Thursday night gives us a minor break with just three NBA games to pick, and we can use it after a daunting 13-game Wednesday night. We still went a solid 8-5, but could have been even better had the Mavericks and Bulls not lost to inferior teams at home.

With 13 games, you could guess some craziness would happen. The Timberwolves almost snapped a 12-game skid, the Jazz won in Chicago, Detroit won it’s sixth straight (what!?) and the Kings blew out the Thunder. That’s the NBA for you, yet we still escaped well above .500 and walk tall into Thursday with a sweet 285-150 season record:

Hornets @ Raptors

Charlotte has won three straight despite playing without Al Jefferson, and that’s all thanks to Kemba Walker shouldering the scoring load. We said he couldn’t do it for a third game in a row, and then he dropped in 31 points and a late shot to get the win. If Walker goes nuts again the Hornets should have a shot, but they’re still facing the Raptors in Toronto. Walker isn’t likely to drop 30+ points a ridiculous fourth straight game – specifically not on the road against a solid defender in Kyle Lowry. I expect it to be the other way around in a close Toronto win.

Pick: Raptors 99, Hornets 97

Rockets @ Knicks

Not much analysis is needed here, as Carmelo Anthony (knee) is almost certainly out again and New York’s best players at the moment are Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jose Calderon. Yikes. Houston would be smart to give Dwight Howard a rest, because they’re winning this game with or without him. Either he or James Harden should wreck the Knicks at The Garden tonight.

Pick: Rockets 107, Knicks 89

Heat @ Trail Blazers

Miami comes into Portland tonight stumbling, losing seven of their last 10 and not looking like a legit contender even in the East. That’s troubling, and it’s hard to imagine them coming in and competing with (or beating) the Blazers. Not only is Portland untouchable at home (16-3), but they’re one of the most balanced teams in the entire league. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will have to produce mammoth outings to even keep this game close, but it doesn’t look good for the Heat.

Pick: Blazers 104, Heat 98

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