Bulls-Knicks and Mavs-Spurs also in run-up to NBA Christmas Day showcase.
The NBA kicks off a jam-packed holiday schedule this weekend. Friday's slate is highlighted by a matchup of Eastern Conference division leaders, as the Chicago Bulls visit Madison Square Garden to face the New York Knicks. Despite missing star point guard Derrick Rose, the Bulls have managed to take a one-game lead in the Central Division. Forward Luol Deng, who scored 22 in Chicago's 93-85 win over the Knicks on December 8, is leading the team with 17.7 points per game. After a late November slump, the Knicks have won 10 of their last 12 games, including a 100-86 victory over the rival Brooklyn Nets Wednesday.
On Saturday, James Harden and the Houston Rockets host the Southwest Division-leading Memphis Grizzlies. Harden's 25.4 points per game ranks fourth in the league, and the contributions of Chandler Parsons (15.0 ppg) and Patrick Patterson (13.2 ppg) have made Houston the league's second-most prolific offensive team. Memphis, which plays Houston just one night after a home game against Dallas, leads the league in defense, allowing just 89.5 points per game.
A Lone Star State matchup between the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs is the best game from six Sunday contests. San Antonio is tied with Memphis atop the Southwest Division at 19-8, and their balanced scoring attack ranks third in the NBA. The game will be Dallas' third in four nights, all against division leaders.
Oklahoma City is the only team in the NBA without a game scheduled this weekend.
The full NBA schedule is available at Sports Illustrated.