James Harden SG HOU 3 Hrs
Harden (strained hamstring) is listed as probable for Friday's game against the Grizzlies, the Houston Chronicle reports.
The hamstring has been bothering Harden since last weekend, but it didn't prevent him from suiting up Monday against Portland, whom he torched for 44 points on 14-for-26 shooting. With three days off to get ready for another game against a Western Conference heavyweight, Harden appears at little risk of missing out.
Dwight Howard C HOU 3 Hrs
Howard (shoulder) is listed as probable for Friday's game against the Grizzlies, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Howard has played the last five games while nursing the shoulder strain and a knee injury prior to that, but the with a few days off to prepare for Friday's tilt, the expectation is that he'll be ready to go. Injuries have dogged Howard this season, but he's been impressive in the 15 games he's suited up for, posting averages of 19.3 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
Patrick Beverley G HOU 3 Hrs
Beverley is questionable for Friday's game against the Grizzlies due to an illness, the Houston Chronicle reports.
The Rockets will more than likely reevaluate Beverley on Friday morning before determining if he's fit to play later that night. Beverley, who is averaging a career-high 12.6 points this season in nearly 34 minutes per game, would likely be replaced by Jason Terry in the Rockets' starting lineup if the illness ends up sidelining him.
Quincy Acy F NY 3 Hrs
Acy will move to the bench for the Knicks' Christmas Day tilt with the Wizards.
The return of Amare' Stoudemire following a two-game absence will result in Acy seeing a diminished role. The Baylor product is currently averaging a career-high 21 minutes per game this season and contributing a modest 5.2 points and 5.0 rebounds for the Knicks, who should still carve out a decent-sized role for him as a reserve.
Samuel Dalembert C NY 3 Hrs
Dalembert will return to the starting lineup for Thursday's game against the Wizards.
He'll displace Quincy Acy, who moves to the bench in a last-minute lineup switch for coach Derek Fisher. Dalembert's advancing age makes it unlikely that he'll play more than 20-to-25 minutes on a given night, while seeing limited involvement on the offensive end for the Knicks.
J. R. Smith SG/SF NY 3 Hrs
Smith (heel) has been ruled out for the Knicks' Christmas Day game against the Wizards, the New York Post reports.
Coach Derek Fisher provided a glimmer of hope that Smith might play Thursday by calling him a game-time decision prior to pregame warmups, but it looks like his heel is still problematic enough to sideline him for an eighth straight game. With Smith unavailable, Tim Hardaway is again poised to log heavy minutes at the shooting guard spot.
Kris Humphries PF/C WAS 4 Hrs
Humphries will move to the bench for Thursday's game against the Knicks, MSG Network reports.
Humphries had been holding down the starting power forward role for the Wizards for most of December while Nene battled injuries, but it looks like coach Randy Wittman is finally confident that Nene can handle a larger minutes load. There had been some hints that Humphries might be moved to the bench, as he had seen just 13, 20 and 21 minutes over his last three games, after previously seeing minutes in the high-20s. It might be still worthwhile for fantasy owners to stash Humphries given Nene's historic fragility, but he's probably not a strong option to keep active now that he's coming off the bench.
Amare Stoudemire PF/C NY 4 Hrs
Stoudemire (rest) is listed in the starting lineup for Thursday's game against the Wizards, MSG Network reports.
As expected, coach Derek Fisher cleared Stoudemire to suit up after he had a full week to rest up. Stoudemire has been a viable fantasy option from the center spot on the occasions he's been able to play this season, posting averages of 13.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks while shooting 56.4 percent from the field over about 27 minutes per night.
Nene PF/C WAS 4 Hrs
Hilario will be in the starting lineup for Thursday's game against the Knicks, MSG Network reports.
Nene has been limited to a bench role since returning from a knee injury Dec. 10, mostly out of an effort by coach Randy Wittman to regulate his minutes. The move to the starting lineup doesn't necessarily indicate that Nene is on track for a huge uptick in playing time, but if nothing else, it makes him a more enticing speculative play in daily formats. Kris Humphries will move to the bench to make room for Nene's return to a starting role.
J. R. Smith SG/SF NY 4 Hrs
Smith (heel) has been upgraded from doubtful to a game-time decision for Thursday's game against the Wizards.
The Knicks will look to see how Smith makes it through pregame warmups before rendering a verdict on his status for the game. Smith has missed the previous seven games with the injury, which has allowed Tim Hardaway to gobble up huge minutes in his stead.