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First Cup: Wednesday

1/12/2011
  • LeBron James via Twitter: "Crazy. Karma is a b****. Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!"

  • Mo Williams via Twitter: "This s**t is embarrassing. I feel like I can't even show my face in Cleveland."

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "For Antawn Jamison, this was rock bottom. 'It can't get any worse than this,' he said after the Cavaliers suffered the worst loss in team history, 112-57, to the Lakers on Tuesday night in Staples Center. 'If it is, y'all going to have to help me. I don't know how much of this I can take. This, by far, is the bottom. Fifty-five points? That's, like, impossible,' Jamison said. 'We're professional athletes. How do you lose by 55 points? I don't care who you're playing against. I mean, if this doesn't hurt ... I don't understand how we're able to have conversations in the locker room. There's nothing to talk about. We have to do some soul searching quick because no matter who we play, right now they feel like they can beat us. If we don't have a sense of pride and just play for yourself or something ... this might be one of the worst teams to go through a season. The frustrating part about it is I know we're better than this. I don't know. Something has to change.' But nothing changes for these Cavaliers. Another game, another loss, another injury. In setting club records for margin of defeat and fewest points in a game, they lost their 11th straight, their 21st in 22 overall, and their 17th straight on the road to fall to 8-30."

  • Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post: "Left out in the cold by the Nuggets, feeling betrayed by an NBA team he loves, point guard Chauncey Billups stood in the frigid winter air of the Pepsi Center parking lot and said, 'Money ain't everything.' Denver loves Billups. You can't put a price on the relationship between this city and its homegrown hero. We don't want to see Billups go. But the Nuggets want to dump Billups and his salary, if that's what it takes to facilitate a trade of Carmelo Anthony to the New Jersey Nets. Could the Nuggets really be so clueless? ... Here's the essential reason why Billups already owns an NBA championship ring and why Anthony might never obtain the lone bling that truly shines in this league. While Anthony's top priority seems to be admiring his 50-foot-tall mug on a billboard in Times Square, what Billups really craves is one last shot at winning it all. ... Billups believes if the Nuggets kept him, there would be no need to rebuild from square one. So in a league where you can't crash the boards without bumping into a millionaire but loyalty is as rare as a player without a tattoo, let me get this straight: To ensure the happiness of Anthony, who wants nothing to do with us in Colorado, the Nuggets are going to mess with Billups, who has always been and will always be one of us. It makes zero sense. The team is doing Billups wrong. Can Nuggets management buy a vowel? Or at least a brain cell?"

  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: "The Timberwolves just couldn't take it anymore. All the blown fourth-quarter leads, the injuries, the defensive lapses, the failures to execute a play in late-game situations ... all the things that have gone wrong in what was supposed to be an uplifting season reached a level of frustration rarely seen in an NBA game. Evenmild-mannered Kurt Rambis blew off some steam and was given his first ejection of the season, just his second since becoming the Wolves' coach in 2009. The fact that the San Antonio Spurs earned their 16th straight victory over the Wolves, winning 107-96 Tuesday night at Target Center, seemed of little significance. What the Wolves and a crowd of 11,209 had trouble comprehending was how a team could be whistled for five technical fouls in the span of 10 seconds. 'I've never seen that,' Wolves forward Kevin Love said. 'That was a first for me.' Love drew the fifth technical 10 seconds after Rambis was tossed by NBA referee Ken Mauer, a St. Paul native, for protesting the simultaneous technical fouls given to Corey Brewer and Darko Milicic. In this new era of power for NBA referees, who were given the right this season to issue technicals to players for overreacting to calls, the Wolves caught the full brunt of the officiating crew's discretion."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "Three games from the midpoint of their 82-game regular season, the Spurs remain the only team in the NBA that has used the same starting lineup all season. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich also has settled into a familiar pattern of substitutions that includes an early rest for Manu Ginobili while giving Tim Duncan the bulk of the first quarter. The fact the Spurs went into Tuesday’s game at the Target Center with an NBA-best 31-6 record reinforced the patterns Popovich has used. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be future changes. 'It seems we’ve been fairly steady in what we’ve been doing, but not because I’m totally comfortable with it,' Popovich said. 'We could change it at any time, based on what’s going on, winning and losing, matchups, that kind of thing. Off-the-bench rotation is certainly not set.' "

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: "Though a lower payroll is obviously more attractive to a prospective owner (in this case L.A.-based financier Tom Gores), the Pistons have been open to trading Richard Hamilton ever since they signed Ben Gordon in the summer of 2009 -- a summer when the Pistons spent more money than any other team in the league on free agency. Add in Hamilton's declining play, and it's pretty obvious the Pistons would be jumping at this deal -- even if the ownership situation were completely stable. Remember the main motivation to trade former Piston Chauncey Billups to the Nuggets for Allen Iverson in November of 2008? If the deal goes through (this waiting game could go until next month's All-Star break), the Nets would be judged the winner of the three parties involved because they are getting the superstar. But with Austin Daye and Greg Monroe showing signs of being players in this league and a substantial amount of cap space whenever the league's labor woes are resolved, the Pistons would be a lot closer to their return to relevancy."

  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: "Trying to win championships is all about evolving, changes pieces -- important ones, complementary ones -- here and there. The Magic have always been about that, Dwight. It's not been about saving money. It's always been about taking risks and having the courage and hindsight to kill one plan if another one doesn't work. They have been loyal to you. You should be loyal to them. Silence everybody who thinks you are just another high-priced mercenary, just like Melo. His teammates in Denver have grown tired of the daily distractions involving possible trades. It's a drain, understandably. You don't want to be a drain, Dwight. There are more rumblings again, this one about a possible move to the Los Angeles when your free-agency kicks in July 2012. You're supposed to be smitten by a major market. Hopefully that's not true Dwight. How lame and predictable. Kobe Bryant will be 34 by then. He's already beat up and past his prime. You don't' need to go Hollywood, Dwight. The NBA is global. You can be huge -- literally and figuratively -- anywhere. Ask Tim Duncan. He's stuck it out with San Antonio all these years. Got himself four NBA titles. Great reputation in the league and beyond. It can be done. Stay small here, and be a bigger man at the end of the day."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "Here's all you need to know about Derrick Rose's mindset: As much as he'd love to see fans vote him as an All-Star starter, he recognizes the game as an exhibition or showcase, not the real deal. 'It would mean a lot, but it's nothing serious,' Rose said. 'I'll still be on the team hopefully. Starter is something I wouldn't want to fight for. It's up to the fans.' No, Rose is more concerned with more mundane things, like watching film to better learn how to fight over screens defensively or split double-teams offensively. 'Serious-minded players have those qualities,' coach Tom Thibodeau said. 'Derrick wants to get better and become a complete player. What Derrick has done is he's established himself individually. But now he's also moving his team with him. That's the biggest challenge.' "

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "The next four games will reveal a lot about the Orlando Magic. And a lot about their starting point guard, too. The Magic have arrived at one of the most difficult stretches remaining on their regular-season schedule, a road swing that consists of games against the New Orleans Hornets, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Boston Celtics. No one on the Magic roster will be tested as consistently as Jameer Nelson, who will match-up against the Hornets' Chris Paul, the Thunder's Russell Westbrook and the Celtics' Rajon Rondo, three of the best point guards in the NBA. ... With a win tonight over the Hornets, the Magic would set a new franchise record by winning their tenth consecutive game. No matchup should be more difficult for Orlando than the one that pits Nelson against Paul, whom many observers regard as the world's best point guard. Dwight Howard remains the Magic's most indispensable player, but Nelson arguably provides the team with its heart and its soul. So far this season, Nelson has delivered both on the court and off of it. The diminutive Nelson is averaging a career-best 6.6 assists per game and 13.7 points per game, the third-highest scoring average of his career."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "The Thunder has never won at Houston. The last time the franchise defeated the Rockets inside the Toyota Center the team was the Seattle SuperSonics. That win came on Feb. 22, 2005. James Harden and Serge Ibaka were 15 years old, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were juniors in high school and Nick Collison and Royal Ivey were rookies. Wednesday night, the Thunder hopes to snap what's ballooned into an 11-game losing streak at Houston. 'That's going to be a tough matchup for our guards and our bigs,' Harden said. 'We're going to have to go down there and play a complete game.' The Rockets longest winning streak against any opponent also is against the Thunder franchise, a 13-game streak from Jan. 3, 2007 to Dec. 19, 2009."

  • Bob Young of The Arizona Republic: "We caught Steve Nash at US Airways Center recently to ask how he is with Greek mythology. 'Not very good,' he admitted. We explained that we wondered if he knew the story of Sisyphus, the dude condemned by Zeus to an eternity of pushing a boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down every time he nears the top. 'I have a feeling I know where you're going with this,' Nash said, smiling. Yep, Nash is a real-life Sisyphus. Four times he has pushed a team to the brink of the NBA Finals. And just as he gets near the top he has to start all over again. ... So, with his 37th birthday coming, we wondered: Does he have it in him to get up the hill again? 'Obviously, I'm going to need a few more naps,' he joked. 'It does take a toll physically, mentally and emotionally. But you have to regroup and start pushing again.' But Nash doesn't have an eternity."

  • Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: "You either win or you play the media game. Monta Ellis hasn't done the first and shows no interest in ever doing the second. The Warriors' guard is having another All-World season, but he remains barely a blip on the All-World radar -- maybe because that's the way he wants it. There are a variety of arguments as to why Ellis' statistics and dynamic play don't move the national meter, but, eventually, it always comes back to the Warriors' inability to win and his own refusal to promote himself. 'I think a lot of it is that I'm not playing for a great team and people think I'm not playing for anything,' Ellis said. 'People think anyone can put up numbers on a bad team, but I don't really care about people who don't know what they're talking about.' "

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Phil Jackson offered this basic support for Lamar Odom on Tuesday night, saying: 'Lamar’s marriage has really helped his life along.' Jackson also offered a back-handed compliment regarding Odom’s role in determining the Lakers’ 2009 NBA championship and 2008 lack thereof. Jackson said Odom wasn’t assertive enough against Boston in the 2008 NBA Finals: 'That year, he didn’t take the shots we wanted him to take.' But Odom did hit some 3-pointers when Orlando tried to pack its defense similarly in the 2009 NBA Finals, so Jackson said about that: 'Lamar stepped into what his responsibility is.' About Odom’s play this season, Jackson has promoted Odom for an All-Star berth and also said Tuesday night: 'There’s no way we’d have the record we have (without him).' "

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "The Grizzlies lead the NBA with 48.8 points per game in the paint. However, dominance inside hasn’t translated into success. Memphis is 7-10 when it scores 50 or more points in the paint and 10-11 when it scores 49 or fewer. Meanwhile, Detroit has a hard time holding leads this season. The Pistons are 9-10 when they’re ahead at halftime, with one of those blown leads coming Nov. 24 at Memphis."

  • Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News: "Not even his head coach knew that Andrei Kirilenko became a United States citizen Monday afternoon. The 10-year Utah Jazz veteran had kept it quiet from Jerry Sloan and all except a few teammates and didn't want to make a big deal about it, although he was proud to talk about it with the media before Jazz practice Tuesday morning. Kirilenko and his wife, Masha, both took the citizenship tests and were sworn in as American citizens at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office, just off the freeway at 5300 South. Their two sons are already citizens, having been born in the United States, and they have a young daughter, adopted from Russia, who will be a citizen someday, according to Andrei. 'It's an important decision for me and my family,' Kirilenko said. 'I'm very grateful for the two countries, America and Russia. I really feel I'm a double citizen. I was born in Russia and grew up there and then I came to America and learned a lot. I'm really grateful for everything I have since I've got here, on and off the court.' "

  • Dale Kasler and Tony Bizjak of The Sacramento Bee: "The oil company is giving way to a wristband. In other words: Goodbye, Arco. Hello, Power Balance. The Kings' arena will be renamed Power Balance Pavilion after the company that makes the trendy but controversial Power Balance sports wristbands, team officials said Tuesday. Power Balance LLC of Laguna Niguel has agreed to a five-year deal with the Maloof family, which owns the Kings and the arena. The name change will occur March 1, the Kings and Power Balance said in a joint statement. The Maloofs had been searching for months for someone to replace Arco, which is ending its 25-year relationship with the organization. Kings officials wouldn't discuss details of the deal with Power Balance, but team co-owner Joe Maloof called it 'a big win for the franchise, a positive development all around. Everybody was telling us we could never get it done.' Team officials described the relationship with Power Balance as a strategic marketing partnership that includes the arena name rights, retail incentive programs and programs involving other Maloof properties and events, including in Las Vegas where the Maloofs own the Palms Casino Resort."