Wednesday, December 4, 2013
First Cup: Wednesday
By Nick Borges
- Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: Avery Bradley probably never had been compared to Larry Bird until last night, when he duplicated one of the Celtics great’s most memorable shots with a hoist over the backboard. Bird hit his during a 1986 preseason game against Houston from almost the same range as Bradley, except from the left baseline. Bradley, who skied for a rebound, released the shot in midair from the right side as the shot clock ran down. He made the improbable basket for two of his 15 points. “That was honestly just a lucky shot,” he said. “I just wanted to get the shot up. I heard my teammates yelling, so I just threw it up.” Bradley said he’s never seen a video of Bird’s shot.
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: No loud whoops. No boisterous yelling. All you saw in the American Airlines Arena visitors locker room Tuesday night was a Pistons team with growing confidence. The scene was minutes after the Pistons ended the Heat’s 10-game winning streak with a 107-97 victory. After leading by 17 points early in the fourth quarter, the Pistons were able to withstand a furious Heat rally, with point guard Brandon Jennings making two key plays to calm nerves. But instead of basking in the glory of a beating the reigning two-time NBA champions, the Pistons (8-10) were talking about the need to get more consistent. “We have to build on it and turn this game into two games, into three games, into four games — that’s what we have to do after a night like this,” Greg Monroe said after his 16-point, six-rebound, five-assist night. “We did some really good things tonight, but we have to carry it over.”
- Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: In a stunning pregame press conference Tuesday, the Nets announced that Kidd demoted his former coach and friend Lawrence Frank from assistant to collecting hush money. “Lawrence has been reassigned to doing daily reports. He won’t be sitting on the bench or practice,” Kidd said coldly before the Nets were blown out by the Nuggets, 111-87, at the Barclays Center. There was very little emotion from Kidd, and zero regret. He cited a “difference in philosophies” as the reason for the change, which followed the Daily News reporting last week that Kidd and Frank were at odds. A source also told The News that Frank was bad-mouthing Kidd to others around the league, apparently unhappy with Kidd and the partnership. When Kidd needed him most, Frank was complaining behind his back. It’s unclear whether Kidd was aware of what Frank was saying, but this much is certain: The two weren’t on the same page, a feeling that had been festering for most of the season, according to sources. ... The friction was noticeable to Joe Johnson. “Guys do notice it. I know I surely noticed it. Something just wasn’t quite right,” the Nets guard told The News. “But that has nothing to do with how we played (Tuesday night). That was just a carbon copy of our season, to be honest with you.”
- Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: Would Jeff Van Gundy coach the Knicks again? Sure, but only if he got what Woodson wants: better players. Until then, Van Gundy’s current job is better than Woodson’s. Plus, before I see Van Gundy riding in on a white horse there’s a trusted adviser to Dolan who I’m hearing could be next in line. No, not that guy. But Allan Houston, supposedly the GM in training, looms as a potential successor. The word around Knicks camp is that Dolan wouldn’t hesitate to promote him to head coach if the Knicks don’t turn things around sooner than later. Houston’s $100 million contract placed the Knicks in salary cap purgatory for years. Maybe having to coach this Knicks team would be his payback. Crazy? Well, if we told you on Sept. 1 that Steve Mills would be back before training camp to run the front office you wouldn’t have believed that either. At MSG, always expect the unexpected. Based on that history, you’d be a fool to rule out Woodson, Van Gundy and, yes, even Allan Houston. Karl, however, will never reach the level of “special adviser.” He’s done.
- Carl Steward of The Oakland Tribune: The Warriors transformed what would have been their worst, ugliest, flattest defeat of the season Tuesday into one of their most inspiring, scintillating comeback victories in many a year. Would you believe 51 years, in fact? With 9:20 to go in the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors, the Warriors trailed by 27 points and were still behind by 18 entering the fourth quarter. But behind the sharpshooting of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, a relentless defensive effort down the stretch and an Oracle Arena that sat on its hands for three quarters, then stood on its feet for almost all of the fourth, Golden State rallied for a miraculous 112-103 victory. It was a firestorm of a final 12 minutes for Golden State -- 42-15. And it was historic. It was the largest deficit to start a fourth period the Warriors had overcome since Feb. 19, 1962, at Boston. Toronto, meanwhile, had never lost a lead as large as 27 in its franchise history. It was also the seventh-largest comeback in NBA history. Numbers told only part of the story of what it meant, however. "This being my third year here, there has not been a bigger win when you talk about statement," said coach Mark Jackson. "We had every right to fold the tent and say, `Let's look forward to the next one.' "
- Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post: All Timofey Mozgov ever wanted to do was play. Just play. He'd do what the coaches wanted, even if it wasn't always done right. He loved basketball, but he wondered why the game couldn't love him back. That was last season. This season? This is entirely different. Mozgov looks entirely different, as evidenced in his monster 17-point, 20-rebound performance in the Nuggets seventh straight win, a 111-87 blowout of the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center on Tuesday night. "He's getting an opportunity and he's making the most of it," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. But it's not that simple. It rarely ever is. Mozgov's brief NBA history is of a player who routinely lost confidence on an NBA court, yet thrived as a member of the Russian national team. The contrast was so stark it became a punch line in the Nuggets' locker room. "Where's Russian National Team Timo?" That player is here. Mozgov credits Shaw. "He puts you on the court. He trusts in you," Mozgov said. "It's better. It's simple." Shaw credits Mozgov's willingness to listen and carry out the instructions.
- Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman: From afar, Durant was like everyone else last season, following the ongoing saga in Sacramento as the city tried — and eventually succeeded — to keep its NBA team from leaving for Seattle. But with his knowledge of the league and connection to the Emerald City, it put him in a strange spot, rooting for and against both sides. “It's almost like a lose-lose situation because you want to see Seattle get a team, but you don't want to see Sacramento lose theirs,” Durant said at the Thunder's shootaround in Sacramento on Tuesday. Having spent his rookie year there, Durant loves Seattle, routinely making it a point to go back and visit in the offseason. And more than once, he's voiced his opinion that the city deserves a team. But having once been in the middle of a franchise's unceremonious exit, Durant said he'd hate to see it happen in a city with only one professional team. “Sacramento has been here for so long,” Durant said. “And I know, man, I've been a part of it. When a team is here for so long and just gets up and moves, it's devastating for the city, for the fans. Hopefully Seattle gets a team here soon. But here in Sacramento, they needed a basketball team.”
- Michael Kaskey-Blomain of Philly.com: In today’s underwhelming NBA news, the Delaware 87ers, the Sixers’ D-League affiliate, claimed 2012 lottery pick and former North Carolina Tar Heel Kendall Marshall. ... (It is important to note how Hinkie-y this move is: It follows his trend of looking at low risk/high (potential) reward players that could succeed with development, that other teams had given up on). ... While he hasn’t been able to last in the league to this point, Marshall’s prowess as a point guard makes him especially intriguing, and at 22, he still has plenty of time to improve upon his all-around game to get it up to an NBA level. Brett Brown has already demonstrated his ability to develop young talent (MC-W, Wroten, and Thompson have all seen improvement this season), and considering his size and skill set, Marshall seems a likely candidate to benefit from Brown, if the Sixers are so inclined to call him up. (Note: If the Sixers were to call up a player from the 87ers, they must first cut a player currently on the roster).
- Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News: Tuesday’s game typified the way Charlotte plays, mucking up games with stingy defense and difficult-to-watch offense. The Bobcats have held 11 straight opponents under 100 points, the longest streak in the NBA. "Our first and fourth quarters were very solid; our second and third quarters were very poor,” Carlisle said. “We’re lucky to survive it, but it’s the kind of game we totally expected it to be, so there’s no surprise.” The victory gave Dallas a 6-2 record against Eastern Conference teams. The Mavericks are 5-6 against the West. All four games on the road trip they begin Wednesday night are against Western Conference opponents. Entering Tuesday’s games, only two Eastern Conference teams — Indiana and Miami — were above .500. The Mavericks, meanwhile, were one of 10 teams in the West with winning records. “It’s a great challenge,” Carlisle said.
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Tony Allen dove on the floor early. Mike Conley was body surfing the court late. In between those moments of all-out hustle, the Grizzlies’ big men had a block party and provided a lopsided advantage with scoring in the paint. The Grizzlies snapped a four-game home losing streak with a 110-91 victory over the Phoenix Suns and did so Tuesday night by outworking the opponent, especially on defense. The Griz haven’t properly secured FedExForum in some time. Phoenix entered the game averaging 101.7 points per game on 47 percent shooting. The Suns shot 42.5 percent and made just 7 of 29 3-pointers. The Griz won at home for the first time since Nov. 9 against Golden State. They had lost five of the last six games in FedExForum.