The Los Angeles Clippers don't play on Thursday, but I want to address the Blake Griffin issue. He apparently will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken hand, although Coach Doc Rivers says that timetable is unrealistic. Griffin was hurt after punching the team's assistant equipment manager a few times outside a Toronto restaurant over the weekend. Apparently the two are good friends and had vacationed together but were arguing about something. I'm sure TMZ will have video eventually. Griffin was one of the most disliked players around the NBA, so I'm sure many locker rooms are filled with laughter right now. And if I'm the Clippers, I don't pay him during the time he's out as that's just a stupid thing to do. Griffin has a history of this, too, as in November 2014 he was charged with one count of misdemeanor battery after allegedly getting into an altercation with a man in Las Vegas. That case was dropped. This latest injury is a shame because Griffin would have returned by now from his quad injury but now is out until March. Griffin was having his best season, but the Clippers have been playing better without him, albeit against an easier schedule.
Hawks at Pacers (-2, 206.5)
Atlanta hosted the Clippers on Wednesday. Indiana lost a third in a row Tuesday to those Clippers, 91-89. Paul George had 31 points and 11 rebounds, but the Pacers couldn't get off a tying shot in the final seconds. Indiana center Ian Mahinmi returned after missing two games with a sprained ankle and had 12 points and 10 boards. Atlanta had won four straight in this series before the Pacers took a 93-87 home victory on Dec. 28. Monta Ellis had 26 points. Paul Millsap led Atlanta with 24 points. The Hawks turned it over 22 times, leading to 26 Indiana points.
Key trends: The Hawks are 2-5 against the spread in their past seven in the second of a back-to-back. Indiana is 1-6 ATS in its past seven games. The "over/under" is 11-3 in the past 14 meetings at Indiana.
Early lean: Pacers and over.
Nuggets at Wizards (TBA)
Denver was in Boston on Wednesday to start a three-game trip. Washington lost a second straight in blowout fashion on Tuesday, 106-89 in Toronto. John Wall had 18 points and 14 assists, but the Wiz played without the oft-injured Bradley Beal. He's day-to-day with a broken nose and concussion. Beal is averaging 18.5 points per game. Washington won both meetings last year, with the one in D.C. a 119-89 rout.
Key trends: The home team is 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 3-1-1 in the past five in Washington.
Early lean: TBA clearly for Beal, but the Wizards will win this without him.
Knicks at Raptors (TBA)
This is the first of the TNT doubleheader and should have live betting at sportsbooks. New York lost a third in a row Tuesday, 128-122 in overtime against the Thunder. New York blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead. The team played without Carmelo Anthony due to knee soreness. Consider him questionable here; I doubt he plays. Toronto won a ninth in a row on Tuesday, 106-89 over Washington. The team got a scare when late in the game All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who had 29 points, injured his wrist. X-rays were negative but Lowry could obviously miss this game. The Knicks won the first meeting north of the border, 111-109 on Nov. 10. Anthony had 25 points. New York took the lead for good with 8:43 remaining on a 3-pointer from Langston Galloway. DeMar DeRozan had 29 and Lowry 23 for the Raptors.
Key trends: The Knicks are 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 7-0 in the past seven in Toronto.
Early lean: Have to wait on Melo and Lowry. Only way I give Knicks a shot here is if Melo plays and Lowry doesn't. Otherwise, Raptors will set franchise record with 10th straight win.
Bucks at Grizzlies (-5.5, 196)
Coach Jason Kidd returned from hip surgery for Milwaukee on Tuesday and the Bucks ended a two-game losing streak with a 107-100 victory over the visiting Magic. The Bucks were down 16 at one point. Khris Middleton had 25 points, hit seventh straight with at least 20. Memphis also is off a win over the Magic, 108-102 in OT on Monday. Jeff Green had a season-high 30 points. The Grizzlies' 64 first-half points matched their most for a half this season. Tony Allen was iffy to play with a few injuries but did. First meeting of the season between these teams. Grizzlies have won four straight at home vs. Bucks. Both last year were very low-scoring.
Key trends: The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five. The under is 8-1 in the past nine.
Early lean: Grizzlies and under.
Kings at Pelicans (TBA)
Sacramento lost a second straight Tuesday, 112-97 in Portland, but you could see that coming as the Kings were off a double-OT draining defeat the night before. DeMarcus Cousins had a franchise-record 56 points on Monday but was only 4-for-21 from the field vs. Portland for 17 points. Rudy Gay missed another game with an eye injury. New Orleans had a three-game winning streak end in a 112-111 home loss vs. Houston on Monday. Anthony Davis left late in the second quarter after taking an elbow to the head. He has been diagnosed with a concussion, so there's little chance he plays here. New Orleans has won three in a row in the series, including the first one this year, 109-97 in Sacramento on Jan. 13. Davis and Eric Gordon each had a team-high 24 points and the Pelicans matched a franchise record with 16 3-pointers. Gordon is out now several more weeks injured now.
Key trends: The underdog is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 4-0 in the past four.
Early lean: Kings in a big way if Davis sits as seems likely. Doesn't matter if Gay also does.
Bulls at Lakers (TBA)
The TNT nightcap. Chicago lost 89-84 at home to Miami on Monday and saw Derrick Rose get injured again. He tweaked his hamstring and lower back, and knowing Rose he will miss four months. OK, I'm kidding but it would be a surprise if Rose plays here. With Kirk Hinrich out again, the Bulls might be down to just one point guard: Aaron Brooks. The Lakers lost a seventh straight on Tuesday, 92-90 to Dallas. Kobe Bryant sat out with a right shoulder issue, thus preventing one last meeting between him and Dirk Nowitzki. They are the two active leading scorers in the NBA. Lakers rookie Larry Nance Jr. returned from a four-game injury absence but didn't score in 23 minutes. First meeting this season between Bulls and Lakers. They split last year, with the Lakers taking a 123-118 double-OT win at home. Kobe was out for the season by then. Jimmy Butler had 35 points and Pau Gasol 20 points and 10 rebounds in his first game back at the Lakers since leaving the team as a free agent.
Key trends: Chicago is 0-4 ATS in its past four vs. teams with a losing record. The home team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 4-1 in the past five in L.A.
Early lean: Bulls whether Rose and/or Kobe plays or not.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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