Thursday, December 30, 2010
First Cup: Thursday
- Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "It's not uncommon for a few of the Kings to take turns attempting halfcourt shots after practice with nothing more than pride or perhaps a few dollars on the line. Rarely, if ever, is that halfcourt practice expected to come in handy in a game. The Kings learned Wednesday night that practice -- even practicing the unlikely -- can pay off in a game that counts. Tyreke Evans made a shot from beyond halfcourt -- about 50 feet from the hoop -- to give the Kings a 100-98 win at the buzzer over the Memphis Grizzlies at Arco Arena. Evans jumped onto the scorers' table to celebrate. Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof knelt behind officials reviewing the play and celebrated when the shot was confirmed to have beaten the buzzer. 'I've won a couple dollars off that shot,' Evans said. 'We practice it after shootaround in the morning sometimes and I'm glad we do that.' "
- Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: "As Kevin Garnett screamed in frustration, limping on the leg that he has so feverishly tried to revive over the past 18 months, the pain in his voice, the sweat mixed with tears, should have been a message to those healthy big men who have spent this season on the inactive list. Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal will have to compensate for Garnett, who sustained a muscle injury near the right calf and will undergo an MRI today in Boston. While coach Doc Rivers said he is 'not that concerned,' the injury could cost Garnett a few games, or even a few weeks, given the cautious nature of the organization regarding injuries. The onus is now on the O’Neals to live up to their contracts. Jermaine O’Neal played one of his more productive games of the season during last night’s 104-92 loss to the Pistons, scoring 7 points and grabbing six rebounds in 23 minutes. Shaquille O’Neal stayed out of the foul trouble that has plagued him in recent games, not being whistled at all in 16 minutes, and scored 5 points."
- Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press: "Call it the showdown that didn't go down. Or maybe the Palace Bawl. Whatever you call Wednesday night's game between the Pistons and Celtics, it's safe to say Charlie Villanueva won by technical knockout. What was expected to be a bad-blood rematch between Charlie Villanueva and Kevin Garnett instead became an anticlimactic undercard to the main event: a 104-92 beatdown the Pistons put on Boston at the Palace. The victory snapped a two-game losing streak, a three-game losing streak to Boston and avenged the 109-86 thrashing the Celtics delivered on Nov. 2. And it was during that last loss that all the acrimony began between Villanueva and Garnett. But it all ended prematurely when Garnett left the game nearly in tears with a lower right leg injury late in the first quarter. Villanueva got two quick fouls and rode the bench for most of the first quarter. All told, Villanueva and Garnett spent only the first 2 minutes, 57 seconds of the game on the floor together. Garnett scored two points in nine minutes. Villanueva had 14 points in 28 minutes."
- Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: "The Hornets have been a franchise in flux for years, temporarily moving to Oklahoma City a few seasons ago and recently completing a transaction in which the NBA would buy the financially troubled team. Phil Jackson, however, said he was 'not happy' about the NBA taking control of the Hornets because it could muddy up transactions with other teams. 'Who is going to trade whom to who? Who is going to pull the button on it?' he said. 'When Chris [Paul] says he has to be traded, how's that going to go? Someone has to make a very nonjudgmental decision on that part that's not going to irritate anybody else in this league. Don't know how they're going to do that.' Jackson's long-term visions weren't so bullish. 'I don't know if New Orleans can support a team,' he said. 'It hasn't been successful supporting a team up to now.' "
- John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: "There has been much speculation of late about the Bulls making a trade to upgrade the shooting guard position, which clearly is the weak link on a young and talented roster. But despite a slew of names circulating on the Internet -- Stephen Jackson and O.J. Mayo being the most prominent -- it appears the trio of Keith Bogans, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver will continue to log most of the minutes for the time being. According to an NBA source, no deal is imminent or even likely -- even though the Bulls have had recent talks with a few teams. Although professional sports is a business in which teams standing pat often are passed by, making no move makes the most sense for the Bulls because none of the scenarios being thrown out would make them championship contenders. A few of the proposals would hurt their chances of joining the league’s elite in the next two or three years. The worst thing the Bulls could do is make a move to win a few more games (and possibly a playoff series) by reducing their flexibility going forward. With a core of Derrick Rose, 22, Joakim Noah, 25, Luol Deng, 25, and Carlos Boozer, 28, the Bulls have to plan for the long term. Although fans don’t want to hear it, there also are implications with the league’s salary cap to consider."
- Kate Fagen of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "The 76ers' locker room hasn't been this happy in years. After Wednesday night's 123-110 run-and-gun win over the Phoenix Suns, there was laughter, jokes, and even a visit from musician John Mayer and actor B.J. Novak of NBC's The Office. Wednesday's win was about as unexpected as they come - not necessarily the victory itself, but the way the Sixers pulled it off. They outscored the scoring-happy Suns. Who'd have figured that? The Sixers, without Andre Iguodala, improved to 13-19. The Suns, led by Steve Nash with 23 points and 15 assists, dropped to 13-17. 'I'm not used to those kind of games,' Sixers coach Doug Collins said. 'At halftime, I told our coaches I felt like I was a car going downhill without brakes. ... I was so concerned about us being able to play that way for 48 minutes.' The Sixers managed. They shot 54.9 percent from the floor, 85.7 percent from the free-throw line, scored 44 points in the paint and 20 fastbreak points, and wound up with seven players in double-figure scoring."
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "The Spurs awoke Wednesday morning not to another championship parade, but to a charter flight to Dallas and a dose of cold reality. Their reward for knocking off the Lakers? A game against a foe even more formidable than the champions. At 24-6, the Mavericks own the second-best record in the Western Conference, just 2 1/2 games behind the Spurs. They are one of only four teams to have beaten the Spurs this season, having claimed a 103-94 win at the AT&T Center on Nov. 26. Dallas’ spot on the schedule was one reason Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wasn’t quite turning backflips after Tuesday’s demolition of the Lakers. 'I don’t attach any more importance to one game or another,' Gregg Popovich said. 'If we go into Dallas and play well, we’ll be thrilled. If we go in there and play horribly and get our butts kicked, we’ll feel terrible.' Tonight’s game is the second in a series of five in a row against teams with winning records. It comes with one big German caveat. Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki, the NBA’s sixth-leading scorer at 24.1 points per game, is uncertain to play due to a right knee sprained Monday night at Oklahoma City."
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Heat guard LeBron James did not want to think Yao Ming's career could be over and did not believe that it is. But he said Yao's legacy is already clear. 'First of all, I would hate to think that way,' James said. 'I think everybody in Houston would hate to think that way. You can stay positive in that. I had a teammate who had multiple foot surgeries, Zydrunas (Ilgauskas), so he was able to come back later in his career and be very, very productive, a lot better than people thought. I think his legacy would be huge, not only what he did for the NBA, but what he did for China, the culture, getting people excited about basketball, being the face of basketball over there.' "
- Alan Hahn of Newsday: "Like Chris Paul and Deron Williams, Dwight Howard can opt out of his contract in 2012 and the Magic don't want to get into a situation like the Cavaliers, Raptors or Nuggets. Sure the Knicks would love to entertain the idea of a Howard-Stoudemire frontcourt, but Stoudemire sees no reason for it. 'They pretty much gave Dwight whatever he wants here,' he said after the Knicks' practice Wednesday at the new Amway Center. 'This is his team and he has a great opportunity here. I don't see any reason why he would want to leave.' Would it mean anything special for Stoudemire, who spent most of his teenage life in Central Florida, to perhaps one day play in his hometown? 'I don't believe in magic,' Stoudemire quickly replied. 'Sorry.' "
- George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: "One more piece, Otis. One more piece that allows you to go from Major Fail to Major Coup. Snag a serviceable backup center, and the Orlando Magic are right there in the conversation of NBA championship contenders. As good as they look now, the Orlando Magic won't get far in the Eastern Conference playoffs without a true backup center. The Celtics are too good, even if Shaq has become an over-sized slug. And the Magic get a double-whammy because of Dwight Howard's dysfunctional relationship with the referees. Whether they are unfairly picking on him or not doesn't matter. What does is that Howard, now with 11 technicals, will start sitting out games once he hits 16. After he crosses that threshold, he will miss one game for every subsequent pair of techs. He needs a Big Buddy. Either New York's Ronny Turiaf or Philadelphia's Tony Battie would be a good fit."
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Now that Earl Clark officially is a draft bust for Phoenix as the No. 14 pick in 2009, the Suns look even worse for not taking Jrue Holiday. And they liked Holiday, who went 17th to Philadelphia. The Suns had invested in Goran Dragic, but he had yet to prove himself and it could be argued that he still has not. The 6-4 Holiday, 20, is a potential star."
- Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times: "He wasn't quite getting on a plane to China when the Clippers called to see if he was available for a tryout session. But Ike Diogu's Plan B was well underway and he was attempting to get a work visa to play in China when the Clippers surfaced, looking for some help up front. He had eight points in his Clipper debut last week against Houston, and was averaging 7.3 points and four rebounds after three games with the Clippers. Diogu had a big fourth quarter in Monday's win at Sacramento, scoring eight points. Utah was Game No. 4 and now the Clippers don't play again until Sunday. 'I've done a really good job of picking up everything on the fly, making sure I'm not a liability in any areas,' said Diogu. 'Like you said, I'm looking forward to the days off. I'm looking forward to everything.' It has been a long road back after microfracture knee surgery a year ago and getting his walking papers from the Pistons in training camp. 'I was kind of upset with the whole Detroit thing,' he said on Wednesday. 'The way I looked at it, I had never been cut in my life. So I went through a period where I was pretty embarrassed just going from being a lottery pick to finding myself out. It was definitely motivation. Came back out here, said I wasn't going to cry about it and I was going to work out. … No crying in basketball.' "
- Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "It won't be surprising if NBA-TV's ratings for the Utah Jazz's road game against the Los Angeles Clippers had an especially big audience in Indiana. And not just because the basketball-crazed state wanted to see the latest, greatest Blake Griffin dunk. Wednesday's game at Staples Center featured two Hoosier State hoopsters in the teams' starting lineups. Coincidentally, they both happen to be named Gordon -- rookie Gordon Hayward for Utah and Eric Gordon of the Los Angeles Clippers. Or, as they might call them in Indianapolis, the pride of Brownsburg and North Central high schools. The two Indy products played against each other for three seasons back in their glory prep days. Those match-ups happened Hayward's freshman through junior years, and it didn't turn out so well for Utah's Indiana transplant. When the two Gordons met, Brownsburg lost every time to North Central."
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "As much as some of you would prefer a name change from the Bobcats, that isn't a widespread concern, based on the team's recent market research. Pete Guelli, who heads the Bobcats' marketing, told me the team's recent market study showed no groundswell for a name change."