The battle at both ends of the Premier League table will intensify on night eight of the Premier League at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. With Judgement night drawing closer, bottom-placed Robert Thornton will be desperately searching for points in his double-header this Thursday.At the top, leader Michael van Gerwen will be trying to hold off the chasing trio of Phil Taylor, Gary Anderson and James Wade, with live coverage starting at 7pm on Sky Sports 1. Michael Smith v Robert Thornton Michael Smith badly needs a win from the opening clash with Thornton The schedule starts with a survival battle and Thornton badly needs a win against fellow struggler Smith to keep his hopes alive.Thornton would draw level with Smith on three points if he picks up his first win of the campaign, piling more pressure on Dave Chisnall, who is third from bottom on the same points tally.But a win for Smith would push Thornton closer to the trap door and give The Bully Boy a real boost in his own bid to avoid an early exit. Sky Bet odds: Smith 10/11, tie 4/1, Thornton 2/1Gary Anderson v Dave Chisnall Gary Anderson added two more wins on night seven Chisnall desperately needs a result against Anderson after last weeks loss to Raymond van Barneveld, his fourth straight defeat.But this is not an ideal night to face Anderson, who has surged up the table and sits just a point behind Van Gerwen.The Scotsman defeated Adrian Lewis and Peter Wright on night seven and will be seeking his sixth straight win against Chizzy.Sky Bet odds: Anderson 4/7, tie 9/2, Chisnall 3/1Adrian Lewis v Raymond van Barneveld Raymond van Barneveld claimed a much needed win over Dave Chisnall Lewis and Van Barneveld have both struggled to produce consistent form since the start of the competition.Jackpot averaged 93 in a lacklustre 7-4 defeat against Anderson last week, but Barney did halt his own worrying slump with a 7-4 win over Chisnall.Van Barneveld is still looking a little anxiously over his shoulder and needs another result to ease any lingering elimination worries.Lewis 11/10, tie 7/2, Van Barneveld 7/4Phil Taylor v Peter Wright Phil Taylor stayed within striking distance of leader Michael van Gerwen Taylor is just one leg adrift of Van Gerwen after battling back from 5-1 down to claim a 6-6 draw with his Dutch rival.Snakebite Wright, however, let a point slip away as his three missed darts allowed Anderson to close out a 7-5 win. Such costly lapses are likely to be punished by The Power, who ended with a 60 per cent success rate on the doubles against Van Gerwen.Taylor 4/6, tie 4/1, Wright 11/4Michael van Gerwen v Robert Thornton Thornton defeated Van Gerwen at last years World Grand Prix The world No 1 was frustrated by Taylors fightback and the luckless Thornton could feel the force of a backlash by The Green Machine. Van Gerwen was denied victory, despite an average over 107, and treated the Glasgow fans to a fantastic 170 checkout.But Thornton has shown he can defeat Van Gerwen on the big stage, edging him out in last years World Grand Prix final.Van Gerwen 1/8, tie 9/1, Thornton 12/1Watch all the action from night eight of the Premier League this Thursday night, starting at 7pm on Sky Sports 1. Also See: PL night seven: Talking points WATCH: Taylor warns MVG Prem Table MVG and Taylor duke out draw Hockey Jerseys Black Friday
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.Y. - Brooklyn Nets centre Brook Lopez has a strained lower back and will miss at least a week.NEW ORLEANS - The New Orleans Pelicans have waived point guard Gal Mekel, who was acquired earlier this month.The 6-foot-3, 191-pound Mekel was signed on Dec. 5 and appeared in four games for the Pelicans, averaging 1.5 points and 3.3 assists.A native of Israel, Mekel played in college at Wichita State and appeared in 31 games llast season for the Dallas Mavericks, who also had Mekel on their roster during this past preseason before releasing him into free agency.ddddddddddddThe move trims New Orleans roster to 14.The Pelicans, who won in Houston on Thursday night, next play at home on Saturday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. ' ' '