This might be the most entertaining NBA MVP race that I can remember with the statistical brilliance than Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook and Houston's James Harden are doing nightly. Harden's Rockets don't play Tuesday, but I have to address the ridiculousness he performed on Saturday in a 129-122 victory over the Lakers. Harden scored a career-high 53 points in 42 minutes and became the first man in league history to have at least 50 points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists in an NBA game. Harden grabbed 16 rebounds and tied a career high with 17 assists and tied Wilt Chamberlain for the most points ever scored in a triple-double. It's still hard to fathom that the Thunder once had Harden, Kevin Durant and Westbrook on the same team. This will be a fun duel all season between Harden and his former backcourt mate.
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Timberwolves at 76ers (+4, 203.5)
Minnesota lost 95-89 at home to Portland on Sunday, dropping the Wolves to an almost incomprehensible 9-11 in games that they led by double figures at any point. Karl-Anthony Towns had just 11 points on 3-for-15 shooting and missed all six of his 3-pointers. Ricky Rubio was 0-for-5 from the field and benched in the fourth. Philadelphia ended a four-game losing streak on Friday with a 124-122 victory in Denver. Ersan Ilyasova had a career-high 23 points and 13 rebounds. Joel Embiid had 23 points. Sergio Rodriguez was out with a sprained ankle and is doubtful here. The Wolves beat the 76ers 110-86 on Nov. 17 but have lost their past two in Philly.
Key trends: The Wolves are 1-4 against the spread in the past five meetings. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of Philly's past 12.
Early lean: 76ers and under.
Jazz at Celtics (-6, 201)
NBA TV game. Utah was in Brooklyn on Monday. George Hill (concussion) and Dante Exum (knee) were both going to miss that one. Alec Burks (knee) was set to make his season debut, though he might not play in the second of a back-to-back. Boston beat Miami 117-114 on Friday behind a career-high 52 points from Isaiah Thomas. His 29 in the fourth quarter were a franchise record for any quarter. Avery Bradley was out with an illness but should play here. But something's apparently going around as Marcus Smart was hospitalized Sunday with an illness and not likely to go. Utah and Boston split last year, each winning at home.
Key trends: The Jazz have failed to cover seven straight in Boston. The under is 4-0-1 in the past five there.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
Pacers at Pistons (-5, 203)
Indiana beat Orlando 117-104 on Sunday for its second straight victory. Myles Turner had 23 points and 12 rebounds. Former Piston Rodney Stuckey missed another game with a sore left hamstring. Detroit ended a two-game slide with a 107-98 victory in Miami on Sunday. Reggie Jackson scored 27 points, and Andre Drummond finished with 25 points and 18 rebounds. Backup big man Aron Baynes left in the fourth with a sprained ankle. The Pistons had been 0-17 this year when trailing at halftime. Indiana won the first meeting with Detroit 105-90 on the road in mid-December.
Key trends: The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 5-2 in the past seven in Detroit.
Early lean: Pistons and over.
Wizards at Mavericks (TBA)
Washington was at Harden's Rockets on Monday. Bradley Beal was to be a game-time call with an ankle injury that kept him out last Friday. Dallas lost 108-99 at Golden State on Friday. Harrison Barnes had 25 points against his former team. Dirk Nowitzki, who had been questionable coming in with an illness, scored 11 points on 3-for-12 shooting. Andrew Bogut sat out the second of a back-to-back. Washington and Dallas split last year, each winning on the road. Mavs point guard Deron Williams is questionable here with an illness.
Key trends: The Wizards are 1-6 ATS in the past seven meetings. The over is 10-1 in Dallas' past 11 on Tuesday.
Early lean: Wait on Beal.
Raptors at Spurs (-5.5, 212)
Toronto wraps up a six-game road trip through the Western Conference and is off a 123-114 victory at the Lakers on Sunday. Kyle Lowry scored 20 of his season-high 41 points in the fourth quarter. DeMar DeRozan had 31 points. Patrick Patterson was out with a strained left knee. San Antonio's four-game winning streak ended in a 114-112 OT home loss to Atlanta on Sunday. The Spurs had won 11 straight in the series. Kawhi Leonard missed a last-second layup for San Antonio in overtime and had a potential winning short jumper spin around the rim before falling out to end regulation.
Key trends: The Spurs are 6-0 ATS in their past six at home. The under is 4-1 in their past four after a loss.
Early lean: Spurs and under.
Kings at Nuggets (TBA)
Denver was at Golden State on Monday. Sacramento has followed a season-high four-game winning streak with back-to-back losses. It was 112-98 at home to Memphis on Saturday and DeMarcus Cousins ripped his team's defensive effort after the Grizzlies hit 17 3-pointers. Cousins had 26 points, eight assists and five steals but got another technical and is halfway to a one-game suspension. Rudy Gay missed his eighth game in the past nine with a hip injury. It's the first meeting of the season between these teams. The Kings won all three last season. Cousins averaged 38.0 points and 14.5 rebounds.
Key trends: The Kings are 5-1 ATS in the past six in Denver. The over is 13-3 in the past 16 meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Gay.
Heat at Suns (TBA)
Phoenix was at the L.A. Clippers on Monday. Miami lost its fifth straight game Sunday, 107-98 and could barely put five healthy guys out there. Goran Dragic (back), Dion Waiters (groin), Justise Winslow (shoulder), Josh McRoberts (foot) and Hassan Whiteside (eye) were all out. Dragic, Winslow and Whiteside could all be back for this one. Miami has won 12 straight games in this series -- the Heat's longest winning streak in series history.
Key trends: The Heat are 8-0 ATS in their past eight in Phoenix. The under is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Wait on all those Heat guys.
Grizzlies at Lakers (TBA)
Second NBA TV game. Memphis won a second straight Saturday, 112-98 in Sacramento in hitting 17-for-35 from long range. Mike Conley had 22 points and eight rebounds. Marc Gasol had just two points and two rebounds, leaving with a tweaked ankle in the third. X-rays were negative. The Lakers lost a third straight Sunday, 123-114 to Toronto. Nick Young hit seven 3-pointers and scored 26 points for the Lakers, who have dropped 15 of 17 overall. Memphis won the first meeting with the Lakers 103-100 on Dec. 3 but lost its most recent trip to L.A.
Key trends: The Grizzlies are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 5-2 in the previous seven in L.A.
Early lean: Wait on Gasol.
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