Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell, agitating for a Spurs trade, perhaps for Tyrus Thomas: "I’m not at all convinced this season’s struggles amount to the end of an era. The Spurs still have time to get back to the top during the Duncan window. But it’s going to take a radical re-approach, and the clock is ticking. But really, the Spurs are one move away from being next year’s popular dark horse selection. Watch it happen. R.C. Buford and his staff rarely make mistakes. And the Richard Jefferson trade wasn’t one of them. It was, as I said, the right move. The mistake in this situation is to deny the obvious: the current team doesn’t work. Call a mulligan, R.C. You’ve earned it. Take what you now know and go get this one back."
Pete Mickeal, former Mavericks' draft pick and now Ricky Rubio teammate in Barcelona, tells the Painted Area about his young teammate: "As flashy as he is with his moves, his ballhandling skills or his unbelievable passes, he’s sometimes as good on defense as he is on offense. That’s his skill that might go unknown in the NBA world, but here in Europe they can already appreciate that. I don’t know if he still leads the league in steals, but this guy plays unbelievable defense on the point guard and he rebounds the ball and he’s improved his three-point shooting. He has so much more confidence in his three-point shooting, and we all know he can put the ball on the floor and get to the basket. I mean, you’ve got a guy who can do everything. His confidence is so high, this is the reason he’s so good. It doesn’t matter if he misses a shot or if he makes an unbelievable pass and doesn’t complete it perfectly, he’s still going to go back the next play and continue to play. For being 19, he’s well beyond his years. For me, his mind is the same type of mind as Steve Nash for passing and having the mindframe to control the game. We’re not talking about having the exact same skill level, we’re talking about having the mind to control the game, in any situation. He’s 19 years old, but believe me, nobody in this locker room looks at him as 19. We look at him as Ricky, that’s it. He’s proven himself. I’m the only one who jokes with him and calls him 'Young Fella' (laughs), but that’s it. He’s proven himself. He goes to work every day, he comes in early to shoot. What I’ve learned for him is that his work ethic is second to none -- this is what’s going to get him to the top." (Rubio is in several of these highlights from the last week, by the way.)
A little chart Kevin Durant would like you to examine, showing points per possession vs. number of offensive possessions. Durant and LeBron James are on their own, although Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Corey Maggette and Amare Stoudemire are looking really good, too.
Mark Ginocchio of the Nets are Scorching on Yi Jianlian: "While he’s more aggressive and taking hypothetically 'better' shots closer to the rim, he’s actually shooting the ball at a worse clip than last season. How a player is shooting at a lower percentage despite taking a higher quantity of higher percentage shots is a bit mystifying, but that logic more or less sums up Yi’s career in the NBA. The question remains what kind of player the Nets have in Yi. Obviously if he could regain his form from December and early January, the front office would likely consider keeping Yi around for the long-term for his offensive talent. But as many predicted, Yi is looking like he’s regressing back to the shoot-too-much, pass-too-little, no defense player of yesteryear. If his game continues in this downward direction, the front office and coach Kiki Vandeweghe have to consider meaningful change ..."
Niall Doherty of Hornets247: "There wasn't much the Hornets could have done differently against [Vince Carter]. He had some open looks in the game, but more often than not he was taking well-contested shots. I'd go so far as to say that many of them were ill-advised. But he was hitting them, so it worked out well for the Magic."
A serious video breakdown of the Magic's game-breaking third-quarter run against the Celtics.
Darius of Forum Blue and Gold: "Pau Gasol was just tremendous. I don’t care that he missed some easy ones. The fact that he was even in position to miss those easy ones was an indicator of the work that he was doing to establish position and skill he possesses to get himself a good shot. Plus, when he’s doing all the other things that he can do to affect a game, I’ll take some missed shots. He didn’t miss ‘em all though. 21 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 blocks for the big Spaniard. That’s putting in work. Add to that Tim Duncan needing 17 shots to get his 16 points (no FT’s!) and give me more of that Pau, missed shots and all."
J.J. Hickson's defense: Not there yet.
Jeremy from Roundball Mining Company on Carmelo Anthony's injured ankle: "I am really shocked that Carmelo Anthony has not played since spraining his ankle two weeks before the Utah game. Carmelo himself said the ankle was not as badly sprained as those he has suffered in the past. After seeing video of him working out before the game against the Lakers and knowing he has been practicing I started questioning both his toughness and how badly he wants to play. I do not take making accusations like that lightly ... Perhaps Carmelo’s ankle is much worse than any of us know, or have been led to believe. Perhaps working out is causing more pain than you or I could endure. We simply do not know. While an absence of this length is suspicious, it is not enough to lead me to proclaim Melo is a sissy or is more interested in making sure he can drop 30 points a night when he returns. I have not seen evidence of Melo skipping out on playing when he was banged up in the past. In fact, if you recall he finished the game against the Indiana Pacers in which he broke his hand last season."
Everyone is ready to list Amare Stoudemire's shortcomings, but Mike Schmitz of Valley of the Suns is that guy in the back of the room, quietly raising his hand, waiting to say "he's a pretty good player, you know." He writes: "The man is a weapon, unmatched by very few others in the league. When motivated, he is arguably the best offensive big man in the NBA, period. He can hit the jumper from 20 feet on in, drive to the hoop from inside of the paint or out, and finish with contact as well as anyone in the league. Oh yeah, one other important detail: He is still 27 years old. He may not be worth max money, but with the right contract, he could be the building block to something special."
When Jeff Pendergraph's mom is visiting, they do not need restaurant recommendations. She will do the cooking, thank you.