nov. 17, 2001.
Detroit and Dallas have alternated wins and losses in their last eight meetings in Auburn Hills.
Houston Rockets at Indiana Pacers, 7:05PM ET
The losses of Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest figured to make an already frustrating season that much more of a challenge for the Houston Rockets. Instead, the team is playing some of its best basketball without two of its stars.
The short-handed but surging Rockets go for their seventh win in eight games Friday night when they visit the Indiana Pacers.
Houston (27-16) announced Jan. 12 that McGrady will miss two weeks with a sore left knee that has bothered him since he underwent minor surgery in May. Soon after, the Rockets said they were shutting down Artest for at least a week so he could rest a sprained right ankle.
McGrady and Artest practiced Thursday, leaving coach Rick Adelman believing both would return soon even though he couldn't set a timetable. McGrady will not play Friday but there's a chance Artest could after being cleared to go full speed.
The injuries have left the Rockets without their top scoring threats behind Yao Ming, but the team hasn't suffered much without them. Houston's won six of its last seven, though McGrady and Artest were available for only one game apiece in that stretch.
New Orleans Hornets at Minnesota Timberwolves, 8:05PM ET
The New Orleans Hornets haven't missed a beat despite having two starters sidelined. That's mostly because two other starters have stepped up their play.
With the returns of David West and Tyson Chandler questionable, Chris Paul and Peja Stojakovic look to continue their success and lead the Hornets to their season high-tying fourth straight win Friday night when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves.
West, an All-Star forward and the team's second-leading scorer and rebounder, has missed the Hornets' last two games with back spasms and remains day-to-day.
Chandler, the Hornets' top rebounder and defensive anchor in the middle, started Monday's game before leaving in the second quarter with a sprained ankle that kept him out Wednesday as well.
Despite losing two members of its starting frontcourt, New Orleans (26-13) topped Indiana 103-100 on Monday before defeating New Jersey 102-92 on Wednesday night to extend its win streak to three.
Paul scored 27 points and made the winning 3-pointer as time expired Monday, then had 29 points, nine rebounds and eight assists Wednesday.
"The little fella is something special," Hornets coach Byron Scott said of his 6-foot point guard.
Stojakovic has done his part as well. He scored a season-high 26 points with five 3-pointers against the Pacers before putting in 20 points with a season-best 10 rebounds versus the Nets. He adjusted his perimeter game to help make up for the team's lack of size, and the Hornets outrebounded New Jersey 42-37.
Posted: 1/23/09 9:50AM ET