First Cup: Monday
January, 27, 2014
By Nick Borges
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Just odd seeing Dwyane Wade play as a reserve, and having to scroll down the box score to find his name. But the lopsided score allowed Wade to work his way back, building his confidence in the meaningless fourth quarter. Yet the biggest limited-minutes story remains Greg Oden, whose size added an intriguing element to Heat-Spurs in the second period. Chris Bosh continues to thrive when afforded minutes at power forward. Chris Bosh ... you're No. 2 Heat scoring option? Mario Chalmers again played well. He's going to be an interesting free-agency decision. And Norris Cole also had his moments. As did Chris Andersen, who even hit a jumper. Wade pregame, "I want to get back out there and play with my teammates a little bit" Wade had started in his previous 483 appearances. The previous time Wade had played off the bench was Jan. 6, 2008, when Ricky Davis started in his place against Memphis.
- Marc Berman of the New York Post: Former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni was booed heartily during pregame introductions and wasn’t in any mood to wax eloquent about Carmelo Anthony or his tumultuous three-and-a-half years in New York that ended with an Anthony rift. After all, D’Antoni is going through more rough times. Certainly the weather is great in Los Angeles and he has a nice pad in Manhattan Beach, but the injury-riddled Lakers are plummeting in the West and some have projected he won’t be around to finish his four-year contract. When asked if he got a chance to see Anthony, D’Antoni said after the 110-103 loss, “I said hi to him. He said hi to me. What do you want us to be, pen pals or something? We’re fine." D’Antoni was short in his praise of Anthony’s 62-point Friday record-setter and wanted no part of a question regarding Anthony’s future. ... D’Antoni, however, thought Anthony never bought into the spread-the-wealth, speed-ball attack that earned him the offensive genius label in Phoenix. It seems farfetched Anthony, a free agent this summer, and D’Antoni would make the perfect marriage in Los Angeles. But you never say never. Asked about Anthony’s free-agent future, D’Antoni demurred: “I’m good. I just want to drink my water and watch a little basketball."
- Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: An emotional night at TD Bank Garden gave way to sloppy basketball, but yet another victory for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in a familiar place, with tears and tributes. ... After beating the Celtics, Garnett pledged his allegiance to the Shamrock. “I think (myself and Pierce) will always bleed green as long as we’re playing basketball and as long as we’re living,” Garnett said. “Even when they bury us six feet, this is what it’s going to be.” ... Pierce said he was close to bawling during a standing ovation that lasted the entire time between the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second. “Through my good times, through my immature times, through my growing up, becoming a man for this city and winning a championship,” said Pierce, who was close to pushing himself out of Boston before Garnett arrived, “everybody sticking with me, I would just like to thank them.” While Garnett kept a low profile before the game, Pierce went through a nostalgic tour on the ground level of TD Bank Garden, visiting the trainer’s room and making the old rounds. ... Like Pierce, Garnett had to get through a lot emotionally on Sunday. “By far this was the hardest day that I’ve had to focus,” Garnett said. “This is bigger than (when I went back to) Minnesota. Minnesota wasn’t like this.”
- Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle steadfastly believes Dirk Nowitzki will be one of the seven Western Conference reserves chosen to participate in next month’s NBA All-Star game. “He’ll make it. I just have a feeling that he will,” Carlisle said Sunday night. “But if he doesn’t, it’s great because he’ll have rest. But I do think, you look at his stats, the load he’s carrying, and the production in the minutes. If he was playing the minutes that most of those guys are playing, he’d be a 25-point scorer instead of a 20-point scorer, so we’ll see.” Nowitzki averages 21 points and 5.9 rebounds in 32.4 minutes per game and is shooting 47.5 percent from the field. Carlisle noted that since Nowitzki moved past Jerry West, Reggie Miller, Kevin Garnett and Alex English into 13th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list this season, it could be a factor in securing Nowitzki’s 12th All-Star nod and first since 2012. “They may be factors,” Carlisle said. “We’ll see what happens. Those are peripheral things. I certainly feel he’s deserving. I think [Monta] Ellis is deserving of consideration, too.”
- Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: Anthony Davis has put up his share of glittering stat lines over the first 43 games of this season. None, however, were better collectively than the one he recorded on Sunday night. Davis scored 22 points. He pulled down 19 rebounds, seven off the offensive glass. He blocked seven shots. He had two steals. Davis dished three assists. No player in the history of this franchise, which dates its origin to 1988 when it was known as the Charlotte Hornets and featured such players as Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson, has ever compiled 22 points, 19 rebounds and 7 blocks in a game. No player has put together a stat line such as that this season in the NBA. It has been a year since a player had accumulated those totals, last done by Chicago's Joachim Noah on Feb. 28 2013. When the coaches turn in their choices for All-Star reserves on Tuesday, Davis, who is averaging 20.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and a league-leading 3.14 blocked shots, should be on virtually every ballot. There is absolutely nothing Davis has done this season that doesn't scream All-Star. And though Davis' own head coach, Monty Williams, cannot cast a vote for his own player, Williams nonetheless realizes that Davis is crossing the threshold of greatness and deserves All-Star recognition.
- Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: After nearly two weeks of searching, the Warriors finally rediscovered a sense of their identity Sunday night. They followed their leader, Stephen Curry - who was sensational in providing a conductor for their free-flowing offense and a point-of-attack effort for their gritty defense - and chalked up an impressive 103-88 victory over Portland. The Warriors (27-18) needed this one after slipping on defense in losing four of their previous five games and leaving questions about whether they are truly Western Conference contenders. Until they beat Portland (33-12), which had won seven of nine and is the conference's third-best team, the Warriors had gone 4-10 against the conference's seven other teams in position to make the playoffs. "We haven't been playing well defensively. We've been out of rhythm and out of sync," Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said. "During the course of the season, you're going to have nights like that. You're going to have moments. But good or great teams make sure that it does not become a prolonged period of time where you're playing that way."
- Mark Billingsley for The Denver Post: Nuggets reserve point guard Nate Robinson is hosting a Super Bowl party Sunday, and Broncos fans aren't invited. It's not that the affable nine-year NBA veteran dislikes the Broncos or their fan base. It's just that Robinson, who was born in Seattle and played for the University of Washington, has been a Seahawks fan since birth. Oh, and an Oakland Raiders fan too. His father, Jacque Robinson, was born and raised in Oakland. So forgive him, Denver. "I'm having a small party, but really, just my kids (Nahmier, Ny'ale and Navyi) are coming down," said Robinson, who said he is an unabashed fan of the Seahawks no matter where he works as a point guard. "Even though I'm with the Nuggets, I can't go against the grain. I'm going with Seattle." Robinson maintains his Northwest roots. He continues to hold his youth basketball camp in Seattle and has a longtime connection with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Suns rookie guard Archie Goodwin racked up 88 minutes of playing time in two nights and scored 59 points in two games but leaving California on a red-eye might have been what he enjoyed most. Goodwin wants to be with the Suns where he has made 36 appearances. But those appearances had become brief or disappeared since Leandro Barbosa’s arrival so Goodwin spent two nights with the Bakersfield Jam to get more game experience. Goodwin had a 32-point, eight-rebound game Friday night on the strength of 15-for-18 free-throw shooting and followed it with a 27-point game Saturday night. He made 42.5 percent of his shots, but more impressively 5 of 12 3-pointers after going just 3 for 28 on 3s with the Suns this season. “It was a good experience to get some playing time,” Goodwin said. “It helped to work on some things I needed to work on but I’m glad to be back." Goodwin wanted to focus on his shot and fared well on 3s and free throws (20 for 24) but misfired on mid-range jumpers in his 7-for-22 first game.
- Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: I’m getting tired of writing the same things over and over, but nothing has really changed. I still think this team is too soft both mentally and physically, but particularly mentally, and they don’t understand how to handle even the least bit of success. ... A lot was made of my column in Sunday’s Beacon Journal on Irving. It wasn’t my intent to skewer him or “go after” him. I just think we’ve reached the point where he has to take accountability for some of this stuff. Tonight is another great example. Stars aren’t supposed to let their teams blow 20-point leads and lose games. Irving keeps saying all the right things in interviews, such as taking the blame for leaving Frye open. But until that talk is conveyed into action...