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First Cup: Tuesday

  • Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: Slowly, Lamar Odom is beginning to show signs of his old self. He scored a season-high seven points on three-for-five shooting and had six rebounds, four of them on offense, in the Clippers' 105-104 victory over the Utah Jazz. Odom was at his best in the fourth quarter, when he scored five of his points and had four of his rebounds. "Slowly but surely, it's coming," Odom said. "I've just got to keep taking my time. I'm getting better in practice. All I can do is keep plugging away game by game." Odom had a three-point play in the fourth quarter that pulled the Clippers to within three points. He later scored to keep the Clippers within striking distance. Even with the game on the line, Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro used Odom to inbound the basketball, showing how much trust he has in Odom.

  • Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune: The Jazz played their third game on Monday without Marvin Williams as he continues to battle concussion-like symptoms. Derrick Favors, meanwhile, did not dress for the second straight game after an MRI was inconclusive and an ultrasound confirmed he has plantar fasciitis in his right foot. All these injuries have resulted in a season of mixing and matching, basing lineups on who’s available, rather than whom the Jazz are playing. Coach Tyrone Corbin utilized six different starting lineups through the first 18 games, and center Al Jefferson was the only player to start every game of the season at his natural position (Paul Millsap started two at small forward). "It’s frustrating," Corbin said, "but it is what it is. It’s a long NBA season, things happen. One of the best things that we have on this squad is a lot of guys I feel good about putting in the game. We’ve always talked about everybody being ready to play."

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Magic players said they weren't upset that Howard didn't shake their hands or wish them well after Sunday night's win. Howard walked off the court once the final seconds of thefourth quarter ticked off Staples Center's clock. "That's fine," Magic point guard Jameer Nelson said. "Certain guys don't shake hands after the game. "I don't have any hard feelings to the guy. He made a decision to do what he did. He's on the team that he's on. I'm here in Orlando, where I want to be. I just wish him the best of luck. I'm not going to go up and hug him and kiss him or anything like that. I think my coach would be mad at me." Magic power forward Glen Davis said he didn't take any offense. "If he wants to walk off the court, it's cool," Davis said. "No hard feelings, you know? He lost. I would feel bad, too. I wouldn't want to shake anybody's hand. So it is what it is."

  • Carl Steward of The Oakland Tribune: It's been said you don't really know a man until you walk a mile in his shoes. But in the case of Warriors guard Jarrett Jack, that might take a while. Jack, an NBA veteran who is fast becoming a valuable addition as the team's primary reserve, has a major thing for shoes -- basketball sneakers, specifically. In fact, he probably has the largest collection of them in the league. Jack claims to own more than 1,500 pairs of sneakers, many of them hard-to-procure limited editions, and he rarely wears the same pair twice in a row, whether it be in games, practices or out on the town. "There are only 365 days in the year," he said. "So I can only wear so many." Jack, 29, is in his eighth NBA season but his first with the Warriors after being acquired via trade in July. His new teammates are only beginning to learn the scope of his fixation, but have noticed he always has the flashiest size 12s on the floor. "He's worn a different pair of shoes every single day this year," said guard Stephen Curry. "I have not seen a shoe game like his."

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: For a team that finished 30th and 26th in blocked shots over the past two seasons, respectively, having some type of backside help is welcomed across the board. The Pistons' 13 blocked shots Monday was their best performance since the 2006-07 season, when they were a much better club — and still, at that point, a top-level defensive unit. Jason Maxiell, Andre Drummond and to a lesser extent, the ground-bound Greg Monroe have helped the Pistons into the top third in that category so far this season. Their ability was on full display when young Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson grabbed a rebound and went up for a dunk, only to have Drummond send him sprawling. The duo combined for nine of the 13 blocked shots. "It starts off with Jason," Drummond said. "Watching him got me going." Pistons coach Lawrence Frank believes the result is part of being in better position as opposed to sheer athleticism, as his team hasn't had too many defensive stinkers in the past couple weeks — save for a loss to the Knicks and a shocking home loss to the Magic.

  • Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer: The Cavaliers have weathered eight games without their star point guard, their leading scorer and face of the franchise. They've been nail-biter close in all but one loss as they've scrapped and clawed to the end. They've tried to find ways to survive. Losing yet another guard to injury was too much on Monday, however. Without both Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, the short-handed Cavaliers fell to Detroit, 89-79, while shooting a season-low 34 percent in front of a sparse crowd at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Heavy fog and two teams with a combined nine victories equated to just an announced 11,352 watching in the stands. Waiters missed the game with a sprained left ankle suffered in Saturday's double-overtime loss to Portland. The rookie is day-to-day while he receives treatment. In seven games without Irving before Monday's contest, the Cavaliers were 2-5, and in contention to win all but a blowout loss to Phoenix. The four other losses have come by an average of 3.3 points. Without both Waiters and Irving, the Cavaliers were minus the backcourt's combined 38.1 points per game.

  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: “We have two teams,” Batum said, smirking. “The bad team. And the great team.” In one of the wildest, hard-to-fathom games in more than 10 years in the NBA, the Blazers were both on Monday night as they defeated the Charlotte Bobcats 118-112 in overtime before 12,640 at Time Warner Cable Arena. One game after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in double overtime, the Blazers (8-10) one-upped the drama by overcoming an 18-point deficit with less than five minutes remaining before winning in overtime. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time since Nov. 4, 2000 — when Phoenix beat Denver — that a team has won after trailing by at least 15 points with less than five minutes left in the game. And as if that wasn’t enough theater, here’s the real plot twist: Luke Babbitt was the comeback’s catalyst. The oft-maligned sharpshooter, long been deemed a lottery bust by the basketball world, was the driving force behind the Blazers’ improbable victory on Monday, hitting critical threes, playing aggressive, trapping defense and snatching timely rebounds.

  • Richard Walker of the Gaston Gazette: Perhaps it was simply a matter of time before reality set in on the “feel good” start to the Charlotte Bobcats season. Maybe the Bobcats simply ran out of gas. Or was it simply an unconventional, hot-shooting lineup by the Portland Trail Blazers that did the Bobcats in. Whatever it was, Charlotte fell 118-112 in overtime in a game it led by 18 points twice in the fourth quarter, including 97-79 with five minutes to play. Afterward, everybody was falling on the sword – from coach to player. “I kind of point the finger at me on this,” said first-year coach Mike Dunlap, whose team lost its fourth straight to fall to 7-9 on the year. “Most of our games have been us coming back or us just holding on. We had a cushion and it was unfamiliar territory.” In losing, the Bobcats wasted more than just a lead, as Ben Gordon’s historic hot shooting pushed him over the 10,000-point career plateau.

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: Unlike three nights ago, the New Orleans Hornets veteran players didn’t need a meeting to discuss ways to perform better. They went out Monday night and executed efficiently. After losing nine of their previous 10 games, the Hornets finally gave themselves a reason to celebrate, ending a four-game home losing streak with a 102-81 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks at the New Orleans Arena. … They came out and stayed on the attack against the Bucks, avoiding low-scoring quarters and maintaining stifling defense. “We met after the last game and we needed to show an example and you saw that tonight,’’ forward Ryan Anderson said. ``When one guy comes in and makes some great plays it gets the bench excited, it gets everybody else excited on the court and we’re able to build off of that. We really moved the ball well and we just played smart tonight. We played smarter. When we play like that, those are the games that we’ve won this year.”

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: Bucks forward Larry Sanders has rejected 22 shots in the last three games, including a franchise-record tying 10 at Minnesota on Friday. And he became the first reserve player in the league to block at least 10 shots since Toronto's Keon Clark did it with 12 blocks in March 2001. In fact, Sanders is just one of four NBA reserves since 1985-'86 to have a game with 10-plus blocks, according to basketball-reference.com. He picked up seven blocks in the Bucks' loss to New Orleans on Monday, meaning he has averaged more than seven blocks over the last three games. "Blocking shots was one of the first things I did when I started playing basketball," Sanders said. "I wouldn't say it comes easy, but the more energy I feel I have, the better I am out there on defense."

  • Adrian Dater of The Denver Post: Two days after losing one of his best friends, Rick Majerus, Nuggets coach George Karl still had a hard time getting through a sentence about him without choking up in emotion. "It's still very hard for me," Karl said before Monday night's game against Toronto. "I'm mad at him. I'm angry that he's gone. There are a lot of emotions going on in my head." Karl said Majerus was very close with his son, Coby. When Coby called to talk about the former Utah coach, Karl said, Coby "said that he was part of our family. He's been with Coby since the sixth grade. There are a lot of roots, a lot of stories and a lot of love."

  • Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun: Between Nov. 20 and Nov. 28 Terrence Ross was getting anywhere from 15 to 35 minutes of court time a game. He dipped back under that 15-minute mark Friday against Phoenix. That number also happens to be his average for the season. That dip coincided with the arrival of nine-year veteran Pietrus. Casey admitted the Pietrus signing would likely cut into Ross’ time more than anyone else’s. But with Linas Kleiza dealing with a sore hip, Ross might be back to where he was for those nine days as Pietrus could slip into Kleiza’s starting spot and Ross would come back in with the second unit. Ross said he hears from Casey every day about the need to improve defensively. Again that’s dealing with the increased speed of the game in the NBA, but Ross feels it’s coming together. He says he already feels like he has been in Toronto “forever” even though neither the team nor Ross has spent much time at home at all through the early part of the schedule.