Rockets vs. Cavaliers (8pm ET Tuesday, TNT)
James Harden scored 34 in another fruitless effort Sunday against the Pacers as the Rockets went down 104-101 in a game Houston led 95-94 with five minutes to play. It marked the league-leading 14th time this season Harden has scored 30 or more in a loss, well short of the record of 31 by Wilt Chamberlain in the ‘64-65 season. The Rockets are 36-38 and are tied with the Mavericks in eighth place with just eight games left on the schedule – whoever comes out on top gets the final playoff berth in the West. Unless, of course, the 37-37 Jazz go into a death spiral and wind up beneath them both.
What’s the best news the Rockets have gotten in a long time? Probably word that LeBron James is going to take a DNP on Tuesday night by mandate of head coach Tyronn Lue. The Cavs are coming off a 107-93 win on Saturday against the Knicks, in which both James and Kevin Love scored 28 points while the Knicks managed just 15 points in the first quarter. Cleveland is still not in playoff shape, having lost seven of their last 19, but they’ve clinched the Central Division and maintain a three-game lead over Toronto for the top seed in the East.
Wizards vs. Warriors (10:30pm ET Tuesday, TNT)
The Wizards have won six of their last eight, most recently defeating the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday 101-88 in a game that saw John Wall score 22 points, grab five rebounds, and dish out 13 assists – though he did commit seven turnovers. Bradley Beal, Washington’s second-leading scorer, injured his leg against the Lakers and is questionable for Tuesday’s action. Beal recently missed a three-game stretch that saw the Wiz fall all three times. At 36-37, the Wizards are desperately trying to remain in the playoff picture, tied with Bulls in ninth place, 2.5 games behind the eighth-place Pistons with just nine games to play.
On Sunday, the Warriors beat the Philadelphia 76ers 117-105 with the help of Klay Thompson dropping 40 and Draymond Green posting another triple-double, going 13-11-11. The Warriors have been without the services of Andre Iguodola for the last nine games, but have managed to win eight times, putting their record at 66-7, on pace for 74 wins, which is two better than the record set by the ‘95-'96 Chicago Bulls. The Warriors long ago clinched the Pacific Division and with just nine games left to play, they lead the Spurs by 4.5 games in the race for the top seed in the West.