First Cup: Tuesday
March, 12, 2013
By Nick Borges
- Paola Boivin special to The Denver Post: With just 17 games remaining in the season, Andre Iguodala is closer to making a decision about his future. Iguodala's contract gives him the opportunity to "opt out" and become a free agent after the season. Although the issue will get his full attention then, he admits he is aware of what is happening around him. "Obviously, you're talking to your agent and you're paying attention to trades, and salary caps that are being opened up through sign and trades and other guys who are in the same position as you," he said. "It's in the back of your mind. But as far as making a concrete decision, you really don't size it up until the season's over, because we have some opportunities to do some really good things here.”
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: The Suns did not get to this position of three consecutive non-playoff seasons and a 29-53 pace for this season by making many right choices, but Managing Partner Robert Sarver deserves credit for one. Sarver offered Stoudemire a $96.6 million contract in 2010 but with built-in stipulations to ensure he was healthy. Less than three years later, Stoudemire’s regular season is done in New York after 29 appearances because he needs another surgery on his right knee. For years, the Suns were more concerned about his right knee, which required arthroscopy, than the more-discussed left knee, which underwent microfracture surgery in 2005. Sarver was willing to give Stoudemire a maximum contract, but only if Stoudemire met thresholds for minutes played. New York, in desperate need of a splash after snubs from LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, was willing to give Stoudemire a guaranteed five-year, $100 million contract. … Stoudemire’s contract is untradeable because it is worth $45.1 million for the next two seasons and is uninsured for knee and eye injuries. … Sarver was right on this one.
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard had just completed the type of workday for which he should be entitled to hazard pay, clocking in for 35 minutes of chasing NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant in Monday’s hard-fought 105-93 victory over Oklahoma City. Rising from the chair in front of his locker at the AT&T Center, Leonard emitted the type of groan that, escaping from his 21-year-old lips, sounded like something reserved for yoga day at the rest home. “It’s a great sound,” Leonard said, smiling slightly. “It means I played hard.” The Spurs followed their baby-faced, cornrow-sporting Pied Piper through an early 13-point deficit and to perhaps the best win of their regular season so far. With the comeback, the Spurs washed away the taste of Friday’s 136-106 loss to Portland and pushed their lead over the Thunder in the Western Conference standings to two games. Leonard had nine of his 17 points during a game-changing 26-4 run in the second quarter, highlighted by a steal ripped from Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and taken for a dunk. Tiago Splitter added 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Danny Green had 16 points and made all four of his 3-point tries, as the Spurs (49-15) won for the third time in four games without All-Star point guard Tony Parker.
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Derek Fisher decided to view Monday’s defeat not so much as a setback but a reminder, a harsh one, no doubt, but one that him and his Thunder teammates can tuck in their back pockets and pull out whenever the moment calls for it on this continued journey. But in the moments immediately following the Thunder’s 105-93 loss at San Antonio, the wound was still fresh, causing nearly every player to sit half dressed in their game attire long after the final buzzer. They lingered at their respective lockers. Some stared blankly into their cellphones, others into space. All made it known in their own subtle way that they preferred to be left alone, with thoughts that in all likelihood centered on what had just transpired. … Left unsaid but made abundantly clear on the court was the reminder of how troublesome these Spurs still are and will continue to be in the event the two teams do indeed meet in a playoff series for the second consecutive season.
- Jason Wolf of The News-Journal: New Eagles coach Chip Kelly visited with 76ers coach Doug Collins before the Sixers tipped off against Brooklyn on Monday. “It was nice to meet him,” Collins said. “It’ll be exciting to see the team he puts on the field. I know he’s very excited. So it was good to just be able to say hello and hopefully we’ll be able to get together once the season is over.” Collins developed a relationship with former Eagles coach Andy Reid, who led the Birds to five NFC Championship games and Super Bowl XXXIX before his 14-year tenure came to an end with last season’s 4-12 record. “The couple of years he had to go through ... were very tough, not only professionally but personally with the loss of his son and all. I think as coaches we’re all sort of kindred spirits,” Collins said. “We feel the pain of each other losing. That’s sort of the way it goes in this business.”
- Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: Gerald Wallace sat at his locker following another disappointing performance, isolated in the room with his head down and his hands crossed. Wallace didn’t play the entire fourth quarter in a 106-97 defeat Monday night. He signed a four-year, $40 million contract last summer to become the team’s defensive stopper, and he was on the bench as Brooklyn’s defense faltered against the lowly Sixers. “I’m not talking,” he said. Whether it’s the nagging injuries or a sign that he’s breaking down, Wallace, 30, has often disappeared on the court since the end of January, a stretch where he has failed to score in double-digits in 29 of his last 34 appearances. P.J. Carlesimo said he didn’t play Wallace in the fourth quarter — preferring to go with Reggie Evans and Keith Bogans — because “we just put the guys out there that gave us the best chance to win.”
- Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune: The Jazz applied a tourniquet more than cured the disease, but their 103-90 victory over the slumping Detroit Pistons on Monday night was still a welcome relief. Mo Williams scored 20 points, Al Jefferson added 16 and Utah’s bench contributed big-time as the Jazz snapped a four-game losing streak at EnergySolutions Arena. For a moment, coach Tyrone Corbin and his team could forget last week’s nightmarish road trip, during which Utah lost three games in the final seconds before a blowout defeat in New York. For a moment, the Jazz could look ahead to the final 18 games of the regular season with a hint of optimism instead of head-shaking frustration. Yes, Utah handed lottery-bound Detroit its eighth loss in the last nine games. Yes, the Pistons aren’t the caliber of the teams Utah will have to beat over the next month to reach the Western Conference playoffs. But the Jazz won and, for the first time in 10 days, no team in the playoff race with them gained ground. Not the Lakers. Not Golden State. Not Houston.
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: If given the benefit of hindsight and knowing the reaction that would come from the outside world, most would take a step back as DeAndre Jordan launched his 7-foot frame near the rim for a thunderous dunk, especially if you're eight inches shorter. But Brandon Knight? Nah. He'd go after Jordan again because in his mind and heart it was the right play. He took things personally. Not the reaction from the public, which used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to make fun of Knight becoming a poster, but of the Los Angeles Clippers clowning the Pistons on Sunday night without much resistance. "When I step on the court, I don't take people dunking six, seven or eight times and not attempting to stop it. It's personal to me," said Knight with crutches under his arms after sustaining a "severe" ankle injury in the first quarter of Monday's 103-90 loss to the Utah Jazz. "Where I'm from and where I grew up, you just don't let that happen." He wasn't dejected or upset about the turn of events; Knight was merely thankful his left ankle wasn't broken and genuinely laughed about the situation.
- Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: Led by a tenacious defensive effort by Klay Thompson on Carmelo Anthony, the Warriors limited New York to 27.4 percent field-goal shooting. The Warriors hadn't held an opponent to 63 points or fewer since the Philadelphia Warriors did it to the Milwaukee Hawks in 1953, before the NBA had a 24-second clock, and they hadn't yielded a sub-30-percent shooting night since Washington clanked up a 26.9-percent performance in 1975. "I don't know how many teams in history have nights like that," Jackson said. "I think it's closer to who we truly are, and it's a great way to stop the bleeding." The Warriors had allowed 106.8 points per game on 46 percent field-goal shooting and 39.4 percent three-point shooting during their 17-game swoon, falling seven games back of fifth-place Denver. But on a night when the trio of Thompson, Stephen Curry and David Lee outscored the entire Knicks squad, the Warriors found themselves still leading seventh-place Houston by 1 1/2 games and the eighth-place teams, the Lakers and Utah, by 2 1/2 games.
- Al Iannazzone of Newsday: Mike Woodson said the Knicks don't plan to waive Rasheed Wallace to add another healthy big man, but he wouldn't rule out making a move. Wallace (foot surgery) and Amar'e Stoudemire, who had his right knee scoped yesterday, are lost for at least the regular season. Woodson said he will talk to general manager Glen Grunwald after this five-game trip "and start assessing" their options. "I think we have until the latter part of March to make some decisions," Woodson said. To add someone, the Knicks would have to subtract someone. It doesn't make sense to cut a healthy body. But Woodson was adamant that it won't be Wallace, who is on this trip. "I never made that statement about waiving Rasheed," he said. "Rasheed still has a chance to bounce back. As we go up this road, we've just got to wait and see -- are these guys able to come back for us?" This means a bigger role for Kenyon Martin.