Tuesday, October 22, 2013
First Cup: Tuesday
By Nick Borges
- Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Guard Dwyane Wade is done responding to anything Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant has to say about him. Durant recently said it was time for Wade to “pass the torch” to younger players. When asked about it, Wade declined comment. “I’m not talking about that,” Wade said. It was the second issue between the players. Last month Durant said Wade didn’t belong on the list of the NBA’s top 10 players. LeBron James also declined to comment on Durant’s statements.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: LeBron James has taken a lot away from Derrick Rose the last few years. Besides winning the hardware that Rose would love to have above his fireplace, James and the Miami Heat eliminated the Bulls from the playoffs two of the last three seasons. Heck, James even took the ‘‘NBA2K’’ cover that Rose shared with Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin last season. ‘‘No, no, not bitter at all,’’ Rose said, laughing, when asked about 2K Sports making this year’s video game cover all about James. ‘‘He won the championship, so he deserves to get every cover.’’ Rose doesn’t need to be out front to be a fan of the game. With new ball-handling and slick dribbling controls added to ’14, it’s a point guard’s dream.
- Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: Anytime a player gets ejected from a preseason game after committing what was ruled as a flagrant foul, penalty two, the NBA office is sure to review the play. For Dirk Nowitzki, that opens the possibility that further punishment will be forthcoming. Expect Nowitzki to get fined for that clothesline across Omri Casspi’s noggin in the third quarter of Monday’s exhibition game in Houston. Based on the fact that the play didn’t look overly flagrant, it seems unlikely that the play would end up in a suspension. Stranger things have happened. But the foul simply didn’t look like a dirty play. If Nowitzki were to be suspended, it would be enforced in the regular-season opener, not the next preseason game, which is Wednesday against Atlanta at American Airlines Center.
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Glen Davis and Orlando Magic officials are reluctant to estimate when Davis will return to practice or play a regular-season game. But Davis says he's making progress in his return from a July surgery on his left foot. Davis hasn't participated in contact drills, practices or scrimmages yet. But he's running up and down the court and is taking jumpers. "They're watching me as much as possible, making sure that I don't skip any steps in this process," Davis said Monday, before his teammates began practice at Amway Center. "Everything looks good so far." It's a delicate process. Davis, a 6-foot-9 power forward who has weighed over 300 pounds for much of his pro career, fractured the outside of his left foot during a game on Jan. 30. He underwent surgery a few days later. By early July, after he had resumed some basketball activities, the same area of his foot was bothering him. He needed a second surgery. On July 8, he had a larger screw inserted into his foot and also received a bone graft. The Magic are being especially cautious because that area of a person's foot doesn't receive a great deal of blood flow, and good blood flow helps the healing process.
- Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle: As questions continue to swirl about who the Rockets’ starting point guard is this season, Jeremy Lin and Patrick Beverley played several minutes together Monday night. Lin started at point guard and played 33 minutes. Beverley came off the bench and played 26. “I thought (Lin) did a lot of nice things,” coach Kevin McHale said. “He broke people down; he had eight assists. Between he and (Beverley), they had 13 assists and four turnovers. I liked when they were both in the game.” Lin finished with six points, eight assists, four rebounds and three steals. Beverley had 10 points, five assists and two rebounds. McHale praised both for their defense. “I thought they were both really solid,” he said. “Any mistakes that they do make are mistakes because they’re trying really hard and getting after it. They stay in place. They use their hands. They’re both diligent guys.”
- Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: During the Clippers' game against Denver on Saturday night, three of DeAndre Jordan's six fouls were for setting screens. Neither Jordan nor Rivers was happy about the calls. Rivers said that watching how players set screens "is a point of emphasis right now" by the officials. "When they run into a brick wall, what do they want me to do?" said the 6-foot-11, 265-pound Jordan. "I felt like we set some solid screens. A screen is a screen. If you screen somebody, [defenders] are going to stop moving. Sometimes they fall. That's just the way it is." Jordan added that screens are crucial for the Clippers' offense.
- Tom Moore of The Intelligencer: Why is journeyman center Kwame Brown still on the team? It’s a mystery. Brown isn’t a hard worker or a leader. He was so ineffective last season that he didn’t appear in the final 30 games for a fading team despite being healthy. He has yet to practice due to a strained hamstring and doesn’t appear to be in anything close to game shape. Give him his guaranteed $3 million — hard to believe, I know — to go away. The Sixers cannot afford to waste a spot on the 15-man roster, especially with Noel, Arnett Moultrie and Jason Richardson expected to miss more than two months as they recover from injuries. That means the Sixers are essentially already down to 12 players. Teams are permitted to dress 13 for each game. Does Royce White make the team? Tough call. White, a second-year power forward, has shown flashes of the passing abilities and feel for the game that he possesses in the preseason. But his fear of flying and anxiety disorder mean there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to fly to games. And his conditioning needs to improve. It’d be difficult to keep Brown and White because that could result in only 10 available players on some nights, not counting injuries.
- Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star: When the Pacers play their seventh preseason game Tuesday night in Dallas, the roster will have 15 players. A week later, only 13 will remain for the regular-season opener against Orlando. For center Hilton Armstrong and small forward Rasual Butler, the end is nigh. “Just practice every day, that’s pretty much it,” Butler said. “That’s all you can do. Come in and work hard every day. That’s it.” ... NBA teams can have up to 15 players on their roster, but the Pacers will start the season with 13, coach Frank Vogel said. Already, the Pacers have released power forward Darnell Jackson and guard Ron Howard. They received “the talk” from Vogel and General Manager Kevin Pritchard. “It stinks,” Vogel said about releasing players. “People ask all the time what’s the hardest part of the job. That’s certainly right up there in the top two or three.”
- Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: DeRozan says his improved play is partly a result of how great and comfortable he is feeling at this point of his career off of the court. He’s got a newfound swagger on it, and more confidence off of it. What in particular is he confident about? “Just everything. My game, overall, period,” DeRozan said, matter-of-factly but not in a boastful way. Going into my fifth year in the league, just having the utmost confidence. Not having no doubt or no questions about nothing.” When did it change, he was asked. “It comes over time, just with experience ... I just tried to put everything together this summer, just work on the game as a whole.”
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: It’s pretty clear the Charlotte Bobcats have played improved defense this preseason. It’s certainly quantifiable: As of Sunday, the Bobcats were giving up the fewest points per game in the NBA at 82.7. They’re the only one of 30 teams not to allow 90 or more points in any game, one of two teams (with Chicago) not to allow 100 or more. Their field-goal percentage defense (39.5 percent) is third-best in the NBA and they have committed the fewest personal fouls (17.3 per game) in the league. Coach Steve Clifford says his players have taken to heart his defensive priorities: Minimize transition baskets, minimize points in the paint and don’t foul needlessly. While it’s dangerous to conclude too much off preseason numbers, they appear to be on the right track.
- John Reid of The Times-Picayune: When the New Orleans Pelicans play their preseason home opener on Wednesday night against the Miami Heat, fans will see a newly renovated interior of the New Orleans Arena that gives the 14-year-old facility a completely different look. Now there are 16 new loge boxes in the lower bowl, which are already sold out for the upcoming season, that includes swivel seating and LED monitors. There's a party perch in the upper bowl where fans can order drinks and mingle at a bar and the Pelicans are considering adding live entertainment that could include a band playing during games. ... The renovations are part of a $50 million upgrade that is scheduled to be done in two phases. The interior upgrades started May 1 and completely shut down the Arena for the entire summer and forced the Pelicans to play their first six preseason games on the road. The exterior renovations is expected to start in the spring of 2014, when the upcoming season ends. Pelicans owner Tom Benson and team president Dennis Lauscha led the media on a tour of the facility on Monday afternoon, where construction workers were rushing to complete minor touch-up work.