Pretty underwhelming trade deadline day Thursday. The Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics all were pushing hard for Paul George, but the Pacers decided to keep him -- even though it's no secret around the NBA that George will return to his hometown of L.A. when he hits free agency after next season. Boston also tried to get Jimmy Butler, but the Bulls weren't about to take a low-ball DeMarcus Cousins-type offer. The teams that helped themselves the most Thursday likely were Dallas and Oklahoma City. The Mavericks gave up basically nothing to get 76ers big man Nerlens Noel. He will be a restricted free agent this summer, and that's why the Sixers took pennies on the dollar. Meanwhile, the Thunder received Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott from Chicago for Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow and Joffrey Lauvergne. All those guys were backups on the Thunder. The only player the Bulls care about is Payne as he will get a chance to prove he's the team's point guard of the future. OKC still is unlikely to win a playoff round with those additions.
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Hornets at Kings (+2.5, 207)
NBA TV game with an unusual 5 p.m. ET start time. Charlotte lost its fifth straight Thursday, 114-108 in OT at Detroit. The Hornets blew an 18-point third-quarter lead. Marco Belinelli missed a 3-pointer that could have won it at the end of regulation. Kemba Walker had 34 points. Cody Zeller missed his fourth in a row with a quad injury. Who needs Cousins? The Kings stomped the visiting Nuggets 116-100 on Thursday in their first game without DeMarcus. Willie Cauley-Stein had a career-high 29 points and 10 rebounds. WCS is the guy who will benefit most from that trade in terms of playing time. Buddy Hield had 16 points in his first game as a King. Sacramento won in Charlotte 109-106 on Jan. 28 behind 35 points and 18 rebounds from now-Pelican Cousins. Charlotte won in Sacramento last year.
Key trends: The Hornets are 2-11-1 against the spread in their past 14. The "over/under" is 7-1 in the Kings' past eight vs. the East.
Early lean: Kings and over.
Hawks at Magic (+3, 207)
Atlanta hosted Miami on Friday. I thought Orlando would make a move at the deadline but it didn't. The Magic lost at home to Portland 112-103 on Thursday. Orlando led by 11 in the fourth. Terrence Ross, acquired in the Serge Ibaka trade, made his debut and had 13 points but was just 4-for-17 from the field. He did start at small forward. Atlanta leads Orlando 2-1 this season so this is the final meeting.
Key trends: The Hawks are 11-5 ATS in their past 16 in Orlando. The under is 9-1 in the Magic's past 10 at home.
Early lean: Magic and under.
76ers at Knicks (-5, 215.5)
Philadelphia hosted Washington on Friday with Joel Embiid out again, and he won't play here, either. I'm shocked the 76ers didn't also trade Jahlil Okafor. I'd rather have Noel than him. The Knicks did nothing at the deadline and then went out and lost 116-104 at Cleveland. Courtney Lee had 25 points for New York, which has lost six of seven. Kristaps Porzingis left in the second quarter with a sprained ankle, so I sure he's out at least this game. Philly and New York have played once, a 98-97 Sixers home win Jan. 11. T.J. McConnell hit a buzzer-beater for the win. Embiid had 21 points and 14 rebounds as his team rallied from down 10 with 2:20 left.
Key trends: The favorite is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The over is 5-2 in the previous seven in New York.
Early lean: Knicks and over.
Pacers at Heat ( -4, 209.5)
Indiana hosted Memphis on Friday and Miami was in Atlanta. The Pacers are likely to shop George at the draft. If you are the Lakers, you might as well wait until he hits free agency and get him for nothing. George has said he would re-sign if Indiana is in title contention, but I don't see that happening next season. Plus George idolizes new Lakers boss Magic Johnson. How weird would it be to see a trade between Larry Bird and Magic, though? Miami has won the past three vs. Indiana. It was 95-89 in south Florida on Dec. 14.
Key trends: The Pacers are 2-7 ATS in their past nine at Miami. The under is 4-1 in the previous five meetings.
Early lean: Heat and under.
Pelicans at Mavericks (-1, 205)
Dallas was in Minnesota on Friday. Great move for the Mavs in taking a flier on Noel. He won't get them into the playoffs, but the first-round pick Dallas sent to Philly is lottery-protected so it only cost the Mavs Justin Anderson (barely played) and Andrew Bogut (didn't fit). New Orleans was routed 129-99 at home by Houston on Thursday in Cousins' debut. He had 27 points and 14 rebounds. The other guy the Pelicans got in that trade, forward Omri Casspi, had 12 points but broke his thumb and will miss a month. New Orleans and Dallas have split two meetings, each winning at home.
Key trends: The home team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 5-2 in the previous seven.
Early lean: Mavericks and under.
Bulls at Cavaliers (-9, 216.5)
The Saturday night ABC game. Chicago hosted Phoenix on Friday. Not overly confident the Bulls will make the playoffs after losing McDermott and Gibson. At least the team got something for Taj, who was going to leave in free agency. He was averaging 11.6 points and 7.0 rebounds in 55 starts.McDermott was the Bulls' best 3-point shooter and they already were terrible at that. Cleveland won its fourth consecutive Thursday, 119-104 over the Knicks. LeBron James scored 18 points and had 13 rebounds with 15 assists for his sixth triple-double of the season and 48th career. More proof the regular season doesn't matter: Chicago is 2-0 vs. Cleveland this year. The Cavs didn't have Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love for the game in Ohio. Of course Love is out now following knee surgery.
Key trends: The Bulls are 4-0 ATS in their past four in Cleveland. The under is 5-2 in the previous seven meetings.
Early lean: Cavs and under.
Timberwolves at Rockets (-11, 228.5)
Minnesota hosted Dallas on Friday. Houston made a couple of moves Thursday in sending backups away to open salary-cap space. Its big move was earlier this week in landing Lou Williams from the Lakers. In Thursday's blowout win at New Orleans, Williams had 27 points and a season-high seven 3-pointers in his debut. The Rockets, now 41-18, have matched their win total from last season. Minnesota and Houston have split two meetings, each in Minneapolis. The Rockets have taken the past eight at home in the series.
Key trends: The Wolves are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 10-1 in the previous 11.
Early lean: Rockets and over.
Nets at Warriors (-21.5, 232)
Brooklyn was in Denver on Friday likely losing a 15th straight game. According to BookMaker, this is the biggest spread of any game this season (two previous Warriors home games at -18.5) and the largest in the NBA since 2008.The record was Phoenix -24 over Dallas in March 1993. Golden State beat the visiting Clippers 123-113 on Thursday. Steph Curry went nuts in the final four minutes or so of the third quarter with 17 of his 35 points as the Warriors put up 50 in the quarter. It was the NBA's first 50-point quarter since the Lakers had 51 against the Knicks on March 25, 2014. Golden State has won four straight at home vs. the Nets and also won in Brooklyn by "only" 16 on Dec. 22.
Key trends: The Warriors are 6-1-1 ATS in their past eight at home. The over is 5-2 in their past seven vs. teams with a losing record.
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