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Happy Returns for a Few NBA Teams?

Amar'e Stoudemire

Stoudemire could return this weekend for the Knicks.

We are almost to that point in the holiday season where the word ‘returns’ becomes almost as bad as a four-letter word out of the mouth of a third-grader. We’ve all been there before of course, getting that one gift that couldn’t be any worse looking or fit any worse or just be the wrong thing entirely. Ultimately, that means we must return it and those types of returns quite frankly really suck.

The kind of returns the National Basketball Association is dealing with is much more positive. It’s possible that sooner rather than later that the New York Knicks could have Amar’e Stoudemire back in action as early as this weekend. Stoudamire has yet to play this season after a cyst ruptured in his knee. He was scheduled to practice yesterday at the team facility and Head Coach Mike Woodson said it’s very possible he could see the floor this weekend against the Bulls and T-Wolves.

The Knicks have obviously gotten along quite well without him getting off to an incredible start in 2012 behind Carmelo Anthony and a host of others. Stoudemire has already said he’s more than willing to come off the bench which just might be a possibility as Woodson may not want to mess up team chemistry too much.

Gasol and Nash

Gasol and Nash should both return to the Lakers by early next week.

The other major return is from Steve Nash of the Lakers. The former MVP has not played since Halloween when he suffered a fracture in his leg. A team spokesman puts his chances of playing this weekend against the Golden State Warriors at 50/50. Should he not be able to go then Tuesday night may be a better option.

His return could not come at a better time either as the Lakers are struggling and cannot afford to fall any further out of the playoff picture. Yes, it’s still early, but ground only gets tougher to make up the less you have in front of you. They currently are 12th in the Western Conference at 11-14. The other big ‘return’ could be Pau Gasol who has been out for about two weeks with that pesky knee. He too could return on Tuesday.

News Around the Association… Andrew Bynum claims former teammate Kobe Bryant held him back from being a better player. Did he also hold back your hair-stylist too Andrew?… Two awesome streaks right now in the West where Oklahoma City has won 11 straight and the LA Clippers have won 10 straight… The other side of the coin is Charlotte where the Bobcats have dropped 11 straight games… Jeremy Lin received a nice ovation upon his first return to New York Monday night. He then went out and scored 22 as his Rockets gave the Knicks their first home loss of the season.

Games I Like Tonight

Brooklyn at New York – The biggest issue here is whether or not Carmelo Anthony will play. The finger is an issue but obviously so is the ankle which he turned badly last week. The Nets are coming off a 4-6 stretch and have fallen four and a half games behind the Knicks in the standings. The term ‘must-win’ is rarely said in the NBA, but the Nets could certainly use a lift right now. If ‘Melo sits, take the Nets.

Oklahoma City at Atlanta – The Thunder are cruising along at 20-4 and the Hawks have picked up the pace to trail Miami by just a game in the Southeast. The Hawks come off a 7-3 week and I’m calling for the upset here tonight. Take the Hawks over the Thunder because something has to give here.

Philadelphia at Houston – Each team is 12-12 and each team is currently six games back in their respective divisions. The Rockets were 5-5 over their last ten while the Sixers were 4-6. Houston has a nice record at home while the Sixers are below .500 on the road. I like the confidence boost the Rockets got in beating the Knicks so take them at home.

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