First Cup: Wednesday

November, 27, 2013
11/27/13
4:49
AM ET
By Nick Borges
ESPN.com
Archive
  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: But in their first game with Beal sharing a seat next to the coaches, the Wizards won, 116-111 , and utilized the kind of team play required to have success with 20 points taken out of the lineup. Reigning Eastern Conference player of the week John Wall provided an incredible, 360-degree highlight dunk in the first half and made a series of huge shots and free throws in the fourth quarter, when he scored 13 of his game-high 31 points — his third straight game with at least 30. Wall also handed out nine assists to lead the Wizards to their fourth victory in the past five games. “I think they wanted to come out here and really play some for him,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “Everybody feels some for Brad going through that right now. As they do for anybody that gets hurt.” Wall’s last assist set up Nene for a layup that gave the Brazilian big man a new career high with 30 points and put the Wizards ahead by three. “I feel like wine; get old, get better,” said Nene.
  • Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News: Well, the Lakers didn’t wait until this offseason to give Kobe Bryant a two-year, $48.5 million extension. So how about Pau Gasol? “I try not to make that assumption,” Gasol said Tuesday. “If I am, I will. If I’m not, I’m just focused on trying to play as well as I can and finish the season as good as I can so I’m in as best a position as possible for next year. That’s just my mindset about it.” In the Lakers’ 116-111 loss Tuesday to the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center, Gasol’s 17 points on 8-of-15 shooting marked one of many of the team’s contributions. That included Jordan Farmar (22 points), Nick Young (16 points), Steve Blake (15 points), Wes Johnson (11 points) and Jordan Hill (10 points). Gasol’s production wasn’t a far cry from his career 18.3 points-per-game average that ensured him four NBA All-Star appearances and two NBA championships. And while Gasol did have six rebounds and eight assists, his night also featured him playing shaky defense, collecting four fouls and committing five turnovers. “We have not had any discussions with Pau,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Tuesday on a conference call before the game. “I’m sure I will. Where that leads, I’m not sure right now. A lot has to do with different variables. I’m not saying something won’t be considered. I’m not saying something will be. I’m just saying it’s not something that has come up.”
  • Tim Bontemps of the New York Post: Despite his team’s rough start, Nets general manager Billy King said he still believes in Jason Kidd as a coach and says the Nets need more time to come together after dealing with several injuries in the season’s opening weeks. In an interview with the YES Network that aired during Tuesday night’s 102-100 Nets victory — a win that snapped the team’s streak of five straight losses and eight in their previous nine games King said Kidd already has become a much better coach than he was just a few weeks ago when training camp began. “Fortunately, I get to see him every day at practice, and we meet pretty much every day and talk,” King said, “and from Day One of training camp to now, he’s grown [tremendously], and I think he’ll continue to grow. It’s amazing how people are critiquing every little thing: if he stands, if he’s sitting, what is he doing? But the one thing I know is he’s working as hard as he can. He watches a lot of film. … He is putting as much effort and time into it. So the progress he’s made, if he continues on that pace, he’s going to be fine.” ... He also said he still has plenty of belief in the group he put together this summer — one that has an NBA-high payroll of $102 million and is going to cost owner Mikhail Prokhorov roughly $189 million in payroll and luxury-tax commitments this season — and the Nets simply need to get some wins to get things going in the right direction.
  • Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star: Over the weekend, Rudy Gay let it be known that he has unilaterally banned post-game stat sheets from the locker room. He was 3-for-12 from the floor on Tuesday night. Thanks to his visionary change, he’ll never have to know that. Gay has become the league-wide analytics whipping boy, mostly because he continues to talk about how little stats bother him while evidently caring so much he can’t bear to see them. He also remains an average shooter working at high volume. But the key number? His $18-million salary. “I don’t look at Rudy as an analytics poster child,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Winning is my analytics.” Well then, bad news. It’s been Gay’s habit this year to put in a forgettable shift, and then redeem himself at the very end. He nearly managed it again. The Raptors scored 14 of the final 15 points of the game, long after most in the ACC had already given up and hit the streets. Gay’s three-point shot with 23 seconds left brought it to within one. ... Casey suggested Tuesday night that 20 games was sufficient time to figure out what you’ve got. That’s two weeks from now. Based on the way everything’s gone to this point, whatever direction the Raptors take at that point, it’ll have to be more faith- than stats-based.
  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: Magic coach Jacque Vaughn had announced a new starting lineup before the game that included Glen Davis at power forward and Tobias Harris at small forward. But when Harris' left ankle proved too sore for him to play during pre-game warm-ups, Vaughn had to scratch that idea and re-insert rookie Victor Oladipo. Vaughn had planned to sit Oladipo, along with Maurice Harkless, to put in Davis and Harris. Little did Vaughn know that he'd have to get out his eraser again after Oladipo picked up his fourth foul with under three minutes left until halftime. Finally, something worked out in the Magic's favor against the Hawks. E'Twaun Moore started for Oladipo in the third quarter --- and all Moore did was help arouse a team that had been sleepwalking through the first half. ... The game against the Hawks was another "learning lesson," said Vaughn. Vaughn wanted to see how the rookie would handle playing after picking up his third foul with three minutes, 14 seconds left in the second quarter. Vaughn said he simulates foul situations with players during practice. But this was the real thing, and Oladipo was whistled for his fourth foul 21 seconds later. Fortunately for the Magic, Moore gave them more.
  • Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Hawks have their first losing streak. Atlanta dropped its second straight game with a 107-92 loss to Orlando Tuesday night at Philips Arena. The Hawks haven’t lost two games in a row all season. To make matters worse, the Magic snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Hawks. They hadn’t won a game since Nov. 8, 2010 – more than three years ago. They snapped a seven-game losing streak at Philips Arena with the last win coming Nov. 26, 2009 – more than four years ago. The Hawks (8-7, 4-3 home) had given up an average of 89.3 points in the past three games. The Magic surpassed that total 1:51 into the fourth quarter. Jeff Teague and Al Horford led the Hawks with 15 points apiece. Lou Williams added 11 points off the bench in 24 minutes, the longest he has played this season. Kyle Korver extended his streak to 88 games with a 3-pointer, one shy of Dana Barros’ NBA record. He can tie the mark Wednesday at the Rockets. He connected from long range in the second quarter to move past Dan Majerle (1,360) for 26th on the all-time made 3-pointers list.
  • Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: There is Denzel Washington's speech in "Remember the Titans" and Gene Hackman's talk to his squad in "Hoosiers." And then there's the postgame oration Jermaine O'Neal gave Tuesday after his improbable performance to lift the Warriors to a much-needed 102-101 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. "I keep telling these guys that trials and tribulations will build character for a true championship team," O'Neal said. "It may not look good all the time, but we keep fighting, we keep fighting. It doesn't matter who's on the court in a Warriors uniform, we always feel like we have enough. Hopefully these lessons we're learning early, all the injuries ... is teaching us a lesson. I truly believe at the end of the year, we're going to be rewarded for these lessons that we've learned." Leave it to the 35-year-old, 18th-year veteran to lift the Warriors when they needed it most. The Warriors were without Andrew Bogut, suspended for a game for his role in the altercation with Portland on Saturday. Swingman Andre Iguodala (strained left hamstring) didn't make the trip. But O'Neal, a former All-Star turned backup center, pulled off a timely throwback performance. He finished with 18 points and eight rebounds in his first game back after missing the previous four. He was out with a bruised right knee and strained right groin. O'Neal revealed Tuesday that he also had a sore wrist and a viral infection that left him barely able to speak Sunday.
  • Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: In a season so far full of fits and starts for the New Orleans Pelicans, on Tuesday night the prevailing theme was patience. After seeing his team humbled Monday night in San Antonio by the defending Western Conference champion Spurs 112-93, Monty Williams was batting through a range of conflicting emotions. In a three-game winning streak, the Pelicans had shown they had the offensive potential to become the sort of team that could outscore opponents when things on the defensive end of the floor were spotty. And in last Friday night's come-from-behind victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, in which New Orleans overcame a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to take a 104-100 victory, the Pelicans exhibited the necessary resilience required of a team that has figured out how to win. But Monday night against the Spurs, it was another step backward in the building process, another example of the puzzling inconsistency with which this young team has struggled this year. ... Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors, when the Pelicans could have easily become sullen after falling behind by as many points in the first half, New Orleans instead responded with a trace of maturity in a 102-101 loss. A baby step forward once again.

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