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Key Storylines to Watch During Friday Night's NBA Matchups

Zachery HenryFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2015

Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki (41) puts up a shot during the second half of Game 5 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs against the Houston Rockets,Tuesday, April 28, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

As you prepare for your weekly Friday night NBA binge-watching, here are the three most important storylines you need to be aware of.

Porzingis Takes Jab at Nets Fans

It doesn’t take a lot to get either the Brooklyn Nets or the New York Knicks fired up to play each other, so when Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis calls out Brooklyn’s fans, you know things are going to be intense.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News shared Porzingis’ jab on Twitter: 

Kristaps Porzingis is into this Knicks-Nets game: "I know our fans are better than Brooklyn’s fans."

— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) December 3, 2015

But Porzingis didn’t stop there.

He added to his previous comment by saying he often will “joke around" with Nets fans as well.

“Sometimes I see someone with a Brooklyn hat on, I say, ‘What is that? You need a Knicks hat,’” Porzingis said, as reported by ESPN's Ian Begley. “I joke around with them. Sometimes I see them. Not as many as Knicks fans, though.”

The Latvian is clearly quickly adapting to the deep-seated rivalry shared among New Yorkers, even going so far as to rekindle some of the fire that has been missing from Nets vs. Knicks games in recent years.

Porzingis, who was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for the month of November, ranks third among all rookies in scoring with 13.7 points per game while also ranking second in rebounds (9.3) and blocks (1.89).

An I-45 Playoff Rematch

It’s never a dull game when the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks face off against each other—Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey usually take care of that.

The Mavericks (11-8), who lost in the first round of last season’s Western Conference playoffs, will look to steal a second game from the Rockets (8-11) this season after securing an impressive 110-98 road win in Houston back on November 14.

You can catch a short clip of all of the highlights from their November 14 matchup below, courtesy of NBA Daily Recap:

The Rockets are struggling this season and will look for a big win tonight against a Dallas team that is retooled and sitting pretty in second place behind the San Antonio Spurs in the ultracompetitive NBA Southwest Division.

The Mavericks’ signing of free-agent shooting guard Wesley Matthews in the offseason should provide a new element to the matchup that we haven’t seen in previous seasons. Matthews and Rockets shooting guard James Harden always seem to provide a good matchup for one another, and nothing should change now just because Matthews is wearing a new jersey.

One important note is that Dwight Howard will sit out the game on Friday, according to ESPN's Calvin Watkins.

That will mean none of this tonight:

Howard aint got not love for the rim https://t.co/r9VxOsICWS

— Wale Folarin (@wale_folarin1) December 1, 2015

With or without Howard, the Rockets will need to get out to a fast start tonight if they want to defeat a rejuvenated Dirk Nowitzki and Co., who own a 5-2 record at home this season.

“The King” vs. “The Brow”

The Cleveland Cavaliers will travel to face the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night, which will feature a marquee matchup between Anthony “The Brow” Davis and LeBron “The King” James.

The Pelicans (4-15), who currently rank dead last defensively in the NBA, are coming off a disappointing 108-101 loss to the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.

On the other side of the coin, the Cavaliers (13-5) are coming off a 97-85 defeat to the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, which was their first home loss in their last 30 games in Quicken Loans Arena.

After the game, LeBron James explained how he was upset with the way the Cavaliers were outplayed by the Wizards.

“They beat us from the beginning to the end,” James said, as reported by the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). “They beat us in every facet of the game.”

The Cavaliers will look to rebound tonight but will face another tough test against a Pelicans team that was projected by Sports Illustrated to finish in the top eight of the Western Conference standings this season.

While they are certainly underperforming this season, the Pelicans still do possess one of the most elite players in the game in Anthony Davis.

James was not shy about praising the Pelicans’ talented power forward last season, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported.

“I think he's one of the elite players right now,” James said about Davis after a Cavaliers shootaround last season. “If he continues to stay healthy like he's been doing and continues to keep growing, he can be a superstar in our league for sure.”

While Davis’ health has been a concern this season, he is still averaging an impressive 23.8 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per contest in 16 games this season.

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