Tuesday, November 27, 2012
First Cup: Tuesday
By Nick Borges
- Howard Beck of The New York Times: New York turned on itself Monday night, its basketball loyalties divided and contorted and scattered about, its sanity tested and every breath exhausted until one word reverberated in the air. “Broook-lynnn.” The chants signaled the start of a new rivalry and the official arrival of the Nets, who ground through four quarters and an overtime to take a 96-89 victory over the Knicks at Barclays Center, in the first N.B.A. game between two New York City teams. Momentum swung wildly all night, every big play accompanied by a strange blend of competing chants and cheers from a divided crowd. But as the final minutes ticked down, the Nets found their footing and their fans got the final word, a prolonged and emphatic chant: “Broook-lynnn.” It was only one game, as every Nets player quickly noted, but the atmosphere signaled a permanent change in New York’s basketball ecosystem. It was never like this in New Jersey.
- Peter Botte of the New York Daily News: Raymond Felton attempted one more shot and made one more shot -- otherwise his shooting numbers in the Knicks’ historic first game in Brooklyn would have been identical to the most infamous shooting line in team history. Felton’s aimless 3-for-19 night in Monday night’s 96-89 overtime loss at Barclays Center hardly will be remembered by Knicks fans with the same disdain as John Starks’ 2-for-18 performance in Game 7 of the 1994 NBA Finals against Houston. But that doesn’t make it any easier for Felton to accept. “Big-time game versus a good team, it didn’t go our way tonight. I’m kind of upset right now with myself, had a bad shooting night overall and I didn’t really play the way that I’m capable of playing,” said Felton, who finished with eight points and five assists. “It happens like that sometimes but it’s a game we definitely didn’t want to lose against a team in the same city as us. That’s kind of rotting on my mind right now.” … Felton, who failed to reach double digits in points for just the second time in 13 games, will try to find his shooting stroke Wednesday in Milwaukee. “My mentality is to still be aggressive,” Felton said.
- George Willis of the New York Post: There were several heroes in the Nets’ 96-89 overtime win over the Knicks, including Jerry Stackhouse, who came off the bench to score 14 points. But Wallace’s defense on Anthony in the fourth quarter and the overtime was a key reason the Nets emerged victorious in the inaugural Battle of the Boroughs. Anthony led the Knicks with 35 points. But he was just 2-of-7 in the fourth quarter and 0-for-2 in the overtime. His final basket came on a 3-pointer with 3:37 left in regulation. Wallace credited “great team defense” for the Nets’ play down the stretch. The Knicks shot just 25 percent in the fourth quarter and went 2-of-7 in the overtime. “We took them out of what they wanted to do,” Wallace said. “We controlled the pick-and-roll and we made Melo take poor shots. I think our team defense in fourth quarter and overtime was great.” Wallace’s individual defense on Anthony was great, too. He used his long arms, lean body and quick feet to hound Anthony into tough shots. By the end of the game, the Knicks had lost their offensive rhythm. Wallace said his game plan was simply to make Anthony work for everything he got.
- Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: This certainly looked like another pummeling by the Chicago Bulls of their usual punching bag, the Milwaukee Bucks. Then something happened after the Bulls cruised to a 27-point lead late in the third quarter Monday night at the United Center. A group of five Bucks reserves - including former starter Ersan Ilyasova - staged a furious rally and toppled the Bulls, 93-92, in remarkable fashion. The Bucks outscored the Bulls, 42-14, after Kirk Hinrich sank a three-pointer to give Chicago a 78-51 advantage with 2 minutes 50 seconds left in the third quarter. Still, it took a last defensive stand by the Bucks in the final seconds as Richard Hamilton missed a 10-foot jumper with rookie Doron Lamb playing tight defense. The ball went out of bounds as time expired and finally the Bucks (7-5) had beaten the Bulls (6-7) after nine consecutive losses to their division rival. "It's kind of bizarre the way we did it," said Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: For the fourth consecutive game, Jimmy Butler stole minutes away from Marco Belinelli. It started last week in Portland when Butler played 20 minutes and Belinelli, who was signed as a free agent to replace Kyle Korver’s outside scoring, played 19. Butler played 30 minutes in the loss to the Rockets, and Belinelli was in for only six minutes. On Saturday against the Bucks, Belinelli played four minutes. Coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t go into details, but it’s no secret that Belinelli has struggled to play the high-level defense demanded by Thibodeau.
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: That score is not a typo. This 45-point drubbing set a franchise record for the largest margin of victory in the Oklahoma City era. There’s all kinds of statistical goodies from this one. The Thunder led by as many as 54 points, which also is believed to be an Oklahoma City-era franchise record. OKC had a 40-point lead at halftime, another Oklahoma City-era franchise record. Charlotte’s 69 points also is an Oklahoma City-era franchise record. (The previous low was 74, which was done three times). The Bobcats’ 24 first-half points were the fewest ever allowed by the Thunder. And the 21.6 percent shooting by the Bobcats in the first half also set a record for the lowest opponent field goal percentage in a half in the OKC era. The last team to lead by 40 or more points at halftime was Golden State taking an 88-41 lead into the locker room against Sacramento on Nov. 2, 1991. (Fun fact about those Warriors. They averaged a league-best 118.7 points that season. They gave up a league-worst 114.8 per game. That’s some pretty exciting ball.)
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: Brandon Knight has talked extensively of the need to walk that fine line between scoring and getting teammates involved. It's an area where many young point guards struggle, from all-time greats like Isiah Thomas to future Hall of Famer Tony Parker. Knight has struggled at times this season trying to become more of a creator, but Monday night was a reminder that the kid can score. Seemingly challenged by the hype surrounding opposing rookie point guard Damian Lillard, Knight won the matchup decisively in scoring 26 points in the Pistons' 108-101 victory. Lillard suffered through one of the worst performances of his short pro career with 12 points on 4-for-18 shooting. Knight downplayed the significance of the matchup. … Although Knight had just two assists, Pistons coach Lawrence Frank wasn't concerned because played Knight aggressively. Against the Blazers (6-8), he attacked the rim for floaters and lay-ups all night.
- John Canzano of The Oregonian: Consider that Aldridge, like just about every other professional athlete, badly wants to win. Further consider that he's employed in a league where players have a union that makes them king. So much so, that they're able to conspire to create super teams. Even players under contract hold leverage. And Aldridge knows that if he defected to contender as a complementary piece in the front court, he'd be greeted with open arms and probably immediate success. It's why Olshey met with Aldridge last month in that well publicized meeting where the GM shared the vision of the organization with the team's biggest building block. Olshey knows Aldridge's morale is important, and he was wise to get in front of a potential problem. But I'm convinced that it's going to take constant management in the next five months to ensure the power forward doesn't have his ear bent by sycophants, his agent, his family and other star players once everyone realizes the Blazers are really a 33-win team headed to the lottery for the fourth time in Aldridge's seven seasons. … Olshey's meeting with Aldridge was a great start. But this is an ongoing battle, and it's a long season. Guarding against an mental implosion becomes paramount. I'm not worried about Aldridge's game. I'm worried about his mind-set. Because if he decides it's over for him in Portland, it's over for a long while.
- Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: After three weeks of intensive rehabilitation on his ailing right knee, New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon said Monday night he was making progress but had no definitive timetable for a return. Gordon arrived at Staples Center before his team's game against the Los Angeles Clippers but still could provide no specifics about the mysterious injury that has limited him to just nine games since joining the Hornets in the trade that sent Chris Paul to the Clippers almost one year ago. At the beginning of this month, Gordon received a second opinion from a physician in Chicago who prescribed continued rehab and estimated Gordon would miss four to six weeks. "It's getting better; progress is getting better, but there's no straight-up timetable," Gordon said.
- Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News: New Orleans took a 105-98 victory from the Clippers in front of a disgruntled sellout crowd of 19,060. The opportunistic Hornets ended a seven-game losing streak and extended the Clippers' skid to four consecutive. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro called it "an embarrassing game for us from the get-go." He also said the Clippers' sixth loss in 14 games to start the season was "start to finish, poor effort, poor energy. "You get what you deserve." Griffin scored a career-low four points on 1-for-9 shooting with six rebounds and three assists before fouling out with 2:36 remaining in the game. He declined to blame anyone but himself for his poor play. "I'm totally comfortable within our offense," said Griffin, who looked anything but at ease with the ball in his hands. "I just missed shots tonight. It's on me. It's not part of the offense. It's not anybody's fault but mine."
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: For the 21st time in his career, the guy wearing No. 21 for the Spurs is the Western Conference Player of the Week. Tim Duncan took home his first such award in almost three years Monday after a week in which he posted three double-doubles and averaged 22 points, 12.8 rebounds, three assists and 1.25 blocks as the Spurs went 3-1. That Duncan could attain such a feat at age 36 underscores something coach Gregg Popovich has been repeating since last February, when the Hall of Fame-bound big man was left off the All-Star team for the first time in his 15-year career. “I thought he was an All-Star last year,” Popovich said before Monday’s 118-92 pasting of Washington. “I thought that was an omission. This year, he’s been playing the same way, our most solid player. Tony (Parker) has been great lately, but for a good portion of the season, Timmy’s carried us. He’s been the building block, as usual.”
- Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner: The Wizards had a chance to hit the last shot of the first half. But they couldn't get the ball inbounds within five seconds. When San Antonio in turn got the ball in front of Washington's bench, Randy Wittman started heading to the locker room before the play was over and the buzzer had sounded. Even the Wizards coach could barely stand to watch. But team owner Ted Leonsis and Nationals owner Mark Lerner both were courtside, part of a half-full Verizon Center that witnessed Leonsis' team lose in demoralizing fashion to the Spurs 118-92 and fall to 0-12. It was the worst defeat of the Wizards' franchise-worst start. Washington gave up season highs in points, assists (32) and opposing shooting percentage (.563) in their 13th straight loss to San Antonio (12-3). "I don't know what to say about their performance," forward Martell Webster (16 points) said. "I think it comes down to us. We're all embarrassed, plain and simple."
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao spun and tried to score when Tony Allen slipped into the paint and swiped the basketball with the game in the balance. The late, fourth-quarter play was a fitting end for the Grizzlies. They stole one. Varejao and the Cavs owned the hustle board and played on cruise control offensively for three quarters. But the Grizzlies got defensive and became more than a speed bump in the final period. They shut down the Cavs over the final six minutes Monday night and escaped with an 84-78 victory in FedExForum. Cleveland went 4 for 20 from the field in the fourth and scored just two points during that span. "That's pretty much what you call the grit and the grind when you pull out a win like that," Allen said after collecting three steals. "We just clawed and clawed."
- Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: As Jeremy Pargo prepared to face his old team on Monday, it was clear from both sides it was time for him to move on. Pargo has played well in his first three starts for the Cavs, averaging 19.7 points and 4.0 assists, but Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins didn’t seem overly impressed. Hollins had Pargo last season, when he averaged 2.9 points and 1.3 assists and mostly sat on the bench. He did start five games when Mike Conley was hurt and averaged 7.4 points and 2.4 assists. “He had some decent games with us as well,” Hollins said. “It’s just a matter of consistency and being able to bring it every night. That’s what this league is about. It’s not about having one or two good games. It’s about establishing consistency.” … Pargo grew testy when asked which situation was better for him, sitting on the bench for a contender or getting plenty of playing time on a rebuilding team. He also didn’t want to talk about whether or not the trade surprised him. “It happened. I’m here and I’m happy,” he said.
- Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune: Ultimately, the Jazz won because they stopped impersonating the Washington Generals. They stood around in the first half as if they were playing along with a Harlem Globetrotters script, giving up 10 dunks and seven layups. Their defensive effort? Simply offensive. If someone looked at the halftime box score and figured, wow, the Nuggets must have been really hot because they shot 73 percent from the field, that would have been a mistaken conclusion. Denver scored 65 points, while making exactly one 3-pointer and only a few jump shots. In case you’re wondering, Jerry Sloan witnessed all of it, with no apparent side effects. The former Jazz coach and professed lover of defense watched impassively from the 11th row as his old team was exposed in ways he never would have tolerated. Somehow, the Jazz figured it out.
- Lya Wodraska special to The Denver Post: A big key to Denver's four-game winning streak, which ended with a loss to Utah on Monday night, was ditching the fancy stuff and going back to basics, coach George Karl said before the game. "Instead of changing a lot of schemes and having different schemes for different players, we decided to kind of simplify it for our younger players," he said. "(Andre Iguodala) has to get a lot of credit. His pressure has been great and Ty's pressure too." Karl said the change has made the Nuggets more consistent. The second half in particular has been good to the Nuggets, who are giving up only 40 points on 35.8 percent shooting in the second half as opposed to giving up 50.3 points and 46.8 percent shooting in the first half. Denver continues to be solid rebounding too, averaging 47.9 a game. "We've been playing with more confidence and defensively we are stronger," Karl said.