First Cup: Friday

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: "This was not just a basketball game; it was a civic celebration. A sports shindig this city hasn't seen since that Ping Pong ball came up Shaq. Even Tiger Woods came out of seclusion to be here -- his first Magic game since another not-so-festive Thursday night 11 months ago. I guess it's true: This new arena truly has brought the community closer together -- even a disgraced golfer who hasn't been out in public in nearly a year. I wasn't there when the expansion Magic opened up the old arena 21 years ago, but it couldn't have been any more fervent and festive than this. And by this, I mean Thursday night's hellacious hoops housewarming when the Orlando Magic trounced the Washington Generals, er, Wizards 112-83 and lifted the curtain not only on a new building but on a new attitude."

  • Adam H. Beasley of The Miami Herald: "Just how fired up is South Florida for the Miami Heat and its Big Three? Dwyane Wade couldn't even vote without all but shutting down County Hall. Wade, appearing with Democratic senatorial candidate Kendrick Meek at the downtown Miami early-voting site Thursday afternoon, received a heartthrob greeting that would have made Justin Bieber blush. Teenage girls screamed. Grandmothers rushed to kiss his cheek. And middle-aged men fumbled for their camera phones as the Heat superstar guard tried to maneuver through the madness. Now imagine what it will be like Friday night, when Wade and friends-turned-teammates LeBron James and Chris Bosh finally take the floor at the AmericanAirlines Arena for a meaningful game. 'It's my dream team,' gushed Arlyn Rull, 31, who has been a Heat season-ticket holder for a decade. 'It's great that people get to experience the excitement I'm feeling.' "

  • Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post: "Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul are linked. They are featured on the Hornets' website as players to watch tonight in the matchup between the Nuggets and New Orleans. They are the superstars on their team. But more important to the speculative NBA fan, they will be on the same court tonight, though not in the fashion that has been talked about over the past few months. Anthony smiled when asked about the connection between the two players. 'We're always linked,' Anthony said. If Anthony gets to New York, all of the prognostications are that Paul, who shares an agent with Anthony and is one of the top five point guards in the NBA, will join Anthony when his contract expires in a couple of seasons. The timing that these two would meet on the same court this early, as Anthony awaits his trade ticket out of Denver, is as fun a coincidence for onlookers as it is probably a maddening one for the Nuggets organization. It tosses fuel on an already-raging Anthony trade speculation fire."

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "When the Kings take on the New Jersey Nets tonight, DeMarcus Cousins will oppose longtime rival Derrick Favors, the first big man taken in the draft when the Nets made him the third pick, two slots before Cousins. Proving that he's better than Favors isn't a priority for Cousins tonight. 'I'm coming here to help my team win,' Cousins said. 'I'm not getting into all that. I'm here to play my role and help my team get another 'W.' ' Cousins said his rivalry with Favors started in high school when they were considered the top two post players in their class. Both spent one season in college. Favors went to Georgia Tech while Cousins played at Kentucky. The debate over who will be the better pro continued until the draft. The Kings were excited when the Nets opted for Favors. 'I love Derrick,' Cousins said. 'Me and him are boys. But I believe I was the best 'big' hands down.' Cousins maintains that he has no ill will toward the Nets or the other three teams that passed on him. '(The Nets) needed Derrick,' Cousins said."

  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: "Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis and forward Kevin Love proclaimed peace and harmony after their private chat Thursday morning to discuss Rambis' decision to sit Love for the final eight minutes of the Wolves' one-point loss to Sacramento on Wednesday night. Rambis stood by his decision and said he was happy to see Love's frustration. 'If he wasn't frustrated, I would be significantly more concerned,' Rambis said. 'I want players who believe they should be on the floor for all 48 minutes.' Love said he understood the reasons for his bench time and felt the situation was 'blown out of proportion.' 'Defensively, we had lapses the whole game,' Love said. 'In that situation, Anthony (Tolliver) was playing great down the stretch. You have to give credit to him and the rest of the guys on the floor.' A Rambis-Love issue after the first game of the season was the last thing the franchise needed after an offseason of changes designed to create more interest in the team -- and more wins. The Wolves (0-1) will try again to get their first tonight against Milwaukee at Target Center."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Less than an hour before the Rockets began their season, Rick Adelman was discussing all the issues they would face and the questions that would have to be answered. As usual, most matters were related to Yao Ming, his playing-time limit and the games he would not be permitted to play at all. Then, without prompting, Adelman shifted direction to the concern that had nothing to do with the conversation at the time but everything to do with the Rockets' prospects for the season. 'We must be better than we were defensively than last year,' he said. 'If not, we're going to have a hard time.' After two games in which the Rockets allowed an average of 122 points, they returned home 0-2 following defensive struggles Wednesday in a 132-128 loss to the Golden State Warriors that were every bit as deep and debilitating as any last season."

  • Terry Foster of The Detroit News: "John Kuester expects opponents to try the "Hack a Ben" technique on Ben Wallace , especially down the stretch. Nets coach Avery Johnson proved that point in the season-opener, having his players foul Wallace after his team fell behind in the final 31/2 minutes. After making his first free throw, Wallace missed five in a row and finished 2-for-8. 'It's gonna happen at times, and you know what, Ben is going to step up at the line and knock them in,' Kuester said. 'That's the way I look at it.' Wallace is a career 41.7 percent free-throw shooter, but is at 40.5 percent since 2008-09.' "

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "One regular-season game is no snapshot. But combined with exhibitions, concerns over Ronnie Brewer's health and performances are valid. Brewer suffered through an ugly 0-for-6 outing in Wednesday night's opener against the Thunder, which once again featured the lack of lift and poor timing that have resulted from his lingering right hamstring issues. 'As an NBA player, you just have to work,' Brewer said. 'I want to extend my range and get back to playing with my athleticism. If I do that, I'll be on the court for a good amount of time.' Other than a brutal unforced turnover that led to Rose having to burn his fourth foul to prevent a breakaway, Bogans played solidly in close to 36 minutes with seven rebounds and four assists. However, his lone 3-pointer will do nothing to make Bulls fans forget Ben Gordon.

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "The Suns' new look of Hedo Turkoglu and Hakim Warrick as the power forwards prompted talk of whether the Suns needed to add a more physical big man to the roster. That won't happen in the foreseeable future, leaving the newcomers and returning centers Robin Lopez and Channing Frye to find a way. 'Why not give us a chance?' Frye said. 'We have so much versatility. Coach is trying stuff out. Stick with us. It's going to be a sucker trying to guard us. I was telling Steve (Nash) something's going to happen in practice or a game where two or three lineups work and it'll be like, 'Damn, why didn't we do this from the beginning?' and everybody's where they're supposed to be and going to get confidence from that.' "

  • Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: "Donnie Walsh scaled back the scouting assignments of Rodney Heard one month before a website reported that the Knicks director of East Coast scouting may have circumvented NBA draft rules by conducting secret workouts of college players in Atlanta, The Daily News has learned. Walsh, the Knicks president, claims he wasn't aware of the allegations against Heard which were first reported by Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday. However, a Knicks source contends that Walsh decided to limit Heard's role because the organization received information that Heard had advised at least one top high school prospect to consider enrolling at FIU, which is coached by Heard's former boss, Isiah Thomas. Heard is one of several scouts originally hired by Thomas that remain on the Knicks payroll. Last season, Walsh told The News that he admired Heard's ability to recognize talent and respected the fact that Heard was not afraid to voice his opinion in meetings. In fact, Heard and another Thomas disciple, Walker D. Russell, are the two Knick scouts who were pushing Walsh to draft point guard Brandon Jennings in June 2009. But Walsh drafted power forward Jordan Hill, a player Mike D'Antoni favored and that decision proved to be a costly one for the club."

  • Eric Koreen of the National Post: "By most measures, Reggie Evans’ 16-rebound performance on Wednesday night was swell, a one-game epitome of what the Toronto Raptors bruiser does. Not everybody was impressed. His young daughters, Amiya and Alise, had some issues. 'She just asked me how many points I had,' Evans said yesterday, not clarifying which daughter was needling him. 'That was it. She just asked me how many points I had. I told her I didn’t have any points. She was just like, ‘Oh, all right.’ ' Perhaps Evans’ daughter had a point. With his performance, Evans became the first player in the league to go scoreless in a 16-plus-rebound effort since Marcus Camby did the same with 20 rebounds on Dec. 5, 2007. Evans only took two shots against New York. For the Raptors, it was glorious. Due to a complicated injury to his mid-foot, Evans played only 28 games last year. And when he came back -- well, he was occasionally over eager. The Raptors have encouraged hnm to choose his shots carefully."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "It appears there are some basketball fans left in Cleveland after all. 'Some?' Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson said. 'Whew! Last night the fans were great. It was electric in there. It was like a playoff atmosphere.' The Quicken Loans Arena fans were excited during the Cavs' 95-87 victory over Boston in the season opener on Wednesday. It was the Cavs' first game without LeBron James, who took his talents to South Beach in free agency last July. Many observers wondered how the fan base would respond. Judging from Wednesday's performance, the fans are going to enjoy this year's team, even if it's not a championship contender."