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First Cup: Tuesday

  • Michael Lee of the Washington Post: "The Washington Wizards, who continue to defy logic without injured three-time all-star Gilbert Arenas, beat the Celtics for the second time in less than 48 hours, 88-83. If the first time was improbable, the second time was incredible. Going on an unlikely 25-6 run over the final 5 minutes 57 seconds, the Wizards came back from a 14-point deficit to defeat a Celtics team with the league's best record. Boston had been the only team in the NBA that had not lost back-to-back games this season. 'Real recognizes real,' said Butler, who scored a team-high 21 points as the Wizards (20-16) improved to 17-11 without Arenas and closed to within 1 1/2 games of the Southeast Division-leading Magic."

  • George Karl tells Dave Krieger of the Rocky Mountain News that the Nuggets are a handful for a coach: "'We have a lot of All-Star caliber players, and usually, fitting talent together creates ego adjustments,' he said. 'I think that's where we're at right now. It's just a high-maintenance day a lot of nights. As I keep telling Pop, he doesn't live in the NBA. He's got a low-maintenance deal.' That would be Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who has the luxury of a team policed by Tim Duncan, its biggest star."

  • Florida coach Billy Donovan tells Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times what Joakim Noah's biggest problem is: "'I know what Jo's biggest problem is,' Donovan said, referring to Noah. 'Jo's biggest problem is that he just wants to win, and when he sees things that are getting in the way with winning he has a tendency to be somewhat demonstrative or loud. I will never believe that his suspension has anything to do with him being selfish. He's pretty smart. He understands the ingredients that can help a team win but there's a certain level of responsibility he's got to take on his part of what he can do to be a professional to try get Chicago to win.'"

  • How did Billy Donovan deal with Joakim Noah's tardiness? Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun has the story: "Noah had some tardiness issues at Florida. Donovan didn't start Noah for the exhibition opener last season because Noah continually showed up late for classes during the fall semester. Donovan said he addressed the tardiness by having Noah run early in the morning. 'After getting up a few times at 5:30 a.m., that gets old after a while,' Donovan said."

  • Martin McNeal of the Sacramento Bee hopes Mike Bibby doesn't have a problem coming off the bench upon his return Wednesday: "Mike Bibby will return from a torn ligament in his left thumb Wednesday -- allegedly -- and all signs point to him coming off the bench. Knowing Bibby as I do, regardless of what he says, I know this is under his skin. Yo, Mike, quit tripping! Who cares who starts the game? Now, once you get a game or two under your belt and coach Reggie Theus doesn't have you on the floor at the end of a game, you then can trip to your heart's content."

  • Patrick McManamon of The Akron Beacon Journal questions LeBron James' decision-making: "Yes, athletes like fast cars. Yes, it's understandable he wanted to get home. But 101? James not only put himself in danger -- remember Bobby Phills -- he put anyone else on the highway that morning in danger. Yes, we've all exceeded the speed limit at one time or another. But not at 101."

  • Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun: "[Sam] Mitchell has seen Bargnani go through the one-on-one drills that would help him make the transition with a half-hearted effort. Mitchell said Bargnani needed to be broken of that and his weapon of choice was a cold shoulder that stayed frosty for the past three weeks. ... Not surprisingly, Bargnani's play regressed over that period and slowly but surely he became more receptive to the idea of being a willing student. Whereas in the past Bargnani would be pulled by a coach down to a free basket for some extra tutelage at the end of practice, now it is Bargnani grabbing the coach and asking for extra work."

  • Chris Mullin tells Janny Hu of the San Francisco Chronicle that he will be selective with any roster decision as the team looks into the future: "Does the arrival of the Hornets and Blazers accelerate the improvement timetable? I would say more on what the deal is as opposed to when the deal is,' Mullin said. 'We've been as active as any team over the last few years, but we're really trying to be selective in trying to get better. We have a real distinct idea of who and what those players will be, and when and if those things come up, to get it done.' He then added with a laugh: 'We've had a lot of opportunities that would be good for other teams - really, really good for other teams.'"