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LeBron, Shaq stepping it up for Cavs, Suns
The Cavaliers continue to play at a championship level despite the lack of a center. The Suns, meanwhile, have jumped on the back of their center Shaquille O'Neal who will lead them into the Pepsi Center on Thursday night.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls
Cleveland has been able to string together three straight wins including picking up the first road win on their current stretch. They play six of their next seven games away from home. Cleveland still has a big hole in the middle with both centers out with ailments. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is out for three weeks with an ankle sprain while Ben Wallace is questionable for Thursday with a stomach flu. LeBron James has continued to pick up the slack, grabbing 11 rebounds to give him a triple-double against Memphis on Tuesday.
Chicago snapped a two-game skid with a win over the Raptors on Wednesday. It was just the Bulls' fourth win in the past 10 games. Rookie Derrick Rose exploded for 25 points and 10 assists in that win, leading Chicago in the final quarter. The Bulls are still without starting center Drew Gooden, who is day-to-day with a groin injury.
Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets
The Suns have jumped on the back of veteran center Shaquille O'Neal and ridden The Diesel to six wins in the last seven games, including three in a row heading into Thursday night. O'Neal is scoring over 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds per game in the past three contests. Shaq will face a test in his athletic ability when he backs down Denver's bouncy frontcourt of Nene and Kenyon Martin.
The Nuggets have won six of their past seven games. They rebounded from a loss to Detroit with a tough win over Dallas on Tuesday. Denver has maintained its pace without Carmelo Anthony in the lineup. Melo is hoping for a quick recovery from his broken hand. His replacement J.R. Smith isn't producing the numbers the Nuggets need, and has hit just 4-of-27 shots in the past two games.
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