The NBA doubleheader on ESPN set for Friday night is primed to be an excellent night of basketball. The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat set the table at 7 p.m. CT -- Joakim Noah and LeBron James are both expected to play -- and then the Lakers and Clippers close things down with a 9:30 p.m. CT at the Staples Center.
Derrick Rose is travelling with the team for the first time this season, so he will be in attendance for the game (although Tom Thibodeau once again refused to provide a solid timetable for his point guard's return). After their game against the Heat, the Bulls will be off until Monday, when they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Battle of L.A., Part 2 is drawing a lot of attention at SB Nation NBA. Over at Lakers blog Silver Screen and Roll, Drew Garrison says the Lakers have taken some of the air out of this matchup with their inconsistent play in 2012:
This might have been considered a "big game" for the Lakers should they have continued looking dominant since their last "big game" on Christmas Day against the New York Knicks. Instead, they lost 2 of the next 3, with their lone win coming against the Portland Trail Blazers. Now, even if the Lakers win in convincing fashion, it's just another win in a season full of "just another" wins. They've fooled us all to believe a singular point would indicate a turning point enough times by now to know better. A win would be great, no doubt, but until they turn those spectacularly high peaks into something remotely consistent, a win solely signifies it wasn't a loss. The Lakers are inconsistent at both looking like a contender, and looking like a pretender. For now, they're suspended in their mediocrity until they decide otherwise. And that's just the way it is.
For a complete look at the upcoming NBA schedule, be sure to check out SI.com.