Just three games going on around the league tonight. Some quick preliminary thoughts:
Sacramento at New Jersey: The Nets are in a rut, having won just one of their last six. Further, of the five losses, two came against the Knicks (in an 11-day span), and another came at home to the fading Clippers. This is a team that should be looking to really wake itself up coming home off a poorly played loss in New York on Saturday night, and the Kings are the type of team that can certainly be beat up on. That said, Sacramento deserves credit for fighting hard in Kevin Martin's absence and even picking up a road win on this Eastern swing, a ten-point victory over Philadelphia. The Kings play tough every night, and while the Nets will likely prevail, this game will be closer than it should be.
LA Lakers at Chicago: Kobe Bryant et al. versus the team that wishes it had Kobe Bryant. Kobe's team has played very good basketball all season and has won five of its last six contests. Andrew Bynum continues to get better and better as he takes on a larger role on this team. Meanwhile, the Bulls have inched their way closer to .500 (going from 3-10 to 8-13), but they have done it almost completely with wins over putrid teams. With the exception of the odd fact that they have beaten the Pistons twice in two tries this season, the Bulls have been night and day against the league's worst teams and everyone else. Of their five wins in their last eight games, four came against Atlanta (before they got hot), Charlotte (twice), Seattle and New York. They have lost games to Indiana, Toronto, Boston and Dallas recently as well. As of right now, the Bulls are a mediocre team that can beat up on really bad units but isn't much better than that. Until they give us a reason to believe otherwise, expect to see them losing matchups like the one they have tonight.
Toronto at LA Clippers: The Clippers are in the midst of packing it in for the season. Since starting 6-4, they have gone 3-10 and simply been eaten up by injuries. They deserve credit for working hard from the start in a season they entered sans their starting point guard (Shaun Livingston) and franchise player (Elton Brand). But several players have missed significant time, and this team appears to be hitting a wall. Chris Kaman continues to play at an all-star level in the middle, but he has been the lone bastion of consistency for this group. The Raptors had won four in a row before being derailed by the beloved Celts, and they should get back to their winning ways tonight.