New Orleans vs. Los Angeles
The New Orleans Hornets' transition to the Western Conference has not gone too smoothly.
The Hornets will try again for their first win of the season as they host the Los Angeles Lakers.
An 0-3 start isn't what New Orleans had hoped for after being shuffled from the Eastern Conference to the deep Southwest Division after realignment in the offseason.
It will be much more difficult for the Hornets to qualify for the playoffs in the talent-laden Western conference. Especially without small forward Jamal Mashburn, who will miss the entire season due to a knee injury.
The Hornets have yet to respond to Byron Scott, their third coach in as many years.
David Wesley and Baron Davis each had 21 points and Davis added 12 assists in New Orleans' 99-92 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. The Wolves held a 44-31 edge in rebounding.
"It's been our bread and butter since I've been here," Hornets forward P.J. Brown said. "So far this year it hasn't, but it's early. Some things need to change."
New Orleans, 29th in the NBA with 36.3 rebounds a game after averaging 45.5 last season, will now face a Lakers team struggling for consistency after major offseason changes.
Kobe Bryant had 24 points, six assists and five rebounds, and Caron Butler shot 10-of-14 and scored 22 points to lead Los Angeles to a 106-90 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night.
Butler's outburst came after totaling 26 points in his first three games for the Lakers.
"I was just running the floor. My teammates were finding me," Butler said. "Obviously they are going to collapse on Kobe and Lamar (Odom) and I am going to get a lot of open looks. I was knocking them down. I think I'm at my best in transition. We got up-and-down - that's our offense."
Butler came to the Lakers from Miami along with Odom and Brian Grant in the offseason trade that sent Shaquille O'Neal to the Heat.
"For him, it's just about getting comfortable and getting into a flow," Bryant said of the 24-year-old Butler.
Miami vs. Washington
Shaquille O'Neal has attracted most of the attention, but the Miami Heat are making it clear that there's more to their team than just their new center.
The Heat look to remain undefeated as they host the Washington Wizards in the second matchup between the teams in four days.
Miami beat Washington 118-106 on Saturday, improving to 3-0 for just the second time in team history. O'Neal, who has been slowed by a strained hamstring, scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter after struggling through the first three.
Dwyane Wade again picked up the slack with career highs of 37 points and 12 assists for the Heat, who also started the 1995-96 season 3-0. The second-year guard has led the Heat in scoring in each of their first three games, while O'Neal is averaging just 15.3 points in 26.7 minutes.
"Nice kid, humble kid. He deserves everything he's getting," O'Neal said. "I'm just glad to be on his team."
"It's not my team at all," Wade said. "He's the No. 1 one guy on the team. That's just him being Shaq."
Eddie Jones added 24 points, including 12 in the final 2½ minutes. He made three 3-pointers in Miami's game-ending 16-4 run.
"I'd like to think of myself as a genius, but players win games," Miami coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Dwyane's coming off and making plays for Eddie, and Eddie's knocking down shots, and I look smart. I like that."
The Wizards led the Heat 4-2 for 18 seconds in the first quarter, marking the first time Miami has trailed an opponent this season.
Gilbert Arenas had 27 points for the Wizards, but turned the ball over seven times. The loss was Washington's first after opening the season with wins over Memphis and Charlotte.
"We wanted to make it difficult for Shaq, but we didn't want Eddie and Dwyane Wade to have a spectacular night," said Antawn Jamison, who had 24 points and 13 rebounds. "What we didn't want to happen, happened."
Larry Hughes added 26 points for Washington, which played without center Brendan Haywood. Michael Ruffin started in place of Haywood, who was serving the final game of a three-game suspension for a preseason fight.
"We pretty much have a lot of small guys out there and kind of got disrupted and confused," Jamison said. "It was a scrambling defense."
Haywood will return for Tuesday's game, but Washington will still be without Kwame Brown and Etan Thomas, both of whom are on the injured list.
"Hopefully, when we get our troops back, we'll have more of a stable game plan," coach Eddie Jordan said.
The Wizards have lost five straight to the Heat, including all four of last season's matchups.