First Cup: Thursday
March, 6, 2014
By Nick Borges
- Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: The Kings will sign forward Royce White to a 10-day contract today, according to league sources. White will be assigned to the Reno Bighorns, the Kings’ NBA Development League affiliate. White was a first-round draft pick (16th overall) of the Houston Rockets in 2012. He didn’t play for the Rockets, however, because of concerns of how to deal with his anxiety disorder, which includes a fear of flying. White played for Houston’s D-League team, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers for 16 games. Houston traded White to Philadelphia after the 2012-13 season. The 76ers waived him before this season. The Kings will take a look at White, 22, one of the most talented players in the 2012 draft class. If not for concerns about his anxiety disorder, some predicted White would have been a lottery pick. White has shown the ability to be a scorer and a facilitator. The Kings plan to use this stage of the season to evaluate young players and sign those who could be helpful in the future.
- Brian Lewis of the New York Post: Usually when a 37-year-old big man misses three straight games with a bad back, it’s cause for concern. But apparently not in Brooklyn, where the Nets insist they aren’t the slightest bit worried about venerable Kevin Garnett. Maybe it’s the fact Brooklyn has won all three games, the latest Wednesday’s wire-to-wire 103-94 victory over Memphis. Or perhaps the Nets know it’s just maintenance and precaution for Garnett, not injury and recovery. But whatever the case, the Nets are saying it’s all part of the plan to get — and keep — Garnett healthy for the playoffs. After Wednesday, the Nets sure look to be a playoff club. “It is what it is. That’s the plan. We have to come up with a game plan, and that’s the plan,’’ coach Jason Kidd had said before the game, adding he wasn’t worried at all about Garnett’s back woes becoming chronic or threatening his postseason. “Nope. No concerns. ... It’s March. He has to play all 82?”
- Sean Meagher of The Oregonian: The Portland Trail Blazers bounced back from a frustrating loss Monday by cruising to a 102-78 win over the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday. In the game, which the Blazers led by as many as 29 points, Portland – specifically guard Wesley Matthews – put an end to Hawks guard Kyle Korver's NBA-record streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer made at 127. "You can't help but know about it," head coach Terry Stotts said of Korver's streak. "No one mentioned it as part of the game plan – let's stop his streak – but he was definitely a priority in the game plan as far as not letting him get threes. "It was a team thing but Wes took a lot of pride in that challenge. It was fun to watch." Korver, who passed Dana Barros' record of 89 straight (set from 1994-96) earlier this season, went 1 of 9 from the field and missed all five of his attempts from long range, sitting out the fourth quarter. Since Nov. 4, 2012, when his streak started, Korver had knocked down 337 three-pointers. "I’m a little bummed for sure," Korver said. "The streak was good, it was good while it lasted. Some day I’ll look on it and be proud, but obviously it was just a tough game all around for us and that was part of it."
- Peter Botte of the New York Daily News: Mike Woodson said he spoke “in great detail” with Raymond Felton earlier this week about the point guard’s struggles on and off the court since his arrest last week on felony weapons charges. Felton responded with what the coach called his “best game of the season,” finishing with 18 points and eight assists in a controlled performance in the Knicks’ 118-106 slump-busting victory Wednesday over the Timberwolves. “Those conversations, I’ve been having a lot of those lately with people who have a big impact in my life — my mom, a lot of people,” Felton said of his talk with Woodson, which took place after Monday’s loss at Detroit. “It definitely helps (with) everybody just being in my corner helping me through this tough time. I had to sit back, clear my head, think of some things. I have a lot of people in my life who are in my corner. I got my son who looks up to me as a hero. ... So I tried to clear my head and just play and be free. ... My mind was in a different place tonight.”
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel was asked pre-game if Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson reminds him of anyone. Interesting old-school reply from Vogel: “The coach of the Houston Rockets.” Kevin McHale actually makes a lot of sense on a lot of levels. Like McHale had as a Boston Celtic, Jefferson has a multitude of moves, a full palate of ball fakes and is pretty much earth-bound, as far as playing below the basket. As Jefferson often jokes about himself, he plays an “old man’s game.” Also McHale tutored Jefferson some when Jefferson played for the Minnesota Timberwolves. I asked a follow-up question of Vogel about how confounding Jefferson’s ball fakes are; how, no matter how often a defender has seen them, he still falls for them. Vogel said as a coach you are constantly asking your players to contest shots. Suddenly against Jefferson, that’s more a liability than a plan.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: In the eyes of the Pistons, the Bulls are the team they want to be. Hard-nosed, blue-collar and able to overcome adversity. A perfect style that would play well in Motown. As Wednesday night showed, however, Detroit has a long way to go. Very long. The 105-94 Bulls win at the Palace of Auburn Hills was not only another reminder of how a smart team can take advantage of an undisciplined one, but also how a high basketball acumen can dismantle a low one. That’s exactly what Joakim Noah and the Bulls (34-27) did in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Pistons 34-24, as Noah recorded his third triple-double of the season and the second in the last week, scoring 10 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out 11 assists.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: To Dwight Howard, his return to Orlando last season, his first since leaving after eight seasons with the Magic, was more emotional. This one, however, might have had something that didn’t. Closure. The Magic featured Howard in a video tribute as part of their nightly 25th anniversary celebration. A member of the opposing team has been featured whenever relevant to Magic history and on Wednesday, that meant showing highlights of Howard’s time in Orlando before leaving for one season in Los Angeles. “I do appreciate it,” said Howard, who watched the video from the Rockets bench. “I thought we had some great times in Orlando. I’ll never forget them. It was good to see some of those things." Howard was booed in introductions and sporadically throughout the game, but nowhere near as strenuously as last season or as in his games in Los Angeles this season. There were also cheers, along with some fans wearing replicas of his Magic uniform. “I think people remember all the bad things that happen,” Howard said. “They forget all the good things that happen. There’s a lot of great moments that happened here in Orlando."
- Jason Reid of The Washington Post: Coach Randy Wittman appears to be on the verge of guiding the Washington Wizards to the playoffs. And if the Wizards get there for the first time in six seasons, Wittman undoubtedly will receive praise. He’d rather receive a new contract. Wittman’s current one expires after the season. Although qualifying for the postseason would be a significant accomplishment for the franchise — especially considering the Wizards’ recent history — owner Ted Leonsis expects the Wizards to be a playoff team. Leonsis has set the bar high, and Wittman realizes he must clear it. In his third season in charge, Wittman, who led Washington to a 104-91 victory Wednesday night over the Utah Jazz, isn’t merely auditioning in hopes of getting an extension. The coaching veteran is attempting to prove he’s the right guy to lead the Wizards in the next phase of their evolution. For the Wizards, the first step was to become a playoff contender. The next one is to have success in the playoffs. The continued development of the team will determine whether the transition occurs. Wittman could have a key role in the process.
- Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post: Nate Robinson has certainly made the list of the missed. He's around, but not in uniform. The Nuggets' bench has suffered without him. But he'll be back. He promises. Robinson plans to be around at the start of next season. The business end of that means he'll exercise his player option to do so. Robinson signed a two-year deal with the Nuggets last summer, and that second year will pay him $2.1 million in 2014-15. He had never torn an ACL until he did so in January, which knocked him out for the season. So the rehab is all new to him. And in typical Nate Robinson style, he's attacking it with full force. "Things happen," Robinson said. "God always has a plan for everybody. So, it's just another obstacle that I've got to hop over and keep pushing. But for me, it's going push me to continue to work hard. You can't take your game for granted. It just shows your character. It shows how hard and how bad you really want it. I'm a player that, I love this game. I'm going to come back strong and ready to play." Asked if he'd be ready for training camp in the fall, Robinson said, "Yeah, for sure."
- Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: The Warriors finished their final extended road trip of the season in style, trouncing Boston 108-88 on Wednesday night and rolling into a favorable schedule the rest of the way. Including this 4-2 East Coast swing, the Warriors (38-24) have won 14 of their past 19 road games - something never before accomplished in franchise history. After starting the season 6-9 on the road, the Warriors have gone an NBA-best 14-5 away from home since Dec. 23. They won at least four games on multiple road trips in a single season for the first time in franchise history, and their 20 road victories are four shy of the franchise's all-time single-season record set in 1991-92. ... Now, the Warriors simply have to take care of business at home to hold onto their No. 6 spot in the Western Conference or possibly make a run at the Clippers, who sit four games ahead of them atop the Pacific Division. The Warriors will play nine of their next 11 games at Oracle Arena and have only seven more road games the rest of the season.