Tuesday, January 29, 2013
First Cup: Tuesday
By Nick Borges
- Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: Warriors center Andrew Bogut made his first start since Nov. 7, leading a 114-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Monday. But just when the Warriors were getting used to finally having their starting lineup intact, point guard Stephen Curry was knocked out of the game with a mild sprain of his right ankle. "Just got to try to stay positive and hope it heals quickly," Curry said. Bogut, who missed 38 games to rehab his surgically repaired left ankle, was a bit rusty, but his presence was a noteworthy upgrade as he posted 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks in 24 minutes. ... Bogut said. "Just to be out there running up and down the court again, especially getting a win, it was very satisfying. ... Just excited to be out there and play basketball again. It has been a bumpy ride, but I think it's at a stage now where I am ready to progress."
- Eric Koreen of the National Post: There are countless reasons why the Toronto Raptors have been operating from a bit of a talent deficit over the last few years, but it is easy to pick the most frustrating one: that they won too much when they had no incentive to do so. Such is life, though, in the NBA where more losses mean a better draft pick, in all likelihood. And the Raptors have frequently gotten hot at just the wrong time. The Golden State Warriors have been the beneficiary twice. Finally, it is paying dividends for Golden State. The Warriors moved to 27-17 with a 114-102 win over the Raptors on Monday night. Golden State looks like a shoe-in to make the playoffs in the Western Conference, while the Raptors are spending another year measured in incremental growth and development. From a league-wide perspective, though, they remain mired in mediocrity.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Long before there was Jeremy Lin, there was Wat Misaka leaving footsteps for Lin to follow. For the first time on Monday, those paths intersected. The first Asian-American in the NBA met the latest, with Misaka arriving early at Energy Solutions Arena to exchange pleasantries before the game. “It was humbling,” Lin said. “He was before all of us. He broke a lot of stereotypes, a lot of barriers and racial stereotypes. You have to pay respect to the people who came before you.” Misaka, 89, said he has followed Lin’s career since Lin played at Harvard, writing to him several times. A native of Ogden, Utah, Misaka was drafted by the Knicks, then of the BAA, in 1947, with New York making him the team’s first-ever draft pick after he had led Utah to the 1944 NCAA and 1947 NIT championships. “He’s kind of following in my footsteps and improving on them,” Misaka said. “I wrote him a note of encouragement when he was with (Golden State) back in the dark days when things didn’t look too good for him. He didn’t have all these fans at that time. He’s made a lot of progress since them. I think he’s in a lot better place now.”
- Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune: Well, that game is history - in every way imaginable. Thanks to a Kevin Murphy 3-pointer the Jazz avoided their worst loss since moving from New Orleans, which doesn't do much for the ol' ego considering the Jazz still lost by 45 in what was the worst home loss ever. So, what should the Jazz do? Blow it up? Fire Tyrone Corbin? Put a wanted ad in The Salt Lake Tribune for someone — anyone? — who can play some defense? Come down off the ledge, please, and keep reading. Yes, it was ugly. And indefensible, and exposed a lot of the issues we already knew the Jazz had. "It's one loss," Tyrone Corbin said. "You've got to understand why you lost the game, how do we play. Sure, we didn't have a lot of energy, we didn't execute, we didn't get stops we didn't get back, pick your poison. We didn't do anything on the defensive end, we didn't do much on the offensive end."
- Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News: The Nets really didn’t learn anything new about themselves when they swatted away yet another Eastern Conference patsy in the form of the Orlando Magic. But they’ll find out plenty, for better or for worse, when the Heat arrive in Brooklyn on Wednesday and Chicago comes to Barclays Center on Friday. Under P.J. Carlesimo, the Nets haven’t had a week like this one, with so many quality opponents all lined up, and really need to acquit themselves well in this stretch. They’ve done a bang-up job the first half of the season beating up on weaklings like Orlando, including their 97-77 romp on Monday night that raised their record against teams with losing records to 17-0. But when it comes to getting the best of a playoff contender or a championship-level team, they don’t have a lot to show for themselves. So here comes Miami, defending champs, first in the East and exactly the kind of team the Nets don’t beat. They’re only 10-18 against teams with winning records at the time they play them, including an 0-3 mark against the Heat and Bulls. “It’s a good game for us,” Deron Williams said after he posted a 20-point, nine-assist game. “It’s a good test for us.” Earlier, he noted, “Wins are wins, but against these teams it’s good to see where we’re at.”
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: This is as close as Glen Davis gets to a vow of silence. As the Orlando Magic prepare to face the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night, the emotional power forward plans to avoid talking to referees after questionable calls and non-calls. Davis received a technical foul in each of Orlando’s last four games for complaining to referees. “I’m not going to say ‘Hi,’ ” he pledged. “I’m not going to say, ‘How are you doing?’ I’m just going to come here and play. That’s it because it’s been messing up my game, messing up the flow of my game, and I’ve got to grow up.” Davis’ tech midway through the third quarter of the Magic’s loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday raised his technical-foul count this season to five and left him on the hook for a total of $10,000 in accumulated fines.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: News about Derrick Rose continued to be handed out cautiously Monday, as it remained evident coach Tom Thibodeau is in complete control of the message. Asked if there were any restrictions on Rose in practice, Thibodeau said, ‘‘He’s doing fine,’’ again showing his ability to duck and weave. What Thibodeau would discuss is how the Bulls have been getting Rose into the mix with the first-teamers while making sure Kirk Hinrich still gets his work in with them, too. ‘‘[Rose has] already done a lot in terms of that in practice,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘That’s not going to be an issue. We have a good group of guys, so we actually bring guys in early before practice to go through stuff. They all — some first-team guys, some second-team guys — play different positions, so it adds a lot of versatility to our team.’’ In other words, if Rose wants to get in some extra work to test the surgically repaired torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, his teammates are there to provide it, even if it means showing up early for practice.
- Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: Mike Dunlap was still relatively unknown when hired to be head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats last summer. But the Bulls gave him an interview back in 2008 before eventually hiring Vinny Del Negro. Dunlap was a Denver Nuggets assistant at the time and two years removed from a job as head coach at Division II Metro State in Denver. "Yeah, I'm surprised to hear from my wife, let alone the Bulls," Dunlap said Monday. "I was pretty happy about it. It was a great interview. They were really kind to me. They asked me my name, they asked me my age, then they said, 'You're out of here.' No, it was a good experience. (Bulls executive John) Paxson and crew really put me through the paces on the white board. It was a precursor maybe for the interview with Charlotte because I knew what to expect by then."
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: The first thing Zach Randolph noticed when he entered the locker room 90 minutes before tip-off was the fancy watch Rudy Gay wore. They spent several minutes admiring the shiny new timepiece, and the scene provided a fitting precursor to the Grizzlies' 103-100 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night in the Wells Fargo Center. Gay scored 26 points, including an 8-foot hook shot that gave the Griz a lead for good with 13.9 seconds left. He tacked on a couple of free throws to help complete Memphis' 17-point, come-from-behind victory. And Gay knows what you're thinking. It's about time. Gay ended a five-game offensive slump in which he averaged 12.6 points on 29-percent shooting. "I was more comfortable," Gay said. "I handled the ball a little more. It's easier to get a rhythm when you orchestrate more. I got out and ran and made shots. Plus, Marc (Gasol) knocked down shots and that opened it up for everybody."
- Tom Moore of phillyBurbs.com: Andrew Bynum considered trying to make his 76ers debut prior to the Feb. 14-19 all-star break. But Bynum, the injured center, said instead he’s set his sights on “right after” the break. “I talked about that for a while,” said Bynum prior to Monday night’s game against the Grizzlies. “I think giving myself a full other week of training camp is going to be better than trying to come back before that. To me, it doesn’t really matter when I come back.” The Sixers visit the Timberwolves on Feb. 20, which is the first of 31 games to close out the regular season. Sixers GM Tony DiLeo said earlier Monday that Bynum could practice with the team as soon as next Monday.
- Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: Kings rookie Thomas Robinson was busy during his trip to his hometown. Monday's game was Robinson's only appearance in Washington this season. He had to secure more than 30 tickets for the game. A chance to see his sister Jayla, 9, was the highlight of the visit. "(Robinson) got in a little earlier (Sunday)," Kings coach Keith Smart said. "He wanted to spend some time with his little sister. It's tough on him being away from her, and we understand that." Jayla lives in Washington with her father, James Paris. The bond between Robinson and Jayla became a national story after their mother died suddenly in 2011 during his sophomore season at Kansas. That made Robinson's plans during his off day Sunday simple. "I just chilled with my sister and saw a few friends," he said.
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: From the time John Wall made his season debut, the Washington Wizards had dominated foes at Verizon Center. But the wins had started to come so easily that they appeared ill-prepared for what to do Monday night when the Sacramento Kings forced them into a battle that came down to late-game execution and defensive stops. The Wizards had spent most of the night abandoning the selfless style of play that allowed them to win five consecutive games at home. Coach Randy Wittman blamed his team’s “pickup-game mentality” for putting it in position to lose, 96-94, well before Kings guard Isaiah Thomas made the winning floater with one second remaining and Nene punctuated a turnover-filled second half with an errant pass to Kings guard Marcus Thornton as time expired. “I think we fell victim a little bit of our success,” Wittman said after the Wizards (11-32) lost at home for the first time in six games — and to the Kings for the second time in less than two weeks.
- Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: The following, in fact, was not said by Steve Superfan in Section 324 — who believes that if JaVale McGee averaged 35 minutes, he would be JaVale Abdul-Jabbar — but actually by coach George Karl, who has been occasionally critical of McGee this winter: "I think JaVale is having a (darn) good year for us." Indeed, it was the Nuggets' coach who praised the contributions of the reserve center Monday, the same night McGee didn't play because of a left shin injury (doctors ruled out the possibility of a stress fracture, and McGee will get an MRI on Tuesday). The big fellow averages 18.7 minutes per game, in which he puts up 10.1 points and 1.9 blocks, though he has been inconsistent, as sometimes seen in younger big men. "I think we got him at a minutes number to where we're getting what we want out of him," Karl said.
- Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: Jeff Pendergraph’s natural position is power forward. He stepped in and started the second half at center in place of the injured Roy Hibbert at Detroit last month. He surprisingly got playing time at small forward for the first time in his career against the Utah Jazz last weekend. That’s commonly referred to as being a utility player in baseball. What’s it called in basketball? “Whatever it takes to get on the court,” Pendergraph said, laughing. “Whatever the coaches tell me to do, I’ll do.” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said he must find a way to get Pendergraph playing time as a reward for his strong work ethic and positive attitude. Pendergraph went into Monday’s game against the Denver Nuggets having appeared in 14 games this season.