Can Carmelo still hang with LeBron?
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Five story lines to follow during Friday’s 12-game NBA slate:
Can Carmelo Anthony still play with LeBron James?
Miami Heat at New York Knicks, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN:James and Anthony went first and third in the 2003 draft, play the same position and were the two best in the NBA at that position for several years. They’ve played 20 games against each other in their careers, each winning 10. James, who won his first championship with the Heat last season, clearly is the better player, but Knicks star Anthony brings his best game against James. (Best example: On Feb. 18, 2010, Anthony had 40 points, seven assists and six rebounds as his Denver Nuggets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-116. James posted one of the best lines of his career: 43 points, 15 assists, 13 rebounds and four blocks.) The Knicks are shorthanded for a little while with Amar’e Stoudemire sidelined, so the pressure will be on Anthony to play power forward and keep up with James.
Should Steve Nash play?
Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: Nash bruised his leg Wednesday in the Lakers’ loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. He is listed as a game-time decision. But he was limping quite a bit and didn’t practice Thursday, so he’s not in ideal shape to be taking on the best point guard in the NBA, the Clippers’ Chris Paul. Steve Blake and Darrius Morris aren’t ideal choices, either. Kobe Bryant is nursing a sprained foot, but he may have to defend Paul regardless of who starts at point for the Lakers.
Will James Harden continue to make the Oklahoma City Thunder look bad?
Houston Rockets at Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 p.m. ET; Blazers at Thunder, 8 p.m. ET: Harden was Wednesday’s brightest star, finishing with 37 points and 12 assists in his Rockets debut. The Thunder traded him for money reasons; they couldn’t afford to keep him because they had given large extensions to Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka. Those two played poorly Thursday in a season-opening loss to the San Antonio Spurs, and backlash to the Harden trade came out full-force … [For more on Can Carmelo Anthony still hang with LeBron James?, click here.]