First Cup: Thursday

  • Britt Robson of the Rake on Minnesota's win over Phoenix: "More than any game thus far this season, [Al] Jefferson played offense with a killer instinct. The raw numbers are pretty revealing: 39 points, 14 free throws, 8 offensive rebounds. [Amare] Stoudemire was helpless. Or, better put, the Suns started giving him a lot of help, with as many as two or three others collapsing on Jefferson when he received the rock, and it really didn't matter. If for some reason Jefferson didn't succeed at first, he got the ball back and tried again. The dude finished with 29 FGA (making 15) and 14 FTA (making 9) and it didn't feel like he was hogging the ball. That's when you know you are having fun. A brief pause here, while I drop a fly in the punchbowl. Jefferson's utter lack of defense was nearly as monumental as his voracious offense. Stoudemire was 14 of 16 from the field and one of his two misses was a meaningless trey chucked with three seconds left in the game. He scored 33 points in the 29:40 that Jefferson was guarding him, which is why Jefferson finished the game with a team-worst minus -4. That doesn't change the fact that Jefferson was the dominant force in a Wolves' victory, because he most indisputably was. But it does neatly encapsulate the spectacularly half-assed season Jefferson is putting together."

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: "A brief memo to Eric Gordon: Farewell, E.J. Good knowing you. Thanks for the memories. All the best in the NBA. Regards, The IU Basketball Community ... When Eric Gordon arrived here from North Central High School a few months back, there was almost no question that the uber-freshman was going to be a one-and-done proposition. Now, 18 games into his freshman season, six games into his first and likely last Big Ten season, there is absolutely no question that he will be gone almost as soon as he arrived. Not to be a buzzkill but, hey, the truth is the truth."

  • Chris Perkins of The Palm Beach Post:"Winning the 2006 NBA championship put the Heat in elite company. But its regular-season record since -- 52-70 -- makes the Heat one of a kind. No champion that retained its core players for the two seasons after winning the title has fallen so far so quickly. Forward Udonis Haslem isn't sure what that says about Miami, which has four starters and two reserves from its championship team. 'We got comfortable, maybe? Didn't work as hard? I hope that's not the case,' said Haslem, who won a ring 19 months ago. 'I know on the outside looking in, it's probably the conclusion that people will draw from that.'"

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: "In response to Monday's verbal and physical confrontation between three Knick beat writers and Garden security as a fan was being ejected, MSG yesterday banned all media from the expo center in the bowels of the arena. A Garden spokesman said a new policy will also be in place in which reporters are not permitted to speak with fans who are in the process of being ejected by security."

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Earl Lloyd is extremely proud of the fact that he was the first African-American to play in the NBA. But please don't call him the Jackie Robinson of basketball. 'I take polite umbrage,' Lloyd said of the comparison. 'What I had to go through pales to what he had to go through. Here's a guy, his own teammates didn't want to play with him. The competition? They tried to maim him. The fans vilified him. For a guy to go through all that and perform in that hostile arena ... then when it's time for him to go into the Hall of Fame, he made it on the first ballot. Being black had nothing to do with it.'"

  • Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:"USC Coach Tim Floyd said Wednesday that he told star freshman O.J. Mayo that he could accept free Lakers tickets and that if anybody should be punished for potential NCAA violations, it should be the coach. 'My feeling is that if there's a mistake made, it was made by me,' Floyd said. 'If they want to suspend me for a game, suspend me for a game, but not the kid. He did the right thing.' Floyd said he thought it was acceptable for Mayo to receive complimentary tickets from Denver Nuggets All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony, whom Mayo has known since the seventh grade, because the players were friends. Mayo attended the Lakers' 116-99 victory over the Nuggets on Monday at Staples Center."

  • Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Daily News:"There's trouble in Clippers Land again, and no surprise, it starts at the top. Sterling apparently is a new man, or wants to be. He must be recognizing his mortality and ensuing legacy: Owned a lot of buildings, and worst franchise in sports."

  • Linda Hamilton of the Deseret Morning News:"Carlos Boozer said Wednesday that playing like an All-Star for the past two seasons helped to take his mind off the family issues brought on by Carmani's sickle cell anemia. 'Oh, obviously I'm fortunate my son's going to be OK,' Boozer said prior to Wednesday's team practice, 'but for me, I put everything I had into basketball. That was my relief from what was going on in my personal life.' The uncertainties last season, and of last summer and fall as Carmani stayed hospitalized for 40 days after a bone marrow transplant, were probably worse than this season as Boozer spent another two months alone in Utah. 'I don't know which (season) was harder,' Boozer said."