First Cup: Monday

November, 11, 2013
11/11/13
4:38
AM ET
By Nick Borges
ESPN.com
Archive
  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: Don’t ask Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman about that 22-game losing streak against the Lakers his team ended Sunday night. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Adelman said. “I really don’t.” Adelman was in between jobs in Sacramento and Houston and watching Kevin Love play his final year of high school ball in Portland, Ore., the last time the Wolves beat the Lakers. That was March 6, 2007, when the Wolves, featuring Kevin Garnett, won in double overtime at Target Center. Before Sunday’s 113-90 victory, they hadn’t beaten the Lakers at Staples Center since March 31, 2005. “I don’t look back at what happened the last 10 years,” Adelman said. “This group is totally different than the group we had two years ago or even last year. I don’t get caught up in that. Every time we played a team two years ago, we were breaking some kind of streak if we won. So I don’t worry about that.” In the past two years, the Wolves have stopped long losing streaks against the likes of San Antonio, Dallas, Boston, Atlanta and Toronto. The 22-game streak to the Lakers was the last one left. “Is this it?” Adelman asked before his team’s franchise-record 47-point first quarter. “Well, OK, hopefully we get rid of it.”
  • Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News: After ranking 28th out of 30 NBA teams as a unit last season, the Lakers’ reserves lead in the league in points (57.8), efficiency (58.1) and minutes (24.7). If only the Lakers’ starting lineup that features two future Hall of Famers could keep up with them. With an injured Kobe Bryant, a limited Steve Nash and an underachieving Pau Gasol, the Lakers’ starting lineup has ranked last out of 30 NBA teams in several categories, including points (45.4), efficiency (45.6) and minutes (23.3). “Mike goes with the guys that are hotter out there and sticks with them,” Gasol said before the Lakers hosted Minnesota on Sunday at Staples Center. “It’s got to be a balance. It’s not about who scores more, (it’s about) who is more effective.” Notable contributors include Jodie Meeks (averaging team-leading 12.3 points on a 48.4 clip from three-point range), Xavier Henry (10.1), and Jordan Farmar (10.3 points). Gasol (35.2 percent) and Nash (27.9 percent) have become a weak link.
  • George Willis of the New York Post: There’s a disconnect somewhere and if the Knicks don’t figure it out soon, this season could get ugly in a hurry. If Sunday’s 120-89 loss to the Spurs — a game in which the Knicks were non-competitive from the opening tip — is the low-point of the season, then it will be quickly forgotten as part of a slow start. But if it indicates the Knicks are a team that lacks chemistry, direction and drive, then changes may be in order before the holiday season gets into full swing. Those changes could be in players’ roles and it could be in coaches. Certainly, something has to change because the Knicks were an eye-sore Sunday. They didn’t resemble a playoff team, much less one that will get even with the Spurs should they meet in the NBA Finals, as Metta World Peace suggested. “If we see them in the Finals we’ll be ready,” he said. That qualifies as wishful thinking. Games like the one the Knicks played Sunday don’t get you to the Finals, they get players benched and coaches fired. Coach Mike Woodson was clearly frustrated and vowed to find answers for a 2-4 start.
  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: Kawhi Leonard came off the bench for a grand total of one game last season. But he and Tiago Splitter were both dropped from the starting lineup to give (Spurs head coach Gregg) Popovich more flexibility with which to defend Carmelo Anthony. Boris Diaw got the first crack, after which Leonard entered at 3:20 of the first quarter. The two combined to limit Anthony to just 16 points, nearly nine under his season average. It was the first look at how Popovich might handle the bigger, beefier small forwards of the NBA without a true backup for Leonard. For at least one game, that deficiency didn’t hurt the Spurs in the slightest. That shouldn’t come as a huge surprise considering the respectable job Diaw did in spots against LeBron James in last season’s Finals. Between his size and mobility, and Leonard’s length and quickness, you could have a far worse tandem to deal with their ilk.
  • Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman: Make or miss, win or lose, on this innocuous Sunday night in the NBA season's second week, belief in Jeremy Lamb is a very good sign for the Thunder's long-term success. By the way, Lamb swished the 26-footer. Soon enough, the Thunder got the game to overtime, thanks to Kevin Durant's deadeye 3-pointer with 13.6 seconds left, and won it 106-105. Durant's been known to have a heroic moment or two (hundred). But Lamb and Jackson, who made two tiebreaking baskets in overtime, are going to be needed, too. So put that Lamb long ball in your memory bank as this Thunder season progresses. “Reggie hit me and I was wide open,” Lamb said. “It was early in the shot clock but late in the game. We had to get some points on the board, so I just tried to knock it down.” While rookie Steven Adams rightly has been the early season sensation in ThunderLand, Lamb has been just as pleasant a surprise. He's now averaging 9.8 points a game, shooting 46.7 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range. The Thunder will take those numbers and be thrilled. And if Lamb keeps playing without fear, even better.
  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: With a chance to give the Wizards their first-ever victory in Oklahoma City, Wall split three defenders, twisted in mid-air and shot an air ball over the rim with a clean look at the basket as time expired. The Wizards lost to the Thunder, 106-105, in overtime and Wall’s missed shot concluded a disappointing finish to a game in which the Wizards squandered a 10-point lead in the final three minutes of regulation. The loss also spoiled a career-high effort from Bradley Beal, who outscored three-time scoring champion and District native Kevin Durant, 34-33. ... But the Wizards will be haunted by several blunders, including their 13 missed free throws and a late ejection by Nene, who had a passionate all-around performance before a heated encounter with Russell Westbrook resulted in both players getting tossed — and the Wizards folding. The Wizards have now lost seven consecutive games in Oklahoma City — including two to the New Orleans Hornets when the team was displaced because of Hurricane Katrina.
  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: The only teams in the NBA with better records than the 5-2 Suns are Indiana (7-0), San Antonio (6-1) and Oklahoma City (5-1). Two weeks ago, the only conversation the Suns figured to be in with those other recently elite teams would be a talk about how to compete in the NBA outside a major market. The conversation moving forward is how much the Suns belong at this level. The team pegged for last in the Western Conference with the league’s second-most inexperience keeps closing out tight games for wins like Sunday night’s 101-94 victory over New Orleans at US Airways Center. ... Bledsoe was the leading scorer, but Markieff Morris’ continued tear of newfound offensive aggression gave him 23 points to help the Suns bench outscore the Pelicans bench 49-20. Morris made 9 of 12 shots Sunday night to become only the third player in the NBA since 1989 to shoot 75 percent in three consecutive games with at least 12 attempts. The others were Dwight Howard and Charles Barkley. Morris has made 30 of 38 shots in those three games and is averaging 22.8 points over the past four games.
  • Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: Right now, with forward Ryan Anderson still sidelined by a broken toe, reserve guard Anthony Morrow is carrying the New Orleans bench from beyond the 3-point line. So far this season, Morrow is a better shooter from distance than he is from inside the 3-point arc. Morrow entered Sunday's game hitting 61 percent of his 3-point shots and 53 percent of his shots from the field overall. Sunday night was an exception. Morrow, as pure a shooter as the Pelicans have on the roster, was two of four from beyond the 3-point line on the evening but seven of 11 overall with 16 points off the bench. The Phoenix reserves, however, outscored New Orleans 49-20.

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