NBA schedule: Dwight Howard returns to Orlando as Lakers face Magic

US PRESSWIRE

Dwight Howard's comments about his former Magic teammates likely won't be well received when the Lakers head to Orlando. They'll need a win to stay in the race for the eighth spot in the West. Elsewhere, the Heat seek a 19th straight win when they take on a decent team in the Hawks.

7 p.m. ET: Lakers (33-31) vs. Magic (18-46)

Hoo boy. A week after comments by Dwight Howard about the undesirability of his former Magic teammates, the Lakers head to Orlando needing a win to stay in a tie for the eighth spot in the Western Conference standings. Most of the players aren't there anymore, with the exception of Jameer Nelson, who didn't take kindly to Howard's comments. But the fans, who Howard played repeatedly as he forced his way out of Orlando, still are, and although Howard is one of the best players in franchise history and led them to an NBA Finals, they're not likely to greet him warmly in his homecoming. The Magic beat LA behind 30 points from Arron Afflalo in a December meeting, and although the team has gotten significantly worse since then, Orlando will be up for this one.

TV: Time Warner Sports Network, Fox Sports Florida

7 p.m. ET: Celtics (34-28) vs. Bobcats (13-50)

The NBA's worst team can claim one of their wins against Boston, as Byron Mullens had 25 and 18 last month as Charlotte snapped the Celtics' seven-game winning streak. The Celtics have weathered injuries phenomenally, as they're 14-5 since Rajon Rondo's injury and find themselves just half a game back of the fifth spot in the East.

TV: Comcast SportsNet New England, SportSouth

7 p.m. ET: Wizards (20-41) vs. Cavaliers (21-42)

Does anybody remember when this used to be a rivalry between LeBron James' frontrunning Cavs and an upstart Wizards team starring Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, plus a nagging DeShawn Stevenson seeking any scraps he could to irritate LeBron? Did I just depress everybody? Anyway, these teams are 12th and 13th in the East.

TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, Fox Sports Ohio

7:30 p.m. ET: Hawks (34-28) vs. Heat (47-14)

One could spin this as a matchup between the two top teams in the Southeast Division and play this as the top matchup Tuesday night - after all, it is the only game of the evening between two teams with above -.500 records - but that makes it seem like these two squads are on the same level. Miami is going for a 19th straight win, a mark which would tie them with Ray Allen's 2007-2008 Boston Celtics squad for the fourth-longest in NBA history. And if the Heat get past the Hawks, it's clear sailing for a while. Miami has won all three games in this season series, and the Hawks have lost two in a row.

TV: NBATV, SportSouth, Sun Sports

7:30 p.m. ET: Hornets (22-42) vs. Nets (37-27)

A matchup with a lottery-bound team didn't help out Brooklyn Monday night, as they lost to the Sixers behind 24 points and 10 rebounds from Spencer Hawes. They barely eked out a win against New Orleans a few weeks ago, with a spectacular 11 point-stretch from Deron Williams in the final minute and a half rescuing the Nets. As they cling to the fourth spot in the East, they can't afford losses to squads like New Orleans, whose record is 14th of 15 in the Western Conference.

TV: YES, Fox Sports New Orleans

8 p.m. ET: Spurs (49-15) vs. Timberwolves (21-39)

The Spurs have responded to an injury to Tony Parker by winning three of four, including a victory over the second-place Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night behind Tiago Splitter's double-double and nice outings from Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. The Timberwolves have responded to an injury to Kevin Love - and, to be fair, everybody else on the team - by going 6-25 since he reinjured his right hand. That's the difference between these two teams. Well, one of the differences. Minnesota has lost eight of nine, and are 0-2 on the season against San Antonio.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports North

8 p.m. ET: Mavericks (29-33) vs. Bucks (32-29)

Can Dallas throw together a last-ditch charge at the eighth spot in the West? They're three games back now thanks to a three-game winning streak, led - oddly - by Vince Carter, who had 22 points in a win against Minnesota and is shooting 9-for-14 from three in the streak. The Bucks aren't the easiest opponent - they're in the playoffs in the East, and won the first matchup between these two behind 22 from Monta Ellis and one of the best performances of J.J. Redick's young Bucks career, as he had 14 points off the bench. But looking at the Mavs' upcoming schedule as Mavs Moneyball did, this is the type of game they need to win if they want to make a run.

TV: Fox Sports Southwest, Fox Sports Wisconsin

10 p.m. ET: Grizzlies (42-19) vs. Trail Blazers (29-33)

The Rudy Gay trade really helped somebody: with Tayshaun Prince in the fold, an already vicious Grizzlies defense hasn't dropped off, as they're No. 2 in the league allowing 97.1 points per game, and Memphis has reeled off 12 wins in 13 games. These teams last met last Wednesday, with Damian Lillard getting off to a hot start against Mike Conley, but Memphis stormed back, with Jerryd Bayless scoring 13 points late against his former team and the Grizzlies eking out the 91-85 win after trailing by as much as 17. Zach Randolph could be back after missing four games with an ankle injury, although the Grizzlies are 4-0 without him.

TV: SportSouth, KGW

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