Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
The huge game on the schedule tonight has the Clippers two main rivals, the Grizzlies and the Nuggets, facing each other in a big showdown in Denver.
It's a busy Friday in the Association, with two-thirds of the league's teams in action. The Clippers are taking a little break, forced to stew in their loss to the Grizzlies, but six of the eight Western Conference playoff teams are in action tonight, including a crucial showdown between Memphis and Denver
Charlotte at Toronto, 4:00 PM
New Orleans at Washington, 4:00 PM
LA Lakers at Indiana, 4:00 PM, Time Warner Cable
Phoenix at Atlanta, 4:30 PM
Minnesota at Houston, 5:00 PM, NBA-TV
Orlando at Oklahoma City, 5:00 PM
Miami at Milwaukee, 5:30 PM
Cleveland at Dallas, 5:30 PM
Memphis at Denver, 6:00 PM
Chicago at Golden State, 7:30 PM, NBA-TV
A game and a half in the standings currently separates the three, four and five teams in the West, the Grizzlies, Clippers and Nuggets. That will be reduced to a half game gap from thee to five if Denver can win their 11th straight. Playing in Denver, where they almost never lose, you have to like their chances, but the Grizzlies are about as hot as the Nuggets have been, winning 14 of their last 15 games. Something's gotta give.
The Lakers have already tipped off against Indiana, and of course Kobe Bryant is playing despite his sprained ankle -- because he's insane. But it probably won't matter against the Pacers, who are very good at home, since the Lakers are not very good on the road. If the Lakers lose, they'll drop back into a tie with Utah for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
With college basketball dominating the airwaves, ESPN is tied up tonight, but NBA-TV steps in with a double-header of their own, showing Minnesota at Houston at 5:00 followed by the Bulls visiting the Warriors at 7:30.