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First Cup: Wednesday

11/10/2010
  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Asked to describe a win that saw the Jazz rally from a 19-point halftime deficit -- Paul Millsap drilled three 3-point shots in 27.2 seconds in the final minute of the fourth quarter -- the longtime backup and workaholic long overshadowed by Carlos Boozer first said he was speechless. Then the humble, quiet starting power forward who has suddenly emerged as the team’s premier offensive option in the paint and on the perimeter beamed. Millsap had never scored 46 points in his entire life. Not in youth ball, not in high school, not in college and definitely not in the pros. Top off the outing with the fact that Millsap sent the game into overtime with a tip-in as time expired in regulation, and it was a night that the small-college player who once had to prove that he even belonged in the NBA will never forget. This one was special for Millsap. And for an in-transition Jazz team still searching for an identity while embarking upon a challenging four-game, five-day road trip against some of the premier teams in the Eastern Conference, it was a victory that could go a long way. ... I think it shocked [the Heat] a little bit. Me popping out, there wasn’t really a guy in my face,' said Millsap, who also set a career-high with 19 field goals and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. 'So, I think I’m going to continue to try to shock people.' Shock people, he did."

  • Didier Morais of The Miami Herald: "With center Joel Anthony starting at an undersized 6-9 and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 35, serving as his backup, Miami appeared to lack a traditional big man to work the paint alongside its Big 3. And Tuesday night's 116-114 loss to Utah at AmericanAirlines Arena highlighted the issue. Playing against one of the Western Conference's top forward groups in Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Andrei Kirilenko, the Heat's big men faltered down the stretch after sparking Miami to a first-half lead. 'I don't think we can change what our inside presence is,' Wade said. 'Everybody has their advantages. Our big guys have been doing a good job up to this point of holding other power forwards and other big guys under their average.' But despite showing signs of promise Tuesday, the Heat succumbed to pressure in the paint by allowing Millsap to score a game- and career-high 46 points -- including 18 in the third quarter. 'He's good around that basket,' Bosh said. 'The way that offense is structured, it's big-to-big passes. We just can't take guys for granted. We just have to be aware of what our defensive philosophies are.' Considering the Jazz had three starters at 6-8 or taller, the game marked the first of several long-term tests for the Heat. To withstand the likes of Los Angeles, Boston and Orlando and win an NBA championship, Miami will have to stop each of those teams' big men in the paint."

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: "Poor Josh McRoberts. Great night, great game -- both for him and his team -- and he's the goat. I write that with love (and not in any creepy sense). 'Way to (bleep) it up!' Dahntay Jones yelled from in front of his locker stall after the Pacers' extraordinary 144-113 victory over the Denver Nuggets. 'That was point shaving right there! Point shaving!' On one of the most ridiculous nights in Pacers history -- and one of the most remarkable in NBA history -- the Pacers hit 20 straight field goals, eight of them 3-pointers, in a surreal, 54-point the third quarter. Until it happened. With the shot clock running down on the Pacers' final possession of the quarter, McRoberts found himself behind the 3-point line. His shot clanged off the rim. 'I didn't know we hadn't missed (the entire third quarter) until after the fact,' said Mike Dunleavy, who knows how to break out of a shooting slump in style by scoring 31 points. 'If I'd known, I would have run over to Josh and stolen the ball from him.' If we're going to be completely honest, most McRoberts' 3-point tries inspire a chorus of 'nooooo's!' from the crowd; he's a 28 percent career 3-point shooter. This time, though, the nooooo's!' came from the bench, as well."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "Andrew Bogut laughed and said he really couldn't remember anything about a verbal exchange with Amare Stoudemire in the third quarter of Tuesday night's game against the New York Knicks. But the confrontation led to Stoudemire shouting at the Milwaukee Bucks bench and Bucks coach Scott Skiles responding with a few words of his own. The incident spiced up the Bucks' 107-80 victory over the Knicks at the Bradley Center as Milwaukee definitely responded to its coach's pleas to take a serious approach. ... The Squad 6 fans let Stoudemire hear it for most of the night, and after he went to the bench in the fourth quarter they serenaded him with, 'Where's Amare?' 'It was great,' Stoudemire said of his return to the Bradley Center. 'Tell them to keep it up. We'll see them soon.' Asked if the dispute with Bogut on Tuesday related to last year's injury, Stoudemire said, 'Possibly. I don't know what he's thinking. I think they might have amped him up to play very physical out there and that might have been the way he reacted on the court.' Bogut flatly would not elaborate after the game. 'I can't remember the play,' the Bucks' 7-footer said. 'Which play are you talking about? It's a long game. Third quarter? I'll check the tape on that one and get back to you tomorrow or the day after. I've got a blank. Sorry, guys.' "

  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "Antawn Jamison still isn't happy coming off the bench. Truth is, he'll never be happy doing it. But Jamison spent his time away from games these past few days finding a certain level of peace within himself. As long as J.J. Hickson is healthy, Jamison is a bench player on the Cleveland Cavaliers. And for one night, the combination of Hickson and Jamison showed how lethal it can be. Jamison scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds after missing three games with swelling in his left knee. Hickson had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Together they led the Cavs to a 93-91 win over the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday. It was the Cavs' third consecutive victory -- all three on the road. These two teams will meet again Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. It was the first time the Cavs had all of their pieces healthy and available this season. It was also the best Jamison has looked since the start of training camp. He was 8-for-38 shooting in the preseason and began the regular season 7-for-22. But he was 6-for-10 on Tuesday, moved well and looked like the player the Cavaliers thought they were obtaining at last season's trade deadline."

  • Thoms Boswell of The Washington Post: "The Washington Wizards need to practice. They really, really need to practice. If they work hard, they have a chance to be a losing team, but a respectable one. Wizards fans know the type well: win 30 games but dream about the future. However, if they keep slacking off, they have a chance to be genuinely bad, despite the addition of John Wall. They even have the reverse potential to be one of the worst Wizards teams. That's the last thing a franchise wants after grabbing a No. 1 overall pick. Monday, Coach Flip Saunders stormed out of morning practice 30 minutes before it was scheduled to end, threw the team out of the gym and said, 'If you want to get better, come back at 4.' Look at their 1-4 record. Focus on the 'one.' Be consoled by it. ... This outburst surprises me because, watching the Wizards, I've thought they looked like they had a chance to be decent. ... I have a weakness for facts. And those facts, called statistics, are not kind to the Wizards. They say that, until Wall establishes his NBA value or Arenas proves he's turned back the clock on his bad knee by four years, the Wizards are a collection of barely average NBA players with almost no depth. More worrisome, in two areas where raw effort is measured -- rebounding and defensive field-goal percentage -- the Wizards are dead last in the NBA. No wonder the coach has already flipped."

  • Justin Rogers of Booth Newspapers: "They are only returning seven players from last season, counting oft-injured Michael Redd. Maybe they'll come back and meet expectations in a weak Central Division. The point is, (Bucks GM John) Hammond isn't hitting a home run with every move. For every good first-round draft pick like Brandon Jennings, he's had a Joe Alexander. He's also traded away players like Mo Williams, Richard Jefferson and Amir Johnson with little on the current roster to show for it outside of Carlos Delfino. Being a general manager isn't about getting every decision correct, it's about making more good moves than bad moves. Joe Dumars made enough good moves to propel the Pistons to seven straight 50-win seasons, six Central Division titles, six Eastern Conference championships series and an NBA title. Hammond thus far has a playoff berth and a first-round exit under his belt. Looking at his current roster, it's tough to imagine greater success in the immediate future."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "With Robin Lopez's confidence eroding and Channing Frye's shot reeling, the position is the center of the issues for the 3-4 Suns. Combined, Lopez and Frye: 1) have shot 34 percent, worse than any NBA center tandem entering Tuesday except for Minnesota's Darko Milicic and Anthony Tolliver. 2) have taken more shots than two-thirds of the NBA's center duos. 3) are in the bottom 10 for scoring and rebounding -- and neither grabs as many rebounds as forward Grant Hill (6.9). Lopez's performance and/or foul trouble has resulted in him playing 19.4 minutes per game despite being counted upon heavily as the rotation's lone traditional big man. That pressure, or perhaps the lingering mental effects of a bulging disk in the spring affect his game. 'That's something we're real concerned about,' coach Alvin Gentry said. 'We've got to get him playing back to the level he was. It's really important for us because he's the one guy who gives us size. He's still tentative. We have to stay on top of it, see what's going on and see if we get him back playing aggressive and at the level that he was. I keep telling him we've got to have more from him. He's a huge factor on our team.' "

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: "Could Memphis' Zach Randolph be in the Pistons' sights? Randolph, who spent one season at Michigan State before turning pro, is said to have Detroit at the top of his preferred destination list, according to SI.com. Randolph is in the final year of his deal, where he's due $17.6 million. While a source said there have been no conversations between the teams, it's not unrealistic to think the Pistons would have interest. Not only would Randolph give them a legit 20-point, 10-rebound performer, but his money coming completely off the books would give them some flexibility for next summer, if they would decide to let him walk. ... Numbers-wise, the expiring deals of Pistons Tayshaun Prince and Chris Wilcox could work, if the two sides were to talk. Last season Randolph averaged 20.8 points and 11.7 rebounds for the Grizzlies, and quieted a league-wide belief he was a problem child. Even if he was, the Pistons haven't been averse to dealing for talented players with issues. They traded for Rasheed Wallace at the height of his volatility. With all the questions surrounding DeMarcus Cousins before last June's draft, the Pistons were said to be high on him. ... With the recent issues surrounding the team and coach John Kuester, it would give management pause about bringing Randolph into the locker room. However, as this past summer has shown, there aren't many talents like Randolph who will become available in a given year."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Rockets center Yao Ming said he enjoys playing against former national team teammate Yi Jianlian, now with the Wizards. He just isn't interested in contributing to the attention their meetings receive. 'I like the game against him,' Yao said. 'I just don't like being asked, 'Do you like the game against Yi? What does that mean for you?'?' Yao does believe Yi grew with the chance to play for the national team without Yao. 'I think when you have a guy on the team like me to play with him, somehow I block his way,' Yao said."

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "The Celtics, of course, reserve the right to screw things up, and they’ve proven they can with occasional lack of focus that’s led to blown leads. But they are within two possessions in Dallas of 7-1, and only noted ogre Rajon Rondo is truly disappointed. 'Yeah,' he said after surveying the circumstances, 'but I think we should be undefeated. I think we lost two games that we shouldn’t have lost.' Of the injuries and schedule, he said, 'That don’t mean anything. That’s the league. Everybody goes through that. The thing we have to know is that you can’t just turn it on, even though we did in the playoffs last year. We still have a lot of room to improve.' That last sentence is why Celtics fans are singing through the rain this week. Their team is very good, and it will be better."