Los Angeles Lakers at Minnesota (8 p.m. EST). Karl Malone returns to the lineup against the Timberwolves.

STARS

Thursday

_ Cuttino Mobley, Rockets, scored 31 points, including six 3-pointers, as Houston beat New Orleans 97-86.

_ Doug Christie, Kings, had 22 points and 12 assists in Sacramento's 120-102 win over Dallas.

ROAD BUMPS

With Thursday night's 120-102 loss in Sacramento, Dallas has lost eight of its last 10 road games, including four straight. The Mavericks, 11-20 away from home this season, are in a stretch in which they play eight of 10 on the road.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Dirk Nowitzki had 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists in Dallas' 120-102 loss to Sacramento on Thursday night.

VIN WINS

Vin Baker won his arbitration case against the NBA on Thursday and is free to sign with the team of his choice. The Celtics terminated Baker's contract after he missed 10 games while on suspension for violating terms of his alcohol treatment program.

FINED

Phil Jackson and the Los Angeles Lakers' organization were fined $50,000 each by the NBA on Thursday for comments the coach made about officiating following a loss to Utah on Monday night.

SPEAKING

``I didn't feel it was a good game. The best is yet to come. But it does feel good not to stink the place up.'' _ Chris Webber, who had 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists in Sacramento's 120-102 win over Dallas on Thursday night. He had just five points on 2-for-21 shooting in Tuesday's win over Golden State.