Five games are on the NBA docket Tuesday night, including a matchup from last year's playoffs and the NBA's favorite story of the year so far, the struggling Lakers taking on a streaking Rockets team.
7 p.m., Brooklyn Nets (19-15) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (15-20), YES, Comcast SportsNet Philly: The Nets actually do seem to have turned things around under P.J. Carlesimo: Sure, the majority of their games have come against sub-par opposition, but they did knock off the Oklahoma City Thunder by 17. The Sixers return home for the first time in several weeks after an eight-game road trip where they went only 2-6, including a 1-5 spell on the West Coast. Brooklyn got to the line 30 times in a 95-92 win at the start of Philadelphia's road trip, the only meeting between these two this year.
7 p.m., Miami Heat (23-9) vs. Indiana Pacers (20-14), Sun Sports, Fox Sports Indiana: These two met last year in the Eastern Conference semifinals, with the Pacers taking a 2-1 lead behind stout defense that held Miami to only 75 points in two straight games.The Heat didn't take too kindly to that, with LeBron James dropping a 40 point, 18-rebound, nine assist near triple-double followed two games later by 40 points and 10 assists by Dwyane Wade. The Pacers defense that briefly shut down Miami remains, as Frank Vogel's squad allows only 96.0 points per 100 possessions, the best in the league, but they haven't been very good offensively without Danny Granger. The defense holds up, though.
8 p.m., Phoenix Suns (12-23) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (16-16), Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Wisconsin: Scott Skiles and the Bucks mutually decided to part ways Monday night, meaning Jim Boylan is in charge for the first time for Milwaukee. Teams have a tendency to play very well shortly after a coach's firing, with both the Lakers and Nets running off streaks after firings earlier this year, so expect the Bucks to look motivated, even if the system is the same under a longtime Skiles assistant.
8 p.m., Atlanta Hawks (20-12) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (15-15), SportSouth, Fox Sports North: The Hawks have hit a bit of a rough skid, dropping three out of four, and they haven't been particularly pretty: they lost by nearly 20 to the Rockets, got blocked at the buzzer to lose to the Detroit Pistons, and most recently lost in an ugly shooting outing vs. the Boston Celtics. That makes this a good opportunity for the Timberwolves to move above .500, who have missed Ricky Rubio for the past few games with back spasms.
8 p.m.: Los Angeles Lakers (15-18) vs. Houston Rockets (20-14), NBATV, Time Warner Sports Network, Comcast SportsNet Houston: The Lakers are once again falling apart after seeming to turn things around with a five-game win streak, they've now lost all three of their games in 2013. Dwight Howard is out with a torn labrum while Pau Gasol is out with a concussion, and backup Jordan Hill will also be out with a hip injury, leaving the Lakers very shorthanded in their frontcourt. The Rockets aren't particularly deep in their bigs, but Omer Asik is having a nice year, and the losses should make an already weak Lakers defense even worse. James Harden hasn't scored less than 28 points in a four-game winning streak for Houston.