Off-form Los Angeles Lakers have been dealt a further blow after it emerged forward Pau Gasol and centre Dwight Howard will be sidelined indefinitely with injuries.
Both players were hurt during Sunday's home defeat to Denver - their third loss in a row.
Howard, already playing with a sore right shoulder, suffered a torn labrum in the shoulder and will be re-examined in a week. Despite the injury, Howard tied his career-high with 26 rebounds in the defeat.
Meanwhile Gasol, who took an inadvertent elbow to the face from Denver centre JaVale McGee in the fourth quarter and left the court with a bleeding cut on his nose, has a concussion.
Both Gasol and coach Mike D'Antoni had predicted Gasol would be ready for tonight's game at Houston, but instead the struck player will not be travelling with the team.
Jordan Hill was also hurt in the loss to the Nuggets, and was to have his right hip examined by a doctor.
Fans who were disappointed when the club opted for D'Antoni rather than bringing former coach Phil Jackson back from retirement when they sacked Mike Brown in November voiced their displeasure.
Chants of "We Want Phil" again rang out in Staples Center, where the Lakers have now lost eight home games this season - one more than they did in all of the previous campaign.
"We're not in a good place right now," D'Antoni admitted, though he was trying to stay optimistic. "The hole's not too big. Mathematically, we can still make the playoffs."
Meanwhile a late basket from Bradley Beal secured a dramatic 101-99 win for the Washington Wizards over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Just 0.3 seconds were left on the clock when Beal - joint top-scorer for the Wizards with 22 points - scored with a jump shot to earn his team only their fifth win in 33 games this season.
Kevin Durant led the scoring for Oklahoma City with 29 points, and his dunk with two minutes left reduced the deficit to one point at 95-94.
But the 16 straight shots his side missed from midway through the third quarter ultimately proved costly.
Boston Celtics beat the New York Knicks 102-96 in the first meeting of the season between the arch rivals.
Paul Pierce led the way with 23 points, while Kevin Garnett added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics who are back at .500 with 17 wins and 17 defeats.
JR Smith with 24 points top-scored for the Knicks, who still lead the division, four wins clear of Brooklyn.
Portland Trail Blazers needed overtime to beat out of form Orlando Magic 125-119.
Wesley Matthews led the scoring with 24, while JJ Hickson added 20 points and 15 rebounds for his 20th double-double this season as the Magic suffered their ninth straight defeat.
Chicago Bulls crushed the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-92, while struggling New Orleans picked up only their ninth win of the season to beat San Antonio - who had won eight of their last nine - 95-88.
Eric Gordon's six successive points in the fourth quarter gave his side much needed breathing space as the 24-year-old ended the game with 24 points.
Anthony Davis weighed in with 17 points and Greivis Vasquez 14, while Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 21.
Gordon Hayward's season-high tally of 27 points led Utah Jazz to a 100-94 win over the Dallas Mavericks, while the Memphis Grizzlies were too strong for the Sacramento Kings as they eased to a 113-81 win in California.
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