Friday, October 12, 2012
First Cup: Friday
By Nick Borges
- Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune: In a preseason in which just about everything he does will be given the milestone tag, Brandon Roy achieved another one Thursday. He woke up from his first NBA game after a year off due to knee problems, didn't feel particularly sore, and took full part in practice. Another step. "Came out of it good," he said after playing 24 minutes in the Timberwolves' preseason opener, a victory over Indiana on Wednesday night in Fargo, N.D. "It's just a bunch of steppingstones. I was looking forward to the first game, we got a little live practice in today, felt good, went through everything. Just continuing to try to build on everything." Roy admitted to savoring the experience Wednesday. He talked at length on the phone with family members and friends after the game. He said he got texts from friends and fellow players. Even members of the Pacers were expressing their happiness at Roy's return to the league. Roy said he spent a while talking with friend Jamal Crawford, who is with the Los Angeles Clippers in China.
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: The Jordan Brand on Thursday officially announced Westbrook as the newest endorser of its shoe and apparel line, ending weeks of speculation about which company Westbrook would land with. Westbrook has worn Jordan shoes throughout the preseason but would neither confirm nor deny that he had partnered with the company. On Thursday, Westbrook took to the social media site Twitter for the first time since Dec. 29 to announce his decision. “It's an amazing brand as everybody knows,” Westbrook told The Oklahoman on Thursday. “But it's a new beginning for me and I'm looking forward to it.”
- Dan Duggan of the Boston Herald: During training camp practices, Bradley often works his way into a huddle. Sometimes a coach will be ready to put the guard on the floor before remembering that Bradley is unable to participate as he recovers from offseason surgery on both shoulders. Sitting on the sidelines isn’t easy for Bradley, but he knows it’s necessary. “We don’t want any setbacks,” Bradley said. “I try to stay away from contact. I don’t do anything I’m not supposed to be doing like dunking the ball, even though I want to sometimes because I feel so good.” Bradley was feeling even better yesterday because he was able to begin conditioning. He lifted weights, took jumpers and ran, all with the intention of hitting the ground running when he returns to the lineup. Celtics coach Doc Rivers has pegged mid-December as the target for Bradley’s return, but the 21-year-old is eager to accelerate that timeline. “That’s what they have right now. I’ve just got to take it day-by-day and see how I feel,” Bradley said. “I’m ahead of schedule now, so you never know.”
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Among the photos Heat players posted during the stop in Beijing was one of LeBron James receiving a foot massage. He was asked about it after Thursday's game. "We just try to take care of our bodies," he said with a laugh. "It's a long season. It's a lot of travel and we try to just make sure we stay above the curve and take care of our bodies, so when the games come, we're ready to play." James is coming off a grueling offseason that included the London Olympics. Spoelstra played him 26 minutes Thursday, after utilizing him for 23 minutes Sunday. James already has spoken of getting time off during the eight-game exhibition schedule. "It's where I'd like to keep him right now," Spoelstra said of James' minutes. "We'll start to progress him a little bit more. But that's about where I want him right now."
- Al Iannazzone of Newsday: J.R. Smith's disappointment about not being a starter could be the first of many times a Knick is unhappy this season. But to reach their goals, Mike Woodson said the players have to check their egos at the scorer's table. "Two things this team has got to think about: team and win," Woodson said before the Knicks ' 108-101 win in their preseason opener against the Wizards. "Other than that, I'll manage everything else. You just have to think about team and winning games. No matter who plays -- team and winning games." The Knicks already are the oldest team in NBA history and have several key players banged up, including Amar'e Stoudemire, who missed Thursday night's game with a left knee bruise suffered in practice Wednesday. Age and injuries are two things that could derail the Knicks' hopes for a deep playoff run. Another is team harmony.
- Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: Former 76er Andre Iguodala, traded this offseason to the Denver Nuggets as part of the deal that brought center Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia from Los Angeles, said in an interview with Matt Moore, a blogger with CBSSports.com, that, among other things, his time in Philadelphia was draining, particularly under the tutelage of Doug Collins, his coach for his final two seasons. "I haven't really enjoyed basketball a whole lot the last couple of years," Iguodala said. "Last year was a big year for us, but it was just draining for the criticism to be there every single day." He also said his former coaches, including Collins, did not want him to shoot three-pointers. … Iguodala and his new teammates will be the season-opening opponent for the Sixers on Oct. 31 at the Wells Fargo Center. Seems the chance for him to get any kind of warm welcome has now been flushed.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: On the day the Orlando Magic introduced him as their new head coach, Jacque Vaughn pledged he would exude calm on the sideline. On Thursday night, in his home preseason debut, Vaughn radiated serenity. Years from now, few people will remember that the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Magic 102-95. The final scores of exhibitions mean nothing. But what might linger in the collective consciousness is the announced crowd of 18,106's first impression of Vaughn. No yelling. Little play-calling. An occasional pat on the back when players exited the game. "They say it's all about the delivery," Magic big man Glen Davis said. "Some coaches' delivery is not as sweet as others, but the message is there. The message is in the delivery. As a player, you don't want to take advantage of that. You want to run through a wall for a guy like that who gives you room for mistakes."
- Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner: A number of new faces made their home debuts Thursday against New York, none more important than rookie Bradley Beal, who spearheaded Washington’s second unit’s 22-0 run in the second quarter to turn a 17-point deficit into a three-point lead at halftime. On a team where the knucklehead factor has been reduced but a talent gap still remains, Beal’s contribution can make a big difference. The sample size is still a small one, but there were positive signs that he’s ready despite being just 19 years old. He finished the 108-101 loss to the Knicks with 15 points, five assists and five rebounds, a performance on the heels of 18 points against Charlotte on Sunday. “He’s had two solid games for a kid coming in, for his first NBA action,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. As he did in summer league, in his first training camp practice and first preseason game four days before, Beal said he was relaxed and not nervous.
- Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The pages of the Hawks’ playbook changed, one by one, with each addition to the team’s new-look roster this offseason. However, the biggest changes were made after one significant subtraction. The trade of six-time all-star Joe Johnson to the Nets in July sent Hawks coach Larry Drew and his staff back to the drawing board. Pages and pages were eliminated. The Iso-Joe offense needed to be replaced. “We’ve been in the past, predominately, a post-up team particularly at the 2-spot or the 3-spot with Joe,” Drew said recently. “We ran a lot of things through him. Now, we’ve got to change that.” Point guard Jeff Teague said the roster makeover will help him and the team be more creative and fast-paced. No longer will his first option be to find Johnson when bringing the ball up court.
- Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: Andrea Bargnani has not looked right in Toronto’s first two pre-season contests. The team’s leading scorer has a pretty reasonable explanation as to why: “I’m still not 100%,” Bargnani told the media on Thursday, ahead of Friday’s game against Detroit. “Everybody is a little fatigued right now, but we’re still in training camp and we’re going to be all right for the (regular season opener against Indiana on Halloween). Bargnani has hit only nine of 27 shots over the first two games (33.3%) and is 2-for-8 from three-point range. Last season, the seven-footer dipped to just 29.6% accuracy from behind the line, continuing a downward trend from his career-best 40.9% in 2008-09 and 37.2% last year.
- Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press: As Pistons coach Lawrence Frank experiments with lineups and chemistry during the exhibition season, one potentially dynamic combination would be Greg Monroe playing alongside athletic rookie center Andre Drummond, who made a solid impression in the 101-99 exhibition victory Wednesday against Toronto. Monroe had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Drummond had 12 points, seven rebounds and two highlight-reel blocked shots while also throwing down a couple of dunks in 22 minutes. … Of the Monroe-Drummond combination, Frank said: "At some point you definitely may see it. The problem we're in now is we have four power forwards and we have to give each of those guys a chance. Based on what we see in practice, we have a pretty good feel of where each guy is at. At some point that combination could definitely come about, but we still have to evaluate our other fours and compare."
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: Dion Waiters, 23, said he has no problems with Scott's "tough love." "I definitely need that," he said. "I've got to be more focused on the game. If he (draws) up a play, I've got to be able to execute it right out of the timeout. That's something I learned. I take full blame for that." Waiters seemed a bit unsure of why he got yanked. "There was one play I had to cut, and I didn't make that cut," he said. "So he pulled me for it. In this league, you have one bad game or things not going your way, you've got another game the next night. So you automatically forget about it. And that's what I tried to do, just come out here and get better. (I'll) work on what I need to work on, watch more film and just be a student of the game even more." Being criticized isn't anything new to Waiters. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was tough on him in his two years in college.
- Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: Warriors second-year guard Klay Thompson said he knows more is expected of him. And he knows all about the sophomore slump. Is Thompson is feeling any pressure? "Nope," he said at his locker before the game, his feet propped on rookie Harrison Barnes' chair while he watches game film. "I'm confident. I know I'm a big piece of this team now. That gives me confidence." Thompson said he expects things to go easier for him in his second season. He's put in the work to improve his game. But he's also gotten a lot of help around him, preventing opponents from focusing too much on him. Warriors fans are hoping he's right because, in many ways, the Warriors' success is hinged on Thompson's ability to build on his promising rookie season. Thompson -- at 6-foot-7, 205 pounds -- is supposed to be the traditional shooting guard the Warriors have long needed. He's viewed as one of the promising young players in the NBA. And the Warriors need him to be exactly that. And Thompson, who plays as if he has a chip on his shoulder, is eager to prove he's ready. He said he hears the whispers about what he can't do louder than the praise that's been heaped on him. He said it gives him an edge on the court.
- Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "Aggression" was the buzzword for Jimmer Fredette during the offseason. The Kings wanted to see the guard rebound from a rookie season in which he looked timid offensively. But aggression wasn't to be limited to offense, and Fredette has responded, showing more fight on defense at the start of training camp, surprising coaches and teammates. "I want to be able to stay on the floor as much as I can," Fredette said. "And to be able to do that for coach (Keith) Smart, you've got to play defense and be in the right spot at the right time. I think I can do that." … Fredette hasn't reached defensive All-NBA status, but he has improved noticeably from last season, when he took more of a hands-off approach to defense. "He's just overall a better player, and defensive-wise he's a presence," said guard Isaiah Thomas. "He's just not a guy you can just go at. … He's holding his own. He's a lot stronger and a lot quicker."
- Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: Evan Fournier, a 19-year old rookie guard, continues to catch the eye of his coach and the Frenchman will likely get a handful of minutes in Friday's preseason game at San Antonio. "It's just his makeup right now - he's courageous and ambitious and he does it the right way," Karl said. "He's a sponge from the standpoint of trying to learn. And usually he doesn't make mistakes twice, which is unusual for rookies in this league. He hasn't been yelled at a lot."
- Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: Mo Williams couldn't believe his eyes when he recently visited Al Jefferson's house and saw the mammoth-sized mattress set in the Utah Jazz center's bedroom. King-sized? Try kingdom-sized. In fun, Williams took a picture of himself sprawled out on top of the 12-foot-by-10-foot bed, which made the 6-foot-1 athlete look like a toddler on his parents' California Queen. Williams then posted the snapshot on his Twitter account, setting off a chain of events that led to Jefferson's bed becoming an even bigger social-media star than Enes Kanter's antics, abs and seafood diet and to a guilt-ridden point guard offering a tongue-in-cheek mea culpa. … Jefferson reportedly paid $23,287 for the bedroom set, according to Jazz fan blog Salt City Hoops, which procured and posted a copy of the itemized invoice. Jefferson is perplexed why such a big deal is being made out of his big bed. "I think it's real silly," the 6-foot-10 center said. "I think there's more important things going on in this world than me buying a bed that I can afford."