Monday, November 25, 2013
First Cup: Monday
By Nick Borges
- Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Sunday night marked an important milestone for Tobias Harris. After he missed the first 12 games of the regular season because a high-ankle sprain, Harris made his regular-season debut in the Orlando Magic's 104-96 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Harris scored six points on 3-of-8 shooting in 16 minutes of playing time off the bench. "It felt great checking in and getting back into the flow of things," Harris said. "It was just good to just get my feet wet out there and go out there and play." To make room for Harris on their active roster, the Magic deactivated backup big man Kyle O'Quinn, who is sidelined by a sprained right ankle. Harris made his regular-season debut with 2:36 left in the first quarter and received a nice round of applause from the announced crowd of 15,785 inside Amway Center.
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: If a team is coming off two road victories and previously has taken Oklahoma City and San Antonio to the wire on the road, confidence becomes critical when visiting a team like Miami. It might not be ideal to face the two-time defending champs in the third road game in four nights, but the Suns show unwavering resolve to shock anyone, including the Heat, just like their 7-6 record has after Sunday night’s 104-96 win at Orlando. “Now that we’ve got two, why not try to get three?” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Our guys are getting the hang of it. They know what it takes to win. They’re playing hard. We’ve played good defensively all year. If we can get the offense going, where we’re passing the ball and making the little reads, we can be pretty decent.” The Heat (10-3) have been resting since beating the same Orlando team Friday night at home for their sixth consecutive win. The only team with a current winning record that the Suns have beaten this season is Portland, which has gone 12-1 since their opening-night loss in Phoenix.
- Andrew Keh of The New York Times: Last season, the Nets fired Avery Johnson as coach after 28 mediocre games. On Sunday, King noted the difficulties facing Kidd, stressed patience and mentioned the progress he has observed. “He’s going through the growing pains of being a head coach, though I think he’s being more assertive and understanding more what he’s got to do,” King said. “But also, it’s tough with your two best players out. It’s sort of a Catch-22.” Those two players, Brook Lopez and Deron Williams, remained sidelined with sprained left ankles. Andrei Kirilenko was out while rehabilitating a strained back muscle, and Jason Terry missed his second straight game with a bruised left knee. Health was always going to be a concern when the Nets assembled their veteran team. King noted that the injuries to Lopez and Williams were unexpected — they turned their ankles during games — but acknowledged the ones to Kirilenko and Terry could be related to age. The Nets’ injury list grew after Sunday’s game, as Shaun Livingston was examined after banging his head in the fourth quarter. The team said it would not update his condition until Monday. Even the Nets seemed tired of finding excuses for their poor play.
- Tony Briscoe of The Detroit News: When the Pistons played the Knicks recently, an unexpected dance duo in the stands showed up the team’s moves on the court. The Dance Cam caught the act, and, of course, the routine has gone viral, with more than 2.7 million web views by Sunday. Their dance may have been worth the price of admission for Pistons fans, but it also was enough to earn the two tickets to New York City and a spotlight on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Fans at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Tuesday saw a dance-off between the young fan and a Palace usher, which captivated national media as much as the arena’s audience. Antwain Alexander, 11, starts off slow. The pace picks up when usher Shannon Sailes gets in on the action. The Dance Cam switches between Antwain and Sailes and they trade animated gestures as each busts a move that leaves the crowd laughing.
- Phil Collin of the Los Angeles Daily News: Jared Dudley might have had his best shooting game of the season with his 21-point effort, but he is also winning praise for the way he fits in defensively with the Clippers. Coach Doc Rivers noticed that about Dudley when he played for Phoenix and was surprisingly effective matching up against Paul Pierce of the Celtics. “He’s crafty,” Rivers said. “I used to look at him at Phoenix and there were certain games he gave Paul problems and I didn’t understand how that was possible. But he’s just a crafty defender. He’s just kind of in the right place.” Dudley, who has battled tendinitis this season, has simply been doing his homework. “What I try to do is position defense,” he said. “I know what guys like to do. I’m not so much going to block your shot or get a lot of steals. Usually, every team has a defensive concept where they know where their help is. I know where my help is, I try to send them to the help or use angles or the sideline when it comes to quicker guards on the baseline.” Another veteran not used to hearing praise for his defense is Jamal Crawford. But he won that praise from Rivers Sunday. “Jamal had three crack-backs tonight defensively and two of them created turnovers,” Rivers said.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: There are enough bodies on the roster to replace the injured Derrick Rose. Kirk Hinrich started at point guard against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon, Marquis Teague is now the backup and even Tony Snell saw increased minutes to help out with the suddenly thin backcourt. Bodies? Definitely. Talent? Not even close. If the Bulls are going to stay afloat in a mediocre Eastern Conference, it will come from a frontcourt that now has to be leaned on like it was last season. That starts with center Joakim Noah. ... Thibodeau spoke on the phone Saturday with injured guard Jimmy Butler about his turf toe, and while the hope was he would be available next week, it likely won’t be that soon. “He’s feeling better, some of the swelling is out, but he still has a ways to go," Thibodeau said.
- Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News: In a sign that the Lakers’ team unity goes beyond sharing the ball and accepting roles, forward Shawne Williams believed he made a bold statement when he aggressively confronted Kings center DeMarcus Cousins after he bumped Lakers guard Jordan Farmar to the floor. “Everybody in this locker room is part of a team,” Williams said following the Lakers’ 100-86 win Sunday over the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center. “We’re family. Anybody who tries to mess with our family or do a dirty play, I’m going to stand up for them on the court.” Williams believed Cousins tried to do that. After bumping Farmar to the ground, the Lakers guard appeared agitated by the contact. But Cousins offered to pick him up. Before that happened, Williams intervened and signaled to back away. Tensions increased, and both Williams and Cousins received technical fouls with 5:42 left in the game. ... What did Williams say? “I told him he needed to knock it off,” Williams said. “He told me he was trying to help him up. I said that was BS. That was it.” Regardless of whether the Lakers’ suspicious toward Cousins were warranted, the sequence appeared to unite the team.
- Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: Carl Landry isn’t close to returning to the court for the Kings, but he is able to travel with the Kings as he recovers from surgery for a torn left hip flexor. Landry underwent surgery Oct. 15 for the injury suffered during training camp in Santa Barbara. He was expected to miss three to four months after the surgery. Landry is going through his rehab on the road, but is still unable to do anything on the court. “Just being patient is the toughest part for me,” Landry said. “I’ve got to sit back and watch my teammates go to war and I can’t be involved physically. The main thing is to be patient and remember that it’s a journey, it’s a marathon, and things will be better in due time.” Landry did not realize how bad the injury was and that it was the same injury his former teammate, David Lee, suffered with the Warriors during last season’s playoffs. “I think I’m one of those guys who just has a high tolerance for pain,” Landry said.
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Utah is bad. So bad the Thunder decided Russell Westbrook could take the night off. So bad the Jazz still got blown out of Oklahoma City with the All-Star point guard watching from the locker room. For a while, this was headed for the most lopsided victory in Thunder history. The lead grew as large as 37 and appeared ready to threaten the 45-point home win OKC had over Charlotte last season. But coach Scott Brooks called off the dogs with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, and the Thunder’s third string got sloppy in the final minutes, allowing the Jazz to walk out of The Peake with only a 22-point drubbing. Not surprisingly, this isn’t even Utah’s worst loss of the year. The Jazz have lost by 24 twice already this season. Westbrook was given the night off to rest. The way the team sees it, sitting Westbrook was just taking advantage of the schedule. By not playing tonight, Westbrook will have had five days off going into Wednesday’s super showdown with San Antonio.
- Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune: Trey Burke is still facing minute restrictions as they work their way back from preseason injuries. Burke said his finger feels sore at times after games, but so far there have been no setbacks. "I understand the process," he said. "Obviously you want to get into a rhythm and flow out there. For me, I don’t want to get in there and be thinking, ‘I’m about to come out.’ So I try not to think about it as much as possible." The point guard, however, said his surgically repaired finger does still impact his play. "Sometimes I try to baby it when I don’t even need to really because it’s taped," he said. "Sometimes when a hard pass comes at me, I kind of, like, catch it more with my left hand then my right. But I think that’s mental."