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New Orleans at L.A. Lakers, 10:30PM ET , ESPN
The last time the Hornets played the Lakers in Los Angeles, Chris Paul and David West combined for 72 points as they handed L.A. one of just 10 losses they have all season. So what's going to be different this time around? Plenty.
Neither team will have the centers that they started in their last meeting: the Lakers have been without Andrew Bynum for a little while now, and the Hornets' Tyson Chandler won't play either due to an ankle injury that kept him from being traded to Oklahoma City just a couple of days ago.
The Hornets are still dangerous though. They waxed Dwight Howard and the Magic by 32 the other night, and with the Lakers' lack of on-the-ball defenders (sorry, Derek Fisher) Paul will likely be able to do what he likes. CP3 had appeared to be playing angry after the financially-motivated decision to deal Chandler was initially announced; now that he has his (injured) teammate back, we'll have to see if that fire in his game continues.
On the Lakers' side, it appears that Lamar Odom has finally realized he's in a contract year, and with the rebounding tear he's been on recently, L.A. hasn't missed a beat with Bynum out and Odom in the starting lineup.Dallas at Houston, 8PM ET , ESPN
The Mavericks stood pat at the trading deadline this year, maybe being a little gun shy after the whole Jason Kidd debacle from a season ago. They sit just a half game behind Houston in the standings, and now would be a good time to take advantage of the Rockets' being a bit shorthanded.
The Rockets made a trade that they feel is an upgrade at the guard spot by dealing Rafer Alston and getting back Kyle Lowry, but Lowry likely won't be available tonight so it'll be up to Aaron Brooks to lead Houston to their third straight victory. Tracy McGrady is out, but Houston has gone 13-6 in his absence this season.Oklahoma City at Phoenix, 9PM ET
This was supposed to be an easy third straight win for the Suns, as they moved back to their run and shoot style under new head coach Alvin Gentry. But now, with the injury to Amare Stoudemire, it's more of a test to see how they'll fare without their best finisher in the lineup.
Phoenix is still going to run, and will likely go as small as possible to keep the tempo in their favor. What that means for Shaquille O'Neal remains to be seen though, and this Thunder squad can score, too: Kevin Durant has averaged almost 33 points per game over his last nine. This is an important tune-up for the Suns, considering that next up is a nationally televised date with the Celtics this Sunday.Orlando at Charlotte, 7PM ET Toronto at New York, 7:30 PM ET Indiana at Minnesota, 8PM ET Washington at New Jersey, 8PM ET Sacramento at Memphis, 8PM ET Denver at Chicago, 8:30 PM ET Cleveland at Milwaukee, 8:30 PM ET Atlanta at Portland, 10PM ET
Friday's NBA Guide: Hornets, Suns, Rockets Start Fresh originally appeared on NBA FanHouse on Fri, 20 Feb 2009 18:20:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.