All eyes Friday night will clearly be on the Houston-Oklahoma City game, not so much because either side is a championship contender but to see if the incomparable Russell Westbrook can have a seventh straight triple-double. Do you know how many Hall of Famers didn't even have six triple-doubles in their careers? Westbrook is the first player with a triple-double in six consecutive games since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989. But Westbrook is the first player in NBA history to put up minimums of 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in each of six straight games, topping the previous record of five consecutive "triple-elevens." that was shared by Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain. I'm starting to think Westbrook is actually glad that Kevin Durant left this past offseason because now Russ can completely run the show and get the spotlight. LeBron James said this week he believes Westbrook can average a triple-double for the season. I'm still skeptical.
Magic at Hornets (-8, 197)
Orlando's three-game winning streak ended Wednesday at home vs. Boston, 117-87. The Magic shot just 37 percent from the field. D.J. Augustin led with 15 points -- all in the first half -- and Evan Fournier had 14. Charlotte won its second in a row Wednesday, 87-77 over Detroit. Kemba Walker had 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter. Nic Batum had 14 points and 14 rebounds. Marvin Williams returned to Charlotte's starting lineup after missing the last six games with a hyperextended knee and finished with 12 points. The Magic have lost five of the last six regular-season meetings with the Hornets and 10 of the last 15 overall.
Key trends: The underdog is 6-2 against the spread in the past eight meetings. The "over/under" is 6-2 in those.
Early lean: Hornets and under.
Heat at Cavaliers (-11.5, 207.5)
Miami dropped a third straight Wednesday, 103-95 in Atlanta. Tyler Johnson had a career-high 27 points for the Heat, who had just eight players due to injuries. Cleveland made a statement on Wednesday at the Knicks in a 126-94 blowout win. Kyrie Irving had 28 points and LeBron James 25 -- you know LeBron wanted to take some punishment out on the Knicks for Phil Jackson's "posse" comments a few weeks ago. J.R. Smith sat out with a knee injury, and you likely won't see him here. Last season, Miami won the season series, 2-1, and has won 14 of the last 17 overall against Cleveland. But then most of those wins were when LeBron was in Miami.
Key trends: The home team has covered eight in a row in the series. The under is 4-1 in the Heat's past five on the road.
Early lean: Cavs and under.
Raptors at Celtics (TBA)
Toronto hosted Minnesota on Thursday. Boston won by 30 in Orlando on Wednesday despite playing without All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas. Boston shot 51.2 percent from the field and had seven players score in double figures. Thomas tweaked his groin on Monday, but nothing really was known about it until early Wednesday. Thomas is not expected to play here, either. Marcus Smart started for him vs. the Magic and had 13 points. Terry Rozier also got a major bump in minutes. Toronto won three of four vs. Boston in 2015-16 but did lose the last game by 12 in Beantown.
Key trends: The Raptors have covered three of their past 14 in Boston. The over is 5-2 in the Celtics' past seven overall.
Early lean: Raptors if Thomas sits as expected (why the TBA).
Hawks at Bucks (-3, 208)
Atlanta ended a seven-game losing streak with a 103-95 home win over short-handed Miami on Wednesday. Dwight Howard had 23 points and 17 rebounds, and Paul Millsap added 21 points. Starting swingman Kent Bazemore sat out with a sore right knee and isn't expected here. Tim Hardaway Jr. started for him but then left with his own injury and is in question. Milwaukee beat visiting Portland 115-107 on Wednesday. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 15 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his seventh career triple-double -- second-most with the franchise behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's eight. Atlanta won the first meeting vs. Milwaukee at home on Nov. 16, 107-100. The Hawks shot 48.6 percent as a team, which is the highest shooting percentage by a Bucks opponent so far this season. Atlanta has won five of the past seven in the series overall.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five. The under is 6-2 in the previous eight.
Early lean: Bucks and under.
Rockets at Thunder (-1.5, 223)
First of an ESPN doubleheader. Houston won a fourth straight Wednesday, 134-95 over the Lakers. Eric Gordon made a career-high eight 3-pointers and scored 26 points, and James Harden had 25 points in three quarters. It was Houston's season high in points. OKC won a sixth consecutive game Monday, 102-99 over Atlanta. Westbrook had 32 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. It was his 11th triple-double already this year. By contrast, Jordan had 15 triple-doubles for the entire 1988-89 season. Oklahoma City beat visiting Houston 105-103 on Nov. 16. Westbrook finished with 30 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Over the past five meetings, the teams are separated by one point in Thunder's favor.
Key trends: Houston has covered seven in a row in the series. The under is 8-2 in the past 10 in OKC.
Early lean: Rockets and over.
Pistons at Timberwolves (+2, 205.5)
Minnesota was in Toronto on Thursday night. Detroit lost 87-77 in Charlotte on Wednesday in the second of a back-to-back. Andre Drummond had a season-high 26 points and 20 rebounds. But the Pistons shot just 38 percent from the field. Reggie Jackson did play the second of a back-to-back for the first time this year but clearly was a bit gassed and had 10 points. Detroit went 2-0 against the Timberwolves last season. Drummond averaged 22.0 points and 14.5 rebounds for the Pistons, while Andrew Wiggins averaged 21.0 points for the Wolves.
Key trends: The favorite is 6-1-1 ATS in the past eight. The under is 4-1 in the previous five in Minnesota.
Early lean: Pistons and under.
Pacers at Mavericks (+4, 201.5)
Indiana won 109-94 in Phoenix on Wednesday in Game No. 4 of a five-game Western Conference road trip. Paul George had 25 points and 13 rebounds. Myles Turner added 20 points, and Jeff Teague had 19 points and a season-high 11 assists. Dallas dropped its second straight Wednesday, 120-89 at home to the Kings. Deron Williams had 20 points for Dallas, which was missing several guys. The team announced that center Andrew Bogut would miss 10-14 days with a knee injury suffered Monday, but that's actually good news. Dallas and Indiana opened the 2016-17 regular season against one another and the Pacers recorded a 130-121 overtime win. They have taken the past five meetings overall and three straight in Big D.
Key trends: The Pacers are 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 5-1 in the previous six.
Early lean: Pacers and over.
Suns at Lakers (-4, 220.5)
Second ESPN game. Phoenix lost a third in a row Wednesday, 109-94 to Indiana. Eric Bledsoe led Phoenix with 15 points, and Tyson Chandler had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Chandler became the 122nd player in NBA history to play 1,000 career games. Los Angeles dropped a fourth straight Wednesday, 134-95 in Houston. Julius Randle had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Coach Luke Walton said D'Angelo Russell (sore left knee) is getting better but he isn't sure when he'll return. The Lakers won the first meeting vs. Phoenix at home on Nov. 6, 119-108. Nick Young, now hurt, had 22 points to lead L.A. Devin Booker had a career-high 39 for Phoenix.
Key trends: The favorite is 6-2-1 ATS in the past nine meetings. The over is the same record in those nine.
Early lean: Lakers and over.
Knicks at Kings (TBA)
Did you really think Derrick Rose would play all 82 games this year for New York? He missed his first of the season on Wednesday as the Knicks were crushed at home by Cleveland. Rose was dealing with lower back/side pain and Brandon Jennings started for him. Rose is questionable here. Sacramento ended a three-game skid Wednesday with a 31-point win in Dallas. DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points and 14 rebounds to conclude a six-game road trip. Arron Afflalo was a DNP-CD and Ben McLemore started for him. These teams just played Sunday at Madison Square Garden and New York won 106-98 behind 20 points from Rose and Carmelo Anthony. The Kings have won the past two home meetings.
Key trends: The favorite is 4-1-1 ATS in the past six. The over is 4-1 in New York's past five on the road.
Early lean: TBA for Rose -- take the Kings.
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