First Cup: Monday
October, 21, 2013
By Nick Borges
- Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: Sixers forward Lavoy Allen was back on the practice floor Sunday, a day after he missed the team’s open practice at the Palestra. On Saturday, coach Brett Brown said that he heard Allen had overslept and that the ramifications of Allen’s actions would be taken care of. “We will handle it internally and it has been handled,” Brown said. “I expect more. He expects more of himself. We need more and it’s in him. It’s really that simple. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and it’s [due to] injury and a new system and his time is coming.” Allen provided little information as to why he missed practiced, repeating the line: “I met with coach before practice, addressed the team about it and we’re moving on from there.” He then added: “We’re moving on.” It has to be a frustrating situation for Brown as he is counting on Allen for a much needed physical presence in the lane. But Allen showed up to training camp having not played in two months due to a knee injury suffered in July. Though he has now shed 20 pounds and says he is in playing shape, his fouling out in 13 minutes on Thursday in Charlotte was a stark contrast to that statement.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Rockets guard James Harden did not find playing with Omer Asik and Dwight Howard and any potential loss of spacing to be a hindrance to getting to the rim. But as he described the practice playing with both centers on the floor, he realized he had an advantage he won’t have in games. In practice, if both centers are playing with him neither is playing against him. “They’re not trying to block my shot or foul me or tackle me or something,” he said. As far as how it will work when playing against centers that will try to stop him, Harden said he will have to see how it works, beginning Monday against the Mavericks. I don’t know,” Harden said. “We’ll see tomorrow. Today was pretty good. We got to the basket pretty easy. We’ll see in an actual game when teams are trying their defensive schemes against us.”
- Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News: In what may signify that a coverup remains worse than the crime, Lakers guard Nick Young considered it “disrespectful” Clippers coach Doc Rivers instructed the organization to feature posters of his players draped over the Lakers’ championship banners and retired jerseys any time they have a home game at Staples Center. “We got to talk to Doc,” Young said. “He can’t have that. We have to do something about that.” The Clippers began that practice in their home game Friday against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center, the same venue the Lakers have shared for the past 13 seasons. The Lakers have 12 championship banners, including Minneapolis’ five titles on one of them, and 10 retired jerseys. “That’s a lot of pull ya’ll are giving Doc,” Young said. “He shouldn’t come and have that much pull. He should come and earn his keep.” Rivers won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics, which beat the Lakers in the 2008 Finals. “But he didn’t win no title in L.A,” Young said. “Look at all these banners in here. You can’t shadow those up.” No one else on the Lakers expressed much outrage. ... “If you were in the Clippers organization, you’d probably want to do that too,” Lakers guard Steve Nash said. “It’s their arena on those nights. I would try to make it feel like home.”
- Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald: The deliberate and successful balance of Dwyane Wade’s offseason and preseason schedules climaxed Saturday with 5:25 left in the second quarter. Wade caught a pass from Michael Beasley, weaved around a perfectly set screen by Chris Bosh and then maneuvered past Spurs power forward Tim Duncan for an easy layup. It was one of Wade’s signature Eurosteps, and it left Duncan flatfooted and looking slow with about a week left in the preseason. If his emphatic dunk in Washington wasn’t enough, Wade’s 25 points and seven assists against the Spurs offered definitive proof that the Heat’s starting shooting guard is feeling and playing like his old self once again. Now the trick is keeping him healthy for the 82-game season.
- Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe: Gerald Wallace is the most senior member of the Celtics, with 12 years of NBA experience on his resume. So when the veteran swingman speaks, his words carry weight in the locker room. And Wallace was not at all happy with how his team played in a 104-89 preseason loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Bell Centre Sunday, a game that was part of the NBA Canada series. It was the Celtics’ sixth loss in seven preseason games. They have one exhibition game left, Wednesday against Brooklyn at TD Garden, and their regular season opens Oct. 30 against the Raptors in Toronto. “We’re not playing with effort,” Wallace said
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: This preseason the Magic have done away with morning shootarounds, choosing instead to hold afternoon shootarounds on their Amway Center practice court before home exhibitions and afternoon walkthroughs in hotel ballrooms when they've been on the road. It appears that coach Jacque Vaughn made the switch to improve players' retention of specific gameplans and to keep his players fresh. Vaughn wouldn't discuss his specific reasoning prior to Sunday night's exhibition against the Detroit Pistons, but some other teams — typically teams loaded with experienced players — in recent years have shifted away from morning shootarounds. "Have I made a conscious effort to not have some shootarounds? Yes," Vaughn said. "And will that continue throughout the course of the year? Probably yes. I took a scope of all the things that we did last year — what I liked, what I didn't like, what I thought was efficient. And that's what I'm about. I'm about being efficient. I don't have to stroke my own ego and check boxes off [a practice plan]. I just don't. I don't have to do what other coaches do. I'm fine with doing what I think is best for my team."
- Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post: The Nuggets hired a full-time manager of analytics, Tommy Balcetis. And, yes, Balcetis has the background you think he would: Harvard educated (economics and psychology) and worked as a Fidelity business consultant. He then worked for the NBA in international media, and at a basketball camp in Moscow, he first met Connelly. But here's the most important point: Balcetis played basketball in his native country, Lithuania, as well as in the United States. He was set to play at Harvard — about the same time as Jeremy Lin, now a Houston Rockets point guard — but a heart condition cut short his career as a player. Balcetis is among three individuals in the Denver organization who have strong analytic minds. Assistant general manager Arturas Karnisovas came from Houston, which has been one of the NBA leaders in using advanced metrics. And international scout Rafal Juc also has a reputation for digging deep into stats. "We'll be aggressive in making sure, prior to making any moves or identifying potential acquisitions, that we understand their statistical DNA and we're not left in the dark," Connelly said. First-year Nuggets coach Brian Shaw is on board. He was old school as an NBA player, but he is eager to keep up with new trends. ... "Analytics, it's part of overall decision-making. It's never going to be the No. 1 thing to determine whether a person is a good player or not, but it's going to be a part of a bigger sort of pie in terms of decision-making, said Balcetis."
- Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: The Pistons were going to go through a period of adjustment this season already. Now coach Maurice Cheeks has his first stretch of mini-crisis to guide his team through. Injuries to Brandon Jennings and Rodney Stuckey leave Cheeks without his two most talented guards, and stalls his objective of weaving Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith into a cohesive unit. Because all three players can make plays, and there’s no elite-level playmaker on the floor with them, they’re all doing a little too much — which has led to some erratic, uneven play on offense.
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: Spurs point guard Tony Parker left Saturday's 121-96 preseason loss to Miami in the third quarter after banging a finger on the camera of a photographer seated on the baseline. Parker's left hand is fine, but his coach was not thrilled with the cameraman's proximity to the court. “It's a danger waiting to happen,” Gregg Popovich said. It wasn't the first time a Spurs player has been nicked by a civilian getting too close to the action. Stephen Jackson sprained an ankle last season at Madison Square Garden tripping on a courtside waitress. In 2010, George Hill sprained an ankle after landing on a baseline photographer in Dallas. “It's kind of like when you're in your neighborhood. You keep telling people you need a stop sign, and they don't change it until a kid gets killed and then they put up a stop sign,” Popovich said. “
- Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: “The No. 1 thing is playing hard like that every day is an NBA skill, that is a talent,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said ahead of a visit from the New York Knicks on Monday. “I don’t know how you describe it or what you call it but for the guys I’ve seen over the years who bring it every day like that, that is not easy to do. “You would want everybody to give it every day like that and hit people and play hard and take hits, get beat up every day, but it doesn’t happen.” It does, however, with the 27-year-old Hansbrough, who could be poised to join an elite group of tough-minded fan favourites that has dotted the roster over the years. He hears the ovations when he gets in the game, he feels the buzz when he knocks people around chasing loose balls; he says he’s just doing what comes naturally and if it brings accolades, all the better. “Sure, you hear it,” he said. “I just play my game . . . I feel like I can be a leader. I’m not the most vocal guy but I lead by example, do those kinds of things. Whatever that job is that night, you have to do. It’s not like you have different identities; each night out you have to do the same thing.”
- Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: I asked Budenholzer if the organization has thought of using a shooting coach to work with Schroder, now or in the future. The coach said that role falls to Jim Thomas as his staff is constructed. “The way the staff is structured right now, Jim Thomas’ emphasis and focus is on shooting,” Budenholzer said. “Jim is someone we feel really has a deep understanding and knowledge of shooting and is going to be able to help not only Dennis but everybody in our group. When you give roles and organize a staff, that’s going to be a focus for Jim. I want all my guys to coach but for Jim that will be an area of his focus. I think we are real confident that he is going to help everybody.” Thomas was a college scout for the Thunder for the past four seasons before joining the Hawks.
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: In five preseason games, Steven Adams is averaging 13.6 rebounds per 36 minutes. For comparison’s sake, Dwight Howard’s career high is 13.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. Late in this game, Adams held his own against Derrick Favors, too. One of the most impressive things about Adams at this point is he’s having success despite having very little knowledge about his opponent. “I don’t actually know all the players and who’s considered skilled and whatnot,” Adams admitted after the game. That perhaps explained why Adams did something I had never seen before in pregame. He pulled up a chair and spent much of his pregame sitting in the middle of the locker room, directly in front of the projection screen studying tape of the Jazz. ... I’m creeping closer to the Adams bandwagon. I first needed to see him do it against quality competition. Tonight was a step in that direction. Now I’d like to see him do it in a real game. Beyond that, Adams’ minutes still are being determined by Brooks, which leaves me leery of him seeing the court. What Brooks will do with the backup minutes is becoming a fascinating question, and it’s all a credit to Adams.
- Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com: Trading Thomas Robinson might have been a business decision for Sacramento, but Robinson isn’t going to let them off the hook for that. “I use that trade and the negative articles that I got saved from last year where people were writing me off. I use that as motivation,” he said. “It’s all good, though. It’s not how fast you do your business, it’s how long. And as long as I’m still here 10 years from now, I couldn’t care less what anybody thinks about my first year.” ... When times on the court get rough, the power forward says he thinks back to when he played in Northern California and that motivates him more than enough to get out of that rut, knowing he’s not trying to go back to that feeling. “It was great to just play a good game today,” Robinson said. “I know that the mistakes that I made when I was in Sacramento, the mindset that I had there, is completely different now. The mindset that I have now is where it will remain. When my mind is messed up, then it just looks like I’m playing bad like what happened in Sacramento. I’m not going back there.”
- Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: Kyrie Irving would provide no hints about the new Uncle Drew commercial for PepsiMax, scheduled for release on Oct. 28, according to PepsiMax.com/disguise. "You'll just have to wait to find out like everyone else,'' he said of the third in the popular series of commercials written by him and starring him as an old man hoopster. NBA legend Bill Russell and All-Star Kevin Love joined Irving for the second commercial last year.