First Cup: Thursday

  • Israel Gutierrez of The Miami Herald: "Dwyane Wade and the other Heat's other inactive players Shawn Marion, Jason Williams, Alonzo Mourning, Marcus Banks, Dorell Wright worked the phones during halftime of Wednesday night's game against the Hornets. The players were enlisted to help sell season tickets. ... A caller named Charles talked to Wade twice. But it wasn't Charles Barkley. Asked later whether it was Sir Charles, Wade said: 'No, he's banned from calling my phone. He talked about us too much on the air this year.' Caller Charles asked Wade who he wanted the Heat to select in the draft. Wade said he couldn't say it out loud because cameramen and reporters surrounded him. Charles proceeded to name several players, only to hear, Wade respond, 'No, no give me one more, No man!' Finally Wade said, 'He's still in the tournament.'"

  • Mike Wise of The Washington Post: "An agonizing loss does not define the season, but how the Wizards managed to give back a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter -- moments after Arenas had checked in with five minutes left -- has got to damage the psyche. And of all nights, on the evening of Arenas's theatrical return, which had Verizon Center all abuzz an hour before and after tip-off. 'He's in uniform?' a cameraman asked about 10 minutes before the 7 p.m. start time. A team official nodded. 'Is he coming out?' 'Who knows?' he said, shrugging. 'Anything can happen. It's Gilbert.' It's Gilbert, all right, who with each utterance and blog post the past week almost became the Supernova Who Cried Wolf."

  • Broderick Turner of The Press-Enterprise: "He's just 21 and in his second year, but Jordan Farmar has made tremendous strides. The Lakers changed their offense because of Farmar, speeding up the tempo. 'He has a lot of knowledge of how to play basketball,' Jackson said. 'He still has to have a learner's mind-set because we know his development over the next two years, three years, is going to be really critical.'"

  • Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: "And on the seventh day, the Nuggets rested. The team just came off an intense six-day stretch, arguably the most stressful of the season -- four games, against Dallas, Golden State and Phoenix twice. The Nuggets went 3-1 in that stretch, splitting with the Suns. 'It's great to have three days off to refuel the tank and release the stress and pressure that we've been under,' said Denver coach George Karl, whose team did not practice Wednesday."

  • George M. Thomas of The Akron Beacon-Journal: "NCAA Tournament sensation Stephen Curry, who was born in Akron when his father, Dell, played for the Cavaliers, met with LeBron James prior to Wednesday night's game against the Charlotte Bobcats. James attended the Davidson Wildcats' victory against Wisconsin in the tournament last week. 'It was kind of a shock to see him in Detroit. I never expected to see him there, but with the timing of him having a game in Charlotte right after the tournament, I could come down and watch him,' Curry said. 'The NBA is pretty demanding, and for him to come and sit in our section and be kind of animated when we made some plays, it was pretty cool.'"

  • John Denton of Florida Today: "New Orleans and Orlando already are two of the NBA teams that use the alley-oop play most. And according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the tandems of Paul and Chandler and Howard and Hedo Turkoglu have converted the most alley-oops this NBA season. Paul and Chandler have converted 92 dunks off lob passes, while Howard and Turkoglu are second in the NBA with 32 alley-oop dunks. 'It's become a second-nature kind of play for us now,' Paul said Tuesday night. 'It just comes down to reading each other. Tyson's not popping (out for a jump shot) and when he rolls to the rim if his man helps on me it's just easy to throw him the lob. It's working for us.' Is it ever working for the Hornets. New Orleans has become the NBA's feel-good story of the season, crafting the best record (51-22) in the rugged Western Conference."

  • Chris McCosky of The Detroit News: "Funny, you don't hear a lot of complaints about Joe Dumars' acumen in the draft these days. On Tuesday night in Minnesota, the Pistons deactivated three All-Stars and beat the Timberwolves with a group led by Rodney Stuckey (15th overall pick in 2007), Arron Afflalo (27th in '07), Amir Johnson (56th in '05), Jason Maxiell (26th in '05) and Tayshaun Prince (23rd in '02). You say, 'What do you expect against a Timberwolves team that is 19-54?' Well, think about this: That Timberwolves team featured two seventh overall picks (Corey Brewer and Randy Foye), a No. 15 (Al Jefferson) and a No. 14 (Rashad McCants)."