2014 NBA Schedule: Clippers and Rockets battle it out for third in the West

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday could see the race for third place in the Western Conference tighten up.

Saturday night has a few tasty items on the menu, with the main course consisting of a showdown for Western Conference playoff standings. Check our schedule of the best games as we kick off the weekend with a big, heaping serving of NBA action.

Appetizer: Atlanta Hawks vs. Washington Wizards

8 p.m. ET (League Pass)

The Hawks are doing their best to hang on to the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. New York is trailing right behind them, but with just 11 games left on their schedule, nothing is guaranteed for Atlanta. The boys from Georgia are in the middle of a five game losing streak and with Kyle Korver's back still making his return unsure, Atlanta will need everything they have to grab a win on the road and hold off the Knicks.

Washington is coming off a magical win against the Indiana Pacers on Friday night. Marcin Gortat had 17 points and 12 rebounds against Indiana, and the Wizards proved once again that they can be a dangerous team if everything is clicking for them. Their main goal at this point is to avoid the Pacers or Heat in the first round of the playoffs, and getting a win against the Hawks as the season winds down should help them fend off Charlotte and Atlanta from below.

Main Course: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Houston Rockets

8 p.m. ET (NBATV)

It's a showdown for the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference on Saturday night. Los Angeles has yet to lose to the Rockets this season, and a win in Houston could help solidify their hold on third place before the season is out. A matchup to watch for will be the struggle at the point guard position for Houston as they take on the one-two punch of Chris Paul and Darren Collison.

Patrick Beverley is out for the season with a tear in his meniscus, so it will most likely be up to Jeremy Lin and James Harden to handle the ball for heavy minutes on Saturday. Rookie Isaiah Canaan will get some playing time as well, but the loss of Beverley stands as a huge deficit in their rotation that the Clippers will likely exploit. Houston has to be able to get out on the break -- something they have failed to do in every loss to L.A. this season -- if they want to grab a win at home.

Dessert: New Orleans vs. San Antonio Spurs

8:30 p.m. ET (League Pass)

The Pelicans are out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference, but that hasn't stopped them from rolling out five straight wins. Four of those wins have come against playoff teams, and in Friday's victory over the Utah Jazz they got just four minutes out of Anthony Davis before he left with an ankle injury. Whether Davis will play on Saturday night is unclear, but New Orleans will be giving the Spurs everything they've got, which should at least make this game entertaining.

San Antonio is on a 16-game winning streak themselves, churning through the West as they gear up for the playoffs. The Spurs have been dominant offensively, scoring less than 100 points just three times during their 16-game streak. If Davis can't go, look for Tim Duncan to post big numbers as he did against Denver in two games earlier this week.

Other games

All times Eastern

Pistons vs. 76ers, 7:30 p.m. (League Pass)

Kings vs. Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. (League Pass)

Heat vs. Bucks, 8:30 p.m. (League Pass)

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