Schedule-makers set the matchups long ago, and the league always tries to get some marquee meetings.
This year, they pretty much struck gold.
The Clippers, riding a franchise-record 13-game winning streak, face the Denver Nuggets. The New York Knicks will face their former coach, Mike D'Antoni, when they play the Lakers. Miami and Oklahoma City will be bringing the best records in their respective conferences into their first matchup since the Heat won the title. And Brooklyn and Boston face off, a few weeks after the teams started shoving one another and firing off some insults afterward.
As Knicks star Carmelo Anthony said, "There's nothing like playing on Christmas."
Cousins back in. The Sacramento Kings have reinstated center DeMarcus Cousins after a one-game suspension for "unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team."
Cousins practiced with the Kings on Monday. Cousins and Sacramento coach Keith Smart exchanged words in the locker room during halftime of the Kings loss against the Clippers in Los Angeles on Friday night.
Smart benched Cousins for the entire second half and ordered him to remain in the locker room.
The 22-year-old Cousins has been suspended two other times by the NBA this season because of his conduct. He was not with Sacramento for the team's 108-96 home win against Portland on Sunday night.
- Associated Press